A Whiff of Ostalgie

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Back in the day, East Germany's secret police would break into the homes of suspected dissidents, steal unwashed underwear, and "store" the human scents they'd collected in meticulously marked jars. Now the German government is improving on a Stasi classic:

The German authorities are compiling a database of human scents to track down possible violent protesters at the G8 summit in June.

The method, once used by East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, involves collecting scent samples in advance from selected targets.

The scents are then passed to police equipped with sniffer dogs who can pick the individuals out amid a crowd.

Elsewhere in reason: Glenn Garvin reviewed Anna Funder's wonderful Stasiland last year.

NEXT: Take That, Filthy Gas Station Owners!

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  1. What’s that I hear? Ah, it’s the sound of Warren polishing his resume.

  2. Dunno. The whole thing seems fishy to me. Why aren’t the Germans raising a big stink about this?

  3. I don’t believe this. For this to be true, I’d have to believe that there are Germans who wouldn’t instantly notice if they were missing a pair of underwear.

  4. Step 1. Steal Underwear
    Step 2. TBD
    Step 3. Catch Violent Protesters

  5. Oh noes, teh New World Order has come to Deutschland! Run!

  6. From what I’ve seen of German pr0n, there may have been some other use for the stolen undies.

  7. That’s it. The only news I’m reading from now on, is The Onion.

    Nick

  8. It sounds too weird to be true, but I clicked the link and I’m sure BBC isn’t making stuff up.

    I wonder if they will have a sort of olfactory version of a police lineup: “OK, do you recognize any of these scents? Smell them one at a time.” Of course it would have to be an unusual crime if the victim or witness is smelling suspects’ underwear.

  9. For this to be true, I\’d have to believe that there are Germans who wouldn\’t instantly notice if they were missing a pair of underwear.

    Ah, but you assume too much. Like that Germans wear underwear! :O

  10. What is the deal? Yet another thread with Gotcha! written all over it? Is an Anthony Edwards revival going on that I don’t know about?

  11. Thats it, from now on i’m soaking my underwear in ammonia and chili powder. Ill show The Man!

  12. But Otto, my mental picture of Germany is a bunch of guys obsessively ironing and counting their underwear while listening to David Hasselhoff albums.

    How could an underwear thief survive in such an environment? And if there are, as you say, Germans who go commando, how do they fill the many hours of David Hasselhoff sing a long? You can only empty alphabetize your CD collection so many times.

  13. Anthony Edwards from E.R??? :O

  14. That was in response to Pro Libertate\’s comment:
    Is an Anthony Edwards revival going on that I don\’t know about?

  15. Oh, nevermind. I just Googled it. He was in the 1985 movie Gotcha!

    Damn my Pop Culture ignorance!

  16. The scents are then passed to police equipped with sniffer dogs who can pick the individuals out amid a crowd.

    Anyone know enough about canine sniffing capabilities in real-world applications to know if this is realistic or is it as ridiculous as it sounds?

  17. Can dogs be put on the witness stand?

    “Now, Mr. Bojangles…did you or did you NOT detect a scent that you attributed to the defendant?”

  18. Anyone know enough about canine sniffing capabilities in real-world applications to know if this is realistic

    Dude! Didn\’t you see the Mythbusters bloodhound episode?

    Those things can sniff out the scent of ur penis in my moms vagina 20 years after she dies in a horrible accident involving a fire in which the fire is put out coincidentally by a crashing truck carrying a ton of lime and said accident is itself not discovered for another 30 years and which said penis scent is obtained from a petrified penis from your now 5 year old corpse.

    In other words, ya. đŸ˜‰

  19. This is reason #108 of why I don’t wear underwear

  20. “May I see your papers, please?”

    “May my dog sniff your ass, please?”

  21. The scents are then passed to police equipped with sniffer dogs who can pick the individuals out amid a crowd.

    I don’t know much about canine sniffing ability, but I do know science, and I would think the samples would have a pretty short half-life.

    Judging the evidence left after a visit to my favorite chicken wing establishment, I conclude that even the most pungent of smells will dissipate over time.

    …sniffer dogs…

    As opposed to non-sniffer dogs? I thought the British invented the friggin’ language!

  22. They’re just being efficient. By getting the underwear, they won’t have to undergo the redundant acitivity of asking for a urine sample, a stool sample, and a semen sample.

    We should be thanking them for this.

  23. …sniffer dogs…

    Perhaps they\’re just suckers for a good glass of cognac.

    \”You sniffer dogs, you.\”

  24. Preg les sex,

    Not to be a spelling Nazi, but it’s “snifter.”

