The Times of London June 16 1998
Defector says Willy Brandt was KGB agent
WILLY BRANDT, the former West German Chancellor, architect of Ostpolitik and symbol of the country's Left, was also a Soviet KGB agent, according to information provided by a Russian defector.
The timing of the accusations is significant, coming in the middle of a general election campaign. Branding the Social Democrats as communist stooges has been part of the conservative election repertoire for five decades.
But if true - and both the counter-espionage service and the federal prosecutor's office are taking the source very seriously - important sections of German history may have to be rewritten.
Was Brandt's conciliatory policy towards Eastern Europe in the 1960s and 1970s influenced by his Soviet contacts? What was the relationship between the KGB and the East German Stasi, whose agent Günter Guillaume helped to bring Brandt down?
The British security services, according to the magazine Focus, may already hold the key to these riddles. The source of the intelligence is a KGB colonel who had unrestricted access to certain foreign operational files and copied them. The bundle of documents, including sketches of spy networks and hundreds of cover names in Western Europe, was intended to be the colonel's private retirement scheme.
He smuggled them out to his dacha outside Moscow. In 1992 he defected to Britain and, according to Focus, British agents retrieved the documents from a hiding place in his dacha. The British gave the agent the codename "Curb" and debriefed him until 1996. Then, in an operation codenamed "Weekend", he was shared with the Germans.
The agent supplied hundreds of precise clues about Soviet agents in Germany. "We felt quite queasy when we realised what he knew. Moscow clearly has tons of blackmail material," said a counter-espionage officer quoted by Focus. The information cast light on 50 outstanding espionage cases and prompted the authorities to begin 12 new investigations. The Social Democratic leadership was informed about the suspicions surrounding Brandt last year but chose to stay silent.
Brandt fled to Norway in 1933 after the Nazis came to power. Under his real name, Herbert Frahm, he was an activist in the Socialist Workers Party. He studied in Norway, returning briefly to Germany in 1936 with false papers to set up an anti-Nazi underground cell in Berlin.
Two years later he took Norwegian citizenship and, under the pseudonym Felix Franke, established a Swedish-Norwegian news agency. The purpose was to gather information both from Nazi Germany and from occupied Norway. It is already known that Brandt passed on some of this information to American agents from the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA.
The agent "Curb" claims that he was also feeding the NKVD, forerunner of the KGB. His contact man was Vladimir Semyonov - later Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister and, in the 1980s, Soviet Ambassador to Bonn.
In 1947 Felix Franke, by then going under the name of Major Willy Brandt, was sent to Berlin as press attaché to the Norwegian mission. A German political career beckoned: first as the influential governing Mayor of West Berlin, then as a politician in Bonn, as Foreign Minister and finally Chancellor. He was forced to resign in 1974 because of the betrayal of Guillaume, and became Social Democratic Party chairman. He died of cancer in 1992.
Until his death he fretted over the possibility that a close party colleague, Herbert Wehner, might have been a Soviet agent. This suggests that Brandt himself was not involved with the Russians. But there have been repeated stories, especially in Sweden, about his links with the East. The Swedish security police kept him under surveillance during the war years and a report about his Eastern contacts was leaked in December 1966, two weeks before Brandt was sworn in as Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister of West Germany.
Brandt is regarded as the patron of a whole generation of younger Social Democratic politicians who sometimes call themselves "Brandt's grandchildren". They include Gerhard Schröder, challenger to Helmut Kohl in this September's general election, and the party's chairman, Oskar Lafontaine.
Brandt was the first Social Democrat to become German leader after the war and his rhetorical style and campaigning techniques have been borrowed by the new generation of politicians. Both Herr Schröder and Herr Lafontaine have been trying to lay claim to the title of heir to Brandt.
This, to some degree, explains the party's silence on the issue. Peter Struck, the party's chief organiser, was approached by a counter-espionage officer last year and given the information on Brandt. "I told him immediately: this is something that will re-emerge in the election campaign."
The head of the counter-espionage service, Peter Frisch, is a Social Democrat and probably shared the party's view that Brandt's wartime past should be kept under wraps.
Copyright 1998 Times Newspapers Ltd.
/ dave /