Tag Archives | East Germany

Western Drug Companies Paid East Germany To Use Its Citizens As Guinea Pigs

At least a handful of the unwitting subjects died as a result of the pharmacological experiments. An instance of capitalist and communist collaboration during the Cold War, via the Independent:

Communist East Germany allowed Western drug companies to use its medical patients as unwitting guinea pigs for tests with untried pharmaceuticals in return for hundreds of thousands in hard currency, a television documentary by Germany’s ARD television channel has revealed.

The disturbing disclosures about the former communist state’s patients-for-cash scheme comes only weeks after an admission by the Swedish furniture giant Ikea that East German political prisoners were used to make its products before the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

Using information gleaned from East German Stasi files, the film shows how, in 1983, Communist Party Central Committee members hatched a secret deal with Western drug companies enabling them to test their unlicensed products on unwitting patients by using specially selected doctors and clinics.

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America’s Cold War Spy Tunnel For Tapping Berlin Phone Calls Discovered After 50 Years

Spy vs. spy strangeness, via Bloomberg:

A section of an ingenious tunnel built by U.S. and British spies to intercept Russian phone conversations in Cold War Berlin has been found after 56 years in a forest 150 kilometers from the German capital.

The 450-meter-long tunnel, built in 1955, led from Rudow in West Berlin to Alt-Glienicke in Soviet-occupied East Berlin. By tapping into the enemy’s underground cables, Allied intelligence agents recorded 440,000 phone calls, gaining a clearer picture of Red Army maneuvers in eastern Germany.

Codenamed “Stopwatch” by the British and “Gold” by the Americans, it was funded by the U.S. at a cost of $6.7 million (then a vast sum) and operated jointly by the CIA and the British SIS.

The tunnel operated for 11 months and 11 days, intercepting some of the Red Army’s most secret communications, including those between Moscow and the military headquarters in East Berlin.

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Karl Marx-Themed Mastercards Are A Hit In Germany

The ultimate indignity for the great critiquer of capitalism? Or a subtle expression of mass dissatisfaction with the current financial paradigm? Via Reuters:

Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some eastern Germans are once again carrying round images of Karl Marx – if only in their pockets. More than a third of customers at Sparkasse bank in Chemnitz opted for the picture of a bronze bust of the bearded 19th century German-born philosopher, bank spokesman Roger Wirtz said. Marx’s stern face is depicted gazing towards the logo of Mastercard.

The east has witnessed a wave of nostalgia in recent years for aspects of the old East Germany, or DDR, where citizens had few freedoms but were guaranteed jobs and social welfare. The trend is not limited to the region. A 2008 survey found 52 percent of eastern Germans believed the free market economy was “unsuitable” and 43 percent said they wanted socialism back.

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Pictures From The Secret STASI Archives

stasiGerman artist Simon Menner has a bundle of photos taken by East Germany’s secret police during Cold War. Offering a glimpse into the small absurdities of life as a Communist spy, included are snap shots of suspicious household objects, agents modeling their “normal civilian” disguises, and West German spies who knew they were themselves being spied on, et cetera:

East Germany, until it ceased to exist in 1989/90, had one of the most advanced surveillance system ever in operation, the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Department of State Security) or STASI. In terms of number of agents per capita it even outranked the Russian KGB by far.

Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was decided that most of its archive should be made accessible to the public and for historic research. Even though the access is restricted, this was very much in contrast to what most of the other nations of the former Eastern Block did.

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