Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


How did Cold War-era spies get "the goods"?

Just ask Kristie Macrakis. The Washington Times ran a recent story on a books about spying in the era of the Iron Curtain — both sides, in fact. On the East German side, they discuss Seduced by Secrets.

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Joe Goulden

“Meanwhile, a third of the world away, the East German spy agency, STASI – formally the Ministry for State Security, or MfS – put together its own tradecraft treasure chest. It was different from CIA in one cardinal respect: much of STASI’s spying was directed at its own citizens, rather than foreign adversaries. Hard and thorough research by Kristie Macrakis isreflected in Seduced by Secrets (Cambridge University Press, $28, 392 pages). Ms. Macrakis teaches espionage at Michigan State University.

“Drawing upon declassified documents seized from STASI files (it is now defunct) and interviews with former officers, Ms. Macrakis has produced a first-rate read. The East Germans, predictably, were especially adept with concealed spy cameras – a carved wooden deer grazing in a field, bird houses, a flowerpot. She gives her book a personalistic twist with portraits of former STASI officers.

“Perhaps the most interesting – surely the most colorful – of these characters was Werner Stiller, who defected to West Germany and exposed a raft of STASI spies. He told Ms. Macrakis that CIA paid him $250,000 for a debriefing in which he fingered agents in the United States.

“Thereafter, he womanized his way through Europe, working for spells at the banking houses of Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. Ms. Macrakis found him in Hungary, where he ran clothing stores with a girlfriend and drank “a bottle of red wine every night.” He avoids former STASI friends, who consider him still under a death sentence, the demise of East Germany notwithstanding.”

Read the full story here!

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