A German Service in the Cold War

Author & Director:
Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editors:
Jens Stubenrauch | Rolf Bergmann | Anaïs Roth

2 x 45'

Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

astfilm productions | RBB | MDR // ARD

The HVA, the "Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung" (headquarters intelligence) of the Ministry of State Security, was the GDR's worldwide operating foreign secret service. One of the most effective espionage organizations of the 20th century. A myth, a "stealth bomber" of Moscow, which often flew under the radar of the western secret services. A shadow empire, from which images seldom filtered out. A black box.

The HVA, which considered itself an elite force, was marked by the spirit of the Cold War and the paranoia of class struggle. In the end, it had over four thousand so called "hauptamtliche Mitarbeiter" (full-time staff members). Corporal spirit and blind obedience, inventive in the art of disguise, conspiracy as a profession and purpose in life, these were their maxims. In the GDR the HVA recruited over thirteen thousand "IM’s" (unofficial employees). About two thousand "sources", spies, they had installed worldwide in the so-called "operation area".

Who were these "scouts" who never considered themselves spies and who still call themselves "scouts of peace" today? What were their motives for working in the HVA and spying for the GDR? Did they see themselves as patriots, revolutionaries or as an appendage of the KGB? How did they experience the end of the GDR and the time after?

Inside views from a world that was largely, until today, closed off. For the first time, numerous high-ranking HVA employees speak out in front of the camera. Exterior views of their Western and Eastern intelligence "colleagues" provide a highly exciting and enlightening overall picture. "Inside HVA - A German Service in the Cold War" is the psychogram of a communist secret service with a German face.