Germany opens school for intelligence agencies in Berlin, once dubbed ‘capital of spies’

Berlin was dubbed the ‘capital of spies’ during the Cold War, and Germany's capital remains a hotspot of espionage to this day.

On Tuesday, the country’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies opened the joint Center for Intelligence Service Training in response to German lawmakers’ demands they cut costs by merging their long-separate training facilities.

Located close to where the Berlin Wall once sliced the city in two, the spy school is located at the new $1.1 billion headquarters of the foreign intelligence agency BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst, otherwise known as Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service), which opened earlier this year and houses 4,000 staff, according to The Associated Press.

People walk past the center for advanced education (ZNAF) at the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) in Berlin Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

People walk past the center for advanced education (ZNAF) at the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) in Berlin Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The agency was previously based in a sprawling Nazi-era complex in Pullach, near Munich, which remains the site of Germany's electronic eavesdropping operation.

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With space for 700 students, more than 110 of whom can live on site, the school offers lessons in covert observation, law, interrogation and information technology.

Students will learn practical skills such as how to fend off cyberattacks, foil terrorists and shake off hostile agents on their tail. Students include recruits fresh out of high school, as well as those who already have completed first degrees and want to pursue a two-year Masters in Intelligence and Security.

Known by its German acronym, ZNAF, the facility includes laboratories, workshops and video studies — all strictly off-limits to media.

Cars drive past the center for advanced education (ZNAF) at the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) in Berlin Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Cars drive past the center for advanced education (ZNAF) at the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) in Berlin Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the East German government announcing that the border between communist East Berlin and democratic West Berlin, demarcated by the Berlin Wall, was open.

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The wall divided Germany for 28 years and served as a symbol of the Cold War.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.