Gestapo and KGB – Past and present
When thinking about secret police, the first organizations that usually come on our mind are KGB (also known as NKVD and MGB) and Gestapo. To young people these organizations are also known from different movies, TV-shows and documentaries. Though, those two organisations were located in different parts of Europe and under different rules, the aim of them was the same – to protect the power and retain dictatorship. People were eavesdropped, dissidents were sent into dark cold prisons and cellars. Secret agents were often drafted among regular citizens, did not matter if they wanted it or not. All the houses had ears. The members of Hitler Youth gave out even their own parents. That kind of censorship and governing forced the people to just watch, it was almost impossible for a man to do something about it.
When in Germany Gestapo lost its power at the end of the World War II, in Soviet Union KGB was on power until 1991, though, there are rumours that Russia is using dossiers and former agents of KGB even today. During the last 4 years, there have been two incidents where Estonian public sector workers steal and abuse the information they have and spy under Estonian government for Russia. The situation where we have caught two spies, does not show the good job of Estonian police, but it shows how many of those people might live in this Nordic country. By Estonian professional espionage info 500 bethrators in a country of 1.3 million people are yet to be caught. Probably most of them are closely watched by Estonian intelligence service but the others pose a great threat to our fragile independence. The case that Russia does not want to give Estonia the list of former KGB agents shows us clearly that they are still interested in those people. By the way, Vladimir Putin used to work for KGB in eighties in Eastern-Germany.
Retaining dictatorship was mostly based on recruiting new espionage agents, chasing and interrogating suspects. To force out the information, people were often tortured and kept in inhuman conditions and cells. In the 21st century and Europe, we would not act like this even with our worst enemies. There are some extreme measures like simulating drowning but it is illegal to cause physical damage. For example in the Gestapo headquarters of Cologne, 32 people were jailed and pressed in 4-squaremeter cells. Prisoners were allowed to visit toilet twice a day and they were not allowed to wash themselves. In a dirty room many illnesses started to spread and due to mental shock some people were not able to return to their normal life after the war had ended.
If soldiers who fought in the First and Second World War were sorted into „dead generation“ we can we also call some former prisoners dead for society, if they suddenly did not disappear in mysterious cases. To avoid it to happen again, we need to be extremely critical in all cases of political repression and censorship. The power is impossible without people following the trail the dictator has set.