Germany opens huge new spy HQ in Berlin

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At the official opening, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed Germany’s need for a “strong, efficient foreign intelligence agency.” Hidden in the countryside for decades, the BND has finally arrived in the heart of Berlin
It cost over €1 billion ($1.13 billion) to build. It will house around 4,000 secret agents. It is the size of 36 soccer pitches. The new headquarters of the German Intelligence Agency (BND) has completed its move from Pullach, on the outskirts of Munich, to the center of Berlin, close to the former Wall.
The idea of a secret service is traditionally viewed critically in Germany, evoking memories of the Gestapo or the Stasi. A huge new building in the beating heart of Berlin carries huge significance — a bold statement of Germany’s renewed confidence in its global role. So how did the intelligence agency make its move from the provinces to the capital?
In 1996, Hansjörg Geiger was well ahead of his time. Although the Cold War between East and West had been over for a number of years, it was still tangible at BND headquarters: “Accomodation for civil servants” read a sign in front of an old Nazi settlement in Pullach. Was this where the new BND president was supposed to work? Preposterous, Geiger thought. For 40 years — the agency was established in 1956 — Germany’s foreign intelligence agency had been obfuscating its name.
Geiger recognized the need for concealment, but this went too far. He promptly had the sign removed. From then on, everyone who approached the imposing complex in the Isar valley would know who really resided there: the German Intelligence Agency. Even flower boxes suddenly appeared: The odd dash of color couldn’t do any harm in this gloomy environment. The newly-appointed BND chief quickly gained a good reputation. Even the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily, tradionally wary of secret services, praised Geiger as “competent, accurate and refreshingly outspoken.”

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