Collection, conservation, research, exhibiting and communication are the key tasks of every museum. None of this is possible without a collection, which represents the foundation of every such institution. No museum displays all of its collection: the rest is kept under lock and key, accessible only to curators and historians.
The German Spy Museum has accumulated a unique collection of artefacts from the history of espionage. Focusing on the Second World War and the Cold War, we also have a large collection of props from the James Bond films. Here is just a selection of choice objects from our collection:
The M-125-3 Fialka cipher machine – the Russian Enigma As with the famous German Enigma, the name “Fialka” (meaning violet) refers to a number of generations of a similar device. The original model, the M-125, was produced in the USSR from the mid-1950s. This was followed by the M-125-3 series in the late 1960s. Both[...]
Odour capture – a remarkable Stasi tracking method Everybody leaves unique traces – not just their fingerprints, but also their smell. Tracker dogs have been used to search for people for centuries. The professionalization of dog tracking first began in the 20th century, for instance through the collection of human odours on absorbent materials. The[...]
Between truth, fiction and conspiracy theories The Cryptex tells a slightly different story to the majority of the exhibits at the German Spy museum. The well-secured and entirely secret vault was in reality a figment in the imagination of the author Dan Brown. Writing in the novel The Da Vinci Code published in 2003, he[...]
The “photo snaiper” – precision long-distance photography Spies nearly always need to take photographs, and sometimes from very difficult positions, either close up or from a distance. Seeking to enable agents to conduct long-distance surveillance operations, the Soviet company KMZ (Krasnogorsker Mechanikfabrik) developed an exceptional long-range camera: the Photo Snaiper. Based close to Moscow, the[...]
The “Bulgarian umbrella” – examining the theory of a spectacular murder Poisoned in London on 7 September 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov told the doctors treating him that he believed he had been poisoned by the KGB, mentioning a man with an umbrella. Surgeons found a tiny projectile in Markov’s thigh, from which the[...]
Pinhole objective and binocular viewer as the tools of the trade in a Romeo and honey trap This was the equipment used by the Stasi in the 1980s to keep tabs on goings-on in closed rooms. Enabling operatives to view proceedings from an adjoining room, the East German security services were able to spy on[...]