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Guten Tag!

Here's a reading exercise for you to do. You'll need:

  • Free Reading Lesson Stasi Akten Germans Still Want to Knowsome quiet time
  • a print-out of this post
  • a print-out of the article (linked below)
  • a colored pencil and a regular pencil


The Background

During the time of the DDR (GDR in English) there was a secret police called the "Stasi," which spied on the people in Eastern Germany, listened to their phone calls, opened their mail, and infiltrated schools, hospitals, every part of life.

After the end of the DDR, Germany set up a process by which people in the former Eastern Germany could request information on if they had been spied on. It's a three-step process, with months in between each step; first you request information on whether you had a file or not (i.e. if you had been spied on) and then you could find out the information the Stasi had about you. Finally you could find out who had been spying on you.

This was sometimes a relief to some Germans, who found out they had not been spied on, yet others found out their own spouse had been a Stasi informant...

As N-TV reported last month, Germans are increasingly interested in their Stasi files (stats in English below):

2014 gingen bis Anfang Dezember 61.000 Anträge von Menschen ein, die wissen wollen, ob die Stasi Akten über sie angelegt hat und was darin gesammelt wurde. 2013 wurde knapp 64.250 Mal persönliche Akteneinsicht beantragt, 2012 waren es noch rund 88.200 Anträge gewesen. (Source)

Up to December of 2014 there were 61,000 requests, 2013 almost 64,250 and in 2012 88,200.


This is a great, short article with which to test a few vocabulary words, thematically arranged around information/reporting:


 die Quelle(n)    the source
 die Akte(n)    the file(s)
 sich stapeln
   to pile up
 beantragen    to request/to file/to apply
 ordnen    to organize/to arrange
 die Auskunft (über)    information/disclosure about something
 die Bugwelle

   literally "bow wash*"

   figuratively:  backlog


*Bow wash is the effect of a water wave being pushed out in front/to the sides of a boat as it moves through the water. Watch a video of dolphins playing in bow wash here.



  1. Print this page by clicking on the Print icon at the top right. Study these 7 words and see how well you can memorize them.
  2. Now, navigate to the article on n-tv.de and print that article. Search for these words and underline/circle them. Put them in context in the sentences in which they appear.
  3. Read the whole article, using these 7 words as main points to fasten your knowledge together. On a scale of 0-100%, how much of it did you understand?  _____%
  4. Read the whole article again; look up words you don't understand and pull apart confusing sentence structures. Now how much of it did you understand?  _____%
  5. Read the whole article one paragraph at a time, starting with the last paragraph.
  6. Finally, read the whole article from beginning to end. How much of it do you understand now?  _____%


How did you do? What do you think of this reading process? Did you do something different to understand the article? Comment below! (No login necessary).


Do you like this exercise? Sign up below for the GermanWithNicole newsletter and get more, free German learning tips in your inbox!



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