Chancellor Helmut Kohl, furious over the biggest spy scandal since he has been in office, will begin a shake-up of the nation’s espionage apparatus this week, his office announced today.
The opposition Social Democratic party demanded Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann’s resignation as a result of what it called “the worst case of treason in West Germany’s history.”
Kohl told a special meeting of his Cabinet that Hans Joachim Tiedge, who defected to Communist East Germany last week, should have been removed long ago from his job as head of the counterintelligence service’s East German department because of his drinking problem and family troubles, spokesman Friedhelm Ost said.
Ost said that Kohl was furious and that the chancellor expected to begin making personnel changes in West Germany’s intelligence agencies by the end of the week. Kohl asked Zimmermann to submit a final report on Tiedge’s defection Wednesday, Ost said.
Zimmermann told the Cabinet meeting that it was not known how long Tiedge, who had been in charge of tracking down East German spies, might have been an Eastern agent, or if he ever had been. He said Tiedge might have defected in a momentary fit of depression, Ost reported.
The West German news agency DPA said Tiedge’s girlfriend tried to kill herself Monday and was in a Cologne hospital. It said the 45-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was not suspected of espionage.
Deluge of Spies
An aide to Kohl, meanwhile, accused East Germany today of damaging East-West German relations by deluging West Germany with spies.
“A network of agents covers the country,” Wolfgang Schaeuble, a chancellery aide with the rank of minister, told the government-run Deutschlandfunk radio. “It is highly probable that no other country in Europe has so many spies.”
The Social Democratic Party severely criticized Kohl’s handling of the affair and said the scandal had hurt West Germany’s relations with its NATO allies.
Ost declined to confirm widespread news reports that Kohl would demand the resignation of Heribert Hellenbroich, chief of West German intelligence.
Since the beginning of the month, four suspected spies--Tiedge, two government employees and a Bonn lobbyist--have fled the country. The other three also are believed to be in East Germany.
A fifth suspected spy, a secretary who worked in West German President Richard von Weizsaecker’s office, was arrested Saturday.