East German secret police spied on Michael Jackson fans

Five years before actually getting in trouble with the law for the first time, Michael Jackson was the most popular of a series of musicians doing gigs in and around Cold War Berlin. And as the most popular, and therefore most likely to turn East Germans on to “rock’n’roll and all the Western decadence it ...

582782_090731_jackson5.jpg
582782_090731_jackson5.jpg

Five years before actually getting in trouble with the law for the first time, Michael Jackson was the most popular of a series of musicians doing gigs in and around Cold War Berlin. And as the most popular, and therefore most likely to turn East Germans on to "rock'n'roll and all the Western decadence it implied" (mostly amps that go to 11, I assume) the East German secret police decided they had no choice but to spy on Michael Jackson.

In a note from the Stasi, found in files revealed by German mass circulation newspaper Bild this week, the secret police were worried that the "youths will do anything they can to experience this concert, in the area around the Brandenburg Gate." And, they noted, "certain youths are planning to (use the occasion) to provoke a confrontation with police."

Five years before actually getting in trouble with the law for the first time, Michael Jackson was the most popular of a series of musicians doing gigs in and around Cold War Berlin. And as the most popular, and therefore most likely to turn East Germans on to “rock’n’roll and all the Western decadence it implied” (mostly amps that go to 11, I assume) the East German secret police decided they had no choice but to spy on Michael Jackson.

In a note from the Stasi, found in files revealed by German mass circulation newspaper Bild this week, the secret police were worried that the “youths will do anything they can to experience this concert, in the area around the Brandenburg Gate.” And, they noted, “certain youths are planning to (use the occasion) to provoke a confrontation with police.”

To be fair, the role of rock-and-roll in democratic movements was already well documented, such as after the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia. More recently, East German musicophiles had already clashed with police a year earlier while trying to hear the loudspeakers on the other side of the wall during concerts by David Bowie and Genesis. And when given the powers of the moonwalk, who knows what these youths could have done? Why, they might even tear down the Berlin Wa…oh, wait

Jackson, by the way, was not finished with Berlin: 14 years later, on a Berlin hotel balcony, Jackson confirmed once and for all that, yes, he was completely nuts

AFP/Getty Images

James Downie is an editorial researcher at FP.

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