This second part of a two-part article moves ahead in showing how the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi) came to play a key role in the disinformation campaign launched by the Soviet State Security Committee (KGB) in 1983 regarding the origins of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The KGB launched the campaign itself, but in the mid-1980s it sought to widen the effort by enlisting the cooperation of intelligence services in other Warsaw Pact countries, especially the Stasi. From the autumn of 1986 until November 1989, the Stasi played a central role in the disinformation campaign. Despite pressure from the U.S. government and a general inclination of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to curtail the campaign by the end of 1987, both the KGB and the USSR's official Novosti press agency continued until 1989 to spread false allegations that HIV was a U.S. biological weapon. Even after the KGB curtailed its disinformation in 1989, the Stasi continued to disseminate falsehoods, not least because it had successfully maintained plausible deniability regarding its role in the campaign. The Stasi worked behind the scenes to support the work of Soviet–East German scientists Jakob Segal and Lilli Segal and to facilitate dissemination of the Segals’ views in West Germany and Great Britain, especially through the leftwing media, and to purvey broader disinformation about HIV/AIDS by attacking U.S. biological and chemical weapons in general.

In a telegram to Bulgarian State Security in 1987, the Soviet State Security Committee (KGB) touted the accomplishments of its campaign to spread disinformation about the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), “carried out since 1985 together with [East] German and, in part, Czechoslovak colleagues”:

In the initial stage, the task of spreading in the mass media a narrative regarding the artificial origin of the AIDS virus and the Pentagon's involvement in it by means of the military-biological laboratory at Fort Detrick was accomplished.

As a result of our joint efforts, it was possible to disseminate this version widely. Independent of us, it was picked up by numerous bourgeois newspapers, in particular, the English “Sunday Express,” which gave it additional credibility and authority. The articles and brochures of Jakob Segal, a professor at the Humboldt Institute [sic] at a Berlin university, attained great renown. The aforementioned narrative gained considerable resonance in African countries, which have persistently rejected as racist the theory propagated by the Americans that the AIDS virus originated in African green monkeys.1

As I discussed in part 1 of this article, the KGB had notified the “fraternal” Soviet-bloc security services and intelligence agencies in the autumn of 1985 about a new campaign of “active measures”—the KGB's term for covert psychological warfare—regarding AIDS.2 Specifically, the KGB sought to discredit the U.S. government both internationally and domestically by claiming that the newly discovered pandemic disease had originated in “secret experiments by the USA's secret services and the Pentagon with new types of biological weapons” that had “spun out of control.”3 The KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign singled out the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, as the site of work undertaken by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to devise the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.4

The KGB's messages to allied Soviet-bloc services suggested that they should make their own contributions to the disinformation campaign. In 1987, the KGB singled out the East German Ministry for State Security (MfS or Stasi) as having played an active role in disinformation since 1985.5 However, the KGB did not provide details, at least not directly, and Soviet intelligence archives have never been made accessible to external researchers. More importantly, around 90 percent of the records of the Stasi's foreign intelligence service, the Main Directorate for Reconnaissance (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung; HVA), were destroyed in late 1989 and early 1990.6

Nevertheless, thanks to surviving communications and records of conversations between the HVA's division for active measures (HVA/X) and its Bulgarian colleagues, along with similar records of contacts between the KGB's active-measures division (Service “A”) and the Bulgarians, many aspects of the international disinformation campaign and the HVA's role within it can be traced. Scattered documents and card-file entries from other divisions of the MfS, along with surviving entries in the HVA's card files and databases in the Stasi archives in Berlin, have confirmed certain aspects of HVA/X's role and have also provided even greater insight into the activities of the “operational division” of the HVA branch that assisted HVA/X in its disinformation efforts; namely, Department 5 of Division XIII of the HVA's Sector for Science and Technology (SWT) or HVA/SWT/XIII/5.7

The HVA's efforts in the years 1985–1986 (as presented in the first part of this article, based on research in the surviving records available in Sofia and Berlin) focused on retired Soviet–East German biologist Jakob Segal and his wife, Lilli, both residents of East Berlin. Jakob wrote in those years a “scientific” study that recast, expanded on, and embellished the KGB's original thesis regarding the origin of AIDS at Fort Detrick.8 The deputy director of HVA/X, Wolfgang Mutz, claimed in talks with his Bulgarian counterparts that the HVA had initially “attracted” Jakob Segal to this research.9 Such an effort would likely have been the work of the HVA/SWT's “operational division,” which registered the Segals in its security dossier (Sicherungsvorgang, SVG) “Wind” in late 1985 or early 1986 and continued not only to keep watch over the Segals and their research but also to protect them against perceived “attacks”—whether from foreign agents and espionage or, as it turned out, from domestic critics. This same department in HVA/SWT had apparently also given Jakob Segal at least one piece of advice regarding his research in the summer of 1986.10 Nevertheless, the Segals’ study, “AIDS: Its Nature and Origin,” was clearly their own work, which they (wrongly) thought was accurate. At the same time, they hoped to use their research—and hoped others would also use it—in propaganda efforts attacking U.S. “imperialism” around the globe.11

