IN MEMORY
OF MARKUS WOLF

1923 - 2006


 

Fare Well, Markus, despite it all, you were a gentleman and an idealist
and thus, one of us "Gnostics"!

You were a man who understood people and who knew how to use them without abusing and degrading them... ,"ein Menschenkenner" with honor, and that made you so charismatic, successful and special. No matter what political hacks and bureaucratic mini-souls write about you now and in the years to come, we of the Gnostic Liberation Front understand you and honor you as one of us; a true idealist working for the betterment of mankind as an avowed and honest Communist. Cast into the role of spy-chief, you did your best and served the cause with distinction and honor, never forgetting that you too were "ein Mensch" amongst people in power. Now, as a spiritual being, perhaps you can also understand that those on the opposite side, the "Nazis" of the Nuremberg trials, were also idealists serving a different, yet similar cause and paid for their ideals with their lives....
maligned and despised, more though even then you were, when the "wrath of the people," incited by manipulators and power-players, cast you on the side of the losers. When all seemed lost you reached out to your roots in Judaism and Israel and that too is good and noble as it shows your humanity and capacity to reach out to others in times of need and despair. Being "ein Mensch" is not easy, being a Gnostic "Mensch", an idealist, is nothing less than a heavy burden to bear. -You did well through the journey of your life, you were dedicated to your ideals and treated those placed "below" you with respect and dignity even under the worst circumstances, and that is not an easy thing to do in a heavily politicized position of power....
Fare well, my friend and "Reisekamerad", perhaps we shall meet on the other side when my time comes!
Holger.

 

Who is Markus Wolf?

The following exchange between Jeffrey Herf and Markus Wolf sheds light on two important issues: First, East Germany's repression in the early 1950s of Jewish communists and communists who stressed solidarity with the survivors of the Holocaust and with the state of Israel; and second, the subsequent course of East German foreign policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict. Both phenomena have received insufficient attention in the debates about Germany and its many-sided struggle with the past. Markus Wolf was the director of the foreign intelligence branch of East Germany's Ministry of State Security, or the Stasi, as it was known. He was the model for John Le Carre's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

After the fall of East Germany in 1989, he was arrested and charged with treason. Wolf's father, Friedrich Wolf, was an important communist intellectual in the Weimar Republic and a highly regarded playwright. During World War II he waited out the war in the Soviet Union. Markus grew up there and went to East Germany as a young man to help build the first (and last) communist state on German soil. He was intimately involved with the making of foreign policy in East Germany, in particular in regard to spy activities in West Germany.

Although the Middle East was not his political specialty, he was certainly aware of the direction that East German foreign policy was taking as Israel and its Arab neighbors clashed diplomatically and militarily after 1948. In every vote of the United Nations, the GDR (German Democratic Republic) sided with those states who opposed Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. The GDR also openly supported. Iraq, Syria, and Egypt in their fight against Israel.

Although Wolf insists that the contacts between the Stasi foreign intelligence service and the PLO were minimal and were intended to moderate PLO terrorism, he does admit that there were contacts between the East German intelligence services and the Palestinian secret services in regard to training Palestinians for the "armed struggle." Wolf's comments make it clear that the East Germans were aware that helping train the Palestinians would make them accomplices to terrorist attacks on Israel, as well as bombings and hijackings in other parts of the world.

The issue that Herf and Wolf debate is to what extent the East German commitment to the political and military struggle of the Palestinians stood in contradiction to the proclaimed stance of East Germany as an anti-fascist state that kept alive the memory of the Holocaust and fought to serve justice to the surviving Jews of the world. In the following exchange, these and other important issues are presented from two very different perspectives, one the historical actor who had to struggle with difficult choices from a particular standpoint, the other a historian who seeks to understand the intersection of politics and the Jewish question in both German states after 1945.

I leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

In the course of writing a history of politics and memory in the two Germanies after 1945, I have been working in the archives of the East German Communist or Socialist Unity Party, using materials from the Stasi archives dealing with secret political trials, and reading the public record. So it was with great interest that I read Tikkun's interview with Markus Wolf (January/February 1994.) I was especially struck that the editors were impressed with his "absolute refusal to repudiate socialist ideas." I was also impressed with his ability to pull the wool over your eyes and make you look very foolish. He probably recognized your interviewer as an easy mark.

It may be that Markus Wolf joined the Stasi to hunt down former Nazis. In fact, as Wolf must know, in the 1950s, the Stasi spent much of its time hunting "counterrevolutionary" and "extremely right-wing" groups of Social Democrats, many of whom had entered the Socialist Unity Party in the late 1940s with the illusion that it was going to build a German Democratic Republic. Nothing was more devastating in postwar East Germany than to be labeled a "Nazi" or a "fascist," and many democratic socialist opponents of the East German regime were dispatched to prison in just this way.

For a journal devoted to Jewish concerns, your interviewers display a distressing lack of knowledge of the anti-Semitic purges within East Germany in the 1950s, and the suppression of communists, Jews and non-Jews, who thought East Germany should be a friend to Israel and extend its emotional and financial support to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, That Wolf tells you that "in retrospect" he can now see that anti-Semitism did exist in the Communist Party is grotesque. Government-encouraged anti-Semitism was apparent to Jews and non-Jews, at the latest, in the winter of 1952-1953. The denunciation and arrest of Paul Merker, a veteran communist and non-Jewish leading member of the SED Central Committee who spoke out on behalf of Jewish concerns, was a matter of public record at that time. Wolf did not mention the SED's campaign against Merker as an American, Zionist, and international Jewish agent that was featured in the pages of Neues Deutschland, or the flight of leading Jewish communists from the DDR in early 1953, especially Leo Zuckermann, the head of the office of East German President Wilhelm Pieck, and Julius Meyer, the leader of the Jewish community in East Berlin.

This former Stasi general also did not mention the Stasi interrogations of Merker, and the secret political trial waged against him in the East German Supreme Court in March of 1955 which resulted in a sentence for eight more years in prison on charges of being an agent of the Americans, the Israelis, and international Jewish organizations. Does Wolf think Stasi interrogators were fighting Nazism when in March 1953 they asked Merker, a life-long communist, if he "was now or had been a member of any Jewish or Zionist organizations" and when they denounced him as the "king of the Jews" and an agent of "Zionist monopoly capitalists" because during World War II he had written in support of reparations payments to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust?

By the time of Merker's arrest, and Zuckermann and Meyer's flight in January 1953, it was clear to all of the leading Jewish communists in East Germany, including presumably Markus Wolf, that the entry ticket for Jews to the political elite in the DDR was to keep your mouth shut about the Holocaust, never say a good word about Israel, and to lead in the campaign of denouncing Nazis in West Germany. How could the editors of a Jewish magazine sympathetic to socialist ideas be so abysmally ignorant of the East German suppression of communists, Jews and non-Jews, who spoke up for Jewish interests?

