Born in Germany but brought up first in Switzerland then in Moscow, Wolf returned to Berlin in 1945 as a radio journalist and attended the Nuremberg War Crimes trials. In 1958, unaware that he had been photographed by the Allies in Nuremberg, he was appointed head of the East German Hauptverwaltung Auf-
klärung (HVA). Skilled at recruiting and motivating agents sent into the Federal Republic of Germany, he handled Gunter Guillaume, who penetrated Chancellor Willy Brandt’s private office, and pioneered the cultivation of vulnerable secretaries with access to classified information by agents, sometimes known as Romeo spies, trained to seduce them.
Wolf became increasingly disenchanted with the East German regime and retired in 1987. In 1993, following the reunification of Germany, Wolf was prosecuted and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for having conducted intelligence operations against the West, but his conviction was quashed in 1995. Rearrested on charges of having organized three abductions, he was given a suspended prison sentence of two years. Wolf subsequently wrote his memoirs, Man without a Face.