Friday, November 10, 2006

Cold War Chief Spook Wolf deceased

Markus Wolf, the legendary chief of the East German foreign intelligence service HVA - Haupt Verwaltung Aufklaerung - died November 9 in his sleep at home in Berlin, exactly 17 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He was 83 years old. After fleeing in 1933 from Nazi Germany he returned after the war as journalist on the Neurenberg trials. In 1953 he was one of the founding members of the foreign intelligence service, a department of the ministry of state security, the notorious Stasi. As head of the HVA, Wolf developed the most effective secret service of the Cold War and recruited several thousands of spies in West Germany and other NATO countries.

After retiring in 1986 he published a book - a film project of his late brother Konrad - about friendship which also exposed the failure of communism. For the people in the East, Wolf, who supported the Glasnost and Perestroika, became a symbol of the ongoing changes in the German Democratic Republic. Although Wolf headed only the foreign intelligence, on of the departments of Erich Mielke's Stasi, he became targeted as Stasi spy chief by the media during the period of the fall of the Berlin Wall. After the collapse of the GDR he was charged and sentenced in the reunified Germany with espionage, bribery and treason, but that conviction was later overturned and he received a suspended sentence on lesser charges. His death is seen as the end of the Cold War Intelligence era.

Wolf wrote several books that gave an insight on the East German Intelligence Services and the collapse of East Germany. More on these books on my Book Reviews page. An interesting interview with Wolf is published on CNN's Cold War series. A short bio is found on BBC News.

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