In time, we will see if Wolf was telling the truth when he said that "our East German intelligence operation never operated against Israel or targeted Israeli intelligence." The Stasi archives are there and historians will get at them--unless Stasi officials succeeded in shredding and burning them in the last hectic days of the DDR regime. Many documents were, in fact, destroyed. Given the well-documented involvement of the Stasi with West German terrorists, and the long-standing close ties between the East German government and Israel's most radical and violent enemies at any given time--Nasser's Egypt, the PLO, PFLP, Syria, Iraq, Sudan--Wolf's claim must be taken with more than a grain of salt. The PLO had an office in East Berlin from the 1960s on. Presumably PLO representatives were not there primarily to read Marx and Engels in the original German. There were persistent reports, the validity of which we will be better able to judge after archival research, of financial support and weapons training by the East German military of Palestinian and Arab terrorists. If, as he claims, the Stasi intelligence services were not engaged in these activities, does Wolf really want to say that all of that was "not in my department?" Why didn't your interviewer press Wolf to discuss what he knew about the anti-Israeli campaigns of the East German defense and foreign ministries?

A great deal of such activities, however, are not new discoveries. For anyone who can read German, the East German diplomatic campaign against Israel is a matter of public record. The editors of a Jewish magazine should be familiar with the already public documents of East German foreign policy from the 1950s to the 1980s. Those documents depict an unending, unwavering, and fierce hatred for Israel and Zionism, and a no less consistent public, diplomatic support for every anti-Israeli resolution to come before the United Nations. Why is it that editors of a Jewish magazine did not ask the former intelligence chief of the Stasi how he, now a Jewish-identified communist, could justify this virulent campaign against Israel? You might have asked him what would he have done if the policies of the government he loyally served had succeeded in their goal and the PLO, in its most radical and terrorist phase, had been able to translate diplomatic triumphs in the UN into tangible victories on the ground? Would he have sent his Stasi agents to the rescue? You might have asked him what business a German communist government had attacking a Jewish state after the Holocaust? What did attacking Israel and refusing to talk about the Holocaust have to do with socialist ideas? But you let the opportunity slip by.

Markus Wolf presents himself as unfamiliar with East German history, and perhaps assumes his interviewer to be equally unfamiliar with it, when he says that he "began to recognize that there was something wrong in the Stasi only in the 1970s when repression was directed against intellectuals, writers, actors, and dissidents." The repression against those sorts of people--as well as perks for the politically correct--defined the regime from the outset. Jews were especially vulnerable to the dreaded accusation of "cosmopolitanism." Any communist, Jew and non-Jew, whose commitment to socialist ideas included a focus on the Jewish catastrophe and support for the young Jewish state knew that he or she had to reckon with the surveillance of the Stasi. It strains credulity that a man such as Markus Wolf did not know this--and was not influenced by it.

The "anti-fascism" of the East German dictatorship, Markus Wolf's discovery of his Jewish identity notwithstanding, went hand in hand with anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism. Thank goodness it is gone, and thank goodness the Stasi apparatus of terror, blackmail, and character assassination is gone with it. The government Markus Wolf served so loyally never faced up to the Holocaust. Living in some political dream world and acting as if it was not composed of Germans, the DDR regime made a major contribution to the Soviet and Arab international campaign of defamation of the Jewish state--long before Likud came to power.

Though there were some Jewish communists in leading positions in the Central and East European communist governments after World War II, they were few in number and by no means a dominant political force. The image of the avenging Jew as communist secret policeman was a staple of anti-Semitism in post-1945 Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. For anti-Semites of the Right it confirmed the Nazi image of "Jewish Bolshevism." For Stalinist anti-Semites, it was an effective means of dispensing with political rivals and diverting popular anger toward the regimes onto familiar hate objects. In fact, in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe the security services were filled with tough, working-class, overwhelmingly non-Jewish, old-line Stalinists. (On the small percentage of Jews in the communist security services, see statements by Michael Checinski and Daniel Goldhagen in the "Correspondence" section of The New Republic, February 14, 1994). In East Germany, during the Merker affair, the Stasi was the loyal handmaiden of the SED's purge against that minority of communists who thought "socialist ideas" were incompatible with continued hostility toward Jews and toward Israel.

It is humanly understandable that, in your words, some "communists and Jews thought that Germany needed some heavy-handed cleansing in the decades after the Holocaust." They were wrong. Between 1933 and 1945, Germany had given the world more than enough heavy-handed cleansing. Germany needed to restore the rule of law and liberal justice, not "heavy-handed cleansing" through Stalinist political justice, conducted in public and in secret. Since the 1950s West German historians, journalists, intellectuals, and politicians, without the assistance of the Stasi, detailed the shortcomings--and some accomplishments--of West Germany's legal efforts to prosecute those accused of Nazi war crimes, and to root ex-Nazis out of prominent positions. Given the DDR's history, Markus Wolf should be asked to look more critically at his own house before throwing stones at the West Germans. Your effort to turn Markus Wolf into a persecuted victim betrays a depressingly familiar reluctance to face the dark side of the really existing communist regimes of postwar Europe. What is that if not, in your words, a product of "Cold War sloganeering?"

Elliot Neaman is assistant professor of history at the University of San Francisco.

Source Citation: Herf, Jeffrey. "A wolf in sheep's clothing? (Who is Markus Wolf?)." Tikkun 9.n4 (July-August 1994): 45(3).

 

 

German Left Party leaders pay tribute
to deceased spy boss Markus Wolf

 

By Stefan Steinberg
1 December 2006

It came as no surprise that a high-ranking delegation of Russian officials jetted to Germany to attend the funeral earlier this month of Markus Wolf, the former spy chief of Stalinist East Germany, who died in his sleep on November 9 at the age of 83.

The Russian delegation was headed by Ambassador Vladimir Kotenev, who praised Wolf at the funeral service as a loyal friend of the Soviet Union. As former head of the KGB in the East German city of Dresden, the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was ideally placed to follow and appreciate the work carried out by his German colleague Wolf, who for 34 years had led the foreign intelligence section of the East German Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry of State Security—MfS).

For much of the post-war period, Wolf played a key role, working directly under the head of the MfS (also called the Staatssicherheitsdienst, or Stasi), Erich Mielke, in building up and directing the massive police state apparatus that defended the interests of the East German Stalinist bureaucracy prior to the ignominious collapse of the regime in 1989.

Amongst the estimated 1,500 mourners at the Berlin central cemetery were many leading figures from the East German intelligence and political community. Mielke himself died in 2000 (see “Erich Mielke—the career of a German Stalinist”) but his long-time deputy Gerhard Neiber was in attendance, together with Fritz Strelitz, the deputy defence minister of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), as well as Wolf’s replacement as head of foreign intelligence, Werner Grossmann.

Prominent figures from the East German cultural bureaucracy also turned out, such as the former deputy culture minister Klaus Höpke and theatre director Manfred Wekwerth, the last president of the East German Academy of Art, who read out a long tribute to the spy.

Political representation at the funeral came almost exclusively from the ranks of the Left Party-PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism). The PDS is the successor party to the Stalinist ruling party of East Germany, the Socialist Unity Party (SED). The presence of prominent representatives of the PDS at the funeral refutes the attempts of this organization on various occasions over the past 17 years to claim that it had distanced itself from the legacy and methods of the East German Stalinist bureaucracy.

The attendance of such leading figures as PDS Chairman and Left Party deputy in the European parliament Lothar Bisky, who gave the main speech at Wolf’s grave, and honorary Left Party Chairman Hans Modrow (the last prime minister of the German Democratic Republic prior to German reunification), made clear that the Left Party leadership not only acknowledges its debt, but is prepared to parade its continuity with the repressive dictatorship headed by the SED and defended by the Stasi.

