Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (GDR)
The Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA) (en. Main Reconnaissance Administration) of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR, "East Germany") was the foreign intelligence service of the GDR and was an integral part of the GDR Ministry of State Security
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

 (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit / MfS). After the MfS was disbanded in 1990 its mode of operation was revealed to the public and the HVA was subjected to broad interest, as well as intensive research, which falls under the responsibilities of the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (Official site). The end of the HVA and the discovery of its internal structure, its methods and its employees was an exceptional event, which to date is unique in modern history, after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The HVA is regarded as the most effective foreign intelligence service during the Cold War.


The primary mandate of the HVA was foreign reconnaissance (espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

), which included political, military, economic and technological intelligence-gathering. Among its other duties were activities against western intelligence agencies (by means of infiltrating
Entryism is a political tactic by which an organisation or state encourages its members or agents to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely...

 their operations), preparing acts of sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

, as well as the so-called "Active Measures" (distributing false intelligence) in the "Operational Sector Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

", including West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...


In the early 1980s, military espionage began to gain significance. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, the SED-led administration of the German Democratic Republic, and secretary of national security Erich Mielke
Erich Mielke
Erich Fritz Emil Mielke was a German communist politician and Minister of State Security—and as such head of the Stasi —of the German Democratic Republic between 1957 and 1989. Mielke spent more than a decade as an operative of the NKVD during the rule of Joseph Stalin...

 expected paramount information in regard to the early discovery of Western war preparations from the HVA, in light of the rising tensions between the two Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...


Cooperation with the KGB

Optimal conditions allowed the HVA to provide its eastern "sister services", especially the KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

, the greatest amount of intelligence flowing out of the Federal Republic of Germany, which was the most significant European NATO member. The KGB was headquartered in Berlin-Karlshorst, the Soviet Union's secret service was located in Potsdam-Babelsberg
Babelsberg is the largest district of the Brandenburg capital Potsdam in Germany. The affluent neighbourhood named after a small hill on the Havel river is famous for Babelsberg Palace and Park, part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as for Studio...

, and in addition, liaisons were present to each district administration. Successful operations against NATO headquarters in Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, as well as some other Western European states, such as Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 also contributed to the HVA's significance. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, on the contrary, the HVA was never able to break any ground, as the KGB operated there almost exclusively.
(The significant inroads in the GDR's reconnaissance on, for example, the NSA
National Security Agency
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting U.S...

 originated from personnel stationed in West Berlin.)


In 1989 the HVA had 21 sections (Abteilungen) and 5 task forces (Arbeitsgruppen). In addition, there was the Headquarters of the HVA (Stab der HVA) and the Sector for Science and Technology (Sektor Wissenschaft und Technik) (SWT), responsible for technological espionage, whose responsibilities were spread across sections.


Sections VII, IX, X and task force S were directly subordinated to the head of the HVA, Colonel General
Colonel General
Colonel General is a senior rank of General. North Korea and Russia are two countries which have used the rank extensively throughout their histories...

 Werner Großmann
Werner Grossmann
Werner Großmann is an East German former deputy leader of the Ministry for State Security .Born in Ober-Ebenheit, Grossman started his career as a bricklayer, but in 1952 he joined the Ministry for State Security where he studied political and military espionage...


His predecessor was Colonel General Markus Wolf
Markus Wolf
Markus Johannes "Mischa" Wolf was head of the General Intelligence Administration , the foreign intelligence division of East Germany's Ministry for State Security . He was the MfS's number two for 34 years, which spanned most of the Cold War...

, who led the HVA over 34 years until 1986 and was held in high professional regard in the intelligence community.

The head of the HVA had five deputies. In the last case, these were Major Generals Horst Vogel (1. Deputy), Heinz Geyer (Chief of Staff), Heinrich Tauchert and Werner Prosetzky as well as Colonel Ralf-Peter Devaux.

Recruitment and training

Initially, the HVA College, disguised as "Zentralschule der Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik Edkar André" ("Edkar André Main College of the Society for Sports and Vocational Training"), was initially headquartered in Belzig
Bad Belzig, also known as Belzig, is a historic town in Brandenburg, Germany located about southwest of Berlin. It is the capital of the Potsdam-Mittelmark district.-Geography:...

