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160275.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:13 am Reply with quote

STASI, GDR's secret police had 100,000 staff and 2 million “freelance” informers (for 17 million of the country's population) on its payroll.
The “Tyranny and Banality” permanent exhibition in the former Stasi HQ in Leipzig displays, among other, the following exhibits:
Stasi agents' spying aids: artificial beer bellies, real (capacious) bras and just-in-case shopping bags – all with in-built mini-cameras.
A special device for steam-opening letters to and from the West (every post office in the GDR had a Stasi room, staffed with “reader-agents”);
foreign postage stamps to replace the ones that were accidentally damaged by careless letter-opening;
special optical devices allowing agents to look inside the parcels without opening them;
a list of number plates of cars which were spotted parked near a church;

a confiscated portrait of the communist dictator Erich Honecker, with his nose painted red ( a criminal investigation was launched to find the culprit)
an agent's report, signed “Gerhardt”, on the outrageous behaviour of a priest at a party: “He drank, smoked, danced and then kissed a woman”.
A list of Western goods, unavailable in the East, indvertently published by a Leipzig newspaper and sent to the Stasi “with socialist greetings” by a facetious reader. To find the joker, the Stasi analysed fingerprints on the paper and conducted a highly sophisticated saliva test;
an extract from an “observation report”: “The object has just raised his hand with a hnadkerchief in it and blew his nose, then he bent down and tied his shoe-laces.”
a piece of cloth with the smell (!) of a dissident writer in a sealed glass can.


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