Robbers loot Berlin’s Stasi museum just days after Dresden jewelry heist
German museums apparently are going through a rough patch, when even the infamy of the once-omnipresent and menacing East German secret political police, or Stasi, cannot shield its displays from thieves’ sticky fingers.
A museum of the notorious East German secret police, located in the former Stasi headquarters in Berlin’s eastern district of Lichtenberg, was robbed during Saturday night or into the early hours of Sunday, police said in a statement. The museum fell victim to a brazen robbery just a week after thieves stole priceless artifacts from Dresden’s Green Vault. This time, the criminals also got away with jewelry and medals.
According to Berlin police, a thief or thieves broke into the building through a window on the second floor, smashed several showcases and got away with valuable military decorations and jewelry.
They also had, apparently, plenty of time to escape; the theft was only discovered by a museum staff member on Sunday morning. The identities of the intruders or even their exact number, are still unknown.
Contrary to what one might think, the museum documenting the history of the infamous secret police hosted not just a trove of historic documents but also some high-value relics, such as highest East German and Soviet state honors, which were targeted in particular by the thieves.
Among the objects stolen from museum are a Patriotic Order of Merit in gold, a Lenin Order and a ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ Order as well as a Karl Marx Order, the highest honor in East Germany, the museum director Joerg Drieselmann told local media. Valued by collectors, some of these decorations could potentially be auctioned for thousands of euros, according to reports.
Apart from the decorations, the thieves also snatched some jewelry items that were confiscated by Stasi, such as wedding rings, rings with gemstones and pearls, as well as a watch and a bracelet. Drieselmann said that the full extent of damages inflicted by the heist has yet to be determined. He also noted, though, that some of the stolen items were in fact replicas and not originals.
“It is always painful when someone breaks in. Our feeling of security has been significantly disturbed,” the director told journalists. “These are not big treasures. Yet, we are a history museum and do not expect anyone to break in.”
“We are not the Green Vault,” Drieselmann said, referring to another high-profile museum heist that rocked Germany less than a week before his own museum suffered the same fate.
Dubbed the biggest robbery since the Second World War, the brazen crime committed in Dresden in late November involved two robbers breaking into the vault that stored a collection of priceless 18th century jewels and objets d’art, right under the nose of the security guards.
The burglars in that break-in also managed to get away with €1 billion-worth of historical treasures, right before the police arrived and even though they were at the scene five minutes after the guards raised the alarm.