Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police

Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police

Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police

Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police

Synopsis

This is a review of the activities of the Stasi, East Germany's Ministry for State Security, including art theft, programmes for international espionage, terrorism and terrorist training, involvement in narcotics, and operations in Latin America.

Excerpt

The first time I met Erich Mielke, the notorious chief of the communist East German secret police, was in February 1965, during a reception for Alexei N. Kosygin, successor to Nikita S. Khrushchev as premier of the Soviet Union. Kosygin had come to East Germany to help celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Leipzig industrial fair and to provide a visible display of Soviet support for the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), the German Democratic Republic. As I was then Berlin correspondent for the Associated Press, it was my job to cover this event. At the time, the fair was the only opportunity for a Western journalist, especially an American, to catch a glimpse of life inside the "workers' and peasants' state." The communist regime had cleared me for travel to the event, but I still lacked the official credentials guaranteeing access to the new Soviet leader. I eventually obtained the necessary documents through Oleg Panin, who served as chief of protocol at the Soviet embassy in East Berlin. I had first met Panin during the highly charged days in October 1962 when U.S. and Soviet tanks faced off, gun barrel to gun barrel, at Checkpoint Charlie on Berlin's east-west border. Panin had begun to court me assiduously--at the outset, probably because he enjoyed the lavish lunches in West Berlin for which I paid because he had no West marks. Later he suddenly had the West marks to spend, and it became obvious that he thought he could recruit me as a spy. Panin did not know that I was on to him. I knew he had been a captain in the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, when he first came to Berlin at the end of World War II. Years later he returned as a "diplomat" and a full colonel in the KGB. Panin oozed politeness when I told him what I needed, and he eagerly provided me Soviet passes and invitations to all events attended by Premier Kosygin.

On February 28, I headed for the Altes Rathaus, the Leipzig city hall built in 1556--still the most beautiful Renaissance-period city hall in Germany. East German Premier Willy Stoph was hosting a reception there for his Soviet counterpart. With my Soviet invitation, I was quickly waved through by the guards and passed into the narrow, dark ceremonial hall. Centuries of grime and communist neglect had made it a dingy place. Like all East German public buildings, the place . . .

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