Stalking the Stasi in Haus der Statistik

Filed 31/12/2010 | Updated 3/4/14
The stranger’s note arrived without ceremony. “I have a route into the big Stasi building on Karl-Marx-Allee.” An invitation to meet up the following day. “Not sure how long it will remain.” Of course I* jumped at it.
Warning bells went off when he asked if I’d a chain cutter, but we met as arranged the next day opposite the great hulking building at Otto-Braun-Straße 70/72.
“We don’t need it,” Chunko assured me.
A high wall with overhanging ledge above the roof complicated matters but we scaled it before squirming under the ledge on our bellies. I grabbed his foot as he dangled precariously below to grab the construction barrier; lower, lower, lower – thoughts of losing grip and him plummeting to the ground – before he finally grasped it and I hauled him back over. The makeshift ladder was put to use again: up to a broken window; it swung open, I swung in, feet crunched down on broken glass, and we were in!
I looked around. An office, unfurnished, totally bare, remarkably unremarkable. We inched our way to the door, out to the corridor, completely dark, completely silent. We stopped.
“Just remember this is our escape route,” he whispered. “This door here.” I looked. Door 1043. All looked the same in the dark. As I was about to find out, they all look the same in the light. He flicked a switch; light came on. The electricity was still running!
We went on, around the corner, down another corridor. My shoes were squeaking like hungry guinea pigs – wiiieek, wiiieek, wiiieek!! Stupid rubber soles. I rubbed them with paper to desqueak de squeak but to no avail. Tiptoes from then on.
Tiptoeing towards the stairs, following signs for the library, suddenly there was the sound of whistling from below. Fuck! We froze. It stopped. We weren’t alone. We waited, waited for another whistle, but there was none. Perhaps they were waiting too, waiting for a squeak. We inched our way back, conferred in whispers – it must be security – but decided to try the other side of the building. Again on tiptoes, we pushed on. My heart was in my mouth – I was sure we’d be caught – but on I went. May as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.
On the laminate corridor floor, a chilling catchphrase: “Fiend ist, wer anders denkt.” The enemy is whoever thinks differently; perfectly betraying the philosophy of the Paranoia State. The Stasi motto repeated over and over and lining the floor as if marking a murder scene. In a way it was.
We** were the enemy now. We passed door after door after door, opening office after office after office, all the same, all empty. Horizontal stacks of uniformity.
The stacks went up too. We were in a beehive of offices 11 stories high. Wooden paneled walls lined corridors with big empty carpeted rooms at either end. Prying, prodding and poking, we made our way around the first floor stumbling across holding cells monitored by cameras, Stasi art and more propaganda – “Staatsicherheit, Garant der SED-Diktatur” – until we came back around to where the whistling had come from.
“That’s where I think the canteen is – down there,” said Chunko. “We’ve got to get down there!”
Tentative toesteps brought us closer and closer, and before I knew it we were down there. I examined a sole bottle of water left on a counter to see the best before date – it was still in date.
Chunko wandered in a bit when I stuck my head in a doorway. Shit. My heart stopped dead. Waves of alarm surged through my veins. I couldn’t move. Stunned. In front flickered a bank of monitors showing the very corridors we had just wandered, the gates outside, the windows, the entrances the exits... A desk stood before me, chair pulled out, and sets of keys labeled and arranged on hooks on a huge board on the wall. LEDs blinked as the monitors projected wavy images at the panic button in my brain.
That was it. I signaled to Chunko to get the fuck out of there. Whoever was manning the surveillance was obviously just around the corner. It was them who whistled earlier. Let’s go! Communication broke down with my frantic signals, however, and so he came back to investigate.
So so carefully, we made our way in, into the lion’s den, barely breathing lest we make a sound. In slow motion we made it through to another room, bare and white, a huge desk and single chair, out to a corridor on the other side.
There was nobody home, not for now anyway, but I still wanted to get the hell out. Doors to the elevator were open and lit up just around the corner from the security office.
Chunko, the mad fucker, wanted a look in the basement. As he made his way down an internal alarm sounded in the office. LET’S GO!
Back up to the first floor, to our way of escape, and there... we decided to go on exploring.
Walking past door 1043, I thought, “This is the point I’ll remember later when I’ll say to myself I should have left then.” The point of spurned return.
On we went to the Far Side, up up up – up to the 10th floor, the very top, where more offices awaited. These offices were brighter than the ones below, with stunning views of the city. Alexanderplatz was spread out like a picnic cloth below, the Fernsehturm a candle in the middle. People-ants scurried around and tiny cars made their way to intersections to give way to little trams. No doubt the Stasi took great pleasure in observing their subjects below. I could have spent hours there.
But we still had to make our escape. We made it back down to the seventh floor, where office doors still had their workers’ names advertised, many with pictures of dogs underneath for reasons unknown even to the Stasi.
Chunko, who I’d ascertained by now was as mad as a sleepless squirrel in a Berlin winter, suggested the lift back down to the first floor. A potential kamikaze move – the lift was just around the corner from the surveillance office on the bottom floor. It could open to reveal security guards – but what the hell – may as well be hung for a Honecker as a Merkel.
Button pressed, and we waited for the lift. It arrived with a ring, doors opened slowly. It was empty. Thank fuck. We jumped in to the copper mirror-plated interior. Chunko pressed ‘1’ and we descended, inexorably slowly. It was then I knew security was waiting for us below. They’d observed us this whole time, discovered our escape route with the surveillance cameras, and would nab us as soon as the lift arrived. Dread swept over me.
Down we went. An eternity later, the lift beeped again, doors parted – no one there. I*** couldn’t believe it. We hurried to our door (not before trying all the others), scampered quickly out the window, ran along the roof, jumped down onto an electricity generator and off onto the pavement.
Walking hastily away, we headed back towards our bikes. We’d survived! The niggly feeling persisted though. It felt like we were still being watched. In fact, the feeling persists – they are watching me. And now they’re watching you too.

