Illegal spy agency operated in West Germany, new book claims

Willy BrandtBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Conservative politicians in Cold-War West Germany set up an illegal domestic intelligence agency in order to spy on their political rivals, a forthcoming book claims. In Destroy After Reading: The Secret Intelligence Service of the CDU and CSU, German journalist Stefanie Waske exposes what she says was an elaborate plot to undermine West Germany’s rapprochement with Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. The book, which is scheduled for publication in February of 2013, claims that the illegal intelligence agency, known as ‘the Little Service’, was set up by politicians from Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister organization, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU). The two parties allegedly founded ‘the Little Service’ in 1969, in response to the election of Willy Brandt as German Chancellor in 1969. Brandt, who was leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP), was elected based on a program of normalizing West Germany’s relations with Eastern Europe. Under this policy, which became known as ‘Neue Ostpolitik’ (‘new eastern policy’), Brandt radically transformed West German foreign policy on Eastern Europe. In 1970, just months after his election, he signed an extensive peace agreement with the Soviet Union, known as the Treaty of Moscow, which was followed later that year by the so-called Treaty of Warsaw. Under the latter agreement, West Germany officially recognized the existence and borders of the People’s Republic of Poland. Brandt’s Neue Ostpolitik, which continued until the end of his tenure in the Chancellery in 1974, earned him the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve reconciliation between West Germany and the countries of the Soviet bloc, primarily East Germany. But Brandt’s policy of rapprochement alarmed the CDU/CSU coalition, says Waske, which quickly set up ‘the Little Service’ by enlisting former members of Germany’s intelligence community. Read more of this post

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Missing section of Cold War spy tunnel unearthed in Germany

Part of the unearthed tunnelBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A missing section of a secret tunnel, constructed by British and American intelligence agencies to spy on Soviet and East German government communications during the Cold War has been unearthed in Germany. The tunnel, believed to be nearly half a kilometer (1/3 mile) long, was part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Operation GOLD, also known as Operation STOPWATCH in Britain. It was based on an idea initially suggested to the Americans in the early 1950s by Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), which had carried out a similar scheme in Soviet-occupied Austria. The CIA adopted and funded the program at the cost of nearly $7 million. At its completion, the underground tunnel connected a secret entry-point in Rudow, West Berlin, to a location beneath Alt-Glienicke in East Berlin. The aim behind the project was to tap into underground telephone cables facilitating Soviet and East German military and civilian government communications. But the KGB, the Soviet Union’s foremost intelligence agency during the Cold War, was aware of the project almost from its infancy, thanks to George Blake, a British informant who was later convicted to 42 years in prison, but managed to escape to Moscow in 1966. Interestingly, the KGB did not reveal the tunnel’s existence to the Soviet and East German militaries, fearing that a sudden rerouting of communications cables would expose Blake as a Soviet mole. Instead, they allowed the tunnel to operate for nearly a year before publicly exposing its existence in 1956. At that time, Soviet and East German authorities dug up the eastern section of the tunnel and bussed in hundreds of international reporters, as well as tens of thousands of East Germans, to view the tunnel, in a massive propaganda campaign. In 1997, part of the tunnel that crossed West Berlin was excavated and transported to the Allied Museum in Berlin. Read more of this post

German spy agency destroyed employee files of former Nazi members

BND seal

BND seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Germany’s primary spy agency has admitted that it recently destroyed the personnel files of some of its employees who used to be members of Nazi-era organizations during World War II, before they were hired to spy for West Germany in the postwar era. The discovery of the destruction of the files was made by a group of German historians  appointed by the government to investigate the extent to which the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s postwar foreign intelligence agency, relied on former Nazi officials. It has been known for some time that a tenth of the BND’s postwar personnel had been members of the Hitler-era National Socialist German Workers’ Party, the Gestapo, the SS and its intelligence wing, the SD. Earlier this year, however, the BND’s outgoing Director, Ernst Uhrlau, appointed an independent commission of historians to research the BND’s attitude toward the hundreds of former Nazi officials within its ranks. Now the independent commission has told German media that, in 2007, the spy agency destroyed approximately 250 personnel files belonging to BND employees with Nazi pasts. The commission’s spokesman, Dr Klaus-Dietmar Henke, told German newsmagazine Der Spiegel that the destroyed files primarily related to people who occupied “significant intelligence positions in the SS, the SD or the Gestapo”. Der Spiegel, which described the incident as “a true historical scandal”, said that the destruction of the files “inevitably raises suspicions that agency employees have deliberately tried to obstruct […] efforts to investigate the organization’s history”. Read more of this post

