Author(s): Simon Menner
Almost 300,000 people worked for the STASI, the East German secret police--per capita, far more than are or were employed by agencies such as the CIA or the Soviet Union's KGB. More than 50 years after the Berlin Wall was erected, German photographer Simon Menner (born 1978) unearthed an extraordinary cache of photographs in the STASI archives that document the agency's surveillance work. These state-approved photographs show officers and employees posing in professional uniforms, wearing unconvincing fake beards and moustaches, or signaling to each other with their hands. Once top secret, and now preposterous, these images are both comical and sinister. Until now, nobody has attempted a visual study of the activities of the State Security. For Simon Menner, the undertaking is more suited to artists and philosophers than to historians.