What
‘Haus der Statistik’, former statistics-gathering HQ of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or DDR, depending on how good your German is), with the top three floors given over exclusively to the Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit, better known to you and me at the Stasi. I’ve written about these guys before.
Following German reunification, the building became Die Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR, housing the Stasi files where natives could check the dirt dug and dished on them in East German times.
For legitimate visits to former Stasi buildings. I wholeheartedly recommend both the Stasi Museum and Stasi Prison. A tour of the latter is unforgettable.

Where
Otto-Braun-Straße 70/72, 10178 Berlin, Germany

How to get there
Walk from Alexanderplatz. It couldn’t be more central. Here’s a map.

Getting in
This is the tricky bit. It’s genuinely difficult – first scale the high wall at the side on Otto-Braun-Straße north of the giant coffee cup, try to squeeze under the ledge without falling back off the wall, slide onto the roof, keep low as you run along the roof, and if the broken window is still there, use a ladder or ladderish device to get in. (See the latest update below! This entrance is no longer an option. Alternatives are required.)

When to go
Daylight is best for the views from the top floor.

Difficulty rating
9/10. The only reason I’m not giving this a ten is because I was able to get in. It’s difficult, and dangerous. If you find a better way to the way outlined above (or any way) use it!

Who to bring
Someone to hold your leg. Preferably someone who isn’t as mad as an insomniac squirrel at hibernation time.

What to bring
Camera. Quiet soles. I guess you should make sure the camera is quiet too.

Dangers
Security. As far as we could tell this place is manned. The electricity is running, cameras too. Watch out for anyone and everyone who isn’t you. Fiend ist, wer anders ist.

Apparently these buildings’ days are numbered too. They just can’t leave anything alone. Plans have them making way for hotels, shops, apartments etc. Bah. It’s a race to the bottom to make Berlin as bland and boring as any another city.
Once they realize what they’ve done they’ll rebuild the Wall for money. In fact...
Best to enjoy it now before they fuck it up completely.