The evidence available to date indicates that HVA/X assisted the KGB in the production and distribution of a brochure containing the Segals’ study, titled “AIDS: USA Home-Made Evil, NOT out of AFRICA,” during the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Harare, Zimbabwe, in August–September 1986. HVA/X considered the brochure's production and distribution to be part of its Operation Denver—the Stasi codename for the AIDS disinformation campaign. The brochure helped to popularize the Segals’ version of the Fort Detrick thesis in the developing world and especially in Africa, where many scientists and politicians considered the hypothesis of a natural, African origin of AIDS, posited by U.S. and Western scientists, to be racist, especially given the limited understanding of AIDS at the time. In the wake of the nonaligned summit in Harare, the Segals’ thesis spread throughout the mass media of Africa and other developing countries.12

The Segals’ version of the Fort Detrick thesis received an even stronger boost when the conservative London tabloid Sunday Express cited their claims in its article “AIDS Sensation” in late October 1986. As was often the case during the AIDS disinformation campaign, journalists and others in the West stepped in and unwittingly abetted the falsehoods purveyed by the KGB and the Stasi. In this case, the British tabloids’ screaming-headline approach to coverage of the AIDS pandemic likely proved decisive for the article's publication.13 However, shortly thereafter, journalists who were known quantities to the HVA contacted the Segals or simply appeared at their apartment door for interviews. Representatives of the Soviet press, especially the Novosti press agency, also interviewed the Segals, and the domestic Soviet press ran articles based on the international wave of publicity following the Sunday Express article.14 These contributions by the Soviet press and mass media, along with other publications in the West and in Africa, further popularized the Fort Detrick thesis by “unmasking” the machinations of U.S. “imperialism” and its alleged bioweaponry programs.15

This article picks up where the previous one left off: in the fall of 1986, after the distribution of the Harare brochure, the appearance of the Sunday Express article, and the publication of an infamous cartoon in Izvestiya on 31 October depicting a U.S. Army officer paying a scientist for a test tube of AIDS viruses (represented in the cartoon as little swastikas).16 In the years 1987–1989, the KGB's active measures directives slowly moved away from a focus on the Fort Detrick thesis and Segal's research. The organization sought not only to broaden the campaign by promoting disinformation that discussed a more general threat from a broader array of alleged U.S. biological and chemical weapons, but also to bring its disinformation efforts down to a “more practical level” by spurring discussion of the alleged threat that U.S. military personnel abroad posed for the spread of HIV/AIDS to third countries that hosted U.S. military bases.17 However, by 1989, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), Mikhail Gorbachev, was seeking much better relations with the United States and was coming under pressure from U.S. officials to put an end to the AIDS disinformation. In short order, the KGB curtailed its campaign.

In contrast to the KGB, the Stasi succeeded in preserving plausible deniability for the East German government's role in the AIDS disinformation campaign. Therefore, it not only could proceed with spreading the existing AIDS disinformation abroad based on the Fort Detrick thesis, it could also expand the campaign to attack U.S. research on gene technology and biological weapons. These efforts for Operation Denver—or, as the HVA/X increasingly called it, Operation Detrick—continued at least until the Berlin Wall opened in November 1989.

Implausible Deniability: AIDS Disinformation, the Soviet Press, and U.S.-Soviet Relations, 1986–1988

The KGB was not the only Soviet organization seeking to step up its AIDS disinformation efforts in the wake of the Harare brochure and the Sunday Express article. The Soviet press agency Novosti, under the direction of former Soviet Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) Valentin Falin, was particularly active in spreading the Fort Detrick thesis and sounding the alarm about U.S. military bases overseas—not only in domestic publications but also through its offices abroad, which distributed reports to local journalists for potential publication.18

The involvement of Novosti, like that of the weekly Literaturnaya gazeta, in AIDS disinformation campaign need not have signaled the involvement of the highest Soviet leaders. The KGB could launch international disinformation campaigns on its own, within the broad outlines of Soviet foreign propaganda. Its First Chief Directorate (FCD), which was responsible for foreign intelligence, and its disinformation division, Service “A,” could also make “broad and active use” of other Soviet agencies on the territory of the USSR.19 To this end, an official KGB textbook cited Novosti (the only Soviet press service thus cited) as a potential cover for such clandestine operations.20

