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Even the trees are watching: collecting the Stasi's hidden cameras and secret radios

In January of 1990, demonstrators stormed the headquarters of East Germany's secret police, the Stasi. Breaking into the building, they recovered reams of documents detailing the agency's extraordinary surveillance of citizens, though many had already been frantically shredded by Stasi officials. The new government declared that the sacked Stasi headquarters should be renovated as a memorial, and the center now known as the Stasi museum opened its doors not long after German reunification. In a fascinating photo essay, programmer Egor Egorov captures the spy technology preserved in the museum, from camera-filled watering cans to hastily smashed hidden microphones — all meant to be used alongside the Stasi's meticulous disguises. A few of the many photographs have been reproduced below, all courtesy of Egorov.

  • As protesters stormed the headquarters, Stasi workers attempted to destroy equipment like the cameras above.

    As protesters stormed the headquarters, Stasi workers attempted to destroy equipment like the cameras above.

  • Even trees could have hidden eyes. The camera here looked out of holes bored in the side of the trunk.

    Even trees could have hidden eyes. The camera here looked out of holes bored in the side of the trunk.

  • A tiny lens peeks out of a jacket's pocket; a hidden hand pump let the wearer snap photos.

    A tiny lens peeks out of a jacket's pocket; a hidden hand pump let the wearer snap photos.

  • Bags, clutches, and wallets could all hold hidden cameras. The one shown here also contains a portable radio.

    Bags, clutches, and wallets could all hold hidden cameras. The one shown here also contains a portable radio.

  • The office of Erich Mielke, who built the Stasi into a formidable surveillance agency between 1957 and 1989.

    The office of Erich Mielke, who built the Stasi into a formidable surveillance agency between 1957 and 1989.

  • A bugged watch could capture conversations, but a much larger recording device had to be carried separately.

    A bugged watch could capture conversations, but a much larger recording device had to be carried separately.

The full essay can be found on Egorov's own blog.

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