Fear & Michael Jackson in Berlin

The Stasi was one of the most secretive of all secret police forces during the reign of the Soviet Union. Hated and feared by East German citizens and hard-core communists alike, it operated in the shadows and employed brutality, torture and spying to maintain the party’s status quo. And it feared no man. Except one.

Michael Jackson.

Maybe the Stasi feared the King of Pop because of his music. Perhaps it felt threatened by a uniform-clad man adored by people the world over. Or maybe it just had a problem with moonwalking. No matter. In 1988 Michael Jackson played West Berlin, and the Stasi was very, very afraid.

At least, that’s what Germany’s Bild newspaper says. The newspaper has published a document from the files of the now-defunct Stasi indicating it was concerned that a West Berlin appearance by the King of Pop might cause East Berliners to test the police force’s authority on the communist side of the Berlin Wall.

Photo: AP Photo
A copy of the Stasi documents of Michael Jackson’s visit to West-Berlin in 1988, photographed in Berlin.

This November marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For 28 years the wall separated East and West Berlin, and was a worldwide symbol of communist oppression. For almost three decades the Stasi worked to prevent East Berliners from being tainted by ideas of freedom and democracy exemplified by its western neighbor.

But the Stasi was concerned that a 1988 Michael Jackson concert held in West Berlin at the Reichstag located next to the Berlin Wall would test its authority, and inspire the citizens to hate their communist overlords more than, well, they already did after years of persecution and tyranny.

At one point the Stasi even considered piping the music into a stadium on the eastern side of the wall in an effort to keep East Berliners pacified. According to Bild, the police force thought if it applied a two-minute delay to music, it could cut the feed if Jackson said anything that might be considered “political provocation.”

But that never happened. Bild says the secret police force relied on the ol’ tried-and-true communist methods of Soviet oppression – fear and brute force – and cracked down on Jackson fans in East Berlin.

Click here for the complete Bild article (ability to read the German language might be required).