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Markus Johannes Wolf

Wolf, Markus Johannes (märˈkŏs yōhänˈəs vôlf) [key], 1923–2006, East German spymaster. A legendary cold-war espionage chief, he was called "the man without a face" because until 1978 there was no known photograph of him. His Jewish family fled Nazi Germany (1933) and settled in Moscow, where he attended a Comintern School and made radio broadcasts. Returning after World War II to Soviet-occupied Germany, Wolf worked as a journalist and occasional diplomat. In 1953 he was appointed head of the foreign intelligence section of the ministry of state security—the infamous Stasi secret police. Wolf ran the Stasi skillfully for 34 years, overseeing a network of some 4,000 agents. His operatives infiltrated NATO, political groups, Western intelligence, and other organizations; "turned" West German officials and businessmen; used sex, money, and blackmail to ferret out information; and placed one of their own as West German chancellor Willy Brandt's top aide, a plot that precipitated Brandt's downfall. In 1990, after East Germany's collapse, Wolf fled to the USSR, but he returned in a year and surrendered to German authorities. His prison sentence (1993) for treason was later overturned, and he lived quietly in Berlin until his death.

See his Man without a Face (1997); L. Colitt, Spymaster (1995).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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