Over the past two years the Left Party-PDS has sought to expand its influence in West Germany through a fusion with the organisation Election Alternative—Labour and Social Justice (WASG), a group dominated by trade union bureaucrats, disillusioned social democrats and a number of petty-bourgeois radical organizations. The attendance at the Wolf funeral of WASG Chairman Klaus Ernst, alongside Bisky and Modrow, makes clear that this organisation has no problem paying tribute to a man who played a crucial role in creating one of the most repressive state police forces in the world.

Markus Wolf came from a cultivated Jewish family which was radicalised by the events in Germany in the first third of the twentieth century and turned to communism. His father, Friedrich Wolf (1888-1953), was a doctor whose experiences as a medical orderly in World War I drew him to the Communist Party. Friedrich Wolf also wrote theatrical works and played an active role in opposing repressive legislation, such as the Weimar Republic’s reactionary anti-abortion law. As a Jew and Communist, Friedrich Wolf was forced to flee Germany with his family following the Nazis’ rise to power.

Friedrich Wolf was representative of a broad layer of intellectuals and professionals in Germany who were won over to communism in the 1920s and were prepared to make great sacrifices in the struggle for socialism. However, the idealism and deeply-felt anti-fascist sentiments of such men and women were crudely abused and exploited by the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy, which had taken control of the Comintern after Trotsky’s expulsion from the Soviet Union and Stalin’s decimation of the ranks of the Left Opposition.

As part of the exile community in the Soviet Union, Friedrich Wolf’s eldest son, Markus, attended the Comintern Academy in Moscow, where as a youth he made his first fleeting contact with such figures as the first president of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Wilhelm Pieck, and SED Party Secretary Walter Ulbricht.

Following the dissolution of the Comintern by Stalin in 1943, Markus Wolf was instructed to find work as a radio journalist in Moscow. At the end of the war he was part of the delegation of German Communists who returned to Berlin to take over leadership in the Russian-occupied east of the country at the behest of the Stalinist leadership in Moscow.

Older figures such as the long-time German Communists Ulbricht and Pieck had been selected for their leading posts in the East German Stalinist bureaucracy based on their roles in the 1930s, when they participated in the systemic purging from the exiled German party in Moscow of “dissident elements”—i.e. Trotskyists and other socialist critics of the Stalin regime.

Marcus Wolf was still a youth in the 1930s and played no direct role in such purges, but the witch-hunt of oppositionists constituted the atmosphere within which he was educated. His rapid ascension in the ranks of the East German bureaucracy after the war made clear that he had learned the lessons from that period and enjoyed the trust of his Stalinist masters in Moscow.

Wolf arrived in Berlin on May 27, 1945, at the age of 22, and began work as a journalist. In this capacity he attended the Nuremberg Trials as an observer. The dissident from Stalinism, Wolfgang Leonard, describes a meeting with the young Markus Wolf in 1947. “Misha [Markus],” Leonard writes, “had an even more important function as controller responsible for the principal political broadcasts. He had particularly good relations with very senior Soviet circles, and he occupied a luxurious five-room apartment in . . . West Berlin.”

In 1947, Leonard had a leading position in the East German Stalinist Central Secretariat and was writing most of the party’s political manuals. At Wolf’s villa on Lake Glienicke, an hour from Berlin, Leonard discussed with Wolf his plans for a different emphasis in the party programme—in favour of a so-called “German road to socialism.” Leonard was promptly rebuffed by Wolf, who rejected Leonard’s proposal and declared that the party program had to be rewritten on this point. Wolf told Leonard: “There are higher authorities than your Central Secretariat.”

The incident makes clear that the Soviet authorities were convinced they had a trustworthy ally in Markus Wolf—someone who would defend their interests even against dissenting elements inside the East German Stalinist leadership. Wolf was to repay the trust of his Moscow masters with 34 years of loyal service.

Four years on, and acting on Soviet “advice,” Ulbricht made Wolf the secret intelligence chief. Two years later, in June 1953, workers took to the streets of Berlin and other East German cities in a popular uprising against the Stalinist bureaucracy. For a number of weeks the fate of the East German ruling clique hung in the balance, and the regime was rescued only through the intervention of Russian tanks to crush the rebellion. The bureaucracy reacted to the uprising with a wave of persecutions and a massive expansion of the Stasi secret police apparatus.

At this point Wolf’s foreign intelligence service was merged with the Staatssicherheitsdienst, with Wolf working as deputy to the first head of the Stasi, Ernst Wollweber. “Domestic security” and “secret foreign intelligence” were now two sides of the same coin—the “sword and shield” established to protect the party, repress any independent opposition on the part of the working class and perpetuate the party’s hold on power.

In 1957, Wollweber was replaced by his deputy, Erich Mielke, who went on to run the Stasi until the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic. At the same time Wolf’s department was renamed the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (General Reconnaissance Administration—GRA).

In the course of his career at the head of the GRA, Wolf built up a network of spies comprising 4,000 agents who were able to penetrate deeply into the ranks of various political parties in West Germany as well as international organisations such as NATO. Wolf’s greatest coup, which he also describes as his most significant setback, was the rise of his agent, Günter Guillaume, through the ranks of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) to become the top aide to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. The unmasking of Guillaume as an agent was the trigger that led to Brandt’s resignation in 1974.

Wolf regarded Brandt (who had played his own shameful role in the persecution of Trotskyists in the 1930s) as a potential ally who could enhance East Germany’s foreign policy influence through an extension of the SPD’s so-called “Ostpolitik.” Wolf and his masters in the SED Central Committee wanted to keep Brandt in power to further their own interests.

In his memoirs, Wolf writes that he had growing doubts about the course taken by the German Democratic Republic leadership in the 1970s, and his antipathy for his immediate boss, the crude policeman Erich Mielke, is well known. Despite any qualms about the official political leadership, Wolf remained at his post and retired only in the final years of the German Democratic Republic after more than three decades of service.

Wolf played no active role in the mass demonstrations of 1989 that heralded the collapse of the German Democratic Republic, but he was persuaded to speak to the massive crowd which gathered at the Berlin Alexanderplatz on November 4, 1989. Demonstrating his attachment to the police state apparatus he had so assiduously built up, Wolf used his speech to plea for leniency for Stasi officials. His remarks were booed by large sections of the crowd.

Following a brief exile in Moscow at the beginning of the 1990s, Wolf returned to Germany, where the authorities of the now reunified country tried and sentenced him in 1993 to 6 years in prison on charges of “treason.” The trial against Wolf was part of a concerted anti-communist campaign organised by leading political circles in West Germany to create the best conditions for the introduction of “western” values—i.e. capitalist market economy values—in the formerly Stalinist east. Wolf conducted a four-year appeal of the court decision, denouncing it as “victors’ justice.”

In a series of trials after German reunification, West German courts had attempted to use arbitrary interpretations of the law to prosecute prominent East German leaders for activities generally regarded as normal tasks of any state—such as the defence of borders. Wolf was able to point out that the ruthlessness that characterised his own methods had been matched by those employed by leading Western intelligence services.

The German authorities were hardly in a position to dispute this argument. For much of the post-war period their own intelligence services had been run by Reinhard Gehlen, who had been one of Hitler’s chief spies. Gehlen had built up his post-war intelligence network using former Nazi contacts and cronies, first in collaboration with the CIA and then in the service of the West German government in Bonn.

