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Markus Wolf, East Germany's spymaster, dies at 83

Published November 10, 2006


BERLIN - Markus Wolf, the "man without a face" who outwitted the West as communist East Germany's long-serving spymaster, died Thursday (Nov. 9, 2006). He was 83.

Mr. Wolf died in his apartment in Berlin, his stepdaughter Claudia Wall said in a statement. The cause of his death, on the 17th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, was not released.

He planted some 4,000 agents in the West - most famously, placing Guenter Guillaume as a top aide to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. The agent's unmasking forced Brandt to resign in 1974.

Mr. Wolf, who said he spurned a CIA offer of a safe new life in California after the Cold War, managed to steal NATO secrets for the Soviet bloc that could have been decisive if war had broken out in Europe.

Because of his elusiveness, his rivals nicknamed him "the man without a face."

Born Jan. 19, 1923, in the southwestern town of Hechingen, Mr. Wolf and his family followed his father - a Jewish communist, doctor and writer - into exile in France in 1933 after the Nazis came to power. The Wolfs moved to the Soviet Union in 1934.

He worked at German People's Radio in Moscow from 1943 to 1945, when he returned to Germany with a group that included Walter Ulbricht, who would become East Germany's longtime leader.

Mr. Wolf joined the new communist state's embryonic foreign intelligence service in 1951. He became its leader the next year, and stayed in the job until his retirement in 1986.

Mr. Wolf's service was part of East Germany's all-pervasive secret police, the Stasi, which was widely loathed and feared for its huge network of domestic informers. Mr. Wolf served under Erich Mielke, the hated Stasi chief, from 1956 until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Wolf is survived by his wife, Andrea, three sons and his stepdaughter.

[Last modified November 10, 2006, 01:47:12]

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