Paper prepared for the Conference“Civil Society in Transition”, 5-7 oktober 2006 (revised in 2012), Södertörn University College, Sweden
On July 26, 2012, former Stasi elite agent Aleksander Radler, a pastor in northern Sweden who has previously denied he served as a Stasi agent admitted to newspaper Dagens Nyheter that he reported to the East German secret police, Stasi, for 25 years without being detected, charged and sentenced in Sweden for espionage.
Aleksander Radler, who formerly worked as a vicar in Burträsk, Sweden, also served an elite spy according to a new expert report by international Stasi-expert Helmut Müller Enbergs, cited by Dagens Nyheter.
East Germany sent “IM Thomas” to “the capitalist world” in 1968, according to Dagens Nyheter. In 1994, a German investigation revealed Radler was “IM Thomas”, but as late as April of this year, Radler maintained his innocence in an interview with the tabloid Expressen.
My first interest, however, was the question of Soviet training of communists behind the Iron Curtain. Much new archival material has been made available from Comintern and Cominform archives since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. As will be mentioned further on the Swedish Communist Party (SKP) had a training school financed by SED in Bad Doberan close to Rostock modelled on the Soviet type of training. East German Major General Josef (Sepp) Gutsche is an example of someone trained in the Soviet Union. In the 1920s he was a leading Communist urban guerrilla leader along with for example Hans Kippenberger, head of the military wing of KPD. Gutsche trained with a group of 110 German at the Comintern Military School on Smolenski Boulevard in Moscow. He was also trained at the Frunze Military Academy for class struggle in the form of civil war (city-, street, and barricade fighting as well as making and detonating explosives). After that he served as military avisor to the Chinese communists in Manchuria. He also worked in an export-import business in Shanghai. He eturned to the Soviet occupied part of Germany to serve in the MfS after World War II to rise in the ranks. In my study of study of Soviet training for foreign communists we relied heavily on information collected by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Americans who receiver Comintern training, especially the so called Lenin School or Lenin Institute in the Moscow area. As the Soviet archives have been partly opened on the training of foreign communists in the Soviet Union much more can be said on this matter but we have had neither time nor funds to pursue this part of the study. It must be pointer out that so far we have seen no evidente of military training at the Bad Doberan School for Swedish communists.
The first time we had an opportunity to speak about Stasi activities in Scandinavia was at the Fifth Annual Meeting of the International Intelligence History Study Group in 1999 at the Akademie fuer politische Bildung at Tutzing, Bavaria. The subject of the meeting was “Germany and Intelligence Organizations: The Last Fifty Years In Review”.
In the year of the fiftieth anniversary of June 17, 1953, we were given opportunity to participate in the “DDR-Forschertagung” in 2003 at the Europäischen Akademie Otzenhausen in Saarland (“Das war die DDR – DDR-Forschung im Fadenkreuz von Herrschaft, Aussenbeziehungen, Kultur und Souveränität“) and present a paper.
(Note: my article “How East Germany Operated in Scandinavian Countries 1958 – 1989: Intelligence, Party Contacts, Schooling and Active Measures” was in 2008 published in Zeitschrift des Forschungsverbundes SED-Staat, Ausgabe Nr. 23/2008, Freie Universität Berlin, Tyskland.
Terminology and a Few Background Notes
As we are not sure as to your background knowledge of the East German secret service (full name Ministry for State Security) just a few words. Ministerium fuer Staatssicherheit (MfS) is from a German standpoint better known as Stasi (Staatssicherheit), as it was working both domestically and internationally. MfS had over 200 local bureaus in GDR, around 100, 000 employees and over 170,000 informants controlling around 17 million inhabitants.
I am employing terms such as ’active measures’ and ’political warfare’. The first is a Soviet term for disinformation. It was the method used by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes in Europe to present especially prepared data, used for the creation in the mind of the enemy, of incorrect or imaginary pictures of reality, on the basis of which the enemy would make decisions beneficial to the communist regimes. Political warfare is roughly equal to propaganda warfare. This type of warfare was during the Cold War used by the Warsaw Pact states against the West. The latter did not engage in political warfare of the type used by the communist regimes. In democracies the terms ’information’ or ’public diplomacy’ are the standard terminology for such activities. In a democracy, also, information abroad is controlled by a democratically elected government and parliament.
