Using recently declassified sources from Russian archives, this article discusses the status of the Soviet-controlled eastern zone of Austria during the postwar occupation (1945–1955) as a principal spying ground in Central Europe. The Western occupation powers hired many Austrians to gather information on the deployments of the Soviet Army and the Soviet authorities' exploitation of the “German assets” they had seized at war's end. The Austrians' principal incentive to spy was financial; they were well paid by their Western handlers. Austrian women had love affairs with Soviet soldiers and officers and then served as double agents for the West until the Soviet counterintelligence services caught up with them. From 1947 onward, some 500 Austrians disappeared after being detained by Soviet state security personnel and accused of spying. More than 100 of these Austrians were sentenced to death by Soviet Military Tribunal No. 28990 in Baden from 1950 until Iosif Stalin's death in March 1953, and they were then executed in Moscow. In retrospect the mismatch between the actions of these Austrian “spies” and the penalties meted out to them is striking. The Soviet penal system was exported to occupied areas during the Cold War in intelligence “games” against the West, with tragic consequences for “Stalin's last victims.”

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