The more likely reason for the reduction of Wolf’s sentence to two years’ parole, however, is that he knew too much—i.e. embarrassing and incriminating facts about the activities of West German politicians in the post-war period. As a result, Wolf was able to stay out of prison.

Wolf was a cultivated man and a very different political animal than the Prussian police thug Mielke. His activities against the West German state in the post-war period were based on a profound understanding of the continuity between post-war German democracy and the relics of the Nazi state. He was fond of quoting literary figures and in his memoirs cites the German playwright Bertold Brecht’s play “The Measures Taken” to justify his activities in the German Democratic Republic: “And what baseness would you not commit...?” This, Wolf declares, is “the motto for every aspect of secret intelligence work, which one can typically describe as disinformation.”

In the name of the struggle for socialism and the fight against fascism, the East German Stalinists, including Wolf, created a police state machine, the primary task of which was the suppression of any opposition to the ruling clique. While the exploits of Wolf’s agents such as Guillaume made the headlines, the GRA under Wolf assisted in disrupting and sabotaging genuine socialist opposition in West Germany to the Stalinist bureaucracy.

His department was an essential component of one of the most repressive state apparatuses in modern history. At the time of the collapse of the Stalinist state in 1989, the Stasi employed an estimated 91,000 full-time employees and 300,000 informants. This amounts to approximately one in fifty East Germans employed to inform and spy on their fellow citizens.

The fact that leading members of the Left Party and the WASG are prepared to doff their hats and pay tribute to such a man must be taken as a warning that they would be prepared to take up Wolf’s heritage and adopt similar measures to crush any independent social movement or initiative on the part of the working class.

Reproduced from: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/dec2006/wolf-d01.shtml

 

 

 

 

 

Obituary: Markus Wolf

Markus Wolf

Markus Wolf said the downfall of Willy Brandt was an "own goal"

The man who came to epitomise the ruthless world of the East German spy machine during the Cold War, Markus Wolf, has died at his home in Berlin.

Wolf was feared and admired by Western intelligence officials and ran a network of 4,000 spies - many of them working deep inside the West German establishment.

The unmasking of one of his moles, Gunter Guillaume, caused the downfall of Chancellor Willy Brandt.

Tall and described as strikingly handsome, Wolf was known as "the man with no face" because for many years there were no photographs of him.

He was rumoured to have been the inspiration for John Le Carre's Soviet spymaster "Karla" in the thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, though the writer has denied this.

Born in Germany in 1923, Wolf had a comfortable early childhood. His father was a noted writer and doctor, Friedrich Wolf, who was a communist and a Jew.

His mother was also a staunch communist, and when Hitler came to power in the 1930s, the family fled, eventually settling in Moscow.

The young Wolf quickly embraced his new homeland and came to the notice of Communist Party officials while still at school.

When the war ended he went back to Germany, where he worked for Berlin Radio and covered the Nuremberg trials.

Taste for luxury

The experience was to have a lasting effect on him. In a BBC interview last year he revealed that a dislike of fascism became one of the driving forces in his life, convincing him he had to protect his country from any repetition of the Nazi regime.

In the early 1950s, he was chosen to lead the embryonic foreign intelligence arm of the Stasi - East Germany's feared secret police.

I hoped that after the Nuremberg Trials, there would be a time without war, aggression or crimes against humanity
 

 

It was the job which made him a legend and which he held until his retirement in 1986.

Those who met him said that Wolf exuded charm and was the complete antithesis of the image of a communist apparatchik. He understood the attractions of the West - and had a taste for life's luxuries, as well as beautiful women.

He took great care of his staff, winning their steadfast loyalty. But he also used his warmth to exploit and manipulate others.

Sleeper agents

Wolf took a long-term approach to his job, introducing spies into West Germany among the stream of East Germans who fled before the Iron Curtain was imposed.

Sometimes he waited years for his sleeper agents to work their way into high office so that they could begin supplying him with secrets.

Markus Wolf and his wife Andrea Stingl at the premiere of a movie in Berlin
After years in the shadows Wolf became something of a celebrity

One such agent was Gunter Guillaume, who moved to West Germany in 1956. He worked his way up the hierarchy of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), eventually becoming a close aide of the Chancellor, Willy Brandt, and getting his hands on important Nato secrets.

In 1974, he was unmasked by West German intelligence officials and the resulting scandal led to Brandt resigning.

Later Wolf said he had not sought Brandt's downfall - and that the affair had been one of the biggest mistakes of the Stasi.

Guillaume received a 13-year jail sentence and in 1981 was released in an exchange for Western spies caught in the East.

Magnetic reputation

But Wolf also recruited West Germans - his agents often seducing them with sex or money.

He boasted in his memoirs that if he went down in espionage history, it should be for perfecting the use of sex in spying.

Among his biggest triumphs was the recruitment of Hans-Joachim Tiedge, a West German responsible for turning East German spies into double agents.

Tiedge was a big drinker and defected when his debts got so large he could see no other way out. His deputy also joined Wolf and worked for him as a mole, undetected, until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The author, Leslie Colitt, who has written extensively on Wolf, believes that some of his success was based on luck, but that his reputation also acted as a magnet for defectors.

Part of Wolf's mystique was that for more than 20 years nobody in the West knew his identity. But a visit to Stockholm in 1978 ended his anonymity.

The Swedish authorities had become suspicious about the distinguished-looking East German and his attractive wife.

An agent with a telephoto lens was despatched, caught him on film and his cover was blown.

When the Berlin Wall came down, Wolf fled to Moscow but was refused asylum and returned to Germany.

Many of his former colleagues were said to be horrified by their hero's decision to leave the country.

Later he was convicted of treason, but the verdict was over-turned on appeal.

The judges argued that he was acting for the previously independent East German state and therefore could not be tried for treason in a different country.

His death, on the 17th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, will be seen as the end of an era by many.

Reproduced from: BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6132684.stm

 

 

 

Hochrangige Offiziere der Staatssicherheit - rechts Markus Wolf, Leiter der HV A

 

 

Markus Wolf and the CIA Mole


East Germany is long gone, but the feats of its foreign intelligence service, the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA), live on as Cold War legend. Former Soviet intelligence officer Oleg Gordievsky conceded that the HVA was the best service in the Warsaw Pact— "even better than the KGB."1 Spymaster Markus Wolf "had so deeply penetrated the West German government, military, and secret services that about all we had to do was lay back and stay out of [his] way," exclaims ex- KGB Gen. Oleg Kalugin.2

But in the beginning things were different. As two intelligence reports reveal in the new CSI book On the Front Lines of the Cold War: Documents on the Intelligence War in Berlin, 1946 to 1961 edited by Donald P. Steury, the fledging service was struggling to survive in the early 1950s. To make matters worse, it had a mole in its midst. Gotthold Krauss was a CIA "agent in place" employed at the so-called Institute for Economic Research (IWF), the innocuous cover name for East German intelligence.3 Thanks to his information, CIA was the first Western intelligence service to learn about the covert role of the mysterious IWF and that Moscow had given command of East German intelligence to a 29-year-old prodigy named Markus (Mischa) Wolf.