. Starting in 1965, it was incrementally absorbed into the "Juristische Hochschule des MfS (JHS)" ("Graduate Law School of the Ministry of State Security"), located in Golm (Potsdam)
Golm (Potsdam)
Golm is a locality of Potsdam, the capital of the German state of Brandenburg. The former municipality was incorporated in 2003....

, initially as a vocational training school. From 1968 on, it was called "Fachrichtung für Aufklärung der JHS" ("College of Reconnaissance of the JHS"), and was later renamed to "Sektion A" ("Section A"). The "Fremdsprachenschule des MfS" ("College of Foreign Languages of the Ministry of National Security"), also referred to as "Educational Department F", was attached to it. In 1988, the HVA College, including the College of Foreign Languages, previously located in Dammsmühle bei Mühlenbeck, moved to Lake Seddin in Gosen
Gosen-Neu Zittau
Gosen-Neu Zittau is a municipality in the Oder-Spree district, in Brandenburg, Germany. Neu Zittau is situated in the Spree valley, near the Oder-Spree-Canal....

 near the Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 city limits, approximately 4.5 miles (3 kilometers) south of the city of Erkner
-Geography:It is situated on the river Spree, 23 km west of Fürstenwalde, and directly on the border to Berlin-Rahnsdorf....

. The backup bunker for the headquarters of the HVA was also located there. http://www.hidden-places.de/hp/index.cfm?aufbau=objekt&obj_id=98
In 1989 the college had approximately 300 employees and was headed by Lieutenant Bernd Kaufmann. It worked in close cooperation with "Dept. A XIX", and was structured into three Educational Departments:
  • Educational Dept. A: Training for political operatives. Dean: Lieutenant Helmut Eck. 4 courses including Marxist-Leninist training, politics
    Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

    , and history
    History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

  • Educational Dept. B: "Special Operations" and methodology of service work. Dean: Lieutenant Horst Klugow. 5 courses, including Operative Psychology, Security and Law, as well as foreign residency training.
  • Educational Dept. F: College of Foreign Languages. Dean: Lieutenant Manfred Fröhlich. Responsible for the language training for missions abroad, as well as interpreter
    Language interpretation is the facilitating of oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between users of different languages...


Full time

The HVA had more than 3,800 full-time employees in 1989. Among them were, according to the agency's directory, approximately 2,400 professional agents and 700 deputies, 700 unofficial employees, and 670 special agents (Offiziere im besonderen Einsatz). In the course of the HVA's self-disestablishment, the number of employees rose at times above 4,200.

In the autumn of 1989, seven supervisors had a ranking of "General": highest-ranking associate was manager of the HVA, Werner Großmann, as Lieutenant General. Four of his deputies, as well as Harry Schütt (chief of counter-espionage) and Otto Ledermann (manager of the SED foundation of the HVA) were Major Generals.

The HVA associates regarded themselves to be the elite of the Ministry of State Security. A high degree of personal engagement, flexibility, performance, and primarily absolute loyalty
Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause There are many aspects to...

 to the SED was expected of them. Qualified employees of other MfS departments, such as those with secondary educational degrees, knowledge of foreign languages, etc., could, as a reward for "remarkable achievements", be transferred to the HVA as needed, which was akin to a decoration. On the other hand, HVA personnel could, due to inadequate performance or following an investigation, be transferred to other departments of the MfS, practically constituting a demotion.

Unofficial and other employees

The full-time staff of the HVA were complemented by the "unofficial collaborators" or "unofficial employees", the so-called IMs (Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter), the exact number of which is still not known. These were primarily GDR citizens with permission to travel to the West (the Reisekader; conversely, only a fraction of those with travel permission were IMs), residents of East Germany who were related to "functionally interesting" target persons in the West, couriers and instructors, but also thousands of residents of West Germany and West Berlin, partly in exposed positions in society.

The HVA was particularly interested in recruiting Western students who were visiting the GDR. These were young academics who were suitable for leadership roles and therefore particularly predestined for confidential information; they were developed over decades at a high financial and personnel cost, with the goal of placing them in high positions in the state and the economy, through which they gained access to secret information.