However, the activation of the Soviet domestic propaganda apparatus in late 1986, including the Soviet government's main newspaper, Izvestiya, and the CPSU's chief outlet, Pravda, suggested that the propagation of the HIV-from-Fort-Detrick thesis had been authorized by the CPSU's ruling organs. Although the KGB could initiate active-measures campaigns on its own, it usually worked in conjunction with the CPSU International Department to wage broader propaganda campaigns.21 At the beginning of the KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign in 1985, the CPSU International Department was still headed by Boris Ponomarev, a hardliner who had been in charge of the department since 1955. Gorbachev removed Ponomarev in March 1986 and replaced him with Anatolii Dobrynin, who for many years had been Soviet ambassador to the United States. The move strengthened the hand of a high-ranking CPSU official, Egor Ligachev, and also gave greater weight to Aleksandr Yakovlev, one of Gorbachev's closest advisers, who came to play a lead role in foreign policy—first, as director of the CPSU Propaganda Department (1985–1986) and then as a Central Committee Secretary sharing responsibility with Ligachev for ideology.22 Yakovlev is now remembered mainly as the intellectual forebear of Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika and as a supporter of the Soviet leader's eventual détente with Ronald Reagan, but initially he—like Gorbachev himself—sought to revive Moscow's “peace offensive” in its propaganda and to sustain or even strengthen Moscow's attacks against the Reagan administration's perceived aggressiveness and “militarism.”23 The very fact that Falin, whose Novosti press agency was subordinated to the CPSU's ruling organs, publicly defended the agency's role in promoting the Fort Detrick thesis well into 1988 suggests high-level party support for the AIDS disinformation campaign.24

The Soviet press's citation of foreign publications in its reporting on the alleged origins of AIDS at Fort Detrick served, at least officially, to maintain plausible deniability for official Soviet involvement in propagating the thesis. At the same time, the Soviet press's ongoing, frequent citation of such publications—typical of Soviet active-measures campaigns—raised red flags, at least among experts, in the West. This was the verdict reached by the U.S. government's interagency Active Measures Working Group (AMWG), established by the Reagan administration in 1981 to counter Soviet disinformation. Consisting of representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the United States Information Agency (USIA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Justice, the working group issued reports highlighting Soviet disinformation in a bid to discredit not only individual falsehoods but also Moscow's practice of psychological warfare in general.25 Such publicity, however, was a two-edged sword. U.S. government denials could also serve to give further publicity to—and, in the view of some critics of Washington, to substantiate—a given disinformation thesis.26 The Reagan administration nevertheless hoped that, in the long run, a sustained effort to expose Soviet disinformation would lead to strategic success, despite short-term, tactical setbacks caused by the additional publicity given to the Soviet falsehoods.27

The early efforts of the AMWG to combat Moscow's AIDS disinformation campaign were not particularly successful. In early November 1986, State Department spokesman Charles Redman criticized the AIDS disinformation campaign in his daily briefing. He claimed—mistakenly—that the Patriot article cited by Literaturnaya gaseta did not even exist. USIA had reviewed Patriot only as far back as January 1984; the article had appeared in July 1983. On 19 November 1986, Literaturnaya gaseta struck back with an article, “It Existed, It Existed, Boy,” that included a photograph of the original Patriot article. Literaturnaya gaseta denounced Redman and the AMWG as purveyors of disinformation.28 This reply conformed to a common technique in Soviet-bloc active measures: exploiting an official denial to amplify the original disinformation thesis. Efforts by USIA officers at U.S. missions abroad to counter or block such stories in the local press in Africa, Latin America, and Asia also met with mixed success and were often countered by the efforts of Soviet-bloc journalists, diplomats, and spies.29 In other cases, the Soviet Union and its allies did not need to intervene; journalists unwittingly repeated Soviet disinformation without any apparent urging on the part of the Eastern bloc. For example, during the CBS Evening News on 30 March 1987, Dan Rather reported on Soviet claims that the AIDS virus had leaked from a U.S. Army laboratory conducting biological-warfare experiments. To the dismay of the AMWG, CBS News did not contact the U.S. government for a response to the accusation.30

Authors writing about the KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign have often wrestled with a particular issue: How could Moscow's public involvement in the disinformation campaign have reached its peak in 1986–1987, a time when the Soviet Union and the United States, thanks largely to Gorbachev's initiatives, had begun to make progress on nuclear disarmament? For example, Erhard Geissler and Robert Sprinkle have speculated that Gorbachev would not “have been pleased to see—if he did see” the infamous cartoon in Izvestiya on 31 October 1986, “showing an American officer paying a scientist for a test tube of AIDS viruses, depicted as tiny floating swastikas.” Gorbachev, they suggest, would have been worried about such a “slanderous jab” on such “a sensitive issue” (the AIDS epidemic in the United States) for such an “important partner” (Reagan) only a few weeks after the Reykjavik summit.31 Was this indeed the case?

Although the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik (11–12 October 1986) now stands out as a turning point on the path to renewed U.S.-Soviet détente, its long-term significance was not immediately clear to the participants. Gorbachev was disappointed by the summit's outcome. He had failed to achieve his top priority: the curtailment of Reagan's plans for a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which the Soviet leader feared would compel him to devote more resources to the military, precluding any attempt to shift to civilian needs. At the summit, Reagan had declined to limit research on SDI to the laboratory in return for Gorbachev's proposed agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe—the “zero option” that Reagan had been demanding from Moscow since November 1981.32 Soon after the Reykjavik meeting, the Reagan administration expelled 55 Soviet diplomats, including five who were declared persona non grata for “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status.”

