The establishment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1949 did little to reduce the tensions, merely adding two more players to the game. Seeking to take advantage of the relative ease with which people could cross from East to West and back again, the world’s agents came to evaluate what in the 1950s provided the best source of intelligence: people.
East Germans escaping to the West via the open Berlin border were subject to close interrogation about life in their former homeland, whilst staying in emergency accommodation centers such as Berlin Marienfelde. Some agents even managed to convince the refugees, so recently arrived from the East, to return to the GDR and spy for them there.
The early period also saw the development of more sophisticated methods of spying – in the mid-1950s, the American and British intelligence services tunneled 450 metres underneath East Berlin and tapped into important telephone wires. »Operation Gold« as the project was called was betrayed by a KGB double Agent who worked for the MI6 and the Soviets later »discovered« the operation.
A state-of-the-art listening post in a prominent position enabled the American and British intelligence services to listen in to the radio traffic of the Warsaw Pact. Further high points of the Cold War were the three exchanges of agents between East and West made on Glienicke Bridge close to Potsdam and the subject of major media interest.
All these and many other stories can be traced in their fascinating detail at the German Spy Museum Berlin. With a range of unique testimony from eye-witnesses, original espionage equipment and modern multi-media installations, the exhibition provides a unique slant on what represents an often breath-taking story. For example, our interactive SpyMap pinpoints the location of historic events, persons and locations across Berlin. The modern appearance of Berlin often obscures what is a fascinating past and can only be accessed by a visit to our museum.
The interactive SpyMap of Berlin imn the German Spy Museum
Northern view of the U.S. Embassy Berlin showing the mysteriously veneered penthouse rooms
US-Spionagetunnel: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-37695-0059 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Teufelsberg: CC Phil Jerns
Spy Map im Deutschen Spionagemuseum
Botschaft der USA in Berlin: Wikipedia