Stasi Tech
September 18, 2013 6:24 PM   Subscribe

We've seen the Stasi Fashion, but how about the Stasi camera technology & wireless bugs? High resolution photographs from the Stasi Museum.
posted by thewalrus (6 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I visited this museum in 2010. It's incredible.
posted by wintermind at 7:03 PM on September 18, 2013

Back in the days before German reunification, I was part of an international team that brought Western (American, Italian, West German and Canadian) shoe manufacturing technology to the once famous Zeha brand shoe factories in the former East Germany. I was there for several months, and had use of a company rented apartment in Dresden, from which I would travel out to various factories, to supervise installation of machinery, and train factory managers and workers in its use.

The Stasi visited the apartment monthly, to inspect it, and see that no East Germans were illegally domiciled there, or that it had any other residents or use than what was described on the lease. I have no doubt the place was bugged and photographed surreptitiously, but as I wasn't involved in espionage, I never really looked for the equipment I'm sure was there. Dealing with the real, live bugs that infested the place was enough for me.

The Stasi officers that I met openly were decent enough folk that identified themselves openly, and tried to seem like they were just doing their jobs, I guess, for a state that was paranoid in the extreme. I made few East German acquaintances outside my professional engagements, kept to myself otherwise, and got out of there unscathed. In that same period, I had a lot more trouble in the former Soviet Union, and other East Block countries, doing more or less the same thing, than ever I did with the Stasi in the former East Germany. Hell, in my interactions with them, the Stasi were pussycats. Inquisitive, curious, slightly threatening, ever present pussycasts, to be sure, but nothing like the jerks I had to deal with in other parts of the Eastern Block, just to do a little machinery business.

I gathered then, and believe still, that they obviously weren't like that with many former East German citizens.
posted by paulsc at 7:04 PM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

For some reason the camera hidden in a watering can is terrifying. "Even your watering can is watching you!"
posted by BungaDunga at 11:00 PM on September 18, 2013

There's also a Stasi museum in Leipzig, which I visited in 1998 - soon enough after reunification that it all felt very recent and all the more chilling for it.

Anyone looking at this thread should read Anna Funder's Stasiland, a brilliant book. Also anyone concerned about (or blithely unconcerned about) Edward Snowden's NSA revelations.
posted by rory at 1:28 AM on September 19, 2013

Am I the only one who noticed that the cassette tape recorder was an "assman"?
posted by tommasz at 6:37 AM on September 19, 2013

Once again I'm amazed by the level of ingenuity humans will exhibit in an effort to control the lives of other humans.

I know that in a lot of cases it is a Neat Idea -> Cool Intellectual Exercise -> Interesting Engineering Problem -> Successful Development! -> Misuse by those in power, but it still neat to see the ways people solved a technical challenge before it got used for evil.
posted by quin at 7:53 AM on September 19, 2013

« Older WHETHER OR NOT YOU CAN SWIM IN GTA V ... IS VERY...   |   How To Disappear Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments