Berlin’s Stasi Museum fell victim to a burglary last weekend, officials discovered Sunday morning, and communist-era artefacts worth thousands of euros have gone missing. 

The entrance to the Stasi Museum in House 1 of the former headquarters of the Ministry for State Security of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) is illuminated in the evening. Burglars have stolen orders and jewellery from the Stasi Museum in Berlin.
Berlin’s Stasi Museum fell victim to a burglary last weekend © Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images

According to a police report, the thieves struck the former headquarters of East Germany’s secret police at some point between the evening of 30 November and the morning of 1 December, smashing display cases and lifting medals and jewellery, some of which had been confiscated from dissidents and people fleeing to the west. 

The building of the former GDR Ministry for State Security, now Stasi Museum in the Ruschestrasse
The former headquarters of East Germany's secret police, the Stasi Museum lost medals and jewellery worth thousands © zenaphoto/Getty Images

The perpetrators made off with a handful of medals and a modest selection of jewellery, like a pair of earrings and a gold watch, but only one of the eight stolen medals was an original, the museum’s director, Jörg Drieselmann, told the Guardian. “A break-in is always painful because it disturbs your sense of security,” he said. “But in terms of the value of the stolen items, you can almost lean back and relax.”

The thieves’ take was only worth a few thousand euros, a score that pales in comparison to the shocking Dresden break-in just days earlier, when the German city’s Green Vault – a repository of priceless European artefacts – was hit, and burglars absconded with some serious treasures. Though the damage is still being tallied, news reports indicate that the losses sustained there could add up to more than €1 billion ($1.1 billion), a number, per Artnet News, that would make this largest museum heist in history. 

Former guard gate and booth at Gedenkstaette Normarmenstr, Stasi Museum, Eastern Districts.
A former guard gate and booth at the Stasi Museum © Richard Nebesky/Lonely Planet

At the Stasi Museum, on the other hand, the casualties were primarily cosmetic. “The physical damage done during the break-in costs more than what was stolen,” Drieselmann told the BBC. The missing pieces weren’t valuable per se (of the eight medals stolen, only one was an original), but as Drieselman pointed out to the Guardian, collectors would surely be taking notice. 

“We are not looking at great treasures here,” he said. “We are a historical museum and don’t expect break-ins. We are not the Green Vaults.”

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