"A lieutenant colonel, he worked in one of the most secret divisions of the overseas spy service, the Hauptverwarltung Aufklärung (HVA)."
Office building of the HVA in the Ministry for State Security in Berlin-Lichtenberg – now the offices of Deutsche Bahn
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeOffice building of the HVA in the Ministry for State Security in Berlin-Lichtenberg – now the offices of Deutsche Bahn - Credit: Bettenburg

The Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA) was the main directorate of intelligence, a replica of the Russian KGB, which merged with the Stasi in 1953.

Portrait of Markus Wolf, December 1989
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePortrait of Markus Wolf, December 1989 - Credit: Elke Schöps

 Markus Wolf was made chief of secret intelligence in 1951; a Communist and fluent Russian speaker, he had spent time as a refugee in the Soviet Union and retained strong relationships with the country. It was while working as a radio journalist in Moscow, that he met Walter Ulbricht who would go on to be instrumental in the early years of the German Democratic Republic. Markus Wolf died in 2006. In Stasiland, Herr Bohnsack describes Markus Wolf as a "tall slim elegant intellectual", and he was apparently the model for Karla in John le Carré's trilogy.

Spymaster: The Real-Life Karla, his Moles and the East German Secret Police is a probing biography by Leslie Colitt which poses questions about why Wolf slipped through the net, and never spent even a single night in jail.