If you’ve ever wondered what’s involved in being a spy, then take a look at Gábor Zsigmond Papp’s documentary The Life of an Agent, which showcases a selection of hush-hush training films made by the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior for their secret police from the fifties to the eighties.
As Alessandro Cima points out over at his site Candlelight Stories:
This is a 2004 film compilation by Gábor Zsigmond Papp that presents a ‘best of’ series of clips from thirty years of Hungarian secret police training films geared toward protecting the socialist regime. Subjects covered include: how to place a bug, how to film people from handbag cameras, how to follow someone, how to secretly search a home, how to recruit agents, and how to effectively network for information gathering.
Amongst all this, the film also reveals that there were over 20,000 agents in Hungary, who spied directly on 70,000 people, and took an interest in a further 30,000, which added up to roughly over 1% of the country’s population. And let’s not forget another 100,000 everyday Joes who grassed up their neighbors, on a regular basis.
It may look fun and games now, but these films reveal the seriousness with which both sides enforced state security during the Cold War. And let’s not forget it was both sides, as pointed out by MI5’s counter-intelligence spy, Peter Wright in his memoir Spy-Catcher, where he fessed up to bugging and burgling his way across London in the name of Queen and Country.
Previously on Dangerous Minds