Have you ever wondered why Western intelligence agencies never took advantage of the fact that Warsaw Pact countries collapsed like a house of cards and that the CIA, MI6, and others suddenly had access to thousands of intelligence agents who made their lives miserable throughout the cold war?
Perhaps the reason is because the STASI Eastern Germany Intelligence Agency was more successful than its equivalents such as the CIA?
In this essay, we will look at how STASI used secrecy and social engineering to collect intelligence and infiltrate the cabinet of Western Germany's chancellor, using him to make decisions in favour of Warsaw Pact countries.
Without a doubt, Vladimir Putin was the counterintelligence operative who collaborated with Misha and the STASI international intelligence section.
How the Stasi leader drove all intelligence agencies insane: He was the mastermind behind the activities, although he was oblivious that the Berlin Wall was being built.
The Israeli tabloid "Jerusalem Post" referred to him as "the best espionage chief in the world."
In the West, he was labelled "The Man Without a Face" for a long time.
Until 1979, Western intelligence services had no idea who their main foe looked like, who was bothering them and asking them questions.
During his tour to Sweden, which was filmed on tape by a local news organisation, he paid a visit to the grave of Kurt Tucholsky, a prominent German satirist who committed himself after believing Hitler had won the war.
The weekly "Spiegel" immediately published Wolff's photograph.
Markus was born on January 19, 1923 in Weimar, Germany. His childhood was spent in Stuttgart. Father Friedrich was a doctor as well as a writer. His mother, Elsa Wolff, was a teacher.
The Wolffs were compelled to leave Germany in 1933, ten years after Marcus was born, because being a Jew and a member of the German Communist Party was not an ideal combination.
They lived in France and Switzerland before relocating to the Soviet Union in 1934.
Markus attended elite Moscow schools and received Soviet papers at the age of 13 in 1936. He studied at the Moscow Aviation Institute in aeronautical studies in 1940 before joining the Comintern in 1942, when he was transported to the Bashkortostan region and trained for espionage activities behind enemy lines at a school.
After getting entirely Russified, his moniker became Misha. This nickname remained with him for the rest of his life. From 1943 to 1945, after the fall of the Comintern, he worked on the radio in Moscow, on the German people's channel.
After returning to Germany, he began working for the secret service.
In 1945, he was one of the first Germans to return from the Second World War, to the Soviet sector of Germany. He did so under the alias Michael Storm and worked as a journalist for Radio Berlin in Berlin. He discusses a number of subjects, including the Nuremberg Trials. He despised Nazism and wished that such tragedies would never happen again.
He returned to Moscow in 1949 and served as the East German embassy's first consul there until 1951.
Wolff was afterwards questioned about how he remained anonymous and "faceless" for so long. He remarked that it was "just proof of the stupidity of the Western agencies" because he never concealed and always sat on the platform during May Day parades dressed as a commander. He further stated that it is not his fault nor his credit that he was never discovered.
From no prior espionage experience to becoming the greatest secret spy ever
Markus Wolf began his career as a journalist after living in the Soviet Union and Switzerland for several years. He worked as a special reporter for the major war criminals' trials at Nuremberg. Walter Ulbricht brought him to his office in 1952 and appointed him head of the intelligence service, which had only recently begun to be built. Wolff, 29, understood nothing about espionage other from his study at Kushnarenko's. He announced his resignation in 1987.
He claims that he disagreed with East Germany's political direction, that it was time for him to retire and focus on writing, and that he had conflicts with his supervisor, Minister Mielke. Milke, like many old communists, was puritanical and reprimanded Wolf for his very liberal love life. Wolff also observed at the time that finding someone who could survive such a scenario for so long would be difficult.
While saving the West German chancellor, he accidentally knocked him down.
The political rise and collapse of West Germany's chancellor Willy Brandt acted as a reminder of his time working for the Stasi.
In particular, in 1972, the CDU attempted to depose then-Chancellor Brandt by proposing that the Bundestag vote against him. The social-liberal alliance held a narrow majority, and every vote affected the outcome of the election. Then he revealed that Wolff was also involved in the case.
In other words, Brandt eventually won a confidence vote with a two-vote majority, and one of those votes came from Julius Steiner, who had been bribed 50,000 marks by the Stasi to support Brandt, whose ongoing control suited the Easterners. Chancellor Brandt, however, was forced to resign two years later as a result of his assistant Günter Guyom, a clandestine Stasi spy.
In 1990, 16 years after his departure, Wolff addressed him an apology letter in which he expressed his deep regret for the conduct that had led to his resignation.
People are the key to espionage
In an interview, Marcus stated that he has always preferred agents.
- It is difficult to generalise about a big service with a history of noteworthy failures and accomplishments. I feel that the CIA places too much emphasis on the technical aspects of espionage because they assume that sophisticated technology will ensure their success. In contrast, they undervalue human espionage, but I have always supported agents and their work. I said that the human aspect, not military strength, might be used to destroy terrorism. "The army primarily kills people," he stated at the time.
His admission, which he wrote about in one of his books, that he had no idea the Berlin Wall would be built, stunned everyone.
I realise the whole thing seems ridiculous, but I honestly had no idea our people were starting to build a wall. It was a big problem for us since the spies had no difficulties going between different parts of Berlin up until that moment, but as the wall rose, it got increasingly difficult. I asked the interior minister how the head of the intelligence service could have been kept in the dark about such a serious incident. We eventually succeeded, although it was more difficult than before the Berlin Wall was created, he noted at the time.
Markus Wolf, the team's chief of STASI's Main Reconnaissance Division (HVA),
His Main Reconnaissance Department (HVA) made a substantial contribution to STASI's national and international success. At its peak, the HVA employed 4,000 permanent staff members, accounting for just around 5% of all STASI workers. Other STASI workers looked up to them since they had access to possibilities for worldwide travel and advanced study.
