In November 1996, a German newspaper reported that there were over one hundred unsolved kidnapings in the Berlin police files dating from the first years following World War II.’ There may have been greater reader reaction if it had been added that the unsolved cases represented only a fraction of the many hundreds of kidnapings that had actually occurred in Berlin from 1945 to 1961.
These unfortunate people were not just random victims seized from the streets of occupied Berlin; they were caught in a pattern of terror inflicted upon the city by the communists. They were people who, for a variety of reasons, became pawns in the intelligence war raging between the United States and the Soviet Union.
This is the story of those turbulent years when West sector residents of Berlin who opposed communism or became identified with American policies, lived in constant fear of being kidnaped. It is a story that has only been partially told because of insufficient documentation. This situation changed dramatically with the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), for it opened the doors to a flood of secret files.2 Meanwhile, the passage of time— almost half a century—and public pressures persuaded the ever-reluctant American intelligence community to relax its grip on some of the relevant records in their possession.
Records from the former East German Ministry for State Security