Simon Menner’s new book Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives examines the vast collection of information and photos once gathered by the East German secret police. While coincidental, the timing couldn’t be better as news about the NSA surveillance program continues to dominate headlines.

During the Communist era, East Germany employed 300,000 spies to observe its own citizens; more per capita than any other totalitarian government in recent history. First opened in 1992, the archives of the Stasi contain 1.4 million photographs and over 50 miles of documents (For a comparison of data storage for the Stasi and the NSA, see this graphic).

“I had come to realize that the public has very limited access to pictures showing the act of surveillance from the perspective of the surveillant,” says Menner, who spent two years pouring through the Stasi’s archives. “We rarely get to see what Big Brother sees.”

[MORE: Absurd Secret Police Photos Show the Campy Side of Communist Spy Games]

(Source: Wired)

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