Krauss was an unlikely spy. A banker by profession, he had been hired to prepare the IWF’s annual budget. But his superiors recognized his aptitude for intelligence operations and even made him a deputy chief of a key espionage department. What they didn’t know was that Krauss was an avowed anti-communist, who hoped to strangle the neophyte East German service in its cradle. In September 1950 he contacted CIA’s Berlin Operations Base (BOB) and offered to work in place to earn his passage to the West. He didn’t have much information to offer at that point, but BOB took a chance, not knowing there would be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Even as late as March 1952, after Krauss, by pure serendipity, had been recruited by the IWF and had begun supplying information on its operations in West Germany, the BOB and CIA Headquarters were not certain where the operation would lead. Some thought BOB had bought a pig in a poke, but one officer in Washington observed that this was "an unusually valuable operation."4 He was right. Krauss was so aggressive that at one point the chief of the East European Division, in a cable to BOB, cautioned Krauss "to be highly selective in the material he furnishes and to refrain from taking risks to obtain information not normally available to him."5

One of Krauss’s reports in On the Front Lines of the Cold War (Document IV-6) is a detailed report of the very first staff meeting Markus Wolf conducted. Wolf’s lengthy harangue revealed the service’s weaknesses, but a pep talk by the chief Soviet adviser showed that Moscow entertained great hopes for the HVA that, over the years, would actually exceed all expectations. (German counterintelligence experts estimate that the HVA, by itself, may have produced 80 percent of all Warsaw Pact intelligence on NATO and the West.)

A second document (IV-7) recounts an emergency meeting Wolf convened on 7 March 1953—just after Stalin’s death. The Soviets put the service on alert, tasking it to acquire information on the West’s reaction to the dictator’s death, on the successor government headed by Georgi Malenkov, and on a possible Western provocation or even military action against East Germany. The Soviets were especially concerned over a request from the West Berlin Senat for military transport aircraft to shuttle East German refugees from the divided city to West Germany; Moscow suspected that this was a cover to bring US forces up to the frontlines of the Cold War. Krauss reported that the Soviets were very nervous and believed that this explained why they had recently shot down a US and a British military aircraft.

In the fall of 1952 Krauss learned that Soviet counterintelligence had discovered the presence—but not the identity—of a CIA penetration in one of the East European intelligence services. IWF launched its own molehunt, and Krauss knew his days were numbered. CIA had hoped Krauss would remain in place until the end of the year, but the molehunt was taking its toll on his nerves. He crossed over to the French sector of pre- Wall Berlin on Good Friday, 3 April 1953, taking advantage of the long Easter holiday. The IWF had closed down the day before and would not reopen until the following Tuesday, giving Krauss a head start. He arrived in the French sector of divided Berlin with his wife, daughter, and two fox terriers and was quickly moved to Frankfurt and then to a safe house under US military guard. On 6 April, Easter Monday, his mother, his in-laws, his wife’s sister and brother and their families—nine persons altogether—followed.

Krauss brought documents and notes containing detailed information on the IWF’s organization, personnel, operations, residenturas, and agents. He identified 135 staff officers and other personnel who had been recruited during the rapid buildup, including in some cases their photos. He also provided information on accommodation addresses, safe houses, telephone numbers, IWF staff vehicle license plates, and Soviet advisers and their vehicles—in other words, a treasure trove of counterintelligence information.

Krauss reported rumors—confirmed 38 years later—that in 1952 East German leaders wanted to build a barricade or "Chinese Wall" between the Soviet and Western sectors of Berlin. In a memoir completed before his death in 1997 (and still not published), he speculated that his defection may have postponed the decision to erect the Berlin Wall until August 1961.

Krauss’s final encounter with the IWF was ironic. On a Thursday evening, April the second, as he was preparing to defect the next day, he met Gerhard Heidenreich, head of the cadre section, in the parking lot. The old-line Stalinist wished him a "Happy Easter" and then said that he wished he "had five more like you" and that "you have an excellent future ahead of you."

On 10 April 1953, West German Vice- Chancellor Franz Bücher announced the arrest of 35 suspected East German agents. Krauss’s defection had triggered Operation Vulkan (volcano), the codename for the spy roundup. Bonn had to move quickly, anticipating that once Wolf and company realized Krauss had bolted they would have to get their residents and agents out of harm’s way. But, thanks to assistance from CIA, Bonn was able to act quickly. Krauss remained in West Germany until May 1953, when he and his family moved to the Washington, DC area. But he returned to West Germany several more times for debriefings and trials in which he provided critical testimony that resulted in several espionage convictions.

Krauss came close to wrecking what US News & World Report would later call the Cold War’s best spy agency. Vulkan was the "first bombshell of my career," Markus Wolf writes in his autobiography. "I took it as a heavy personal blow, and it made me realize that our young service was still far from secure." He added that "Gotthold Krauss’s betrayal cost us dearly."6 A top-to-bottom in-house investigation followed, and the IWF was disbanded, decentralized, and dispersed to separate locations.

Wolf lost face but not his job or Soviet patronage, and eventually he pulled off operations that made the HVA (and Wolf himself) legendary. In 1959 the second East German intelligence defector, Max Heim, told West German security officers who debriefed him that the HVA was on its way to becoming the premier service in the Soviet bloc.7 The East German tail was waging the Soviet dog, as he put it. He claimed that the HVA had 2,000 to 3,000 agents in the West. But Western services disregarded Heim’s; it did not seem credible, given East Germany’s "junior" status and weak economy. It would take almost 30 more years and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, and the revelations from the Stasi files, before the West realized that these early defectors were more right than wrong. The HVA, the KGB’s stealth weapon in the Cold War, had gone undetected until it was too late to matter.

Benjamin B. Fischer
CIA History Staff

Reproduced from: https://www.odci.gov/csi/bulletin/csi10.htm#toc9

 

 

Berlin: The Intelligence War, 1945-1961,
The Teufelsberg and Allierten Museum Berlin, Germany
10-12 September 1999

 

From 10-12 September 1999 the Center for the Study of Intelligence and the Allierten [Allied] Museum of Berlin, Germany, co-hosted a conference on intelligence activities in the once-divided Cold War city from the end of World War II to the construction of Berlin Wall in August 1961. The first public conference ever hosted by CIA abroad, the event took place at the former US signals intercept facility on the Teufelsberg [Devil’s Mountain], just outside Berlin. The conference was the result of a two-year cooperative effort by CSI and the Museum. Financial and logistical support was generously provided by the Investorengruppe Teufelsberg, which owns the site and plans to convert it into a conference center.

