IV: Alltagsgeschichte: Day to Day in the Intelligence War
The high level of intelligence activity in Cold War Berlin meant that each side was subjected to constant scrutiny by the other. This not only applied to the kind of so-called "positive" intelligence that might be collected in Berlin--the details of the Western military garrisons, for example, or orders of battle for Soviet military units stationed in East Germany--but also information collected for counterintelligence purposes. Precisely because Berlin was so important as a base for Western intelligence, effective Allied counterintelligence was a vital prerequisite to the collection of the strategic intelligence that was its raison d'être. The following documents represent a much larger body of material collected on the Soviet and East German intelligence and security services in Berlin. They presumably would be matched by an equivalent or larger corpus of intelligence reporting collected by the Soviet bloc services on the Western intelligence presence in Berlin.
This document describes the principal KGB facility in Berlin at the height of the Cold War. The size of the Soviet establishment and the degree to which it was designed to be self-contained contrasts sharply to the Allied presence in West Berlin, where American officers lived in much closer daily contact with the local population.
IV-2: KGB in East Germany, April 1970 (MORI No. 144336). [PDF Only 639KB*]
Although dating from 1970, this report provides details of life in the KGB Rezidentura that probably would be more-or-less equally valid throughout the Cold War. Seemingly trivial details of the kind included in this report often were invaluable for operational purposes.
Appointed KGB Berlin Rezident in the summer of 1953, Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Petrovich Pitovranov was brought in to "fix things" following the death of Stalin and the uprising of June 1953. He served in Berlin until 1958, when he was replaced by Gen. Aleksandr Mikhailovich Korotkov, a Berlin veteran.1 This brief bio on Pitovranov gives an indication of the goldfish-bowl-like environment in which many intelligence officers in Berlin lived, despite the aura of secrecy shrouding their profession.
SMERSH Chief in Soviet-occupied Germany, General Serov arrived with advancing Red Army in the summer of 1945 and left late in 1947, apparently the victim of political machinations in Moscow.2 In 1940-41, during the first Soviet occupation of the Baltic states, Serov had been responsible for the deportation of some 134,000 "class enemies" to slave labor camps.3 A confidant of Nikita Khrushchev, in 1953 Serov engineered the overthrow of Stalin's Internal Security Chief, Lavrenty Beria. In 1954, Serov was made the first chairman of the newly created KGB.4
This report provides an overview of the changes in Soviet intelligence that occurred near the end of Stalin's life and during the brief period that Lavrenty Beria was in complete control of Soviet intelligence. Note that, although the "Date of Info." given is December 1952-January 1954, the report was not issued until February 1955, by which time the MGB had been replaced by the KGB.5
In December 1952, Stalin created a Chief Directorate of Intelligence (Glavnoye Razovodyvatolnoye Upravleniye--the same name as Soviet military intelligence) over the MGB's First Directorate (Foreign Intelligence) and the Second Directorate (Counter Intelligence) in an effort to insure closer coordination between the two directorates. The change was recommended by Ye. P. Pitovranov, who had been Chief of the MGB's counter-intelligence directorate until his arrest in October 1951. He was released by Stalin in November 1952 and made Chief of the First Directorate (Foreign Intelligence). This arrangement lasted only until Stalin's death and Beria's reorganization of the Soviet intelligence establishment in March 1953. Pitovranov was sent to Berlin as head of the Karlshorst apparat soon after the June 1953 uprising.6
Western intelligence officers in Germany had to be concerned not only with the Soviet KGB but also with East Germany's highly effective intelligence and security agency, the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, also known as the MfS or Stasi. The branch of the Stasi responsible for the collection of foreign intelligence was the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA, usually translated as the Main Administration for Foreign Intelligence), known until 1956 by a cover name, Institut für Wirtschafts-Wissenschaftliche Forschung (IWF, or Institute for Economic Research). For most of the Cold War the IWF/HVA was headed by the enigmatic Markus "Mischa" Wolf. Widely regarded as Moscow's man, Wolf was appointed to head the DDR's foreign intelligence service in late 1952--on the strength of his Soviet connections, according to the Stasi rumor mill.7
Document IV-6 is a transcript of a meeting of IWF Department (Abteilung) heads on 2 February 1953. In this, the first meeting he chaired as head of the IWF, Wolf ordered a formal distancing from the Central Committee of the East German Communist Party (SED, or Sozialistische-Einheitspartei Deutschland).
Document IV-7 describes a special meeting held on 7 March 1953, the day after Stalin's death was announced. Here the principal concern was that the West might somehow exploit the demise of the Soviet leader to mount an assault on the Soviet bloc. The agent reporting on this meeting describes an atmosphere of deep depression in IWF headquarters: "The women personnel appeared in black clothing and behaved as if their own mother had died. The men were similarly affected, but were less demonstrative."
IV-8: Pictures of Mischa Wolf, 9 April 1959 (MORI No. 145204). [PDF Only 292KB*]
IV-9: IR: Markus Johannes Wolf, 11 October 1973 (MORI No. 144083). [PDF Only 541KB*]
Markus Wolf, who became the head of the DDR's foreign intelligence service late in 1952, cloaked himself in anonymity. However, as this first document shows, by 1959 he had been singled out and identified in photographs taken during the 1946 Nürnberg trials. In fact, Western intelligence probably knew as much or more about Markus Wolf than it did about many Eastern Bloc senior intelligence officers, as the second document included here, a brief biography, would suggest. The report is, nonetheless, inaccurate in some of its details. According to Wolf's memoirs, he began work for the IWF when he was recalled to Berlin in August 1951, not in 1952.8 Wolf does not mention "Department XV" in his memoirs, but recounts that the IWF was absorbed by the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit in 1953. In 1956 the IWF cover was dropped and the German foreign intelligence service became the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA).9
Wolf was a highly effective intelligence chief and the HVA prospered under his leadership.
In the winter of 1952-53, even as Stalin was publicly holding up the prospect of German reunification, the East German regime proceeded with a program of ruthless Sovietization, as these intelligence reports show. At the same time, the DDR moved to tighten controls at the border in a vain effort to halt the flood of refugees. Reporting like this highlights the degree to which the East German regime depended upon diverse organs of control, deeply ramified into German society.10 It also gives some idea of the difficulties faced by Western intelligence officers in penetrating a highly regimented, tightly controlled police state.
Although the Soviets never again repeated their efforts to isolate Berlin from the outside world, they continued to interfere occasionally with Allied ground transportation. Each incident (such as the one described here) had potentially serious implications for the Allied garrison in Berlin, but Moscow did not allow such small-scale confrontations to escalate into a major crisis.
1 David E. Murphy, Sergei Kondrashev, and George Bailey, Battleground Berlin, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 285-86.
2 Murphy, et al., pp. 31-32.
3 Georg von Rauch, The Baltic States: The Years of Independence, 1917-1940 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995), p. 228.
4 Murphy, et al., pp. 154, 277, 289.
5 See above, p. 119.
6 These paragraphs are based on information contained in a letter to the editor from David E. Murphy, 29 June 1999.
7 Murphy, et al., p. 138.
8 Markus Wolf with Anne McElvoy, Man Without A Face (New York: Random House, 1997), p. 44
9 Wolf, p. 46.
10 On this, in detail, see Mary Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR, 1949-1989. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).
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