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The Famous Stasi Spy Chief MARKUS WOLF Dies

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ne of the world’s most famous spy chiefs Markus Wolf - has died at the age of 83. Ironically he passed away peacefully in his sleep on the 17th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Known as the ‘Man Without A Face’, Wolf headed East Germany’s foreign intelligence service for three decades starting in 1950. For years the Stasi chief managed to keep such a low profile that the West did not even have a recognisable photograph of him. It was not until 1978, when he was photographed during a visit to Sweden, did his face become known to the intelligence world. Werner Stiller, who had earlier defected to the West saw the photo and identified Wolf. Wolf headed a thoroughly clandestine service in charge of thousands of spies and even more ‘watchers’ - it’s estimated 1 in 50 people in the communist country spied on behalf of the state. Wolf’s 4,000 agents were also spread across much of Europe, but were particularly successful in infiltrating the West German Government. Dubbed ‘Romeo’ agents, many of the spies were brilliantly seductive and succeeded in gleaning secrets from vulnerable or lonely government officials. However, since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, Wolf has revealed plenty about his life in the shadows. But it could have been so very different. In 1989-90, with German reunification approaching and the Berlin Wall crumbling, CIA director William Webster (right) sent two officials to make contact with Wolf and tried to get him to defect... the offer of a lovely house in California and a huge salary failed to secure his services. “I couldn’t betray my agents,” he said. Ultimately, with the Stasi in turmoil and the real possibility of millions of intelligence files falling into the hands of Western

security services, Wolf fled to Moscow. Like the theme from a good spy book, Wolf eventually gave himself up at a remote border crossing in Bavaria. In 1993, he was given a six-year prison sentence - overturned in 1995 by an appeals court because it was felt that his activities had been legal in communist East Germany. He eventually returned to Germany in 1997 and was charged with treason and four kidnappings carried out by his agents during the Cold War. In this case, he was sentenced to two-years in prison... suspended. When the Cold War ended, Wolf wrote his memoirs - The Man Without A Face, after his CIA-MI6 nickname. He told the BBC in a later interview that he was “inspired” by the creation of ‘Karla’, a master spy in John le Carré’s Cold War thrillers. There were other reports that John le Carré took Wolf as his inspiration for the character of Karla. It’s a charge the bestselling author strongly denies. “The only Wolf I was familiar with when I wrote the books in which he apparently claimed to have appeared, was a lawnmower. I repeatedly refused to appear on public platforms with him, and I have no admiration

for his achievements.” Perhaps Wolf’s biggest success was the planting of Stasi agent, Günter Guillaume, as a top aide to West Germany’s chancellor, Willy Brandt (above left). When the spy was discovered, it led to Mr Brandt’s resignation in 1974. Nevertheless, it was an achievement Wolf later called an “own goal,” as Brandt emerged as the architect of rapprochement. For years Wolf was a constant thorn in the side of NATO. His spies were many in number and the West’s intelligence services were menaced by their presence in civilian, military and intelligence arenas. “He will go down in history for being one of the most successful espionage chiefs of the cold war,” said Jochen Staadt, a professor at the Otto-Suhr-Insitut, in Berlin, who specialises in the history of the Stasi. “But the negative side of his work won’t

be forgotten either - for instance, his department for disinformation about West Germany, which manufactured gossip and lies to defame western politicians.” In later years Wolf discovered he had Jewish roots and visited Israel. Born 19 January 1923, to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, he fled with his family to Moscow in 1934 via France following the Nazis rise to power. During the latter part of WWII he worked at German People’s Radio in Moscow from 1943 to 1945. Following the Nuremberg trials, Wolf became a committed Communist, and returned to East Germany with a group of people that included Walter Ulbricht, who would eventually become East Germany’s longtime leader. In an interview with the Israeli publication, Haaretz, two years ago, Wolf said he considered seeking asylum in Israel under the Law of Return, but Jewish friends counselled him Israel would not accept him nor would they extradite him. This was probably because of the Stasi’s contact with leaders of Palestinian terror organisations. Officials say he must have had knowledge of the liaison.

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