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East German police feared 1988 Jackson show

According to one document, the secret police believed that East German youth were "calculating on a confrontation with the police" in conjunction with the Jackson concert.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A 1988 Michael Jackson concert in West Berlin prompted security concerns for East Germany's Stasi secret police, according to historical files published Thursday.

According to one document — an internal Stasi communique from May 4, 1988 — the secret police believed that East German youth were "calculating on a confrontation with the police" in conjunction with the Jackson concert.

The document, excerpted in the Bild newspaper and obtained by AP Television News, said further that the Stasi had obtained "information" that East German young people were going to attempt to watch or hear the June 19 concert over the wall, either from behind the Brandenburg Gate area or the nearby Charite hospital.

In another document obtained by APTN, the Stasi reported on June 18, 1988 — the day before the concert — that it monitored Jackson as he visited the Allied Checkpoint Charlie in the center of the divided city.

It noted that at 2:52 p.m., three cars pulled up to the official checkpoint building, with "many unknown male and female people."

"Among the people was the USA rock singer Michael Jackson," the report said. "Accompanying him at all times was a female person, about 25 years old, 165 centimeters tall, with a slim build." It gave no other indication of the woman's identity.

It said there were also two film teams with Jackson, who began filming him at 2:55 p.m. At 2:58 p.m., Jackson and most of the others got back in their cars and left, the Stasi said.

"The cross-border traffic was not hindered," the report noted dryly.

The Stasi routinely snooped on dissidents and ordinary East German citizens, and also placed thousands of agents to spy on top Western officials and others.

Many of the agency's notes, compiled in voluminous files, were destroyed as the wall came down in 1989, but millions of documents survived and are now housed in an archive in Berlin.

Historian Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, who works at the archive, said that the Stasi did not keep a specific official dossier on Jackson, and that the documents mentioning him were kept among general files.

In the case of the concert, the Stasi wanted to keep people away from the East Berlin areas where they could hear the music, so proposed broadcasting the show in a stadium with a two-minute time delay so any "political provocation" could be censored, Bild reported.

The plan was never implemented.

Instead, East German authorities staged a crackdown on Jackson fans during the concert, Bild said.