On 22 October 1986, the day after the expulsions were announced, the Soviet Politburo met. Opening the session, Gorbachev accused the United States of acting “very rudely” and “behaving like bandits.”33 Referring to the Reykjavik sessions, Gorbachev condemned the U.S. customs service's decision to hold up at the border a publication featuring his speech to a press conference after the talks. Gorbachev emphasized to his Politburo colleagues that the Soviet Union needed “to win some propaganda points,” “to continue to put pressure on the American administration, to explain our positions to the people, and to show that the American side is responsible for the breakdown” of negotiations.34 Summing up, Gorbachev noted that he was not worried about a potential “slanderous jab” at Reagan.35 Instead, he was angered that his own message of peace and disarmament to the American people had been blocked, and he wanted the Soviet propaganda apparatus to attack the Reagan administration for its intransigence. Although there is no reason to believe that Gorbachev specifically approved the continuation of the AIDS disinformation campaign, his comments to the Politburo would not have given the KGB and the domestic propaganda apparatus any reason to curtail their ongoing offensive against the “militarism” of the Reagan administration, including their attacks against alleged U.S. biological weapons.

In apparent response to Gorbachev's concerns after Reykjavik, Yakovlev proposed to the Soviet Politburo in January 1987 a thorough modernization of the Soviet Union's foreign propaganda apparatus with the goal of better combatting “the enemy's lies and gross distortions of Soviet reality.”36 He decried the efforts of Western intelligence services and other agencies that were allegedly seeking to neutralize the positive effect on Western public opinion created by Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika, the recent improvements in human rights in the USSR, and Soviet initiatives for arms control and disarmament. Yakovlev singled out in this regard the efforts of the U.S. State Department to combat Soviet disinformation through the creation of a new division dedicated to the task. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen C. Bailey, who headed the new division, had also become head of AMWG. The U.S. goal, Yakovlev declared, was “to paralyze the Soviet propaganda offensive and create a ‘favorable image of the United States.’”37 The modernization of the Soviet propaganda apparatus was necessary, Yakovlev declared, to combat “the enemy's lies and gross distortions of Soviet reality.”38

Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that Yakovlev's meeting with USIA Director Charles Z. Wick during the Reykjavik summit, at which they discussed ending disinformation, made little headway.39 In June 1987, Wick followed up with a visit to Moscow to meet with Yakovlev and various Soviet editors, journalists, and officials. During the visit, Novosti published an article charging the United States with developing ethnic weapons that could kill Africans but not harm Europeans. This particular disinformation thesis, which was also spread abroad by Novosti and apparently by the KGB, was often combined with the AIDS disinformation thesis—that is, AIDS was a U.S. bioweapon designed to kill non-whites. When Falin, during his meeting with Wick, argued that the Novosti press reports about “ethnic weapons” were accurate and “objective,” the USIA chief stormed out.40

A turning point on the long road to Moscow's curtailment of the AIDS disinformation campaign came in October 1987, when U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz held talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in preparation for the upcoming Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Washington in December 1987. After initial discussions with Shevardnadze, Shultz met with Gorbachev on 23 October. At the meeting, Gorbachev, not Shultz, introduced the theme of disinformation by whipping out a State Department report, Soviet Influence Activities: A Report on Active Measures and Propaganda, 1986–87. Gorbachev complained that the report's portrayal of a peace cruise on the Mississippi River, which Gorbachev had personally cited to Reagan at Reykjavik as a positive example of people-to-people contacts, was an attempt to “deceive” the U.S. public. He asked Shultz pointedly, “Could the U.S. not live without portraying the Soviet Union as an ‘enemy’?”41 Shultz subsequently claimed in a newspaper interview that he had responded by accusing Moscow of—among other things—“spreading bum dope” about U.S. involvement in inventing and spreading AIDS.42 In an apparent victory for Shultz, the Soviet government's official newspaper, Izvestiya, published an article on 30 October in which two prominent Soviet scientists disavowed the AIDS disinformation thesis.43 Thus, the dispute at the Shultz-Gorbachev meeting has often been cited as marking the end—or at least the “winding down”—of the Soviet Union's campaign to spread AIDS disinformation.44 That should have been the case, insofar as the Soviet government on 16 October had supported a draft resolution for the UN General Assembly declaring that AIDS was “caused by one or more naturally occurring retroviruses” of undetermined origin.45

However, Moscow's AIDS disinformation did not abate. Both Novosti and the KGB continued to spread the Fort Detrick thesis.46 This was hardly a surprise, given reports in the Soviet and East German press that stressed the Soviet leader's lecturing of Shultz regarding Washington's—and especially the AMWG's—promotion of an “enemy image” of the Soviet Union. The same reports made no mention of Shultz's comments regarding AIDS disinformation.47

