Spying on Science: Western Intelligence in Divided Germany 1945-1961

By P. U. Maddrell | Go to book overview

5
Mass Espionage: Western Spying in
Germany 1945–61

IDENTIFYING, RECRUITING, AND COMMUNICATING
WITH SPIES BEFORE 13 AUGUST 1961

Traditional espionage using human spies reached its peak in Germany in the years 1945–61. At no other time in peacetime have the Great Powers put so much effort into obtaining intelligence from people. There are many reasons for this: the weakness of other sources, both overt and covert; the number of countries involved and the competition between their intelligence agencies; the competition even between the American agencies; the Americans' huge resources. However, the principal reason lay in the extraordinary opportunities which divided Germany, and above all divided Berlin, offered for spying, not only on the DDR and the other satellites but also on the most important target, the USSR. Of course, these opportunities could best be exploited by Germans, which explains why the Western secret services relied heavily on German partner organizations. The first and most important of these was the Gehlen Organization; in 1956, it became West Germany's official foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). However, there were many others. The Western services' espionage also depended very heavily on German principal agents running strings of sub-agents. Most fundamentally, it fed on resistance to the Communist domination of East Germany and the flight to which this gave rise. This chapter largely concerns the operations of the BND and CIA; some mention is also made of MI6.

Secret services have three tasks: to identify, recruit, and communicate with spies. They can only perform these tasks if they have access to suitable people. West Berlin was, until 1961, the Western secret services' main base of operations against the DDR and the whole Communist Bloc because it gave them this access: it was a safe haven, free of Communist control, where they could operate, and which East Germans, Soviets, and other Eastern Europeans could reach. It was easier to reach than any other piece of Western-held territory. West Berlin denied the MfS the control over the East German people's movements which was essential to give the DDR proper security. For the KGB it posed an unprecedented

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