From the 1990s up until now I have attempted to follow research in the field of GDR-studies including Stasi activities abroad. GDR has attracted some interest in the academic community in Sweden. Andreas Linderoth has studied East German foreign policy towards Sweden 1949 – 1972. Nils Abraham is involved in research on GDR public diplomacy towards Sweden at the Historical Institute of the University of Greifswald. Abraham has also contributed a paper at one of the conferences of this university college in 2003. In Germany already in 1990 a dissertation was published on the so called GDR ’Baltic Sea Weeks’ in Rostock, weeks that gave the regime in East Berlin opportunity to spread propaganda. There are, we are sure, several projects in the past and ongoing concerning GDR. To my knowledge only one book exists on East German intelligence activities in Sweden. The author is a former economics professor at Åbo Academy in Finland, Gösta A Eriksson, now residing in Uppsala. His book Stasi och Sverige deals, however, mainly with trade between Sweden and GDR. According to Eriksson in a recent interview Swedish companies that traded in GDR provided Stasi with political information (on enemies in Sweden of the East German state) to acquire favorable deals. Especially Electrolux, according to Eriksson, was active in providing information on organizations and individuals with negative views on GDR.
My own research has concentrated on the so called SIRA-files at BStU (the Stasi Archive). In late 1998 experts in Berlin managed to decode magnetic tapes in System zur Informationsrecherche der HVA (the System for Information Search of the HVA). These tapes included only the subject matter of reports and sometimes cover-names of the agents. Also the reports were graded from 1 – 5 with 1 as ’very valuable’. My request for the file transcripts that included the word ’Sweden’ (1,400 pages) was sent to Berlin in the spring of 1999 and in the summer of 2000 we received a packet containing the material. To give you an idea of what subjects in Sweden that were of interest to HVA we are providing a few examples:
No 902. Source (codename: Peter). Dated 1981. Scandinavian views on a nuclear free zone in northern Europe
No 925. Source (codenamn): Andreas. Dated 1982. The state of the peace movement in the Nordic Countries.
No 938 Source (codename): Faust. Dated 1982. A leading SAP functionary Viets on some present question.
No 951. Source (codename): Koenig. Statement by a secretary in Swedish SAP on recent events in the Socialist International.
No 996. Source (codename): Tell. Dated 1982. On the foreign policy of the new Swedish government.
No 1001. Dated 1982. On Sweden’s new foreign minister Bodström.
I will now turn to the question of Scandinavia as a target of GDR operations and continue with a few cases that have been investigated by police and courts. Then there will be a few words on Sweden and some views of mine on the continuing work with Stasi-files in Germany and in Scandinavia.
Scandinavia as GDR Target
Scandinavia, no doubt, was an important target of German Democratic Republic (GDR)
influence operations. 1) One of the main objectives was to achieve diplomatic recognition of GDR by the Scandinavian countries as part of the overall strategy of Soviet politics to neutralize the Baltic Sea area and persuading Denmark and Norway to leave NATO or turn into at least non-aligned nations.
In the late 1950s the GDR had to a great extent been assigned by Moscow as the main base for influence operations in Scandinavia. Pomerania in northern Germany was, at least concerning Sweden, an ideal base, as the province had for several hundred years been Swedish, and it was thus natural for the regime in East Berlin to connect to the old historic ties.
In August 1999 Joachim Gauck, then head of the BstU, visited Copenhagen to discuss with high Danish officials interest in having access to material on Stasi activities in Denmark. Archive sources had claimed that there was extensive material, including information on Danish Stasi agents, and that it would be published as a result of United States releasing Stasi material in the possession of American intelligence. Persons, in German view, who spied for the GDR, irrespective of nationality, should not be protected. 2)
Already in May 1999 the Danish parliament had requested that the government do everything possible to find Danish citizens who had cooperated with the East German intelligence organization to guarantee that they were brought to justice. The socialist government had in parliament been accused of dragging its feet on the matter. 3) In 2002 a non-socialist government was formed after elections for parliament. In 2005 a four volume report was Publisher (Danmark under den kolde krig. Den sikkerhedspolitiske situation 1945 – 1991 – Denmark During the Cold War. The Security Situation 1945 – 1991). A few charters in the report treated GDR intelligence operations in Denmark. 4)
As a result of the intense Danish investigations in 1999 police arrested Stasi agent “Lenz”. He was an employee of the European Union and had worked for the Danish Foreign Ministry. He was under suspicion of having provided the communist regime in East Berlin with secret Danish government documents. He was later released and no charges brought. We don’t know if he has resumed his work in Brussels. “Lenz” had been a member of the Danish Communist Youth Organization.
