1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

The devilish tricks of spies - Arts Unveiled

November 11, 2023

Micro cameras in buttons, umbrellas that spray poison, millimeter-sized bugs hiding in shoes. The Cold War wasn't only the heyday of spies, it also saw a boom in the ingenuity of secret services - in real life and on the screen.



 Kultur Intensiv I  Spy Gadget
Image: DW

Umbrellas that can shoot or spray poison, pistols hidden in gloves, watering cans that take secret photos...during the Cold War, spies on both sides were not only ruthless, but resourceful, too. Every secret service had a technical department, which knew no limits when it came to inventing deadly tricks.

Kultur Intensiv vom 11.11.2023
Image: DW

Poisoning, shooting, stabbing, eavesdropping or observing - they researched and developed and tried not to be seen by their enemy. Everyone knows the legendary character "Q” from the James Bond films, the quirky and brilliant inventor on behalf of His Majesty, who equips 007 with the necessary - and sometimes, completely useless - gadgets for his missions. Sometimes, screenwriters were inspired by real spies - and vice versa. After attending a movie, legend has it that a CIA chief once asked his technology department to send him detailed descriptions of what he had just seen on screen.

Deutsches Spionagemuseum
Image: Andrea Horakh/DW

The Berlin Spy Museum exhibits some of the tricks practiced by spies. Wire-tapped jacket buttons, calculators that can program code, shoes that hide microfilm - to name just a few. Arts Unveiled explores espionage inventions during the Cold War. And we meet 007 Ost - a former East German agent - and chat about his profession in an exclusive interview.

Kultur Intensiv vom 11.11.2023
Image: DW

Astonishing insights into the cruelest, most unlikely, and most elegant tools of murder and wiretapping - mischievousness with deadly consequences. And some fantasy products that were never used...

Skip next section More from this show
Skip next section About the show

About the show

DW Arts Unveiled (Serienlogo Composite)

Arts Unveiled — Experiencing and understanding the art world

Arts Unveiled dives deep into the international creative scene, uncovering new ideas and explaining cultural phenomena that shape our history, present and future. Who are the artists? What are their greatest works of art? And how are they having an impact? Where can we find their exciting projects?