Berlin: The Intelligence War, 1945-1961, The Teufelsberg and Allierten Museum Berlin, Germany 10-12 September 1999
Welcome
  • Claus Henning Schaper, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of the Interior
  • Dr. Kuno Böse, State Secretary, Berlin Senate Office of the Interior
  • John Kornblum, US Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany

The March Crisis and the Berlin Airlift

  • Dr. Donald Steury, Chair
  • Professor Ernest R. May
  • Dr. Viktor Gorbarev
  • Professor Wolfgang Krieger

Allied Military Intelligence in Berlin

  • Dr. John Greenwood, Chair and Overview
  • Dr. William Stivers
  • Lt. Col. Daniel Trastour
  • Col. Nigel N. Wylde

The Other Side of the Wall: KGB and Stasi

  • Professor Christopher Andrew, Chair and Overview
  • Dr. Richard Popplewell
  • Mr. Benjamin B. Fischer
  • Dr. Vladislav Zubok

Spying without Spies

  • Dr. Gerald Haines, Chair
  • Dr. Kevin C. Ruffner
  • Dr. Donald P. Steury
  • Dr. Vance O. Mitchell

Berlin in the Wilderness of Mirrors: Agents, Double Agents, and Defectors

  • Dr. Richard E. Schroeder, Chair
  • Ambassador Hugh Montgomery
  • Mr. Nigel West
  • Mr. Jerrold Schecter

Eisenhower, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Wall

  • Ambassador Raymond L. Garthoff, Chair and Overview
  • Professor Egon K-H. Bahr
  • Dr. William Burr

Battleground Berlin: Veterans Remember

  • Dr. Helmut Trotnow, Chair
  • Mr. Burton L. Gerber
  • Col. Oleg Gordievsky
  • Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin
  • Mr. Peter M. Sichel

From Dusk to Dawn: Berlin and the History of the Cold War

  • Ambassador Vernon A. Walters, former US Ambassador to West Germany and former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence

 

Under the warm sun of a Berlin Indian Summer, some 150 Cold War intelligence veterans, historians, journalists, and other interested persons gathered in the shadow of the domed towers of the "T-berg" to relive some of the most critical years of the Cold War. Many were there just to see the Teufelsberg, a Cold War landmark in Berlin that has long been the object of wonder, curiosity, and controversy. The broad windows of the former dining hall, where the conference sessions were held, offered a panoramic view of Berlin and its surroundings. The mystery surrounding the installation was evident in the still-present security arrangements, the barbed-wire fences, and the silent, empty rooms that bore the marks of 30 years of intelligence activity.

On the dais, the subject was intelligence. Featuring a mix of personal recollections and scholarly presentations, the conference took a broad view of Cold War intelligence operations in Berlin that ran the gamut from agent operations to the Berlin tunnel to US Air Force reconnaissance missions. On the first panel Harvard diplomatic historian Ernest R. May joined Russian military historian Viktor Gobarev and German Cold War historian Wolfgang Krieger in a multifaceted overview of the Berlin blockade and the crises of 1948. On another panel chaired by Cambridge University intelligence historian Christopher Andrew, CSI historian Ben Fischer recounted CIA’s penetration of East German foreign intelligence in the early 1950s. (See "Markus Wolf and the CIA Mole" below.) The first day of the conference concluded with a tour of the Teufelsberg and a reception hosted by the Investorengruppe.

The second day of the conference began with a panel on technical intelligence collection chaired by CIA Chief Historian Gerald K. Haines. This session was followed by one of the conference highlights: a roundtable discussion hosted by CSI Deputy Director Richard E. Schroeder, which featured veteran British historian Nigel West, author Jerrold Schecter (The Spy Who Saved the World), Ambassador Hugh Montgomery, a veteran intelligence officer now serving as special Assistant to the DCI. The afternoon sessions began with a panel on the Berlin Crisis of 1958-61 in which Ambassador Raymond L. Garthoff led a discussion that included historians from the US and Russia along with Dr. Egon Bahr, who was an aide to West Berlin Lord Mayor Willy Brandt when the Berlin Wall went up in August 1961. Ambassador Garthoff presented new information on the "back-channel" contacts between US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the crisis.

Conference attendees next boarded buses that took them to the Alliierten Museum for a roundtable discussion on Cold War espionage in Berlin by former intelligence officers from both sides of the Iron Curtain. CIA was represented by Peter Sichel, who operated in Berlin during the 1940s and 1950s, and Soviet intelligence specialist Burton Gerber. The Soviet side was represented by former KGB officers Gen. Oleg Kalugin and Col. Oleg Gordievsky, who defected to the West in 1985 after serving as a British agent inside Soviet intelligence for 11 years. The roundtable was chaired by the Director of the Alliierten Museum, Dr. Helmut Trotnow. During and after the roundtable, attendees enjoyed an opportunity to tour the Museum itself, which features a comprehensive collection of exhibits on the Allied occupation of Berlin and the East-West struggle over the divided city.

On the morning of the third day, conference participants embarked on a tour of Berlin that included the former Normannenstraße headquarters of the dreaded East German intelligence and security service, the Stasi. Few could resist the opportunity to sit at the desk of the former Minister for State Security Erich Mielke, which is still adorned with Lenin’s death mask. The tour also included visits to the original Berlin City Hall, the so- called Red Rathaus located in the city center, and the Schöneberg Rathaus, where President Kennedy delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in June 1963. The tour included a visit to Berlin-Karlshorst as well as the former officers’ casino in which the German high command surrendered to Soviet forces on 9 May 1945; the casino became the headquarters of the Soviet Group of Forces, Germany and still houses a fascinating museum dedicated to the Red Army’s siege of Berlin. An adjoining compound served as the KGB rezidentura, the Soviet intelligence service’s largest foreign post during the Cold War. Those who stayed to the very end were treated to a trip to the Glienicke Bridge, site of numerous Cold War spy swaps, in the company of Oleg Kalugin and Francis Gary Powers, Jr., whose father in 1962 crossed paths with Soviet "illegal" William Henry Fisher (alias Rudolf Abel) on the same span in the first US-Soviet prisoner exchange.

Ambassador Vernon Walters, who was US Chief of Mission in West Germany when the Berlin Wall fell, closed the conference. He praised the organizers of the conference and thanked the sponsors who had made it possible.

In conjunction with the conference, CSI released a collection of declassified intelligence records entitled On the Front Lines of the Cold War: Documents on the Intelligence War in Berlin 1945 to 1961. The volume includes National Intelligence Estimates, CIA current reporting, and field operational cables as well as "raw" intelligence messages. Two of the latter messages came from a CIA mole inside Markus Wolf’s foreign intelligence service.

Donald P. Steury
Senior Historian

Reproduced from: https://www.odci.gov/csi/bulletin/csi10.htm#toc9

 

 

Das Foto zeigt Markus Wolf (Mitte) mit seinem Bruder Konrad und Vater Friedrich.
The photo shows Markus Wolf (Middle) with his brother Konrad and father Friedrich.

 

 

 

 

Rückkehr in die Heimat -- Nach dem Kriegsende kehrte Wolf aus Moskau in die DDR zurück, wo er ab 1956 als Chef der DDR-Auslandsspionage (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung) im Ministerium für Staatssicherheit arbeitete. Aus dieser Zeit gibt es bis in die siebziger Jahre hinein keine Medienfotos von Wolf, weswegen er manchmal "Mann ohne Gesicht" genannt wurde (Foto von 1978). Ungeliebt vom Volk -- Am 4. November 1989 trat Markus Wolf auf dem Berliner Alexanderplatz bei der größten Demonstration in der DDR-Geschichte als Redner auf. Er bekannte sich zwar zu Reformen in der DDR, wurde aber vom Volk gnadenlos ausgepfiffen. Der Prozess--Nach seiner Rückkehr nach Deutschland wurde Wolf 1997in Düsseldorf zu einer Freiheitsstrafe von zwei Jahren verurteilt. Die Strafe wegen Freiheitsberaubung, Nötigung und Körperverletzung wurde jedoch zur Bewährung ausgesetzt. Das Foto zeigt Wolf (Mitte) mit seiner Frau Andrea und seinen Anwälten.

