Research project

IRiS: Institutional Racism in the Security Authorities of the GDR: Saxony-Anhalt and the Districts of Magdeburg and Halle, 1949-1989/90


Questions about everyday racism and right-wing extremism in GDR society have repeatedly been the subject of academic studies and public media debates in recent years. The relationship between propagandistic claims and social reality has also been the subject of controversial debate. 

In the current debates on structurally racist security logics on the one hand and specifically "East German racism" on the other, the project aims to broaden the perspective in two ways. For the first time, the project analyses historical forms of institutional racism in security agencies. The project is doing pioneering work for historical studies by operationalizing this primarily social science concept. 

Case Studies

Two sub-projects are focussing on the GDR security authorities:

  • The first case study focuses on criminal training and police education in the German People's Police, particularly at the Officers' School of the Ministry of the Interior in Aschersleben and the School for Section Officers in Wolfen.
  • A second research focus examines the treatment of contract workers and international students by the State Security and People's Police in the districts of Halle and Magdeburg. 

This way, the research results should provide impulses for historical research into racism, police history, the state's history, and the GDR's historiography. The project is based on the extensive archival holdings in the Saxony-Anhalt State Archives, the Stasi Records Archive, and the Federal Archives.


To the project page