A German agent, Rainer Rupp, who worked under the code name “Topas” had, it was reported, delivered 24 confidential reports to Stasi on Danish defense. He stole for instance documents from NATOs Defense Planning Committee and Defense Review Committee.
Danish media also reported that a Knud Wollenberger (Codename “Donald”) had been exposed already in 1995. He had from 1973 infiltrated Danish and American diplomatic environment in Berlin to provide Stasi drawings of the embassies and their security equipment. Agent “Donald” had a father, who had lived in the United States. “Donald” was found out when his wife read their file in the Stasi Archive, and detected that her husband had spied on her for ten years. She was then a dissident. Later she became a member of the German Parliament for the Green Party under her maiden name, Vera Lengsfeld.
During the 1980s the Danish Social Democratic Party opposed NATO on several issues, among others the stationing of nuclear weapons on Danish territory. This was of great interest to KGB and Stasi. The regimes in Moscow and East Berlin were seeking weaknesses in NATO to exploit them. The goal was to have Denmark leave NATO altogether.
An Important Norwegian Case
Also in Norway in the late 1990s policy investigations led to the exposure of suspected HVA agent Stein Viksveen (Codename “Lanze”), a Norwegian journalist stationed in Brussels. Norwegian police raided his house in Norway and his apartment in Brussels in search of evidence. He had been, according to newspaper reports, recruited already in 1962. The Norwegian journalist was never arrested but the charges against him were presented by the Norwegian Counter-Intelligence Police (POT). Viksveen was later tried in court and found not guilty. 5)
The Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies has published an informative general study on Stasi in English. 6)
No agent for HVA has been arrested or tried in Sweden. A commission (Säkerhetstjänst-kommissionen) which was to document Cold War espionage on instructions of the Swedish parlament, including Stasi activities, in its report presented very little of substance on the subject of GDR intelligence activities. A Dr. Werner Schmidt for the Commission visited German archives in Berlin and Greifswald. Schmidt claimed that there were interesting material in the SAPMO (Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR in Bundesarchiv) Archive in Berlin and in Greifswald, but this was mainly related to internal Swedish communist party fighting during the 1960s and 1970s. In the Stasi Archive there was nothing new. East German intelligence interest in Sweden could rather be studied with the aid of documents in the archive of Swedish security policy archive. Schmidt and the Commission took the archival material in Germany and similar East European material lightly. The result is that Stasi and other Warsaw Pact agent activity in Sweden is not described and presented in the report of the Commission. 7) What is needed in both Sweden, Denmark and Norway is thus a thorough investigation of these matters by seperate commissions to enlighten the public.
There was never a high level interest in Stockholm in these matters. It would be interesting to know the real reason for this. The official reason stated in parliament in Stockholm is that the possible crimes could no longer be prosecuted due to statutory limitation.
When it comes to researching East German operations in Sweden much has now been undertaken in the academic field but few of the full names of the East German agents are still not known. They are kept secret by the Kingdom of Sweden although the Soviet empire collapsed in 1991. One case in point is the Swedish communist party School in Bad Doberan concerning which I have collected some material in Greifswald and Berlin. At the latter there is a section on relations with communist parties in “developed capitalist countries”, to which Sweden belonged according to East German terminology. There is a file for correspondence abort participation of Swedish “comrades” at party courses in East Germany. It would be interesting to compare some of the Swedish names of Bad Doberan pupils with the files of the Swedish Security Police now preserved at the National Archive in Stockholm.
There is presently in Germany a debate on the future of the archives of Stasi. In my opinion they should be preserved and much freer access be allowed. Since 2003 copies of the so called Rosenholz Archives are preserved in Berlin as a gift from United States intelligence services, which were purchased from Stasi employees when the East German administration collapsed. Over 200,000 West German citizens are registered and internal research at BStU (media reports in 2006) have shown that Stasi had a significant faction in the German Bundestag. According to press reports (summer of 2006) there served in the Sixth Bundestag (1969 to 1972) 43 Stasi agents (most of them social democrats). Here is for instance a wide future research field on Stasi influence on the politics of West Germany.