 

 

Markus Wolf, E. German spymaster

 
BERLIN - Markus Wolf, the former East German spy chief who bedeviled Western intelligence services and developed an interest in his Jewish roots late in life, died Nov. 9, 2006 at age 83.

Known to family as Misha and to Western intelligence as "the man with no face," Wolf died peacefully in his Berlin home.

For decades, Western intelligence sought in vain to capture an image of Wolf, the architect of Communist East Germany's international intelligence network. At the height of his power, Wolf commanded an estimated 4,000 agents.

He was famous for infiltrating the highest echelons of West German government, perpetrating a security breach that forced Chancellor Willy Brandt to resign.

Wolf also was notorious for the army of "Romeo" spies he sent into the West - attractive men who would seduce lonely secretaries to the powerful and use them to access secrets. In later years, he alternatively expressed pride and regret about the tactic, at one point writing, "If I go down in espionage history, it may well be for perfecting the use of sex in spying," then telling reporters that "nobody has the right to spoil an innocent person's life."

After his retirement in 1986, Wolf turned to writing his memoirs. He also re-examined his Jewish roots, though he once told a Swiss Jewish newspaper that he would never identify religiously. He made one visit to Israel, which he described as "a great experience."

Wolf's death brought mixed reactions.

He was "a master spy, whose accomplishments were worse than his reputation," British historian Timothy Garton Ash told Reuters in an interview. "Later, he was idealized as a glamorous intellectual and Communist reformer."

The Left Party in Germany, successor to the former East German Socialist Party, praised Wolf as a man with a varied biography.

"He was a fighter against the Nazi regime, head of intelligence for the state security and a writer," party president Lothar Bisky said in a public statement.

Hans Modrow, the last premier of Communist East Germany, told reporters that he had lost one of his best friends, a hero in the fight against fascism.

According to the newspaper Die Welt, few representatives of former East German citizens' groups wished to comment on Wolf's death.

Wolf was born in 1923 in Hechingen to a Jewish father who was a playwright and doctor, and a non-Jewish mother. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Wolf's father, a committed Communist, fled to Switzerland. The family then traveled to Moscow, where Wolf was schooled.

Wolf was trained in intelligence work at a Communist academy, but after Stalin dissolved the Comintern organization, Wolf was set up as a radio journalist in Moscow. He returned to East Germany in 1945, reporting on the Nuremberg war crimes tribunals for Berlin Broadcasting.

From 1949 to 1951, he worked at the East German mission in Moscow, until the Soviets set up a spying station in East Berlin. Wolf was appointed head of secret intelligence in 1951. He established a brutally effective international espionage system, whose main focus, he later said, was to penetrate West Germany.

Western intelligence had only one photo of Wolf until 1978, when a Swedish spy captured his image on film. An East German defector identified Wolf in the photo.

Wolf later said he wished he had taken a stand against some of his colleagues' policies. He said he secretly sympathized with the perestroika policies of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and tried to distance himself from East Germany's anti-Israel policies.

After unification, he was high on the West German most-wanted list, and tried unsuccessfully to find refuge in Austria. He ended up returning to Moscow before being arrested while crossing into Germany in 1991.

Convicted of treason, his sentence was suspended and Wolf ended up serving only a few days in jail for refusing to testify about fellow spies during a trial.

Nearly a decade ago, upon publication of his memoirs, Wolf gave an interview to Juedische Rundschau (Jewish Review), a Jewish newspaper based in Basel, Switzerland, in which he said that his atheist father's Jewish roots had a profound influence on him.

But his strongest memory of Jewish tradition was linked with an eccentric uncle who quit his law practice to become a homeopathic healer and lived in a forest in southern Germany, surrounded by goats and a dog.

As head of foreign intelligence, Wolf said, he tried to keep clear of policy-making vis-Ö-vis Israel.

Privately, he read and enjoyed Leon Uris'"Exodus" and asked his secret agents who had been to Israel to inform him about the kibbutzim, which he imagined were a "somehow different, exotic expression of socialist thought and practice."

After German unification, Wolf considered Israel as one of several possible refuges, but did not follow through.

Then "I got an invitation from Yediot Achronot. So I thought, why not?" he said, referring to the Israeli newspaper.

Though he did not seek refuge in Israel, Wolf did make one visit in 1996, and met with former heads of Israeli intelligence.

"It was very impressive for me," he told Juedische Rundschau. "I was naturally very excited. After what they had said about me in America, about the activities of the intelligence agency and the contact with the PLO, I expected to be attacked. But I was also very interested in the land of my forefathers. I have to say, it was a very rich and very pleasant trip."

He recalled with particular enthusiasm his visit to Jerusalem, "bound as it is with all that it means for Jews.

"I would not describe myself as a reborn Jew," Wolf said. "This would be presumptuous and no one would believe it. But like many older people who are interested in where they come from, I am interested in my own roots."

Reproduced from: http://www.jewishaz.com/issues/printstory.mv?061117+wolf

 

Fenton comes out of the closet

By Tom Segev

On Sunday, Mina Fenton sat in her office, a stack of pornographic pictures in front of her, and thanked God for averting the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem. She showed the pictures one after the other, pointing at them with one finger: a bare-chested woman (with black X's scrawled over each breast) against a backdrop of a Palestinian flag; nearly naked men hugging and kissing; men who look like women.

"Disgusting," said Fenton, pointing out more pictures she has in her computer. It's important for the public to see what they look like and what they do, said Fenton. She deliberately refers to them as "they" or "members of the community," and not as gays or lesbians.

This friendly 68-year-old woman is in her second term representing the National Religious Party in the Jerusalem city council. She views the rally that the "members of the community" were permitted to hold in the Givat Ram stadium in lieu of the parade as a "painful compromise."

 

Mina Fenton was really the big winner this week: The battle against the parade brought her out of the closet of the 21st spot on the NRP Knesset list. One of the television networks is currently preparing a film about her and perhaps - who knows? - she may have finally laid the cornerstone for political collaboration between the National Religious and the ultra-Orthodox in the city, something she has been working on for four years now.

Fenton was born in Haifa, to what she describes as a very "National Religious" family. She attended the Reali School and then served in the army, where she attained the rank of lieutenant. She was a teacher, and is a mother of five and grandmother of 11. All the Gay Pride parades held in the city aroused her anger, but the worst was last year.

"We were standing there, having a prayer protest in Zion Square," she recalled this week. "Suddenly I see a rear column of members of the community coming down the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall, approaching us, starting to surround us. What do they want?! What do they want?! And I decided that it would be the last time," she said, rapping her finger on her desk. "The last time," she repeated.

She enunciates very clearly, like a teacher from the old days. "Every Gay Pride parade is a provocation to violence. Everywhere. In Amsterdam, in Tel Aviv. It's accompanied by nudity and sexual acts to which the secular public is also opposed. In fact, lots of secular people joined in the cause with me. Lots of them. The struggle is over the holiness of the city. Against a parade of abomination that desecrates and defiles the holiness of the city."

Would it be okay in Tel Aviv?

"I, Mina Fenton, am a member of the Jerusalem city council. I'm talking about the holy city." She picked up a small Bible from her bookshelf, the same edition that I used in high school, and began reading with perfect diction verses from the portion of Vayera. The chapters in this portion (Genesis 18-22) are indeed quite dramatic - rich in sex and violence of various kinds, including the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the binding of Isaac.

