West German defector dies in Moscow

Hans-Joachim Tiedge


By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A senior West German counterintelligence official, whose 1985 defection to the Soviet bloc shocked Western intelligence, has died in Moscow. Hans-Joachim Tiedge headed the Cologne office of West Germany’s now-defunct Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). He was also involved in the BfV’s counterintelligence work against East German spy operations on West German soil. But on August 19, 1985, Tiedge boarded a train to East Germany. Once there, he walked over to a branch of the Ministry for State Security (commonly known as the Stasi) and declared his intent to defect. His defection caused disarray in West German intelligence circles, prompting the recall of dozens of West German officers and agents operating in East Germany. It eventually led to the resignation of the Director of the BfV, Heribert Hellenbroich. In his autobiography, published in 1998, Tiedge said he decided to defect “due to personal problems” relating to chronic alcoholism and financial debt. He also said his decision to flee to East Germany was prompted by the fear that he was about to be reassigned to a less desirable post inside the BfV. The East Germans provided Tiedge with an apartment in the suburbs of East Berlin, where he lived until 1990. On that year, shortly before the reunification of Germany, the Soviet KGB secretly transferred Tiedge to Moscow, where he lived on a state pension. Tiedge’s Berlin-based German publisher, Eulenspiegel Verlag, quoted his family in announcing the date of his death as April 6. No further information was disclosed about the circumstances of his death. Tiedge was 73.

About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

2 Responses to West German defector dies in Moscow

  1. Kevin Larkin says:

    The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is not defunct as the article mentions but still alive and (reasonably well). See its website for further info



  2. intelNews says:

    You are right, it’s not defunct, and in fact we have covered it in this blog several times in the past year. I guess I was thinking more of the radical shift in the BfV’s operational focus since German reunification. Thanks for catching this. [JF]

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