Thanks to the implementation of index cards across the MfS, Department M had access to sender and receiver addresses, contacts, relatives, etc. to inform their surveillance work. By 1970, the department had instituted the following operational steps for examining mail. Numbers 3–6 were considered highly secretive and operations were performed under the codename “Eagle Flight”.
- Check if the sender or recipient existed in the police card index
- Establish an “Operational Comparison Card” to record information found in the mailing
- In the case of a suspicious mailing, carry out a search of the mail box
- Create photographic documentation of letterheads
- Compare the handwriting or typewriting font, spelling, etc. of the letter head. Identify any stealth writing.
- Form a special “OibE” group to check mail boxes.
Offizieren im besonderen Einsatz (OibE) (English: Officers in Special Operations) groups were formed specifically to monitor, and in some cases, empty mailboxes under the cover of the Deutsche Post uniforms and vehicles. They photographed persons of interest as they dropped mail off, and then opened the mail boxes and examined the contents of letters before they even reached the post office. Photographic records of their work exist, and were presented in the exhibition, “Ein offenes Geheimnis. Post- und Telefonkontrolle in der DDR” (English: “An open secret. Postal and telephone control in the GDR”) (Labrenz-Weiß, 22–24)
- Hanna Labrenz-Weiß, Abteilung M (MfS Handbuch). Hg. BStU. Berlin 2005.