Sexpionage — Markus Wolf & His Romeo Spies

“The ends did not always justify the means we chose to employ, but, as long as there is espionage, there will be Romeos seducing unsuspecting Juliets with access to secrets. After all, I was running an intelligence service, not a lonely-hearts club.”

Markus Wolf  aka The Man Without a Face

‘Sexpionage’ is a portmanteau word blending sex and espionage. The job combines the world’s oldest and second-oldest professions. On Valentine’s Day, the CIA posted a long piece about the “amorous arts” that spymasters use to obtain secrets from their targets. So, if you feel depressed because you were single on Valentine’s Day, remember this: things could be worse, a lot whole worse! Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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Romeo Spies [CIA – February 14 2018] — Long before the traditions of Valentine’s Day sprang forth, spymasters worldwide used the amorous arts to obtain secrets from their enemies. Known in the trade as “honey traps,” rivals ensnarled their adversaries in this game of love, lure, and lies.

The Man without a Face — Markus Wolf was the mastermind behind the East German Romeo Spies. Western officials referred to him as “the man without a face,” since they were unable to identify him for decades. Wolf was born in Germany but grew up in Moscow, where he learned the tradecraft of spying. He returned to Germany and at the age of 30 and became the chief of the foreign intelligence division of the Stasi, East Germany’s Ministry for State Security. His mission was to infiltrate West German political, military, and security institutions. His weapon of choice: men.

The idea of the Romeo spy developed out of practicality. Romeo spies were a cost-effective way to steal secrets. Wolf believed that one woman with the right access and motivation could provide more intelligence than 10 male diplomats. Of course, not just any man could be a Romeo spy. There was a rigorous screening process that weeded out 99 percent of the candidates. Of those chosen, most were between 25 and 35 years old, well educated, and had good old-fashioned manners, which many women found irresistible. The men selected for this program were trained in espionage and given false identities, typically of a deceased citizen or an immigrant. Then they were sent to West Germany with a specific espionage task to complete. Once there, they identified a potential “Juliet” who had access to the information they were after. They created a chance encounter, began an affair, and then propositioned the women to pass them secrets.

Before being deployed to West Germany, however, Romeo spies were warned that they were prohibited from marrying their assets, even if they developed genuine feelings for them, which many of them did. The Romeo’s true identity and intentions would most likely be discovered: West German authorities conducted background investigations of anyone seeking marriage to an employee of the state who had access to classified material. Therefore, the Romeos had to insist that they were not the marrying type. (…)

The Super Romeo — The East Germans referred to select Romeos as “Super-Romeos” for their conquests. One such man was an intelligent, attractive theater director. In 1961, he was sent to Paris, France, to approach an interpreter at NATO’s command center. Three other Romeos had tried and failed. The interpreter was a devoted Catholic who fell for Romeo number four, believing him to be a Danish military intelligence officer. She began passing him NATO secrets when he came to Paris to visit her. Eventually, though, her Catholic upbringing caught up with her, and she suffered from guilt about their affair and her espionage. She felt an overwhelming desire to confess her sins and to marry Romeo if their relationship was to continue. Romeo dodged the marriage requirement, blaming work. He did, however, arrange for an East German intelligence agent, disguised as a Danish-speaking Catholic priest, to hear her confession. Juliet confessed her sins to the “priest,” who absolved her from all wrongdoing and encouraged her to carry on spying with the blessings of the good Lord. (…)

“Stop in the Name of Love” — Forty women were prosecuted in West Germany over the course of four decades during the Cold War for committing espionage. They may have been victims of Cupid’s arrow, but they were not entirely innocent. However, many hearts were broken, including those of several Romeos who truly loved their Juliets. Several couples endured the charade, fell genuinely in love, and went on to marry and start new lives.

Spying For Love – East German Spy-Master Reveals All

The Same Sky – Official Trailer

The Same Sky — a six-part Anglo-German drama — is set in 1974 when Berlin was still divided by a wall between a pro-Soviet communist regime in the East and a democratic capitalist West supported by the Americans, for whom the city represented the cold war in microcosm.

Based on the belief that women suffered “a post-coital readiness to reveal classified information”, the course, as imagined in the drama, features chat-up labs and lectures on the female body and brain. The equation being created is that Lt Col Lars Weber (Tom Schilling) will attempt to debrief in both senses Lauren Faber (Sofia Helin), a German single mother and NSA analyst. Because we know what Lars is up to, moments that might otherwise be standard TV – a drink in a bar, sex – have an electric subtext. (…)

The issue of athletic drug-cheating gives topicality to a show set more than 40 years ago, and themes of eavesdropping and state surveillance are also strongly resonant. Even Operation Romeo has a contemporary parallel in the recent British scandal of undercover police officers whose surveillance of political activists was so thorough that they had sexual relationships and fathered children with their targets.

It might seem strange for a British writer to create a German drama – although NSA scenes are spoken in English and subtitled for viewers in Germany – but Milne brings a fresh and unprejudiced eye to the time and place. The scripts are even alert to such historical oddities as the fact that East Germany legalised homosexuality before the West, apparently because the communists were uneasy about the presence on the statute book of a law associated with Nazi intolerance.

The Same Sky brilliantly re-animates – and analyses – a strange tragi-comic period of history that now looks almost cosily nostalgic in the ability of such dedicated enemies to share one city.

And, at a time when England and Germany are negotiating a political divorce, this dramatic marriage between the cultures is a model of European co-operation. [Guardian]


Operation Romeo: TV lays bare the cold war’s strangest, sexiest mission — Guardian

Romeo Spies — CIA Website


Sexpionage — Markus Wolf & His Romeo Spies

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