The most important KGB ally in the Cold War was the East German Ministry of State Security (MfS or Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit), known to all as Stasi. In 1989 the Stasi employed 91,000 men and women—four times as many as the Gestapo in a state one-quarter as populous. Coverage of the population was ensured by more than a million informants. The activities of the Stasi were later documented by the Gauck Commission after the collapse of the East German state.
   The Stasi foreign intelligence directorate (Hauptverwaltung Aufklarung), the HVA, led for more than 30 years by Markus Wolf, provided Moscow with critical military and scientific intelligence. Former KGB officers rated Stasi as the best of the satellite intelligence services, and they estimated that 80 percent of their information on NATO came from Stasi. A large number of KGB officers were stationed at a large rezidentura at Karlshorst in East Berlin and in provincial East German cities. Russian President Vladimir Putin served for five years as a KGB liaison officer in Dresden, where the Stasi and the KGB targeted Western businesspeople to collect scientific, technical, and industrial intelligence. Stasi also had a large signals intelligence service, which also collected intelligence and counterintelligence for the KGB.
   Stasi and Wolf provided the KGB with detailed reporting of political developments in West Germany. Wolf’s service recruited and ran Gunter Guillaume, West German Premier Willy Brandt’s aide. The HVA also recruited agents in the right-wing Christian Democratic Party to serve as sources of information and clandestine agents of influence. The HVA also used “romeo spies,” illegals dispatched specifically to seduce and recruit female secretaries of senior politicians, including the president of the German Republic.
   Another of Wolf’s gifts to his Soviet allies was the penetration of the West German intelligence and security services. Bonn had no secrets from Moscow in the Cold War. The first chief of the West German security service, Otto John, was lured into defecting in 1954, and senior intelligence and counterintelligence personnel were recruited as agents from the 1950s to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Three of these were particularly important. Gabriele Gast was recruited by a “romeo spy” in 1973. A brilliant analyst, she was at the time of her arrest in 1987 deputy chief of the West German intelligence service’s Soviet bloc division. Klaus Keron, of the West German counterintelligence service, offered his services to Stasi for money. A senior counterintelligence officer, he was paid 700,000 marks over eight years. Hans-Joachim Tiedge, the chief officer in West Germany’s counterintelligence service, the BfV, defected to East Germany in 1985. He was close to being charged with manslaughter in the death of his wife in a household brawl.
   Stasi tradecraft was quite sophisticated and reminiscent of the Cheka, GPU, and OGPU in the first decades of Soviet power. Rather than depend on case officers under diplomatic cover, East German citizens were frequently dispatched as illegals to handle agents. Turning adversity to opportunity, Wolf’s Stasi seeded the stream of émigrés leaving East Germany with dedicated agents. Wolfe was able to use this tactic because he knew that punishment for espionage in West Germany was light, and that Stasi could use spy swaps to ex-change political prisoners and suspected dissidents for agents captured in the West.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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