As a result, disinformation once again became a topic in high-level relations, featuring prominently at the summit meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev in Washington in December 1987, a meeting at which the two leaders approved a treaty to withdraw intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) from Europe. USIA Director Wick met with Yakovlev on the sidelines of the summit, and the two reached agreement to curtail all disinformation in both sides’ propaganda. To this end, they agreed to have regular joint meetings to discuss specific instances of disinformation. When Wick informed the assembled Soviet and U.S. leaders about the meeting's outcome, Shevardnadze joked—accurately, as it turned out—“that disarmament would come faster than agreement on this.”48

In response to ongoing U.S. criticism of Moscow's AIDS disinformation, Falin told Wick at a meeting in Washington in April 1988 that “reputable scientists … felt there was no proof as to the natural origin of AIDS.” He then added, “This is not to be construed as meaning it is artificial in origin.”49 Nevertheless, the Wick-Falin meeting was a turning point of sorts. Official Soviet propaganda adopted a new line. Izvestiya explained in an article titled “Who Is Disinforming?” in July that the Soviet press, notwithstanding the accusations of USIA, had merely been citing Western publications accusing the United States of having artificially developed the AIDS virus.50 Citing foreign publications to support a KGB disinformation thesis was a typical tactic in Soviet active measures. Both Izvestiya and Novosti's Military Bulletin had pointedly cited Charley Shively's 1983 article in Boston's Gay Community News to “disprove” the claim that Moscow was the source of the thesis of U.S. government involvement in the origins of AIDS.51 Either Gay Community News had a wider readership than its editors could ever have imagined, or Moscow had been gathering every possible article in the U.S. press to undergird its AIDS disinformation thesis. At a subsequent meeting with Wick in September 1988, Falin echoed the new line in the Soviet press. He also denied that Moscow had ever sought to encourage publications in third countries with AIDS disinformation attacking the United States.52

Despite Falin's disingenuousness, the United States achieved one small success in its campaign of pressure against Moscow's disinformation. In July 1988, the president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Vadim Pokrovskii, issued an official declaration regarding the alleged artificial origins of AIDS in the United States. He stated that “not a single Soviet scientist, not a single medical or scientific institution, shares this position.”53

The KGB's AIDS Disinformation: New Directions

Not only Falin but also the KGB remained adamant about spreading AIDS disinformation attacking the United States. In October 1987, shortly before Shultz's dispute with Gorbachev in Moscow, representatives of the KGB's active-measures division (Service “A”) met with their Bulgarian counterparts in Sofia.54 The KGB officers stressed the need to bring work on the AIDS disinformation campaign down to a “practical level” by attacking U.S. military bases abroad as alleged centers for the spread of the disease.55 From the start of the disinformation campaign, the KGB had sought to exploit its thesis regarding the U.S. origins of the AIDS virus to stoke opposition to the presence of U.S. military bases overseas. Already in May 1986, the second major article in the Soviet weekly Literaturnaya gaseta associated with the disinformation campaign had cited the deputy director of the Soviet Ministry of Health, I. D. Drinov, regarding the failure of the U.S. government to implement “quarantine measures” around its overseas bases (e.g., in Japan) after alleged outbreaks of HIV/AIDS.56 The KGB printed leaflets with similar accusations against U.S. bases and distributed them in West European countries, along with caricatures of and data about the number of U.S. service members in each country.57

The KGB expected Bulgarian foreign intelligence to inflame hostility toward U.S. military bases in Turkey by engaging in “influence conversations” with political and media contacts in Turkey and by distributing brochures and leaflets in Turkish attacking U.S. military bases as a source of HIV/AIDS.58 The Bulgarians apparently engaged in such activities—especially the proposed leafleting—but, as they later reported, with “meager results.”59 The Czechoslovak active-measures unit, Division 36 of the First Directorate of the State Security Service within the Federal Ministry of Interior in Prague, planned similar activities. In December 1985, Division 36 made plans to distribute leaflets around U.S. military bases in Greece citing an alleged order by U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger requiring U.S. service members in Greece to be screened for AIDS. Even though the order was a total fabrication, the leaflets invoked it to insist that U.S. bases in Greece had a concentration of AIDS cases higher than at other U.S. bases around the globe. Division 36 planned to distribute the same “information” to the Greek media and peace organizations. Whether the operation made it past the planning stage or proved to be effective remains unclear.60 Division 36 considered a similar active measure, codename “Antro,” from May 1987, to have been a success. In coordination with the KGB, it had arranged for the distribution of forged leaflets in West Berlin offering members of a U.S.–West Berlin friendship society free AIDS testing at a local U.S. Army hospital. After the U.S. mission in West Berlin publicly denied the story, the local press received a forged press release on official stationery, ostensibly from the West Berlin health minister. The forgery claimed that the U.S. Army hospital could not treat local AIDS patients anyway, because it was overflowing with such cases from within its own ranks.61 This final effort received little exposure, however. In West Berlin, only the local Communist Party newspaper reported on the press release.62