UPDATE: Thursday, April 3, 2014 – A reader’s tip-off led me back. A photo. A red arrow highlighting an entrance. I smelled a trap but knew I had to investigate. I had to.
It had been snowing, and the snow was still thick on the ground, revealing telltale footprints and a once-open doorway. The door was still there but it was no longer open. It didn’t budge. Nothing. Not a millimeter. I tried it again and again. Definitely closed. Fuck.
I circled around, looking for another way in. Climbed over a gate, jumped down a basement but it was a dead end. I returned, chastened and disheartened, and resorted to trying the doors, one by one. Maybe it was another door! But in my heart of hearts I knew the door the reader meant, and it was so closed it had taken on the characteristics of a wall.
A car pulled up, parked opposite, turned off its lights. Nobody got out. Strange. Though I knew it was fruitless I tried the door again, resigned myself to taking photos from the outside.
The dude got out of his car when I was near, lit a cigarette, made sure I knew he was there. A security goon. I persisted with the photos but didn’t try any more doors, admitted defeat.
A few weeks later, another tip-off, another photo. Instructions there was a ladder stashed nearby. Work commitments meant I couldn’t make it but I heard later that that attempt was aborted too. Polizei arrived. On the second attempt the ladder was removed. Another defeat.
Yep, Haus der Statistik is a tough nut. Perhaps the toughest nut of all.

* For legal reasons I does not refer to me in this instance, nor does I wish to have his or her name known. Any apparent similarities to real events, people or, indeed, illegal activities is entirely coincidental. I – in this case referring to me – cannot condone any sort of illegal activity (for self-explanatory reasons) nor would I – in this case referring to the author – want to. I stress once again: I ain’t me.
** For similar legal reasons we is not us, nor is us in anyway connected with me, whoever me is. See the previous disclaimer, referring to I.
*** Again, I is not me, nor am I included in we who have nothing to do with us, whoever they are. He/she (the author) refuses to accept responsibility for any grammatical errors in this disclaimer, and neither do I (as in me).
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57 comments

I've of course seen the abandoned buildings- but never dreamed of entering. Gotta be the good little American girl! I'm inspired. Love the pics/advice

Shiiiit! Nice one. Best story you've posted yet. We've snooped in a couple of other places with your directions, but I don't think we'll be trying this one!

Thanks! I went back for another look yesterday, but that window was boarded up and another possible entrance was sealed up good and tight too. I wasn't able to get in. We ended up going somewhere else, not quite as exciting, and had another look at the Stasi building when we came back, only to find a car in the carpark that hadn't been there before. The carpark was there before - I mean the car hadn't been. In other words, the place is definitely manned by security as well as being shit hard to get into.

Yess! I was waiting to hear of someone else's attempt to sneak in. Me and a friend last summer also made it successful inside and explored for about two hours or more until same deal walked right into a security near the old main entrance what a THRILL getting out of there I don't know how we weren't caught either.

Yess!! I was waiting to hear of someone else's attempt to sneak in. Me and a friend last summer also made it successful inside and explored for about two hours or more until same deal walked right into a security near the old main entrance what a THRILL getting out of there I don't know how we weren't caught either.

"Feind ist, wer anders denkt" is just the title of a recent exhibition...
http://www.bstu.bund.de/DE/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/Pressemitteilungen-2011/2011_03_31_Feind_ist_in_Muenster.html
The building is probably used by the current officials, for purposes largely unrelated to those of the Stasi.

The building is not in use by any officials, current or otherwise.

I would also like to think that any current officials' activities are largely unrelated to those of the Stasi, but then again...

Hi Irish !

First of all let me say I love your blog ! Where abouts on the Emerald Isle are you from? I was born in Brussels but my family live in Killarney, Galway, Cork and Kildare.

Anyway I'm coming to Berlin early May and plan on exploring one or two of these great spots you tell us about. I was just wondering about the status of this building. Any news ? Is it easier/impossible to access nowadays ?

