Haut de page

4 - In the shadow of the Wall

Haut de page

 

  Espionage

Given its very special geopolitical position, Berlin was the hottest spot on the " invisible front " of the Cold War being waged by communist and western intelligence services.

In West Berlin, the French and American agencies set up powerful receivers capable of listening in and decoding messages transmitted by the Warsaw Pact countries.

In East Berlin, from 1958 to 1987 Markus Wolf, " the man without a face ", was head of the espionage service (HVA) whose 4 000 agents infiltrated NATO and the federal chancellery.

Glienicke Bridge which linked West Berlin to Potsdam (point 11) was on a number of occasions the scene of exchanges of spies or dissidents. Thus in February 1962, Francis Powers, the American pilot of a U2 spy plane shot down over Soviet territory – an incident which had given Krushchev a good excuse to sabotage the Paris summit in May 1960 – was exchanged for Soviet agent Rudolf Abel, who had received a 30 year jail sentence in the United States. In 1985, 23 East German political prisoners were swapped for 4 Eastern spies in American prisons. In February 1986, 4 communist agents were exchanged for the Soviet dissident Anatoly Shcharansky and 4 western spies.

The Berlin of espionage served as a backdrop for many novels (John Le Carré, The Spy who came in from the Cold ; Len Deighton, Funeral in Berlin) and films (Hitchcock, Torn Curtain).

 

  Glienicke Bridge
Glienicke Bridge

Bas de page

back - annexes - forward

Bas de page