Despite the mixed results achieved by the Bulgarian and Czechoslovak intelligence services, the head of the KGB's active-measures division, Vladimir Petrovich Ivanov, and his deputies declared success in the Soviet bloc's AIDS disinformation campaign against U.S. military bases abroad. In talks with Bulgarian intelligence officials in October 1988, Ivanov and his colleagues noted: “In Seoul, there was a mass demonstration not long ago demanding the closure of American bases because they supposedly spread AIDS. In Greece, there were similar declarations.”63 Opinions of this sort also prevailed within the U.S. government. In August 1987, the Los Angeles Times wrote, on the basis of interviews with U.S. officials, “The Soviets’ AIDS disinformation campaign has complicated negotiations for the renewal of leases on American military bases in the Philippines and Greece, fueled public anxieties in Japan and stirred deep currents of fear in Africa.”64 That is, the AIDS disinformation against U.S. bases had taken its toll.

The KGB and its Soviet-bloc allies thus continued their AIDS disinformation activities even after December 1987, when Gorbachev and Yakovlev had promised the Reagan administration that the campaign would “end.”65 At the meeting with the Bulgarians in October 1988, Ivanov and his deputies were unrepentant. If anything, the pressure and complaints from the United States, including the State Department report that had angered Gorbachev, had convinced them of the effectiveness of their efforts. The KGB officials boasted that “the work on AIDS has hit the image of the USA hard, and the Americans are very worried.”66 The reaction of Yakovlev (and indirectly Gorbachev) to the U.S. efforts apparently irritated the KGB officers. The United States, they complained, had “put the matter so: If you write about AIDS, then no cooperation in the medical area! [Valentin] Pokrovskii had to give an interview in print.”67 The KGB's continuation of its disinformation campaign despite Gorbachev's objections demonstrated the agency's enduring clout within the Soviet regime.68

Despite the new tactical focus on U.S. military bases, the KGB's comments to the Bulgarians in October 1988 indicate that Soviet State Security operatives had not given up on spreading the Fort Detrick thesis.69 Apparently, not until September 1989 did the KGB's Service “A” inform its East German allies that it considered the Fort Detrick thesis to be “exhausted.” By this point, the East German Stasi had decided to continue the AIDS disinformation campaign on its own.70

Plausible Deniability: The East German Government and the Segal Thesis

Unlike in the Soviet Union, none of the newspapers in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) published articles in 1985 or 1986 endorsing the KGB's Fort Detrick thesis or, for that matter, other conspiracy theories circulating in the West about the construction or weaponization of HIV by the U.S. government. Before the distribution of the Harare brochure in August–September 1986 and the ensuing identification of the Segals with the campaign, GDR officials had no reason to associate East Germany or the Stasi with the spread of Moscow's disinformation thesis. Even after the distribution of the Harare brochure, the East German press made no mention of the Segals’ research or the Fort Detrick thesis. In many other cases, Stasi and KGB active measures had supported public propaganda campaigns launched by their respective governments.71 Why did the East German media, in contrast to the Soviet and, to a lesser extent, the Czechoslovak media, remain silent about Segal's research?72

Despite the growing involvement of the Stasi in the KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign, the East German government sought to preserve a higher degree of plausible deniability than Moscow did—actually, complete deniability—by avoiding any publications in the East German press regarding the origins of AIDS. However, the East Germans’ plausible deniability threatened to buckle in September 1986 in the face of Jakob Segal's insistence that he be permitted to publish his arguments inside the GDR. Segal's quest for publication came at a time when the U.S. government's AMWG, and thus the U.S. embassy in East Berlin were increasingly aware of the Segals’ thesis and their general activities.

At the end of August 1986, Jakob Segal drafted a letter to Hermann Axen, the Secretary of the East German Socialist Unity Party (SED) who oversaw international relations and—more important in Segal's case—foreign propaganda.73 Segal had been claiming privately for months that Axen supported his research, but it remains unclear exactly what role Axen was playing, if any.74 In a letter to Axen, dated 26 August, Segal summarized his version of the Fort Detrick thesis. He also complained that two leading scientists from the Soviet bloc had publicly contradicted his thesis at a meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva in April 1986. The first, Niels Sönnichsen, director of the dermatological clinic at the Charité Hospital in East Berlin and chair of the AIDS advisory group established in 1984 by the GDR Ministry of Health, had pointed to the natural origin of AIDS in Africa. The second, Viktor Zhdanov, director of the Ivanovskii Institute for Virology in Moscow, had gone even further, claiming evidence of AIDS infections in the Soviet Union as early as 1974. Segal wrote, “Prof. Zhdanov's declaration directly incites [others] to blame the Soviet Union for AIDS.”75 Segal's implicit wish was to respond with his own “scientific” publication in the GDR refuting Sönnichsen's and Zhdanov's assertions regarding the natural origin of HIV/AIDS.

