Wolf initially worked as a journalist, but in 1953 he became one of the founding members of the new foreign intelligence service within the East German Ministry of State Security (Stasi) headed by Erich Mielke. Among Wolf's tasks was organizing teams of so-called Romeo spies (also referred to as "swallows") who seduced their targets to obtain information. His agents successfully penetrated the office of Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) Chancellor Willy Brandt in the early 1970s, causing an international scandal, and Wolf gained an international reputation as a spymaster. He retired in 1986 and gained a different sort of notoriety as a prominent supporter of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika.
When the East German state collapsed in 1989, Wolf was one of the first targets of scrutiny. Although he claims that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) offered him sanctuary, he remained in Berlin. He was subsequently arrested on charges of treason after the reunification of Germany and was tried and sentenced to six years in prison. That conviction was overturned, but he was later tried and convicted on charges of kidnapping East German citizens during the Cold War and received a two-year suspended sentence. He testified in several court cases about his activities and written several books, but he remains unapologetic. Wolf died in Berlin on 9 November 2006.
Timothy C. Dowling
Dennis, Mike. The Stasi: Myth and Reality. London: Pearson-Longman, 2003.; Reichenbach, Alexander. Chef der Spione: Die Markus-Wolf-Story [Chief of the Spies: The Markus Wolf Story]. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.; Wolf, Markus. Man without a Face: The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster. New York: Times Books, 1995.; Wolf, Markus. Spionagechef im geheim Krieg [Espionage Chief in the Secret War]. Munich: List, 1997.