The Cold War wasn't a particularly wacky time, what with the mutually assured threat of worldwide nuclear annihilation and whatnot. But wars are fought by people, and people -- if the feces-wracked flow of the stagnant fjord of human history has taught us anything -- are truly, deeply stupid.
Yes, just like any other war, the War Against Communism churned out its share of moments that belong in a Three Stooges skit (where everybody gets sent to the gulag). What incidents are we talking about?
6The Stasi Built A Citizen Scent Database Using Ass Sweat And Dirty Underwear
East Germany's secret police, as you might infer from the fact that they were called the "secret police," were a pretty sneaky bunch. Alongside more conventional tactics like a vast network of secret informants, one of the more clever tricks up their sleeve was a canine unit trained to pick up the scent of dissidents. No, they didn't send the dogs into crowds of protesters and tell them to remember the smell of capitalism. It was much trickier -- and stupider -- than that.
If they found suspicious items, such as fliers or simply the vague vibrations of freedom, the Stasi would seal the contraband with a dustcloth in foil. After a few hours, the cloth would be stored in a pickling jar, then the secret police would use the dust cloths to train their commie dogs to sniff out political dissidents. History hasn't proven that the dogs twirled their mustaches and wore monocles while sniffing out East Germany's dissidents, but history also hasn't proven they didn't.
Do you or don't you see a mustachioed fancy dog taking this group photo? Exactly.
Sometimes, the Stasi had to get sneakier to procure an odor sample, like breaking into people's houses and stealing their underpants. Yes, the Stasi went on actual panty raids. Samples were also procured after wiping down chairs following an interrogation, which tells you how those interrogations tended to go.
Adam Eastland/Stasi Museum
A shitty situation on multiple levels.
Eventually, the Stasi had themselves a nice little collection of jars of rebel ass sweat. Some of that collection still exists on display at a museum dedicated to the Stasi in Germany. That's not the only way the tradition lives on -- as recently as 2007, German police were caught building a similar database after violent protests at the G8 summit. Hopefully it didn't involve quite so many butts.
5The Stasi Had Some Weird Fashion Sense
To truly appreciate the image of the Stasi collecting secret ass data, you have to keep in mind that they did it looking like this:
Stasi pornos were 50 percent removing layers and 50 percent co-stars laughing their asses off.
Those are photos from the book Top Secret: Images From The Stasi Archives, a collection of documents compiled by German photographer Simon Menner. Among the wealth of formerly classified information are details of the Stasi undercover dress code, complete with photos of the hilarious results. The dress code instructed operatives to blend in with civilians as much as possible, which apparently meant disguising themselves as blue-collar workers, dour old ladies, and hipster Richie Cunningham.
Also available in elderly.
But wait, why do these photos even exist? If the idea was to keep cover, doesn't it seem a little dangerous to hold regular fashion shoots with your operatives, even for classified files? Maybe, but the Stasi were meticulous about documenting everything, right down to taking "before" photos of the homes they secretly searched so everything could be put back exactly as it was. That meant they carried Polaroid cameras everywhere, perfectly capping off the disaffected bohemian aesthetic. Tell us you haven't seen a guy who looks like this today:
You should distrust him no less.