Spymaster takes secrets to grave

Breaking News

Markus Wolf, who died yesterday aged 83, was the highly successful East German Cold War spymaster who placed agents alongside two West German Chancellors.

Markus Wolf

Wolf was the head of the Hauptverwaltung Aufklarung, the East German foreign intelligence service, from 1952 until 1986, making a speciality of sending so-called "Romeo" spies into West Germany to seduce female government employees. The hallmark of Wolf's operations was the enormous patience with which he waited for his spies to achieve positions where they would be useful to their Communist masters.

Many of the women who succumbed to the ploy were lonely secretaries approaching middle age who had far greater access to government secrets than their lowly role might have suggested. But one progressed through the ranks of the West German security service to become its most highly placed female officer, while in 1975 another secured a post in the office of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Dagmar Kahlig-Scheffler, codenamed Inge, was recruited by a Romeo spy who was actually on holiday in Bulgaria and was slowly manoeuvred through a succession of posts until she obtained a job in the Chancellery. The intelligence she passed to her handlers included the contents of confidential conversations between Schmidt and James Callaghan, in which the then British prime minister denounced the Americans as "arrogant" and "stupid".

But Wolf's most important agent was neither a Romeo spy nor one of the scores of lonely "Juliets" they seduced. Gunther Guillaume was part of a husband and wife team, just one of hundreds of potential spies, sent into the West in the 1950s. Guillaume worked in an East German publishing house with links to the secret police, the Stasi, which as well as running an extensive network of spies against its own people had ultimate control over Wolf's foreign intelligence service.

comments powered by Disqus