The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - FRONT -

The walls have eyes Newly re­leased files from the Stasi – the for­mer East Ger­man se­cret po­lice – re­veal just how far the coun­try was pre­pared to go to spy on its cit­i­zens. Trains and sta­tions were closely mon­i­tored to thwart es­cape at­tempts, smug­gling and es­pi­onage. Po­ten­tial hid­ing places for peo­ple or goods – vents, light sock­ets, air ducts – were doc­u­mented in thick cat­a­logues is­sued to agents. Train toi­lets were mon­i­tored by tiny spy cam­eras made from re­pur­posed blad­der surgery cam­eras. A screw would be re­moved from the mir­ror and a cam­era in­stalled, giv­ing Stasi staff a 180-de­gree view. Three doc­u­mented cases of “il­le­gal use of the wash­rooms” were found by Bild news­pa­per, al­though there are bound to be many more among the 140km of ar­chive shelves dis­cov­ered when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. One in­volved a man hid­ing a gun, an­other hid Je­ho­vah’s Wit­ness lit­er­a­ture and a third stuffed dis­si­dent let­ters in his shirt in an at­tempt to smug­gle them into the West.

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