Photo. Refugees waiting to be admitted to the Marienfelde Refugee Center, August 14, 1961
© DHM-Schirner

October 2013

I was an agent of the State Security Service – Newspaper article

"Chief translator: 'I was an agent of the State Security Service.' She worked for years in the Marienfelde Refugee Center" - that was the newspaper headline on October 19, 1963.

It wasn't news to either the employees or the residents of the refugee center that there were spies in Marienfelde.

The refugee center was considered a primary “enemy object” by the GDR's State Security Service as early as 1953. That organization constantly attempted to sneak informants into the center and to gain new “unofficial workers”. Both the Allies' Intelligence Service and the West German Federal Intelligence Service knew about the presence of spies on the premises and took the necessary precautions. Refugees were told not to speak to anyone about their flight or those who helped them flee. Particularly “interesting” refugees were questioned at locations outside the center, which were constantly changed and referred to by code names.

These precautions were efficient, but they still did not completely hinder information sharing. The Americans' chief translator is only one example.

We don't know exactly what information she gave to the State Security Service. Privacy protection laws and censored documents make it difficult to find this out through the Ministry of State Security files.

Still, the fact that Ms. L was the Americans' chief translator suggests that it was likely sensitive information.