Axen forwarded Segal's memorandum, along with a second one from 27 August, to the director of the SED Central Committee's Division for Health Matters, Karl Seidel. He asked that Seidel review Segal's request and meet with the scientist to discuss his claims. At this point, Axen also told Segal to postpone any further publications based on his Fort Detrick thesis.76 Axen's actions do not necessarily mean that he opposed Segal's previous (or future) activities.77 As the party official responsible for foreign propaganda, Axen could approve relevant foreign publications, but Segal wanted to go further and publish his thesis freely as a scientist, both inside and outside the GDR. This lay outside Axen's jurisdiction in the party hierarchy. Seidel was responsible for health matters, and Seidel's immediate superior—and Axen's equal—SED Ideology Secretary Kurt Hager, was responsible for science and education in the GDR. Seidel and, more importantly, Hager would need to approve any publication by Segal inside the GDR.

Seidel, who met with Segal on 17 September 1986, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Segal conspiracy thesis. He wrote in an ensuing memorandum to Hager,

The viewpoint presented by Prof. Segal regarding the inception and spread of AIDS would be—if it is confirmed or even only partly confirmed—the equivalent of an unmasking of the steps being taken by U.S. imperialism in preparation for biological warfare and thus politically explosive. In particular, the justified polemic against the [green-]monkey theory of AIDS's origins must strengthen anti-imperialist feelings and activities on the part of numerous political forces in Africa that understand this theory to be an insult and slander based on the intrigues of U.S. imperialism.

Seidel recommended that Segal be given permission to publish and discuss his thesis freely.78

Seidel's enthusiastic endorsement of Segal's thesis—which echoed the KGB's and the HVA's assessment of it—likely did not come just from his conversation with Segal. HVA officer Mutz claimed in his talks with the Bulgarians on 15 September that the MfS had also contacted Seidel to coordinate matters regarding Segal's thesis—that is, before Seidel met with Segal.79 There is no reason to doubt this assertion by Mutz. The director of the Stasi division responsible for “securing” the medical profession in the GDR against “political-ideological subversion,” Eberhard Jaekel, met with Seidel on a regular basis.80 Jaekel was also Seidel's former Stasi control officer from earlier years, when Seidel had served as an unofficial collaborator (IM), “Fritz Steiner,” for the Stasi. Both as IM “Fritz Steiner” and then as deputy and director of the CC Division for Health, Seidel had ardently supported the efforts of the Stasi, the KGB, and other Soviet-bloc agencies to counter the World Psychiatric Association's condemnation of the Soviet government's abuse of psychiatric punishment for political purposes.81 Seidel again proved willing to assist the Stasi in the international ideological struggle. Stasi officer Jaekel reported from a subsequent meeting with Seidel in March 1987: “Cde. [Comrade] Prof. SEIDEL knows the background issues [Zusammenhänge] related to the publication of Prof. Segal's views regarding the topic of AIDS, and they have his support.”82

Despite Seidel's enthusiasm for Segal's thesis, Ideology Secretary Hager exercised his veto over potential publications by Segal inside the GDR. On 25 September 1986, he responded to Seidel (and indirectly to Axen) with his decision:

Because Comrade Segal speaks himself of a hypothesis, such articles should be avoided in official publications of the GDR. I do not know to what extent his suspicions … should be published in relevant foreign journals. Cde. Segal must naturally take responsibility for them himself, as a scientist.83

The temporary halt imposed by Axen was thus lifted. Segal could continue to publish his Fort Detrick thesis, but only outside the GDR. The Stasi, as “sword and shield” of the party, considered itself also to be bound by Hager's decision. It would strenuously avoid any mention of Segal's thesis—or the promotion of AIDS disinformation in general—in its domestic propaganda activities inside the GDR, and it would keep close watch over the Segals, lest they violate the ban. At the same time, the Stasi could continue to promote Segal's thesis and other AIDS disinformation abroad. In this sense, Hager's decision had not usurped the interests of a fellow member of the East German Politbüro, Minister of State Security Erich Mielke, who felt duty-bound to assist the KGB in its operations, including active measures.84 Hager asserted that the decision not to publish anything on the origin of AIDS inside the GDR came from his, Mielke's, and Axen's superior: East German leader Erich Honecker.85

The best the MfS could achieve for the Segals—and the AIDS disinformation thesis that both they and the security service sought to promote—was to block other East German scientists from publishing competing explanations of HIV's origins, whether inside or outside the GDR. The apparent reason for Stasi officer Jaekel's meeting with Seidel in March 1987 was Segal's complaints about other East German scientists promoting views contrary to his thesis in the West. For example, Sönnichsen had declared in an interview with the West German newsmagazine Der Spiegel: “What Segal says is a hypothesis, and by the way, not an original one. Others have postulated it before him. If we check in Meyer's dictionary, one finds under ‘hypothesis’: Hypothesis is an unproven opinion. That is my commentary.”86 Jaekel summarized Seidel's response:

