JOHANNA OLBRICH ALIAS SONJA LÜNEBURG
* 1926 IN LAUBAN † 2004 IN BERNAU BEI BERLIN
“BIDDING ADIEU TO A LIFE OF SPYING IN THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY”
In July of 1985, Johanna Olbrich forgets her travel bag in a taxi in Rome. The bag contains “my clothes, my forged travel documents, and 5,000 deutschmarks. The taxi driver was probably only interested in the money, but could I be sure?”
The loss of the papers puts an end to her career as a spy in Bonn – and to her identity as Sonja Lüneburg. From 1969 to 1985, Olbrich, alias Lüneberg, works as a secretary for FDP (Freie Demokratische Partei, or Free Democratic Party) politicians William Borm, Karl-Hermann Flach and Martin Bangemann. She delivers documents and reports from the FDP party headquarters, the German Federal Parliament, the Federal Ministry of Economy, and the European Parliament to the Main Directorate for Reconnaissance (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung, or HVA) of the Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, also known as the Stasi). The HVA had smuggled her into West Germany in 1967, with forged West Berlin papers belonging to a woman named Sonja Lüneburg, who had been placed in a psychiatric ward in the GDR.
I made a damned stupid mistake, one that’s deadly in this business.
Once she loses the bag in Rome, the fake Sonja Lüneburg is ordered back to the GDR. After being rowed over the Trave River by a smuggler, she initially lives in a Stasi safehouse in Berlin-Weißensee. Meanwhile, her apartment in Bonn is searched and her colleagues and acquaintances are interviewed. “Sonja Lüneburg” remains officially missing until 1991, but Johanna Olbrich is reborn. Olbrich lives as a retiree in a prefab apartment building in Bernau bei Berlin. Until she is exposed as a former spy and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, her family believes that she used to work for the GDR embassies in Japan and Korea.