• Germany's news in English

Berlin ‘Stasi bar’ draws protests

The Local · 3 Aug 2008, 18:11

Published: 03 Aug 2008 18:11 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Called ’Zur Firma’ – ‘At the Firm,’ a play on slang for the Stasi – the pub near the former Stasi headquarters in the Berlin district of Lichtenberg is decorated with shredded files, a German Democratic Republic flag and an urn with fake remains of former East German leader Erich Honecker.

Regulars can get a ‘Stasi’ identity card that entitles them to 10 percent off their drinks. A sign outside announces to passers-by: “Come to us, or we’ll come to you!”

Co-owner Willi Gau, 60, told local newspapers the pub is intended as satire.

“We also want to provoke people on this issue,” Gau, who grew up in the former East Germany, told German newspaper Die Welt.

Gau and co-owner Wolfgang Schmelz, 53, who grew up in the former West Germany, opened two weeks ago and told reporters they hope to capitalize on tourist traffic surrounding the 20th anniversary next year of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The two dreamed up the idea for the pub after losing their jobs at a call centre, they told local newspaper Berliner Zeitung. Both had hospitality industry experience – Schmelz as a waiter and Gau in a hotel in the former East Germany. And upon visiting the Stasi museum down the street from the location they were contemplating for a bar, they found the representation of the secret service to be ‘one-sided,’ they told the paper.

Some 37 regulars have already registered for their ‘Stasi’ identity cards.

But to representatives of Stasi victims – and to many Berliners who grew up under the Communist regime – the idea isn’t funny.

“The tastelessness of this cannot be topped,” Marianne Birthler, the German commissioner in charge of maintaining Stasi records, told the Berliner Zeitung.

Story continues below…

Some neighbors are annoyed as well.

“I don’t know what’s supposed to be funny about the Stasi,” a young woman shopping across the street from the bakery told the newspaper. “I’m sure I won’t ever go there.”

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd