24

Mar

2008

Spy-Tech Mondays

Written by: Kristie Macrakis

 

seduced-by-secrets.jpgIt’s that time again. Kristie Macrakis, author of Seduced by Secrets, unveils some more Stasi spy gadgetry.

The Stasi had a way about them. They loved their toys. As Macrakis argues, this obsession was part of their own undoing — rather than performing their duties as an intelligence agency, they focused on hoarding secrets and spy-gear.

This week:

Too bad they don’t conceal the harmful effects of smoking!

ashtrayclosed.jpgDuring the Cold War a lot of spy paraphernalia was related to smoking. When I visited Mr. Regenhardt at the Criminal Evidence Collection, he handed me this ashtray and told me to open it. I twisted and turned and nothing happened. Feeling foolish I handed it back to him and, like a wizard, he took out a pin and pricked a hole and the ashtray popped open to reveal this next image:

…the open ashtray with a Minox camera inside.

Why, what do we have here, Herr Doktor?
Here’s another number, well several numbers in fact. This desktop lighter comes apart, concealing a cypher.

When you translate the cypher, it says “Drink more Ovaltine.”

Come back next Monday for more Stasi gizmos, assuming my computer isn’t wiped clean by rogue agents.

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About the Author: Kristie Macrakis

Kristie Macrakis is the author of Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World (2008). She is Professor of the History of Science at Georgia Tech. She spent 2007–08 at Harvard University (where she received her ...

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