From the classic James Bond flicks to silly action comedies like Spy, cold war dramas like Deutschland 83 or the modern-day hacker series You Are Wanted … Spy movies have long been a hit with audiences and often tell the stories of real-life events and fates.
If you want to look behind the iron curtain of the incredibly secretive world of spies, there is no better place than the German Spy Museum, located rather fittingly right in the heart of Berlin – the former "capital of spies".
Spy stories in Film and TV:
There are literarily thousands of movies that centre around spy themes. Here are some ideas on how you can get into the "spy mood" through films:
Other spy films include:
All James Bond movies (1960s-ongoing)
Austin Powers (1997–2002)
Spy Game (2001)
The Bourne Trilogy (2002–2012)
Johnny English (2003–2011)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
The Lives of Others (2006)
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
The Tourist (2010)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
The Fifth Estate (2013)
The Imitation Game (2014)
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Atomic Blonde (2017)
What is it all about?
The German Spy Museum tells the story of the past and present of spying through an interactive and entertaining exhibition.
When you visit the museum, you can either walk around on your own or take part in one of the public tours, which the museum regularly offers in both German and English (plus many other languages on request).
I do recommend a tour. I took one and felt that I learnt so much more than if I had just walked through the museum on my own.
The interactive exhibition also offers a lot of "hands-on" experiments. You can, for example, test the safety of your own password or try to get out of the "laser maze" without touching the laser beams – perhaps the most popular "hands on" activity in the museum.
What's there to see?
Well, let's start in the first of the three exhibition halls. Here, you will go back in history by reading all about Julius Caesar's or Napoleon's spying methods on the panels at the wall.
Next, you will walk up the stairs to the first floor. Here, you will come across the famous encryption machine Enigma. The Nazis used this machine during the Second World War to encode their messages. In the recent British biopic The Imitation Game (2014), Alan Turing (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch) famously tried to break these codes.
You will also get a glimpse at the "gun glove" that was seen in Inglorious Basterds (2009) as well as the "surviving kit" of a cold war spy. This included things like a "tie camera", a "lipstick handgun" or a "poisonous umbrella".
The panels on the wall tell the stories of real-life spies, such as that of the former GDR spy Rainer Rupp. By working "undercover" in the NATO headquarters in Bruxelles, Rupp possibly prevented the outbreak of a nuclear war between the United States and Russia at the height of the cold war period in 1983.
Some people like to think that the fictional character of Martin Rauch (alias Moritz Stamm) in Deutschland 83 was inspired by Rainer Rupp. However, Rupp himself doesn't like this comparison and says that the story of the internationally acclaimed TV series is not based on him.
Next up is the "spy movie section", which features film posters from classic spy movies as well as some original props from the James Bond movie series. Scenes from various modern and classic spy movies are shown on a cinema-like screen.
From here, you will walk down the stairs to the lower ground to reach the last hall of the exhibition. As you leave this area, take a closer look at the library to the left. It may contain more than just books…
This last part of the exhibition is all about modern-day spying: Themes include the NSA, Edward Snowden, online hacking and data collection from websites such as Facebook.
End your visit with a stroll through the Spy Shop or at the Spy Café.
Ready to go "undercover"?
For more information and to buy your tickets, check out the official website of the German Spy Museum
Looking for more things to do in Berlin? You might like:
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com
Disclosure: I received a complimentary ticket and tour inside the museum. The views expressed in this blog post, however, are entirely my own and reflect my personal, unbiased experience.