A famous example of such a recruitment operation was Gabriele Gast, who committed herself in 1968 as a student and rose to the rank of Regierungsdirektorin (Government Director) in the Bundesnachrichtendienst
The Bundesnachrichtendienst [ˌbʊndəsˈnaːχʁɪçtnˌdiːnst] is the foreign intelligence agency of Germany, directly subordinated to the Chancellor's Office. Its headquarters are in Pullach near Munich, and Berlin . The BND has 300 locations in Germany and foreign countries...

 (Federal Intelligence Service), the foreign intelligence agency of West Germany. As a high-level source, she was led by Markus Wolf personally.

The actual sources of espionage operations in the West were not necessarily registered as IMs with the HVA (or the Ministry of State Security). In many cases, they were noted as Kontaktpersonen (KP) (contact persons), which reveals little about the degree of cooperation with the intelligence service.


The HVA's predecessor, the APN (Außenpolitischer Nachrichtendienst: Foreign Intelligence Service) resided in the early 1950s first in Pankow
Pankow is the third borough of Berlin. In Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was merged with the former boroughs of Prenzlauer Berg and Weißensee; the resulting borough retained the name Pankow.- Overview :...

, then at the Rolandufer in Mitte
Mitte is the first and most central borough of Berlin. It was created in Berlin's 2001 administrative reform by the merger of the former districts of Mitte proper, Tiergarten and Wedding; the resulting borough retained the name Mitte. It is one of the two boroughs which comprises former West and...


The headquarters of the HVA was situated since the mid- to late 1950s in the building complex of the Stasi's headquarters in the Berlin borough of Lichtenberg
Lichtenberg is the eleventh borough of Berlin, Germany. In Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it absorbed the former borough of Hohenschönhausen.-Overview:...

. After completion of the new office buildings at the corner of Ruschestraße and Frankfurter Allee, the HVA established its base of operations there. (After 1990 an employment agency moved in to a building on the site. The building on the Frankfurter Allee is used by Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn AG is the German national railway company, a private joint stock company . Headquartered in Berlin, it came into existence in 1994 as the successor to the former state railways of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany...

. A Deutsche Bahn company logo has been affixed and is easily noticeable.) The Operativ-Technische Sektor (OTS) was located in the Roedernstraße in Hohenschönhausen.


Markus Wolf asserted in front of a Bundestag committee investigating the activities of the Division of Commercial Coordination (Bereich Kommerzielle Koordinierung or KoKo) that at the end of his tenure (1986) the yearly financial resources of the HVA for operational purposes stood at 17 million East German mark
East German mark
The East German mark commonly called the eastern mark , in East Germany only Mark, was the currency of the German Democratic Republic . Its ISO 4217 currency code was DDM...

 and 13,5 million Deutsche Mark. It was not possible to conclusively refute or verify this statement. In individual HVA sections, there existed "black cash boxes" under the responsibility of the section or department head. Considerably greater amounts were made available for the secret procurement of equipment for section A VIII ("Operational Technology and Radio Communications") and for other recipients in the Stasi, the National People's Army
National People's Army
The National People’s Army were the armed forces of the German Democratic Republic .The NVA was established in 1956 and disestablished in 1990. There were frequent reports of East German advisors with Communist African countries during the Cold War...

 or the East German economy; this money generally came from the Division of Commercial Coordination.


In 1951 the Außenpolitischer Nachrichtendienst (Foreign Intelligence Service) (APN) was founded, under the leadership of Anton Ackermann
Anton Ackermann
Anton Ackermann was an East German politician. In 1953, he briefly served as Minister of Foreign Affairs....

, disguised as the "Institut für wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Forschung" (IPW) (Institute for Economic Research). According to Markus Wolf, there were eight Germans and four Soviet "advisers" present at the founding on 1 September 1951 in Bohnsdorf in the borough of Treptow-Köpenick. The APN was subordinated to the Foreign Ministry of the GDR. The first leader was Ackermann, his deputy was Richard Stahlmann. The head of the "advisers" was the KGB officer Andrej Grauer, who, according to Wolf, was assigned by Stalin personally to this "reconstruction aid".

In 1952 the College of the APN came into being (the later College of the HVA), where mostly agents (known as "Scouts for peace" in Stasi jargon) were prepared for operations in Western countries. Towards the end of the year, Ackermann petitioned the ruling party's politburo to replace him, and Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht was a German communist politician. As First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971 , he played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany and later in the early development and...

assumed direct control of the APN.
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