Vladimir Putin ‘targeted by German spy agency’ during his KGB days

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A German researcher claims that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was targeted by West German intelligence in the 1980s when he was a KGB operative in East Germany. In the Cold War’s closing stages, Putin and his wife, Ludmila Putina, who were then in their thirties, spent five years in Dresden, German Democratic Republic. As one of four KGB officers in Dresden, Putin was tasked with infiltrating the local university and monitoring the on-campus activities of the children of Soviet and East German notables. But according to new research published last week, an undercover agent of the BND, West Germany’s external intelligence agency, was able to infiltrate the Putin household in Dresden, and pass private information about the couple’s personal life to her spymasters in Bonn and in NATO. The agent, codenamed LENCHEN, a native German, worked as a translator at the KGB station in Dresden. She reportedly befriended Ludmila Putina, eventually becoming her “shoulder to cry on”, according to Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, director of the Weilheim-based Institute for Peace Studies, who has published several books on the history of the BND. Schmidt-Eenboom claims that LENCHEN became Ludmila Putina’s closest confidante in Dresden. The latter told her that Vladimir Putin had been involved in numerous infidelities over the years and that he often beat his wife. LENCHEN reported to her handlers that life in the Putin household was highly dysfunctional, despite an outward appearance of happiness and normality. Schmidt-Eenboom claims he confirmed the report with at least two unconnected sources with knowledge of BND operations during the Cold War. If the story is historically accurate, it will signify only the second known penetration of KGB structures in Europe by the BND. The only other such example, says Schmidt-Eenboom, involved an agent named COLONEL VIKTOR, who also worked as an agent for the BND in the 1980s. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #611

Kalevi Sorsa

Kalevi Sorsa

►►Diplomat says Finland’s ex-prime minister was Stasi agent. Finnish former diplomat Alpo Rusi said last week that Kalevi Sorsa, Finland’s longest serving prime minister, who led the country in the 1970s and 1980s, is on a secret list of 18 high-profile Finns with links to the Stasi, East Germany’s Cold-War security service. West German intelligence handed the file to its Finnish counterpart in 1990, but the Finnish Supreme Court ruled last year that the list would not be made public.
►►Nazi criminal spied for West Germany. A wiretap operation conducted in the early 1960s by the CIA against the BND, West Germany’s foreign intelligence service, revealed that the BND employed a senior Nazi war criminal, Franz Rademacher, to spy for it in Syria, CIA records show.
►►US government aims to build ‘data eye in the sky’. Social scientists are trying to mine the vast resources of the Internet — Web searches and Twitter messages, Facebook and blog posts, the digital location trails generated by billions of cell phones to “predict the future”.

Former Finnish diplomat reveals she worked for the CIA

Marja-Liisa Linkoaho

Linkoaho

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Finnish diplomat in Cold-War East Germany has revealed how she was recruited by the US Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960s, shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall. Marja-Liisa Linkoaho spoke to the Sunday edition of Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, and admitted that she worked for American intelligence. She did so despite representing Finland, which was notably pro-Soviet during the presidency of ‘neutralist’ Finnish statesman Urho Kekkonen. She told the paper that, in 1961, at age 27, she became an assistant at the Finnish trade mission in East Germany, which at the time served as Finland’s de facto embassy in the communist country. The trade mission was headed by Consul General Olavi Wanne, and was centrally located on Mauerstrasse, within walking distance from the border between East and West Berlin. In August of 1961, less than three months after Linkoaho moved to East Germany, the country’s government, under Walter Ulbricht, took the decision to begin the construction of the Berlin Wall. However, as a foreign diplomat, Linkoaho was able to travel freely between East and West Germany despite the construction in Berlin of the heavily policed partition barrier. Several months later, Linkoaho borrowed a sum of money by one of her Finnish co-workers at the trade commission, which she used to purchase a German-made Volkswagen Beetle, from an American car dealership in West Berlin. However, shortly after she returned to East Berlin with her new car, it was stolen. Interestingly, Linkoaho said that, soon after the theft of her car, she was contacted by the CIA and asked to work for them as an agent, in return for money and a new car. The Finnish former diplomat told the Helsingin Sanomat that she had been contacted by the CIA “a few times before”, but had politely declined the Agency’s offers for work. This time, however, she needed the money, and the car, so she took up the offer. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #562 (East German Stasi edition)

Stasi emblem

Stasi emblem

►►Archive photos show East German spy service disguises. While sifting through the archives of the East German secret state police, the Stasi, Berlin-based artist Simon Menner unearthed a series of images used by the organization for an internal course called The Art of Disguising. He reproduced the photos and has put them on display in a new exhibition entitled Pictures from the Secret Stasi Archives.
►►Former German leftwing radical was Stasi informant. In the 1960s and 1970s, Horst Mahler was a leader of the German left and a lawyer for the militant-left Red Army Faction. Now he is a member of the radical right, sitting in jail for denying the Holocaust. But he has reportedly verified reports that he also worked as an informant for East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi, from 1967 to 1970.
►►Thousands of Stasi informants still unidentified. Fifty years after the construction of the Berlin Wall, thousands of West German spies for the former East German Stasi secret police have yet to be identified, according Read more of this post