I am probably the only Princetonian to have received two invitations to serve two countries intelligence services. After reading five articles I wrote for the Daily Princetonian about my visit to East Berlin to interview workers for my thesis comparing East and West German trade unions, I, like other classmates, received an invitation to talk with Dean Lippincott in Nassau Hall. After commenting on the non-ideological objective quality of my analyses, the Dean, drawing deeply on one of his famed pipes, asked me if I would like to serve my country in a different way, by joining the CIA. I was surely tempted. My brother was a chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy and I had considered attending Annapolis. I expressed my genuine interest. And then came the hammer: When I told the Dean that I had become engaged to a German woman in Munich, who had contact with her former nanny, living in East Germany, he said decisively that my fiancee’s contact with someone in East Germany would prevent me from joining the CIA. I would have to choose between love or country. As a passionate politically indifferent 20-year-old I chose love and that soon ended our conversation. After warning me not to talk with anyone about our conversation, I left the Nassau Hall room and another one of my classmates entered.
Fifteen years later I received another invitation — from the intelligence service of the German Democratic Republic. In the years between 1961 and 1976, I developed from a politically indifferent Princetonian into a Berkeley engaged anti-Vietnam War activist, writing about, filming, and organizing the scientists and engineers in the “defense” industry. In 1976, I received a position as Assistant Professor in the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies of the Free University of West Berlin. My curiosity about East Germany, the German Democratic Republic, was rekindled by my new proximity to it. My second wife and I contacted and spent considerable time with non-German English-speakers who lived in East Berlin. We became sympathetic to the experiment to build a German society without the former elites who served Hitler and now were in leading positions in West Germany. I decided to get to know the society better by attempting to get a visiting professorship at the Humboldt University in East Berlin. My intentions became known to the East German Intelligence Service, headed by the renowned spymaster, Markus Wolff, the son of a famous writer, doctor, and communist, quite the opposite of the founder of the West German intelligence service, Reinhard Gehlen, former head of Hitler’s intelligence service. Soon, I again got an invitation, this time to join the GDR intelligence service, using my Princeton-learned analytical abilities and Ivy League manner in the Bonn capital of West Germany. This long way from Nassau Hall is elaborated in an essay I wrote for the book, “Top Spies in the West” (“Top Spionen im Westen”) and in my wife’s autobiography that she is completing in 2021, “The Shadow in the Shadow.”