In addition to the Bad Doberan case another subject relating to Scandinavia is of interest, namely the visits of the so called travel cadres (Reisekader) in the Scandinavian countries. They were professionals that had been accepted by the regime in East Berlin for travel abroad. They are introduced in an essay in a volume published in 2005 (Kommunismens ansikten – Faces of Communism, ed. Anu Mai Koll). It would be hard to imagine such professionals from East Germany travelling in Sweden and not reporting to MfS. In their own words they were everywhere abroad openly and friendly received. It would be interesting to gain access the archives of the Swedish Radio (STV) and the Swedish Institute (Kulturinstitutet) to learn how such visitors were received by these institutions. The parliamentary financed project to investigate the crimes of communism against human rights has been transformed into the project “Communist regimes“, of which the above book is one result. There is according to the information in this recent volume an ongoing research project, “Kollega, kamrat eller kader” – Colleague, comrade or cadre”. One can only hope that the research based on archival material from the GDR, its organizations and intelligence apparatus will continue and possibly grow not only in Germany but in Scandinavia as well.
1) Myten om VPK’s oberoende – En dokumentation av Vänsterpartiet kommunisternas politiska, ekonomiska och organisatoriska bindningar till utländska kommunistregimer” (The Myth of VPK Independence – A Documentation on the Political, Economic and Organizational Contacts of VPK to Foreign Communist Regimes)(ed. Johan Hjertqvist), Stockholm: Opinion, 1980.
2) Daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende, Copenhagen, August 27, 1999.
3) Daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende, Copenhagen, September 7, 1999.
4) In chapter 76 there is a section on growing interest in Denmark, potential agents for East Germany and the GDR network of agents in the country in the 1980s. There is even a section on he Rosewood-files.
5) “Jakt på norsk Stasi-agent” (Hunt for Norwegian Stasi Agent), Aftenposten, Oslo, January 5, 2000 (on “Lanze” as are most of the following references), “Jager to norske spioner” (The Hunt for Two Norwegian Spies), Nettavisen, Norway, January 6, 2000, “Spionerte om NATO og EF” (Spied on NATO and EC), Dagbladet, January 6, 2000, “- Spionen snart tatt” (The Spy Soon Captured), Dagbladet, January 10, 2000, “Spionjegerne forholder seg tause” (The Spy Hunters Remain Silent), Dagbladet, January 11, 2000, “Jakter på flere spioner” (Hunt for More Spies), Verdens Gang, Oslo, January 6, 2000, “Stasi-spionen ‘Lanze’ var norsk journalist”, (Stasi Spy ‘Lanze’ Was Norwegian Journalist), Verdens Gang, January 11, 2000, “POT kartla deltakerne – Her ble spionene rekruttert av Stasi” (POT Checked the Participants – Here the Spies Were Recruited by Stasi), Dagbladet, January 11, 2000, “Norsk spion ringes inn – ‘Lanze’ kan bli arrestert” (Norwegian Spy is Encircled – ‘Lanze’ Can Be Arrested), Verdens Gang, January 5, 2000, ” -Stasi-spionen ‘Lanze’ trolig siktet” (The Stasi Spy ‘Lanze’ Probably Charged), Dagbladet, January 12, 2000, “Tystet på av Stasi-avhoppere – Derfor ble Viksveen spionsiktet” (Stasi Defector Testified – That Is Why Viksveen Was Charged, journalist Stein Viksveen was believed to be ‘Lanze’), Dagbladet, January 22, 2000, “Lanzes” føringsoffiser kjente Viksveen” (The Officer in Charge of ‘Lanze’ Knew Viksveen), Aftenposten, January 22, 2000, “Kunnskapsrik journalist som utelot Stasi i DDR-bok” (Knowledgeable Journalist Who Left Stasi Out of Book on GDR), Aftenposten, January 21, 2000, “Rømte