Once-Classified Photos of East Germany’s Spies in Disguise


Captivating photographs of communist East Germany’s spies playing dress up were recently uncovered by Simon Menner in the once heavily classified STASI Archives, along with Polaroids of secretly searched homes and blurry surveillance shots. They were never meant to be published, but the German authorities allowed the artist to conduct his investigation into the clandestine visual history of the spy unit. “These were used during courses on how to dress up and blend into society,” he has explained. “They seem pretty absurd now, but it was meant seriously — this is evil stuff.” Flip through our slideshow and watch two men swap cardigans, uniforms, wigs, shades, and the ever-versatile fake mustache and transform into a furry-hat-wearing “Russian mafioso,” a snazzy young gentleman in a festive polyester blouse and hip ascot combo, a harmless “tourist,” and other regular folk.