PIERRE BOOM (GEB. GUILLAUME)
* 1957 IN FRANKFURT AM MAIN
A LIFE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST
On 24 April 1974 at 6:32 in the morning, Pierre Guillaume awakens to see Federal Criminal Police officers storming into his family’s apartment in Bad Godesberg. His parents, Günter and Christel Guillaume, are arrested. He finds out about their espionage for the GDR Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or MfS) several days later. The GDR authorities pressure the 17-year-old to move to the East. In the hope that his parents will soon be released as part of an agent exchange with West Germany, Pierre Guillaume decides to relocate. His parents, however, are not released from Federal German custody until 1981. Pierre Guillaume has a hard time adjusting to the inflexible GDR system. He misses his parents. He is bothered by the lack of free speech and the two-faced nature of the GDR state and many of its citizens.
In the end, I was also just curious about the country that my parents had spied for, and I knew that I could only live with them again in the GDR.
The MfS looks after Pierre Guillaume, treating him with privilege and trying to direct the course of his life. For a few years he is disoriented, torn between refusal and submission. He frees himself from the Stasi’s clutches in the early 1980s and becomes a photojournalist for the Neue Berliner Illustrierte (NBI). Nevertheless, he still does not feel at home in the GDR. He decides to emigrate in 1988 with his wife Iris and their two children. Their application is approved – on the condition that Pierre Guillaume must adopt his mother’s maiden name: Boom. Today, Pierre Boom works as a journalist and photojournalist on the island of Sylt.
THE GUILLAUME AFFAIR
Christel and Günter Guillaume are sent to Frankfurt am Main in May 1956 as Stasi spies. Their task is to build careers in the SPD (the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or Social Democratic Party of Germany). Christel Guillaume quickly finds her way; she becomes the SPD party office secretary in Hesse- South in 1959, and then office manager for MP Willi Birkelbach in 1964. Birkelbach is named Head of the State Chancellery of Hesse the same year. Meanwhile, Günter Guillaume becomes a fulltime SPD party official in 1964. Starting in 1970, he works in the Federal Chancellery. In early 1973 he becomes one of Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt’s aides.
The Guillaumes are exposed and arrested in April 1974. Two weeks later, Brandt takes political responsibility and steps down as head of the government. The Guillaume’s trial for treason ends with sentences of eight years’ imprisonment for Christel Guillaume and 13 years for her husband. They both return to the GDR in 1981 as part of an agent exchange.