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Markus Wolf
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    (January 19, 1923-November 9, 2006)
    Born in Hechingen, Germany
    Headed the foreign intelligence division of East Germany's Stasi (1953-86)
    Convicted on charges of treason (1993)
    Conviction overturned by the German supreme court on the grounds that an East German citizen could not be considered guilty of treason against West Germany
    Given a two-year suspended sentence (1997) for his role in the abduction of a woman from West to East Berlin
    Died on the 17th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall
    He was married three times, divorced twice.
    He said he wanted to be remembered for 'perfecting the use of sex in spying.'
    Most famously, his 'Romeo' agents would seduce (and sometimes marry) spinster secretaries working in West German government offices and then pump them for information.
    He was rumored to be the inspiration for the spymaster Karla in John Le Carre's novels, but Le Carre consistently denied it.
    When the Berlin Wall fell, he fled the country and unsuccessfully sought asylum in Russia and Austria.
    He tried to recast himself as a Gorbachev-style reformer, publicly denouncing his ex-boss, East German leader Erich Honecker.
    Most observers doubted the sincerity of his conversion, with John Le Carre, for example, calling him 'the modern-day equivalent of Albert Speer... a nasty little twerp.'
    In his memoirs, he complained bitterly about being tried for treason, ignoring the fact that he was granted due process that he never would have enjoyed had he been accused of a crime by his old bosses in East Germany.
    He said, 'The morality of the intelligence world can never be compared with the normal moral thinking of normal people.'
    He was considered one of the most successful spymasters in history, infiltrating several thousand agents into Western Europe.
    In his greatest coup, one of his sleeper agents, Gunter Guillaume, became personal secretary to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt.
    His spy network was so efficient that during its peak years copies of West German intelligence reports were on the desk of Erich Honecker before the originals reached West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
    Heribert Hellenbroich, one of his West German counterparts, said, 'He was an absolute professional.... He developed sophisticated methods.... One could only respect such an adversary.'
    After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the CIA allegedly offered him a seven-figure cash payment, a home in California and a new identity if he would defect to the US.
    He was an accomplished cook. (And published a book of recipes after his retirement from espionage.)

Credit: C. Fishel

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