Decomposition of the Soul (2007)
A look at the central preventive prison for political prisoners of the Ministry for State Security (the STASI) in Berlin's Hohenschoenhausen district under the former repressive East German regime. The building--which never figured on maps of East Berlin and which, today, still bears the marks of Germany's recent past (Nazism, the Soviet occupation and the Communist dictatorship)--has the sinister distinction of possessing as many interrogation rooms as detention cells. Its topology and organization betray its true function--a huge interrogation center, a veritable laboratory of psychological destruction. It is a symbol of the ex-German Democratic Republic GDR's general system of repression: a place dedicated and devoted to the art of operative decomposition. The arrest of a suspected enemy of the state was of course, part of the procedural process. It may be limited to intimidation, or lead to an investigation with graver consequences: permanent preventative detention, repeated interrogations, total isolation, the semblance of a trial, heavy sentences, the impossibility of social and professional reinsertion, harm inflicted upon loved ones, stripping of nationality and expulsion from the country, incitement to suicide, or even thinly disguised murder. Part of the detention center's buildings have now been taken over by offices and shops, but a STASI museum was opened there to inform about the inhumanity of the GDR's state security system. In October 2001, the Free Democratic Party tabled a motion to the Bundestag calling for the Hohenschoenhausen detention center to be preserved as a permanent memory to the second dictatorship under the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED)'s regime alongside the STASI headquarters in Normannenstrassee and the Berlin Wall memorial at Bernauer Strasse. … More
Related News & Features
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for Decomposition of the Soul
There are touching interviews with a couple of former inmates, who were 'reeducated' for years after they were caught trying to help people attempting to escape to West Germany after the Berlin Wall went up.
Decomposition bears powerful, uncompromising witness to man's inhumanity to man, which is one of the most important things any documentary can do, though, it's also one of the most grueling.
Too slow and morbid for American viewers without an existing interest in the subject.
A thorny subject is handled with care in this meticulous reconstruction of life inside the East German police state, as boiled down to the experiences of just two ex-inmates.
The Decomposition of the Soul tackles the unsettling topic of the East German Stasi in a way that might make your flesh crawl.
While interesting in its authenticity and intimacy, is too spare to work as a standalone doc.
This chilling 82-minute documentary about three souls destroyed by the Stasi, the notorious secret police of East Germany, puts a cold, factual gloss on what might otherwise be taken for fiction.
Audience Reviews for Decomposition of the Soul
[font=Century Gothic]"The Decomposition of the Soul" is an insightful documentary about the East German State Police, the Stasi, and the pretrial prisons where people would be kept while awaiting trials for months at a time. Through interrogation and coercion, the Stasi would attempt to break the prisoners psychologically. It seems attempts to break people were not always successful, even if there were deleterious side effects years later.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]In the documentary, two of the former prisoners, Sigrid Paul and Hartmut Richter, visit the former prisons to talk about their ordeals while other evidence is given by declassified government documents. It is interesting to note that they were both at least tangentially involved with people escaping to the West.(Were these the main crimes the Stasi was interested in?) [/font]
Discuss Decomposition of the Soul on our Movie forum!