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Berlin Silhouette Spionagehut
Image: Andrea Horakh/DW

Uncovering secret Berlin: A journey through spy history

January 12, 2023

Berlin - THE hotspot for spies. Nowhere did the Eastern and Western superpowers meet as closely as in the formerly divided German capital.


Arts.21 "Unveiled" searches for traces of the "secret Berlin," and uncovers incredible stories from ex-agents.

Deutsches Spionage-Museum
Image: Christian Behring/picture alliance / POP-EYE

Berlin has been at the center of countless spy stories – both real and fictional. From the cold war right up until today! Berlin's rise as an espionage hotspot began after World War Two. The erstwhile Allies put an end to Nazi rule and divided the capital into four sectors. Nowhere else did the superpowers of the East and West clash as they did in the divided city - a perfect scenario for spies!

Some operated undercover, with secret identities while spying on the other side. The fact that West Berlin, essentially an island surrounded by communist East Germany, inspired countless spy movies: such as Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies," the James Bond film "Octopussy," or "The Bourne Conspiracy."

Checkpoint Charlie
Image: Marc Vormerk/picture alliance / SULUPRESS.DE

We embark on a journey through "secret" Berlin, tracing spy scenes. We visit Checkpoint Charlie, the Friedrichstraße train station, the Teufelsberg listening post, and the Glienicker Bridge. We meet ex-agents with incredible stories, such as the American couple, the Schevitzes. For years, the two lived in West Germany as top spies for East Germany. Bea Schevitz's high-value target was no less than the German chancellor. We reveal how infamous double agent George Blake betrayed the western powers' surveillance tunnel codenamed "Operation Gold." And we show why Berlin remains a scene of espionage: In recent years, there have been wiretapping scandals by the American National Security Agency (NSA), and Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), which was allegedly to blame for a dramatic assassination. And only just recently, a Russian double agent was exposed at Germany’s foreign intelligence service (BND). Berlin is, and will remain, a popular field for secret services!

Deutsches Spionagemuseum
Image: Andrea Horakh/DW

These and other stories can be discovered at the German Espionage Museum, which opened in 2015, near Potsdamer Platz, in the heart of Berlin.




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