Cover image for Kidnap city : Cold War Berlin
Kidnap city : Cold War Berlin
Smith, Arthur L., Jr., 1927-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 199 pages ; 25 cm.
Format :


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DD881 .S53 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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After more than 50 years, some of the secrets behind the post-war kidnappings in Berlin remain classified. Following Second World War, West Berlin residents found themselves as prime targets for kidnapping by communist agents. Lurid press accounts of these abductions left Berliners frightened and intimidated. The central connection of American intelligence agencies (CIC, CIA) to most of these cases, however, was not well known at the time. Delving into these various kidnapping cases, Smith discovers a distinct profile for the abductees. Almost all were former residents of East Germany and, as such, had an intelligence value for the Americans. This connection in turn made them prime targets for Soviet and East German intelligence units.

Examination of the climate of fear in West Berlin reveals the complexity of politics in the early Cold War. Many targeted individuals had Nazi pasts--a factor that the Americans took great pains to conceal. At one point, the United States even risked a diplomatic rupture with West Germany when American authorities went so far as to block prosecutions of a German citizen in German courts for aiding in the kidnapping of a number of West Berliners. Exactly why Washington was so willing to go to extreme lengths in this case remains unknown, but Smith's research sheds new light on the clash between East and West in one troubled city.

Author Notes

Arthur L. Smith, Jr. is Professor of History Emeritus, California State University, Los Angeles.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Smith (emer., California State Univ., Los Angeles), author of seven previous books on some of the most stirring issues in German history from the 1930s to the 1950s, has contributed another well-researched and highly readable book that makes an important aspect of the Cold War come alive. Cold War Berlin has long been known as a hub of spying and sensational political kidnappings in the 1950s and has thus served as a favorite setting for thrillers of intrigue and violence. But the facts of the most famous Berlin espionage and abduction cases have come to light only since the opening of the East German archives and limited access to former Soviet records. This book is the first to bring all the most notable stories, their backgrounds, and the context of the broader international entanglements together. Smith scoured all the relevant German and US archives and interviewed the few key surviving participants. Particularly revealing are the extensive reconstructions of the cases of the double agent Hans Kemritz, who delivered German victims to Soviet gallows, and of Dr. Walter Linse, who was brutally kidnapped, interrogated, and murdered in classic Stalinist fashion. A list of 55 such kidnappings is appended. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels and collections. D. Prowe Carleton College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
List of Abbreviationsp. xv
Part I. Why Berlin?p. 1
1. Backgroundp. 3
2. Early Victimsp. 17
Part II. Mixed Messagesp. 33
3. U.S. Intelligence in Berlinp. 35
4. New Friendsp. 49
Part III. The Kemritz Affairp. 63
5. Hans Kemritzp. 65
6. U.S. versus the German Courtsp. 81
Part IV. Partnersp. 95
7. Working Togetherp. 97
8. The Linse Kidnapingp. 113
9. The Interrogationp. 127
10. More Kidnapingsp. 143
Part V. Conclusionsp. 167
11. Cold War Berlinp. 169
Appendixp. 181
Bibliographyp. 185
Indexp. 195