What would happen if the desert became communist?
Nothing for a while, and then there would be a sand shortage.
That’s just one of the jokes collected by West German spies in East Germany back in the day. From Der Spiegel:
The jokes were gleaned from secretly opened letters and phone conversations that agents from West Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) would monitor in their quest for East German state secrets during the Cold War.
The joke report was by far the most popular service the spies provided. “It was our biggest hit,” recalls former BND spy Dieter Gandersheim, whose real name is of course quite different. The Chancellery and the ministries couldn’t wait for the file, he said.
Here’s another one:
Christmas has been cancelled. Mary didn’t find any diapers for the baby Jesus, Joseph was called up to the army and the three kings didn’t get a travel permit.
My eleven year old asks me why I’m laughing. I tell her the jokes. She says, “I don’t get it.” The Soviet Union isn’t a part of her world. It’s ancient history, like my childhood, only slightly more recent than the dinosaurs. It was in the last millenium, after all. The same millenium as the world wars and the bubonic plague. Yeah okay we have climate change–but from the perspective of a thousand years, I would say there is hope.