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The weapons of espionage

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The following information dates back to the decade of 1970

The weapons of espionage The weapons
of espionage
When the Turkish valet Elyesa Bazna realized that it would be easy for him to photograph the private documents of the British embassy in Ankara, he immediately decided to take advantage of this opportunity to get money. He could not imagine that his actions would turn him into a legend of espionage known as "Cicero", one of the most important secret agents of the Abwehr. Actually, we already know that "Cicero" was not more than an amateur favored by luck. It should be recalled, for example, the long and exhausting work carried out during a long time by Alfred Wehring, "the watchmaker of Scapa Flow", or by the Soviet agent Ilya Svetlov, who went to the extreme of being one of the most credible agents provided to the Abwehr by the very SS. The world of espionage is a hard world of iron rules, many times cruel, where one never lives under certitude, for everything can be based on either cold calculation or chance and luck. Even if agents such as "Cicero" did not use other than a lot of caution and a good photographic machine to carry out their labor, others were forced to adopt particular codes, special weapons of deadly effects and techniques which were always new and witty to send their messages without being detected. We show here, as an example, the characteristics of some of these "tools of the trade" used by the secret agents in the latest worldwide conflict.
Code for the transmission of messages created by using stamps

This code, devised by a German secret agent who operated in the India, is one of baffling simplicity, but at the same time it demonstrated to be extremely reliable. It is just about choosing a key point in a stamp, for example the left upper corner, and successively manipulating its perforations going in a clockwise way according to a previously agreed code. By "reading" this way the sequence of intact or removed teeth, all of the informations which the sender had registered on the innocent stamp could be received, without resorting to special techniques or sympathetic inks. An espionage service agent of an oriental country, who had adopted a proprietary code by taking advantage of a series about gymnastics and body building emitted in China during the cultural revolution, has been recently unmasked. By giving a meaning to each position, it was easy to communicate the desired news without drawing attention.
MINOX photographic camera

This small photographic machine can be considered to be a true masterpiece of accuracy and precision. Since the first years of the century it was produced by Minox GmbH, which currently has its headquarters in Giessen, Germany. It was initially built with a steel body. After the First World War it was decided to lightweight it by resorting to the utilization of duralumin and the first light alloys. The lens was a Complan with a luminosity of 1-2.5. The focal distance was 27 millimeters, and it allowed to photograph objects from a minimum distance of 20 centimeters up to the infinite. The shutter speed ranged from 1/1,000 of second up to the exposure time. The special 12 x 16 format allowed to skillfully use this camera to photograph documents and typewritten papers. Fitted with a simple sight, due to its reduced dimensions - a bit over 10 centimeters in length by about two in height -, it could be easily hidden or be used also to photograph buildings, or particular features of a landscape, without drawing attention.
Transmission of miniature messages through the microdot technique

This is one of the wittiest and most perfected techniques devised and used by the German espionage service during the war. The material inventor of this technique was Professor Zapp, a teacher in the Dresden High Technical Institute, who managed to miniaturize many typewritten papers through a procedure devised by himself, reducing them into a round film fragment, of a diameter lesser than half of a millimeter. Still today this process continues being a secret, for neither Professor Zapp nor the American, who had managed to discover the principles but only a small part of the technique, wanted to reveal it. What is known is that the film where the image of the photographed document was printed was in turn repeatedly photographed through reducing procedures. Once the microdot was obtained, it was inserted within the fibers of a paper sheet and fixed with a drop of lacquer. To "read" it, the agent who received it had to place it in a device which had the dimensions of a briefcase (every agent intended to operate with this technique had one), and the writing was displayed at natural size on a screen. To "produce" a microdot it was enough as well to attach the documents to the screen and to activate the device, and after three quarters of an hour the microdot was ready to be hidden within the lines of a very innocent letter and to arrive to its destination.
Poison projectile pistol

Albeit the world of spies is not exactly that of the agent 007 with licence to kill, these "silent soldiers" could find convenient, especially during war time, the elimination of someone to be able to survive and to continue, until possible, carrying out their mission. To be able to accomplish more easily this hard task, the agents of secret services have often received as equipment strange weapons which allow to kill in the most anonymous and silent way without the possibility of failing. It is the case of this automatic pistol, of normal appearance, which was found on an agent of the Soviet espionage. This small and easily concealable weapon has an effectiveness which is undoubtedly higher than that of a conventional pistol. It fires small projectiles poisoned with potassium cyanide, a poison which kills without leaving traces. The functioning of the weapon is electrical and it carries a small battery on its grip. Hence, there is no detonation nor recoil at the moment of firing. There are three projectiles available, which are naturally used at a close distance, but one alone is more than enough (quick, silent and deadly) to accomplish its purpose.

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The following information dates back to the decade of 1970

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