Photo Gallery The Strange Disguises of East German Spies

The East German secret police were notorious for their pervasive surveillance tactics and brutal invasions of privacy. An upcoming photography book shows another side of the dreaded Stasi: goofy costumed partygoers.
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Simon Menner's photography book "Top Secret" provides a glimpse into secret Stasi training activities. Here, two agents simulate an arrest.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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The notorious sternness of the Stasi is questioned by this photo, showing a mock knighting ceremony. Menner says the original accompanying text to the photos was undecypherable.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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Two Stasi demonstrate hand-to-hand combat.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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A group of the photos in "Top Secret" document all the people the Stasi apparently felt were using this mailbox suspiciously -- including this elderly woman.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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Another group of photos is dubbed "Spies Take Pictures of Spies." This one captures an agent of a Western military liason mission in East Germany. The missions were intelligence operations that the Western allies and the USSR permitted in their respective zones of post-war Germany.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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A Stasi agent photographs himself in a mirror.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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This photo shows Stasi men at a costume party dressed up as clergymen -- one of the many groups that constantly came under the suspicion of the authorities.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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Some of the most interesting photos are from seminars meant to teach incoming Stasi employees how to best disguise themselves. This one shows a model wearing a fur hat pushed deep onto his head, gold-rimmed sunglasses and a fake mustache.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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The same man appears here in a wig and a 1970s-style shirt-cardigan combo -- hardly recognizable?

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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The Stasi spies were trained in everything, down to how to properly apply artificial facial hair.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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One of the Stasi's most frequently used disguises was the West German tourist.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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This person in a giant bear costume appears in all the Stasi photos taken at a sports festival in Berlin.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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This hitchhiker holding a beer bottle comes from a disguise handbook from the East German secret police.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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In his two years of poring through Stasi archives, artist Simon Menner occassionally came across completely random photos of animals, like this somewhat suspicious looking hamster.

Foto: Simon Menner/ BStU 2013
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