November 24, 2010
Mark Stout, SPY Historian
A great deal has been written about the Stasi’s internal intelligence operations and a compelling movie, The Lives of Others , brought the topic to the big screen in a realistic way. However, little has been written about what the Stasi’s foreign intelligence component, the HVA, did abroad. Fortunately, Dr. Thomas Boghardt, the former Historian of the International Spy Museum, has just published a review of a new book, entitled East German Foreign Intelligence: Myth, Reality and Controversy . Because the book is, shall we say, priced to sell to libraries, you will wish to read Boghardt’s comprehensive review .
As an aside, this book comes out of a conference on the HVA held in Denmark in 2007 that brought together scholars and HVA veterans. Boghardt describes the event:
Intended as a forum for historians and former practitioners, the conference was quickly hijacked by retired [Stasi] officers who droned on about the successful espionage operations of their agency, brushed critical questions aside, and “became louder, less restrained, finally banging on the benches with abandon and dominating the venue.” … To add insult to injury, the [Stasi] retirees quickly published their own papers in an edited volume, without consulting the dumbfounded Danish conference organizers….East German Foreign Intelligence is the academics’ response to what many of them considered a rose-tinted view of the HVA.
Somehow I doubt the Stasi officers will even noticed that they’ve been dissed, but for the rest of us, Boghardt’s review is still worth checking out.