The German Freedom Fighter and the Spy Who Loved Her

The State Security Service — commonly known as the Stasi — was Germany’s secret police from 1950 to 1990. They spied on almost every aspect of the daily lives of the people of East Germany and kept files on about 5.6 million of them. In 1992, the massive files of the Stasi were made publicly available and thousands of former East Germans began to confront their contents. Finally, it was possible for ordinary citizens to ascertain who had worked for the Stasi, either on a full-time basis or as an "unofficial employee” — the Stasi's term for an informer. Vera Wollenberger, a committed freedom fighter, was one of the people who had dealt with having her home raided while she was away, being arrested on the way to protests, and all sorts of state-sponsored harassment. When she was finally able to read the documents the Stasi had kept on her, she found out that her own husband was an undercover agent and had written many reports on her activities. Knud Wollenberger had sworn to his wife on his children that he was not a Stasi mole, but for six years beginning in 1984, he was. Vera divorced Knud in 1992 and for years they didn't speak. More than a decade later, he wrote to her and begged for her forgiveness, which she gave. “You can only forgive somebody if they are repentant. If there is no repentance, you cannot forgive. It took my former husband 10 years but he was repentant,” said Vera. Today, she lives a quiet life in Germany. Knud lived in seclusion until his death in 2012.
Knud and Vera Wollenberger