I'm from the Sunny South East.

As far as I'm aware that entrance is still boarded up, so there's no obvious way in without breaking a window. And I certainly do not recommend that.

Thanks for the info and I look forward to reading more about your future urban explorations :-)

Hi Saz!

I went to Berlin last week and I came across this building one night with some friends so we decided to try to enter it, and it's FUCKING EASY! ha ha!
You just have to pull the door! They're all closed exept one! You have to go through the buiding (there is a little tunnel and then you arrive on a parking lot, go to your left and you'll see it).
The tricky part is in the building if you want to go upstair (I'm sure you don't), the elevators don't work anymore so you've got to take the stairs... and the door is locked. You'll have to go through the little window of the door, use a chair, there was already one on the other side of the door so we found another one. Then have fun!
We just went directly to the top floor for the view so I don't know how are the others.

Thanx for your blog Irish Berliner, a friend of mine fell on your article I don't know how, it's nice to see those pictures of the building! Some things have changed a lot and some haven't! There is still electricity in the building but the camera room is devastated!

Where the door is (approx.):
http://img109.imageshack.us/img109/6547/12587698.jpg

Here some pictures I took

The stairs door: http://imageshack.us/a/img705/1955/18960267.jpg
Camera room: http://imageshack.us/a/img69/8509/87645217.jpg
Desk room: http://imageshack.us/a/img856/7876/88776903.jpg
Kitchen (With the same flowers! :p): http://imageshack.us/a/img191/6657/26205373.jpg
Chillin' on top floor (the mess was already there): http://img835.imageshack.us/img835/400/59615544.jpg

If you visit it too share some of your pictures here I'd love to see more!

I am wanting so incredibly bad to get into this building... I found an opening to the left of the path leading between the building that has already had the window smashed, but is more than 70% closed by metal bars screwed across it. With a man's help pulling on it, I am positive it will come undone easily.

I'd love to get in again too. Last time I checked I couldn't find a way in, but obviously I need to go back. And soon.

anyone have any other links to the development plans? when they wanna knock it down etc?

Nothing's set in stone yet. They'll probably convert the building rather than knock it down.
Here's the prospectus from the state-owned Liegenschaftsfonds Berlin: http://www.liegenschaftsfonds.de/site/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/Exposes/Otto_Braun_Str.pdf

What a coincidence! I just went there yesterday and we deemed the place completely locked. I retrospect I feel kind of stupid, seeing how easy it appears to be to enter. I'll go back there soon!

Yes, I was there recently too after a tip-off. Couldn't get in. Been meaning to write an update...

Mate, just incredible. Been an avid reader for a few years and this is my favourite. My heart rate was up and I'm in Australia. Love your work mate.

Anyone going there? I'm looking for someone brave enough.
contact me at bartienne@gmail.com

Been there couple of weeks ago. This place is locked, but we found how to get in. Also, seems it is secured during the nighttime, so be careful not to be caught
If you have any questions feel free
burzumian7@hotmail.com

hi, it's a fact, that the security companies and house owners love to check this sites to get the informations where to seal the buildings again ;-)

I very much doubt it is a "fact" as you say - I'm sure they've better ways of determining which buildings to secure - but what do you do? Keep everything secret so nobody knows where to go? Or tell people where the places are so they can find them?
I reckon the latter is the better option. If security companies agree then that's fine too. They'll be thankful for the work and we'll have a chicken and egg situation.

You're right. I want to say that's no wonder that the doors locked again shortly later, than the description is to read here which exact doors to take. That's no reproach to you! greetz Stephanie

hi,

here a recent update on the HdS:
there is a way to enter into the HdS but honestly it's not really worth it; it is completely destroyed in there and there is nothing to see (no more cameras, destroyed corridors, empty rooms)... Some people have stolen everything, probably to re-sell it. To enter you either need to find a way to snick in or need to be lucky that a specific door in the building is open (it is only from time to time. You need to be patient).
Besides the main building there are also ways to enter into the warehouse and small buildings, in which there are many things left. Almost looked like the guys would come back working the next day.
And by the way, a security car/man and the police pass by pretty often.

