Sin­ce 1992 the so-cal­led Sta­si-Archiv exists, a place whe­re lega­ci­es of Sta­si, the secret poli­ce during the GDR, are collec­ted and docu­men­ted. In 2012 first thoughts occur­red about making parts of the archi­ve avail­ab­le to the broad public through a mul­ti­me­dia media cent­re.
From his­to­ri­cal spe­cia­lists to inte­rested lay­men – ever­yo­ne should be able to inform him­s­elf about intri­gues of GDR- and Sta­si-aut­ho­ri­ties. Sin­ce the­re are dif­fe­ren­ces con­cer­ning pre­vious know­ledge as well as usa­ge habits, we focus­sed on the idea of a seman­tic search as an essen­ti­al ele­ment of user navi­ga­ti­on. It was imple­men­ted with the help of Ret­res­cos Seman­ti­cs.

 

In order to unco­ver the varie­ty of this archi­ve, several thousand docu­ment pages, hund­reds of pic­tures, several hours of audio record­ings and film foo­ta­ge were added to this inter­ac­tive data­ba­se and seman­ti­cal­ly ana­ly­sed.
During the seman­tic ana­ly­sis ent­i­ties like per­sons, orga­ni­sa­ti­ons or pla­ces are being tag­ged fol­lo­wed by sorting rela­ted rele­vant docu­ments.
The­se and other seman­tic tags, inclu­ding all of their syn­onyms and gram­ma­ti­cal forms, are inte­gra­ted in a search index. Via search mask the user sub­se­quent­ly reaches docu­ments and con­tents, can scan them in full text and is able to intui­tively find con­tent through a time­li­ne at all times.
Ret­res­cos seman­tic search fil­ters both with regards to the con­tent, chro­no­lo­gi­cal-his­to­ric and depen­ding on the natu­re of docu­ments. The inter­ac­tive data­ba­se fur­ther­mo­re allows a per­ma­nent addi­ti­on of other docu­ments and the­re­fo­re a con­ti­nuous expan­si­on of the media cent­re.

A spe­cial chal­len­ge was the spe­ci­fic voca­bu­la­ry of the GDR- and Sta­si-aut­ho­ri­ties, becau­se of which the Ret­res­co-Seman­tic first had to be trai­ned. Important key­wor­ds like “Repu­blik­flucht” (eng.: flight from the GDR) or “Todes­stra­fe” (eng.: death sen­tence) were auto­ma­ti­cal­ly made assi­gnab­le, while an addi­tio­nal auto­com­ple­te func­tion sup­ports the user expe­ri­ence by dyna­mi­cal­ly pre­sen­ting fur­t­her rele­vant key­wor­ds and ent­i­ties during the typing of the user.

 

International feedback for the Stasi-media library

A socie­tal high­ly rele­vant and tech­no­lo­gi­cal enor­mous­ly ambi­tious publi­shing pro­ject – poli­ti­cal edu­ca­ti­on medi­um for young and grown up citi­zens, just like his­to­ri­cal expert infor­ma­ti­on for experts, all under a com­mon sur­face.
Not only our cli­ent is enthu­si­astic – also the public appre­cia­tes the “dis­play win­dow to the Sta­si-archi­ve”. Count­less tweets inclu­ding the link to the por­tal were published the day it went online. A user from the US cal­led it “the coo­lest thing ever”. Ber­lin based news­pa­per Ber­li­ner Mor­gen­post calls it a “fasci­na­ting pro­ject for all ages”, mdrIn­fo thinks it is a “time tra­vel” worth the time.
For Ret­res­co it was a won­der­ful pro­ject in which we could con­tri­bu­te with our lea­ding tech­no­lo­gies in the area of auto­ma­ted tag­ging, lin­king and seman­tic search. The result is a vital impro­ve­ment of acces­si­bi­li­ty to docu­ments and user expe­ri­ence in gene­ral.

This is just like the jury of Typo3-Award rated this pro­ject, an award that is always honou­ring the most crea­ti­ve and user-fri­end­ly web-pro­jects: In 2016 our part­ner 3pc GmbH was among the honou­rees, for the final imple­men­ta­ti­on of Sta­si-media libra­ry.

Allow yours­elf to be con­vin­ced and have a look: stasi-mediathek.de.