"This is the reference point that God set for Abraham," said Fenton, referring to Mount Moriah, the site of the Temple. "There was no planning committee in the time of King David, the reference point was given from Heaven, by Divine right, she adds with emphasis.

Now that you mention King David ...

"Don't go on. He did not lie with a man." Some Holocaust survivors had drawn her attention to the date that members of the community had chosen for their parade: "On the night between the ninth and tenth of November there was Kristallnacht. It was the moment when the Holocaust began. That was the moment, the moment!"

At that moment, the door to her office opens and a bearded man wearing a black skullcap enters in a state of great agitation: "Did you receive this?!" The man, Shlomo Rosenstein, represents United Torah Judaism (UTJ) on the city council. Yes, she also received, in a white envelope, several booklets in Hebrew and English, printed by Christian missionaries. Rosenstein says that there should be a bonfire right away in Zion Square and that the booklets should be burned. "Definitely," said Mina Fenton. "I'm with you."

Book-burning?

"Certainly. These are books against Judaism. They have to be burned."

Lewd lions

Once she resolved that there would not be another Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem, Fenton started planning the stages of the struggle, one after the other. She established a headquarters, put together a protest petition. Not since the sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans has there been such an act of provocation, she wrote.

First, she got other city council members to sign, then she moved on to the Knesset: 70 MKs signed. People from her headquarters printed the petition on special forms and distributed them throughout the country: Tens of thousands of people, maybe even a hundred thousand, signed. By e-mail and by Internet, too. Muslims signed, Christians signed, secular people signed. Her group conducted a survey that found that at least eight out of 10 Israelis said they were against the parade.

Then Fenton convened a meeting of activists. While they were meeting in her office, she was informed that ultra-Orthodox activists were holding a similar meeting at the same time. This was fairly unexpected. The ultra-Orthodox don't usually speak publicly about such things, so it was not easy for them to wage a public struggle. On top of that, they would not be expected to join forces with the National Religious camp. But Fenton took matters into her own hands: She placed a phone call from her headquarters to the ultra-Orthodox headquarters and invited them to come to her office. And, surprisingly, they agreed to come. "It was heartwarming. We sat there with the men on one side and the women on the other. It was a wonderful milestone."

She needed a great deal more political talent and diplomatic tact to get the various rabbis to lend their names to the cause. The Yesha Council of Rabbis was with her from the outset, and she was with them: In her home, the orange ribbons symbolizing opposition to the Gaza withdrawal were still proudly on display, she said.

But the ultra-Orthodox have their own outlook and language, and would not sign any leaflet previously signed by non-Haredi rabbis. Not everyone knows how to navigate among the various yeshivas and sects. Fenton managed to bring all the threads together until she achieved the most important thing of all: Rabbis Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Ovadia Yosef, the preeminent figures in this world, supported the campaign.

Fenton denounced the shows of violence in the ultra-Orthodox demonstrations, but didn't want to talk much politics. She wanted to talk about the members of the community. They received money from the Ford Foundation. The "anti-Semitic Ford Foundation," as she put it, and was a bit taken aback by how taken aback I was by her remark.

"The community brings about terrible disasters," she said. "And each time these disasters lead to the postponement of the parade. The uprooting from Gush Katif. A terrible disaster. Terrible. The war in Lebanon. A disaster. And this time in Beit Hanun. It's all from Heaven, disaster after disaster, and it's all the fault of the community."

Why does God permit this?

"These are things that are beyond our comprehension."

The worst evidence of all is suspended right before her eyes, on the door of one of the cabinets in her office: a photograph of a municipal trash can imprinted with a lion, the symbol of the city of Jerusalem; someone had drawn another lion on top of it, engaged in the sex act. "Lion on top of lion," said Mina Fenton sadly, as if noticing the photograph for the first time. She paused and then said again, in an even sadder tone: "Lion on top of lion." An oppressive silence filled the room and Mina Fenton repeated for the third time: "Lion on top of lion."

Simply the best

David Dvash is God's troubadour. A religious penitent with a guitar, he lives between two settlements and two women, is a father of 11 and composes songs in praise of God. In the spirit of the Bratslav Hasidim, he believes that all is for the good. Or for the best, as he likes to say (hakhi tov, in Hebrew). He has many fans who know him as David Hakhi Tov. The giant Tel Aviv ad agency Adler, Chomsky & Warshavsky also took notice of him, using his name and several of his stories to advertise the services of the Ishi Yashir ("Personal Direct") insurance company. The actor Moshe Ivgi plays him in the best way possible, surpassing the original, as an optimistic little guy who really quite down to earth.

But the real David Hakhi Tov thought it would be best to retain the services of the best attorney for such matters, and settled on Gilad Corinaldi from Jerusalem. The trial dragged on for three years, with David Hakhi Tov fighting the advertising and insurance sharks from Tel Aviv like David against Goliath. Now the Jerusalem District Court has ruled that David Dvash is indeed the real David Hakhi Tov and is entitled to compensation.

With a 637-page protocol recording the appearance of 22 witnesses over the course of 13 court sessions, Judge Yosef Shapira thought it best to compose a 100-page verdict that begins with an excerpt from the writings of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. During the trial, there was discussion of Judaism's attitude toward good and evil; there was debate about the talmudic sage Nahum Ish Gamzu and whether the royalties that Adler, Chomsky & Warshavsky must pay should go to David Hakhi Tov or to God.

There was also discussion about ethics in advertising and about some of the fundamental elements of copyrights, which are so easy to violate yet so hard to understand and protect. The verdict is fascinating and best appreciated when read in full. It remains to be decided how much money David Hakhi Tov will receive, but one can already say that no one lost in this story. And that's for the best.

Regards from Markus Wolf

On Rosh Hashanah I got a call from Berlin from master East German spy Markus Wolf. He had never called me before. I was quite stunned. "The Man Without a Face" was once in charge of the East German espionage organization against the West, and it is widely believed that John Le Carre based the character of the protagonist in his books on him. I interviewed him in Berlin before the collapse of East Germany and again after the unification of Germany, when he was on trial; he had to report to the police twice a week then and used to let reporters from all over the world take turns accompanying him.

With his tufts of gray hair, raincoat with the collar turned up and red scarf, people recognized him on the street and greeted him as they would a celebrity, as if he had never been one of the pillars of the evil Communist regime. When it started to rain, Wolf opened his umbrella and remarked with spy-like humor: "A Bulgarian umbrella, of course." He had a Jewish father and I suspected that he also spied for Israel. He denied it.

He spoke with me on the telephone as if it were something we did every week. The grandkids are fine, he told me, they bring him joy; he recalled how I once took him after midnight to a matza factory in Mea Shearim in Jerusalem. Then, all of a sudden, in the most casual tone he could muster, he asked if I could perhaps obtain for him the phone number of Rafi Eitan, because he didn't know how to get hold of the minister these days. He said he wanted to ask him about something that had to do with the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann. I got the phone number for him and sent it to the e-mail address he gave me.

A few days ago, Wolf died at age 83. I asked Eitan if Wolf had called him. The two became friendly when Eitan was doing business in East Germany and Cuba. He had been the one who initiated contact with Wolf then, out of curiosity, and they became friends, he says, "on the basis of our common interest in professional matters, including the philosophy of espionage systems." No, unfortunately, Wolf hadn't called.

Reproduced from:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=789016&contrassID=2&subContrassID=14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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