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Christel Guillaume entertains MfS cadre with stories from her life as a spy in the “operation area.” Only a select group of people is permitted at the event.
Christel Guillaume entertains MfS cadre with stories from her life as a spy in the “operation area.” Only a select group of people is permitted at the event.


The exact number of men and women who work for the Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or MfS) in the “operation area,” i. e. in West Germany, is unknown. It is presumed that the Main Directorate for Reconnaissance (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung, or HVA) and Main Department II Counter-Intelligence (Hauptabteilung II Spionageabwehr, or HA II) together handle around 3,500 agents at the same time. Among them are West German citizens, alleged refugees from the GDR, and MfS agents with forged West Berlin or West German identities. Approximately three-fourths of all recruits are men. There are also married couples that work undercover together, like Christel and Günter Guillaume.

The GDR agents provide intelligence gathered from politicians and administrators, the Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr), the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND), NATO and the industrial sector. In the “system conflict” between East and West, they are supposed to determine the intentions of the “class enemy” and create an advantage for the socialist world. Information concerning military technology, micro-technology, nuclear energy, electronic engineering and chemical patents is of particular interest. Many spies are committed believers in the GDR system, while others are being blackmailed or simply paid for their services.

If there is risk of discovery, the “Scouts of Peace” are called back to the GDR. This is intended to protect them from criminal prosecution, but it also prevents them from providing information about their spying activities. Agents who are exposed in West Germany are exchanged for the spies of Western intelligence services or deported to the East after serving a prison sentence. After years or decades in the West, they arrive in a GDR whose everyday life they no longer know or in which they have never actually lived.


Former spies are supervised by their last MfS department. Because integration is not always immediately successful, the “Operative Support Task Force” is founded in 1982. It offers support for returned agents, but also ensures that they are continuously monitored. In the mid-1980s, the group has around 40 former spies under its supervision. The HVA tries to provide them with the luxuries and comforts they grew accustomed to in West Germany. For example, Günter Guillaume drives a Peugeot, has a house and goes on holiday often. He receives numerous medals and honours.

But most spies cannot find appropriate work in the GDR. The intelligence services no longer needs or uses them, and life in the GDR is strange and unfamiliar. Some even want to return to the West, despite the possibility of arrest.

Several spies, like Horst Hesse, appear at press con- ferences with statements dictated directly from the MfS. However, most are not allowed to give any accounts of their MfS duties. Only in the 1980s are some invited to so-called “Scout Conventions,” where they recount their experiences for a select group of people.


Günter Guillaume is Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt’s personal advisor and Christel Guillaume is a secretary in the SPD party office in southern Hesse when they are exposed as MfS spies in 1974 and subsequently arrested. The Guillaume affair leads to Willy Brandt’s resignation. After their release, the Guillaumes are deported to the GDR in 1981, where they live a life of privilege.

Horst Hesse has a cover job working for American military intelligence and steals the contents of two safes in 1956. In the GDR the theft is celebrated as a big coup. Hesse is promoted as a hero, but when his adventure appears in the DEFA film “For Eyes Only” in 1963, it is without his knowledge.

When MfS officer Werner Stiller defects to West Germany in 1979, his asset, HVA agent Armin Raufeisen, is faced with exposure. Raufeisen and his wife and sons travel to the GDR under the pretence of visiting family. Once they have arrived, Raufeisen tells his family that they cannot return to Hanover. The Raufeisen family does not acclimate well to their new life in the GDR. The older son, who is already an adult, is ultimately allowed to return to West Germany. The rest of the family later applies to leave the GDR as well, but it is denied. They attempt an escape, but it is unsuccessful; an agent planted at West Germany’s state security services informs the MfS of the escape preparations. The Raufeisens are arrested in 1981. Armin Raufeisen receives a life sentence and dies in prison in 1987. His son Thomas is imprisoned for three years and his wife for seven before they are allowed to immigrate to West Germany.