It’s difficult to take one of the most serious and feared state security forces, well, seriously, when they’re dressed in ill-fitting toupees and oversized fur hats. But no, the East German Stasi spies weren't playing dress-up—these were their actual government-provided disguises. From 1950 until 1990, The Stasi—comprised of almost 300,000 people—went to extreme measures to ensure the security of Communist East Germany. Pursuing covert operations both domestically and abroad, the secret police became notorious for their intrusive espionage, harassment, and persecution. In his new book, Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives, Berlin-based artist Simon Menner uncovered rare photos that seemingly "spy" on the very secret lives of Stasi policemen. The images—including spies in training and those on the job—show “the act of surveillance from the perspective of the survelliant,” Menner told The Independent.
From glued-on mustaches and wire-rimmed glasses to some very poor (although somewhat fashionable at the time) style choices—particularly when trying to impersonate tourists—it's hard to imagine these ridiculous-looking figures as some of the most frightening men of their era.