Stasi Scent Jars

1970s-1980s, East Germany

What does paranoia smell like? When the Stasi secret police wanted to sniff out dissenters, they collected the smells of suspicious citizens so that they could track them with trained dogs if needed. Stasi offices in East Berlin stored thousands of these airtight scent jars. Agents collected scents by wiping a specially treated cloth on objects suspects touched. They even secretly slipped tubes into people’s homes to suck up air samples.