til Frankrike” (Escaped to France), Verdens Gang, January 22, 2000, “Kan ha blitt registrert som Stasi-agent uten å vite det” (Can Have Been Registered as Stasi Agent Without Knowing), Aftenposten, January 22, 2000, ” – Siktet for å ha overlevert strengt hemmelig Nato-dokument” (Charged With Having Delivered a Top Secret NATO Document), Stavanger Aftenblad, Norway, January 23, 2000, “- Må ha vaert topp-spion – Stasi-arkivet om ‘Lanze'”, (He Must Have Been a Top Spy – the Stasi Archive on ‘Lanze’), Verdens gang, January 26, 2000, “Viksveen er Lanze” (Viksveen is Lanze), Dagbladet, January 28, 2000, “Efterforsker ny, norsk spion?” (Searching For New Norwegian Spy?), Verdens Gang, February 5, 2000, “Fant liste over spionløn (Found List On Spy Payment), Verdens Gang, February 8, 2000, “Viksveen: Noen må ha brukt meg” (Viksveen: Someone Must Have Used Me), Stavanger Aftenblad, June 15, 2000, “- Ga STASI Amnesty-dokumenter” (Gave STASI Amnesty Documents), Verdens Gang, June 15, 2000, “Spionlaerer vervet ‘Lanze'” (Spy Teacher Recruited ‘Lanze’), Verdens Gang, June 16, 2000, “Stasi fikk Holst-manus” (Stasi Received Holst Manuscript), Verdens Gang, June 18, 2000, “Stasi-oberst ‘frifinner’ Viksveen (Stasi Colonel Acquits Viksveen), Dagbladet, September 5, 2000, “Oppsiktsvekkende datafunn – Ny informasjon underbygger siktelsen” (Sensational Computer Find – New Information Is Strengthening Charge), Verdens Gang, October 23, 2000, “Viksveen utpekt på foto” (Viksveen Identified On Photo), Verdens Gang, October 24, 2000, “- Syv personer knytter Viksveen til Lanze” (Seven Persons Tie Viksveen to Lanze), Aftenposten, October 23, 2000, “POT med åpne Stasi-påstander” (POT With Open Stasi Claims), Aftenposten, October 24, 2000, “Viksveen utpekt på foto” (Viksveen Identified On Photo), Verdens Gang, October 24, 2000, “Skygger fra en kald krig” (Shadows From A Cold War), Dagbladet, October 24, 2000, “POT-påstander i Viksveen-saken: Stasimøter helt til muren falt” (POT Claims in Viksveen Case: Meetings Up Until The Wall Fell), Aftenposten, October 24, 2000, “Stasiavhopper vil ikke vitne i Norge” (Stasi Defector Does Not Want To Testify In Norway), Aftenposten, January 10, 2001, ” – Norge ikke spesielt interessant” (Norway Not Especially Interesting), Aftenposten, January 11, 2001, “Viksveen ble ikke gjenkjent i går heller” (Viksveen Was Also Not Recognised Yesterday), Aftenposten, January 10, 2001, “Endret sin forklaring” (Changed His Testimony), Verdens Gang, January 15, 2001, “De pekte ut ‘Lanze'” (They Identified Lanze), Verdens Gang, January 14, 2001, “Utpekt av ny Stasi-offiser – Stasioffiseren Heinz Becker utpekte fredag Stein Viksveen som spionen ‘Lanze'” (Identified By New Stasi Officer – Stasi Officer Heinz Becker Identified Stein Viksveen as Lanze on Friday), Verdens Gang, January 12, 2001, ” – Jeg vervet Viksveen – Stasi-oberst hevder an laerte nordmannen op i bruk av spionutstyr” ( – I Recruited Viksveen – Stasi Colonel Claims He Tought the Norwegian How To Use Espionage Equipment), Verdens Gang, January 12, 2001, “Stasi-topp beskrev Lanze i detalj” (Top Stasi Officer Described Lanze In Detail), Verdens Gang, January 10, 2001.
6) IFS 2002/02, Bernd Schäfer, Stasi Files and GDR Espionage Against the West.
7) The main report, SOU 2002:88, was presented on December 17, 2002, Politisk övervakning och personalkontroll 1945 – 1969 – Political surveillance and security control of persons 1945 – 1969. SOU 2002:89 covered the years 1969 to 2002. Additional reports covered surveillance of the peace movement, threat from leftist and neo-nazi extremism, “the gray brotherhood” (extra legal internal intelligence) and a number of special cases.