Markus Wolf was the legendary head of the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA) the East German foreign intelligence service. His successes, naturally enough, were well hidden, but after the collapse of East Germany in 1989, their true significance was revealed. Everywhere that mattered, agents of the HVA had been burrowing away. West German political parties, commercial enterprises, trade unions, the police and the armed forces, even artists’ networks and terrorist organisations, had been penetrated, sometimes at the highest levels. The HVA was much better than its West German counterpart, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). BND operations in East Germany yielded little that could not be read in the newspapers. Small wonder. Markus Wolf had agents so well-placed in the BND that much of its activity was steered from the HVA.
For over forty years, from 1949 to 1990, Germany was divided into West and East, each side calling itself a Republic. From the beginning, there were serious attempts at reunification. Why did it take so long? Here are a few reasons.