As a result, the HVA had unparalleled effectiveness. Markus Wolf, the team's leader, and his group, which focused mostly on West Germany, both contributed to the team's success.
Despite having only 4,000 members compared to the STASI's 100,000, this organisation attracted the most attention from the Western media. The HVA was successful partly because it had access to West German intelligence circles, but it was also successful because Western intelligence services were never able to pry into the HVA's ranks.
Wolf had a reputation to maintain. Wolf's inability to be physically identified by the West for even 25 years demonstrates the HVA's exceptional security. Wolf became known as "the man without a face" due to the legend that arose as a result of his lack of information.
As a result, the HVA was the most distinguished division of the STASI. For two reasons, the hiring requirements were extremely stringent. If HVA officials wanted to work abroad, they had to be completely trustworthy first.
Second, the HVA's growing mission included technological and scientific espionage. Only knowledgeable officials could comprehend and assess the value of information in this environment. The primary source of candidates was the Free German Youth movement.
It was critical that the recruits had no contact with any relatives in the West. As the task became increasingly difficult, an increasing number of recruits came from the families of high-ranking party officials. As an added assurance of loyalty, salaries in the HVA were higher than those in the STASI's internal security branch. Given that there was not a single instance of desertion in the HVA, the effectiveness of those security measures has been shown.
"Department I" dealt with the "main target," West Germany's chancellor, his staff, and important ministries.
The "Department II" that worked with major political parties, labour organisations, and the Church was responsible for Brandt's resignation in the Guillaume incident.
With the exception of the United States and Mexico, "Department III" was supposed to encompass the rest of the world, but in practise, it only included a small number of countries where East Germany had embassies.
"Department IV" focused on military espionage.
The counter-intelligence service in command of the attacks, "Department IX," carried out many infiltrations into West German intelligence institutions.
By the end of the 1970s, the HVA's research and technology efforts had surpassed those of the KGB throughout the Eastern Bloc.
Wolf himself stated that "other Warsaw Pact countries' intelligence services do not gather information on science and technology to the same extent as the HVA." The HVA's organisational structure is another indicator of the importance they placed on science and technology.
In 1966, "Department X" was established within the HVA. On both sides of the Iron Curtain, he was entrusted with propagating false information, which was regarded as an essential component of alternative warfare.
Wolf's "Department X" comrades further up their onslaught against West Germany. They attempted to sow discord and mistrust between West Germany and its allies by disclosing that West Germany's top officials were former Nazis and war criminals.
He also mentioned the Cold War era, specifically that conditions were extremely tight and that the situation peaked in 1962 during the Cuban crisis, when war nearly broke out.
Tensions escalated during the Vietnam War, he added, because American generals frequently attempted to unleash an atomic bomb on Vietnam on occasion.
Marcus Wolff's go-to approach, according to the revealed secret, was to recruit attractive secret agents—both male and female—into the adversary's official ranks.
I understand that James Bond-style espionage stories are popular, but they only represent one component of the intelligence work. Because all sorts of intelligence work rely on personal interactions, Romeo situations occur frequently. The problem is that a great agent might be destroyed by a great love, which is something you don't want to happen.
In one interview, Markus stated that women offered some of the most important knowledge to his service in a number of ways. Because the majority of ministerial or military secretaries are women, knowledge that most civil employees or other government officials lack passes via their hands. He stated they were our most trusted top-secret confidantes.
Renate Lutze (secretary of the Director of the Ministry of Defense's Department of Social Affairs), her husband Lothar, and Jürgen Wiegel were arrested in June 1976 on suspicion of transmitting confidential material to the STASI, startling Bonn with yet another security controversy. According to the investigation, the trio's espionage was the worst in West German history, and their arrest resulted in the detention of sixteen more East German spies.
By the late 1970s, the renowned "Romeo" method had been uncovered, in which an undercover agent seeks to seduce a lady (typically a Secret Service employee) who has access to classified material. However, because more males were working in secret organisations in the West, the tactic was less successful than expected.
The East German and Yugoslavian services did not cooperate.
In interviews, he also indicated that, to the best of his knowledge and at the time he served the Stasi, no one from his service worked with Yugoslav service personnel. Despite the influence of the Soviet KGB service initially being strong and having their own people in its service, the Stasi, in his opinion, has been an independent and independent service since 1960 that has had a great deal of cooperation with the Soviet older brother, all with the aim of fighting against the enemies of the time. Vladimir Putin, Russia's current president, once claimed that the meeting never took place because he was serving in Dresden, East Germany, at the time.
When he retired in 1986, he left the Stasi and began writing books.
Marcus Wolff's literary work, or more specifically, his writing as a writer, was notable because his forums and promotions were consistently well-attended. He added that the circumstances were particularly unpleasant, given how negatively people viewed East Germany at the time.
Years of writing and judging books
He states in his memoirs that after Germany was reunited, he turned down the CIA's offer to reveal KGB agents in exchange for a green card and a happy life in America.
After discovering that a warrant had been issued for his arrest, he escaped to Austria and then the USSR, but a year later he turned himself into German authorities. On that particular occasion, he was detained for a short period of time before being released.
In the 1990s, he was tried for high treason, corruption, serious assault, and kidnapping. In 1993, he was sentenced to six years in prison, but in 1995, he was declared innocent. At the second trial in 1997, he was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in four murders; however, this punishment was eventually reduced to two years with a suspended sentence.
Markus "Misha" Wolff—also known as "The Man Without a Face"—died at the age of 83 on November 9, 2006, the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He left behind his wife, eleven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
He was laid to rest alongside his own brother and the famed East German filmmaker Konard Wolff in the section of Berlin's Central Cemetery reserved for leftists.