Magazine says Kurras reported Stasi defectors to East Germany

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Magazine says Kurras reported Stasi defectors to East Germany
Photo: DPA

Heinz Kurras, the recently exposed Stasi spy and former West German police officer, provided explosive information on defectors and prisoners to his East German masters, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.


The magazine reported that new files showed that Kurras worked for the East German secret police, the Stasi from 1955 to 1967. In that time, Kurras delivered sensitive information in hundreds of cases, including 24 arrested Stasi spies as well as least five cases of “deserters from the East German ministry for state security.”

The report said that in January 1967, Kurras betrayed 22-year-old West Berliner Bernd Ohnesorge who spied for the Stasi under the codename “Urban” but later revealed himself to British intelligence.

Kurras reported the defector to the Stasi and led the investigation into Ohnesorge. The magazine said that when Ohnesorge was arrested in Bulgaria for spying for the CIA, the Bulgarians received information from the Stasi on Ohnesorge based on Kurras’ investigations. That led to Ohnesorge being sentenced to 12 years in a labour camp by a secret Bulgarian military tribunal.

Ohnesorge died in a Bulgarian prison in 1987. According to the Bulgarian authorities, he set himself on fire.

Last month, new files showed that Kurras, the former West Berlin police officer who shot the young student protester Benno Ohnesorg in 1967 in Berlin, was actually a spy working for East Germany's secret police, the Stasi.

The shooting took place during a violent anti-Iran demonstration in front of the German Opera House in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district. The killing made Ohnesorg a leftist martyr and fuelled explosive student protests against what they saw as a repressive West German state in the following years.

For years, Kurras deceived his colleagues in the West Berlin police service and the German public.

Kurras, now 81 and living in Berlin’s Spandau district, has been twice acquitted of negligent homicide in Ohnesorg’s death, once soon after the shooting in 1967 and again in 1970.

Kurras’ case has sparked a renewed debate in Germany about how far the Stasi infiltrated West German institutions.


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