“This week, the commission for the Stasi files will publish a handbook on the HVA, the Stasi branch that handled foreign intelligence and was run by legendary spymaster Markus Wolf. The book offers new insight into the Stasi’s work in West Germany, making clear for the first time just how purposefully and extensively the East German intelligence service had West German politics and society in its sights.
It’s now possible to reconstruct in unprecedented detail where and how the Stasi cast its nets. The organization had 149 informants active just in Bonn, the former West German capital. There were 542 in West Berlin.
It seems the HVA recruited most of these spies from industrial sectors, as a way of obtaining Western technological knowledge. It also maintained excellent connections in the center-left Social Democratic Party, where 78 unofficial collaborators and other contacts kept East Berlin up to date, 13 of them serving as sources of information on activities within the party’s executive committee. The Stasi was also well informed on internal matters in unions, churches and universities.”
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