  25. . . .pronounced “Hermann G?ring”.

  26. Und vee vill verk for a better Meinhead.

    Not much fun in Stalingrad, no.

  27. In west, you look for underwear.

    In communist Germany, underwear looks for YOU.

  28. “Possible violent protesters”? I smell a rat. Germans don’t protest violently for the same reason there’s so little crime of any sort in Germany — it’s illegal.

  29. Not to be a spelling Nazi, but it\’s \”snifter.\”

    Blaaaaaargh! Curse you! You have ruined me forever!

    *runs away, Phantom-of-the-Opera-like, into the shadows*

  30. Not to be pedagogic, but it’s spelled SHADO.

  31. I forsee this being foiled by Hogan and LeBeau sneaking in and drugging the sniffer dogs (german shepherds, of course) while Ren? Artois gets Michelle and Yvette to hide the two British airmen’s underwear with General Klinkerhoffen’s copy of Von Klempf’s “Fallen Madonna met der Big Boobies”.

  32. Lunch:

    Listen very carefully. I shall say this only once:

    Don’t forget Leftenant Gruber and his little tank!

  33. merci, Lunchstealer!

    hier

  34. “You sniffer dogs, you.”

    Dreck-schmecken caninchen.

  35. VM, sweet. Youtube loves us!

  36. Not to be pedagogic, but it\’s spelled SHADO.

    Blaaargh!!! I have been twicely smitten!

    What\’s next, and attack by pedantic, pedagogic, pedophilic, pediatrician podiatrists?

    This must stop at once!

  37. Don’t forget to throw in pederasty. It’s always good for a Donnie/Walter joke, if nothing else.

    Um, not Donnie/Walter in the slash sense, though. Or maybe, if that’s your thing. Whatever, the slash fiction isn’t the issue, dude.

  38. \”and attack…\” should read \”an attack…\”

    I shall beat myself in penetance \’till ribbons of flesh run red.

  39. And \”penetance\” should read \”penitance.\”

    *chops off pinky*

  40. “Back in the day, East Germany’s secret police would break into the homes of suspected dissidents, steal unwashed underwear, and “store” the human scents they’d collected in meticulously marked jars.”

    For fun or profit?

    I mean, yeah, they were in a communist country, but maybe they were holding the jars for ransom?

    I bet a lot of people would be willing to pay to get their jar out of the hands of some police department pervert.

  41. Anyone else see The Lives of Others?

  42. Don\’t forget to throw in pederasty

    I concur with you manyfoldly. However, I felt that using pederastic and pedophilic would have been unecessarily redundant, hence I chose the more \’populist\’ version, though I may have been in error with that choice.

  43. “Now the German government is improving on a Stasi classic: ”

    The German government, hell: this will be the next big fad after geocaching.

  44. Anyone else see The Lives of Others?

    I haven\’t, but that reminds me that I want to see it! Along with Goodbye, Lenin! and Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS.

  45. Heh! Lunch!

    we have the first two series on DVD… lotsa fun!

    It’s always a nice surprise to encounter those references (on those rare occasions!)

  46. Monty Python is the opium of the masses.

  47. Mao:
    Monty Python is the opium of the masses.

    Hey, I said that!

  48. Sorry.

    \”Du, du du du du, I will be right here waiting for you.\”

  49. \”Du, du du du du, I will be right here waiting for you.\”

    That\’s Richard Marx, you idiot!

  50. I\’d just like to commend Kerry Howley for the wonderful German word play in \”Ostalgie\”; a combination of the German \”Ost\” meaning \”east\” and \”Nostalgie\” meaning \”nostalgia.\”

    Sehr gut. Only a Libertarian could command such an informed use of wit.

  51. Kind of expected to see Warren hanging the girls bicycle seat section or something equally sinister.

    Mao Tse Troll, that is a great name.

  52. VM, They actually run ‘Allo ‘Allo on KERA down here. ‘s nice.

  53. Uh, PLS, the term “Ostalgie” has been around for years, it gets 572 thousand hits on google. Still, good of Kerry to be up on German culture.

    Also German soiled underwear would probably be more pungent than most – I remember a survey once showing that Germans changed their underwear only once every 3 days or something, even less often than the French. And that was in the West, one can only imagine how rarely the Ossis changed.

  54. Anyone else see “The Lives of Others”?

    I did! You must live in New York and/or LA, too. I thought it was excellent. Although it might have been nice if the writer signed over some royalties in the end..

  55. I have Westalgie from living there as a teen… Oh, and we changed every day, thank you very much.

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