Imagine if Heinrich Himmler or Lavrenti Beria had written an autobiography! Well, a secret police chief of even greater prowess (and even greater secrecy) has done just that. For 34 years--through almost the whole of the Cold War--Markus Wolf was the head of East Germany's foreign intelligence service. As such, he gathered and disseminated to his Soviet sponsors many of the deepest top secrets of the whole era. A good example of the mirrors-within-mirrors nature of Wolf's world is his description of his service's interactions with celebrated terrorist Carlos the Jackal. Wolf relates that whenever Carlos came to East Berlin, the spymaster's main concern was "getting him out of the country as soon as possible." But this proved difficult because well, Carlos was a terrorist
not above turning on his hosts. Indeed, Wolf reveals that while Carlos was a guest of his government, he made threats against East Germany's Paris embassy and that the reaction was not to expel him, but to beef up embassy security. Similarly, Wolf tells how the 1986 La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin, which killed two U.S. soldiers and resulted in a U.S. reprisal air strike against Libya, involved East Germany's knowing admission through border control of Libyan diplomats with explosives in their luggage. Here, Wolf questions the notion that such terrorists were worth coddling for their usefulness in any all-out war against the West. You have to wonder if he also did so in his old job.
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From Library Journal
East Germany had one of the most successful intelligence services of the Communist bloc, headed by the notorious Wolf, rumored to be the model for John le Carre's evil Karla. Wolf (b. 1923) was trained by the Comintern in the 1930s as a Soviet agent after fleeing Hitler, and from 1952 to 1987 he led the foreign intelligence arm of the East German secret police (Stasi). In this memoir, he recounts the sex-for-information spy game, turf battles and bureaucratic inertia, covert warfare, his Western opponents, family problems, his flight to the Soviet Union in 1989 after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic, and his return to Germany in 1991. Wolf is proud of his professional career and still believes in the Socialist ideal but says (rather self-servingly) that the methods were all wrong. While Leslie Colitt's Spymaster (LJ 11/15/95) offers an insightful portrait of Wolf, this insider's look at the East German espionage community (complete with organizational charts of the East German government and Communist Party and the Ministry of State Security) is also recommended for public and academic libraries.?Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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