**Anonymous • June 7, 2014 at 8:11 PM **||

I was there again about 3 weeks ago, and my route was banned
Seems Arlequin is right in what he said

I walked around a couple of days ago, and there is again a way to get in. But be careful, since the place looked to be secured

Do you mean the open window into the basement? I made it in there this evening, but didn't get from there into the main building. Or were you referring to another way?

Yes I am talking about that window. I didn't try it, but if it leads into the basement (and not just into a room with a closed door) then from the basement there was a way to the entire building.

It's not the basement per se, but there's no way from these bottom rooms into the main building. I* tried!
(*Previous disclaimers apply.)

I didn't tried this specific window, but if it leads to the hallway and not to a no exit room, then about half a year ago, I have got from this hallway to the entire building. I have no idea about now, maybe they locked something inside

Yeah, the door at the end of the hallway is well locked! Or at least it was on Christmas Eve.

Seems that the security guys do well their job very well

Any update on the possibility to get in ? cheers

Tried to get in last week - unsuccessfully. :-(

I was inside last week! It's possible :)

I also have the same question. we were there 2 weeks ago, its all sealed, the way through underground/basement (Keller) is not available anymore! I hope someone will finde (or make :-)) a new way.

Starting from the third floor they have recently removed all the windows of the building. Any idea why?

Interessiert as well.! Wie kommen wir in Kontakt?

Dont know for sure, but i saw something similar happened to other buildings right before they were about to get rebuild or renovated/ refurbished.

Maybe to get any moister out before renovating.

There is an entrance to the building on the backside... Find it !

It rottens faster, if it gets wet. And Nobody wants to sleep or dwell there, if it is cold, wet and windy.

If you are standing on the parking spot and looking at the building - More on the left or the right ;) ?

It´s still possible, when you are in you come to all buildings inclusive all rooftops...tricky, risky, but realy, realy cool...follow the white jardin on the barb wire^^

4 young people got taken by the police

http://www.bz-berlin.de/tatort/illegale-foto-tour-im-haus-der-statistik-endet-mit-festnahmen

Anyone knows the reason behind the giant coffee cup sign? Feels odd given the initial purpose of the building...

I've seen a way in, but isn't the place crowded with homeless or addicted people looking for a quiet place to be? There was one at the back of the building and some stuff that looked like it could belong to a homeless person just near the entrance I saw.
So possibly there's not only the police to fear, but also them.

So for those who where in - any experiences? And for those who got caught possibly reading this - would be helpful to know how.
Those 4 recently used a ladder on the small closed parking lot on the building next to it, maybe they were just seen, but something like cameras are possible and helpful to know.

I've been there by chance (saw the big letters "Stop Wars" from far away). It looks impressive! We've walked around the building but we didn't try to get inside since we haven't any equipment with us.
There are some broken windows in the first floor and as far as I can say, there is also an hole in the wall near the coffee sign at ground level - perhaps an access, perhaps only a dead end. As we've walked around, there was no sign of security or cameras. But we've met another urbex guy who meant that this area is used to host drug dealers and other dubious people. So if you want to enter this coloss (it is HUGE!), don't go alone. And perhaps also take some protective measures with you.

Maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago I saw two people on the roof here.
I have also seen the hole in wall at ground level just to the bottom left of the coffee cup and also an entry around back in the parking lot where you must scale a wall with the help of a board against it and then over barbed wire (covered with a coat) and then through a window.... Has anyone tried either of these?
What is the current situation with guards?
What about sketchy characters inside?

I was there today (used the entry around back in the parking lot) i saw nobody and just explored the first 2 floors cause i wasnt able to find a way up. But i will try again ... The building looked like as if someone was (or is..) there (bottles on the ground and i also was able to see some new footprints in the dust)

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