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Stanze
Burst encoder puncher

Stanze 1 was a manually-operated tape puncher, also known as a burst encoder, developed in the late 1950s or early 1960s in the former DDR (East-Germany), by the OTS 2 of the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, also known as the Stasi. The device is used to punch numerical messages into a regular ¼" magnetic (audio) tape, as a series of holes that represent the numbers in morse code. Stanze was used in conjunction with the so-called Handschnellgeber (HSG) and similar keyers.

The device is made of brass and is small enough to be carried in a pocket. It has a hinged lid at the top and can be loaded with regular ¼" ferro-magnetic audio tape of the type that was used with the tape recorders of the 1960s and 70s. It could be obtained from any regular audio store in Western Europe without attracting attention.

East-German agents — working covertly in a West-European country — used the device to prepare messages for transmission via radio. This was only done in case of an emergency, as they would normally be passed via dead-drops.
  
Stanze - morse tape puncher

The device shown here, was probably made around 1962. It was found in 2018 in a forgotten cache 3 in a West European country, together with a complete (and fully functional) East-German spy radio transmitter with Handschnellgeber. It had been stored underground for nearly 60 years.

Stanze was also issued with the East-German SE-25 spy radio set, but only as a gap-fill solution until the automatic Geber E became available. After that, it was used as a backup in case Geber E failed. For this reason, Stanze is also known as Ersatzschnellgeber (replacement burst encoder).

  1. Stanze is the German word for Puncher.
  2. OTS = Operative Technische Sektor (Operational Technical Division).
  3. In this context, a cache is a secret – generally underground – hiding place.

Stanze Stanze with lever stowed inside Stanze with operating lever removed Stanze with operating lever attached Operating the puncher Top view of the interior Case lock 10-position number selector
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Stanze
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Stanze with lever stowed inside
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Stanze with operating lever removed
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Stanze with operating lever attached
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Operating the puncher
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Top view of the interior
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Case lock
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10-position number selector

Features
The diagram below gives an overview of the features of the Stanze. The devices measures 78 x 56 x 22.5 mm and weights 312 grams. It is made of brass and has a hinged lid at the top, that can be opened by releasing a spring clip at the right with a finger nail. Inside the device – at the top left – is a lever that should be removed, and fitted at the bottom by means of the knurled bolt.


Before loading the device with tape, it is important to place the red pinch roller in the parking position, so that the tape way is free. To do this, push the pinch roller parking stub towards the rear until it locks. The tape should then be guided from the entry port at the left, through the mechanism as indicated in the drawing inside the top lid, until it leaves the device through the exit port at the right. Engage the pinch roller again, by lifting the pinch roller parking clamp.




Next, rotate the knob at the left so that the first number of the message is at the top, and press the punch lever at the rear. This advances the tape and then punches the pattern of the selected number in the tape. Repeat this process for all numbers of the message. The image above shows what the punched tape looks like. The tape chad (i.e. the cut-out pieces of tape) end up in a small compartment at the front left. It should be emptied after every five groups (i.e. every 25 digits).

Stanze with lever stowed inside Stanze with operating lever removed Top view of the interior Rubber pinch roller in storage position Releasing the rubber pinch roller Pinch roller engaged Close-up of the punching mechanism Opening the tape chad compartment
Stanze - morse tape puncher Stanze (puncher) with punched tape Close-up of the punched (mores) numbers The number '4' in morse code Tape chad Puncher (left) and keyer (right) Magnetic tape and spare reels for burst encoder Stanze as part of a chache find in 2018
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Stanze with lever stowed inside
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Stanze with operating lever removed
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Top view of the interior
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Rubber pinch roller in storage position
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Releasing the rubber pinch roller
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Pinch roller engaged
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Close-up of the punching mechanism
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Opening the tape chad compartment
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Stanze - morse tape puncher
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Stanze (puncher) with punched tape
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Close-up of the punched (mores) numbers
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The number '4' in morse code
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Tape chad
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Puncher (left) and keyer (right)
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Magnetic tape and spare reels for burst encoder
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Stanze as part of a chache find in 2018

Documentation
  1. Stanze, excerpt from SE-25 manual
    Date unknown. Photographed October 2005 at BKA by Detlev Vreisleben [4].
References
  1. Crypto Museum, DDR Type 2 spy radio set
    December 2018.

  2. Louis Meulstee, Wireless for the Warrior, volume 4
    ISBN 0952063-36-0, September 2004

  3. Louis Meulstee, Handschnellgeber
    Supplement Chapter 98, March 2016.

  4. Detlev Vreisleben, personal correspondence
    June — December 2018.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Sunday, 09 December 2018 - 07:57 CET.
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