Prof. SEIDEL recognized immediately that a domestic discussion regarding Segal's hypotheses about the origin and spread of AIDS would work against the political goal of these [Segal's] publications and must be stopped. Cde. Prof. SEIDEL will thus inform Cde. Prof. SÖNNICHSEN that no activities generating publicity with regard to AIDS should be carried out without his approval.87

Thus, at the urging of the MfS, Seidel sought to block any publications by East German scientists inside or outside the GDR that ran counter to Segal's thesis.88 Seidel was responsible for communicating this ban to Sönnichsen, the chief coordinator of the response to AIDS in the GDR, and for keeping control of all other East German scientists writing on the topic. Until the collapse of the SED-led regime in late 1989, the MfS made strenuous efforts to block any publications by East Germans undermining Segal's Fort Detrick thesis.89

Segal later wrote about a “compromise” according to which neither he nor his critics were permitted to publish on the origins of AIDS inside the GDR.90 But Segal failed to note that he, unlike his East German critics, was permitted to publish his views outside the GDR. In effect, Segal had obtained from Seidel a monopoly among East German scientists for publications on the origins of AIDS, although he could publish only outside East Germany. Still, he and his wife, Lilli, complained privately that the East German government would not permit them to publish their views at home, and they later went so far as to portray themselves as AIDS “dissidents” whose views had allegedly been suppressed by the East German government.91 However, in 1987 they apparently understood the regime's position as communicated to them by Seidel. In April 1987, Lilli Segal told an acquaintance who was working as an unofficial collaborator for the Stasi, “The CC of the SED decided in this matter against a publication in the GDR because Western media and government agencies would immediately speak of KGB propaganda.”92 That is, plausible deniability had to be preserved.

Hager's directive to prevent the Segals from publishing about their thesis inside the GDR had thus successfully distanced the East German government from their—and the Stasi's—activities. For the Stasi, which sought to operate clandestinely anyway, Hager's edict simply meant that it would need to be especially careful in any activities involving Segal and the AIDS disinformation campaign. At the same time, the Stasi had successfully defended its own interests by preventing other East German scientists from publishing views contrary to Segal's. Privately, almost all serious AIDS researchers in the GDR continued to protest against Segal's views, and at least one unit of the Stasi in Berlin consistently reported on these objections within the Stasi hierarchy.93 Still, the MfS (and especially the HVA) maintained clandestine support for Segal until late 1989, and Seidel strove to block the publication of all contrary views.94

Despite these efforts, another development in 1986 threatened to undermine the plausible deniability of the East German government. After the publication of the Harare brochure, the U.S. government—especially the AMWG—began to take an active interest in the Segals and their research in East Berlin. The Segals, in contrast to most East German pensioners, had received a special dispensation from the East German Foreign Ministry (with the implicit blessing of the Stasi) to receive diplomats and journalists from outside the Soviet bloc to discuss their AIDS thesis.95 Nevertheless, Lilli Segal was surprised when John Monroe Koenig, the second secretary for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in East Berlin, phoned her and asked to meet with her and Jakob to discuss their research. Having obtained her consent, Koenig paid a visit to her home on 12 September 1986. After some general discussion, he asked Lilli how she and Jakob, who was not at home at the time, had reached their conclusions about the artificial construction of the AIDS virus at Fort Detrick. Lilli replied that Jakob had been so disturbed by the “stories” regarding green monkeys in the Western press, suggesting a natural origin of AIDS in Africa, that he had decided to begin his own research. Koenig asked Lilli for a copy of their study, “AIDS—Its Nature and Origin,” which she freely provided him. Koenig said he would return to discuss the study with her after he finished reading it. According to Lilli, he even offered to arrange for its publication in the United States, but this, she surmised in a report that went to the HVA, was simply part of the “diplomatic game.”96

The HVA almost immediately learned of Koenig's visit—likely from Lilli Segal herself. HVA/SWT/XIII/5, the unit of the HVA responsible for securing and keeping watch over the Segals, which had apparently also given Jakob at least one piece of advice in June 1986 regarding his research, received Lilli's report.97 Apparently, that unit then informed the HVA's disinformation division, HVA/X, which it was already assisting in the AIDS disinformation campaign, about Koenig's visit to Lilli Segal.98 Mutz, the deputy director of HVA/X, referred to the U.S. diplomat's visit in talks with his Bulgarian counterparts only four days later, on 16 September.99 On the same day, an officer named Meyer from another unit of the Stasi, Division 3 of Main Division (Hauptabteilung) II (HA II/3), responsible for domestic counterintelligence against U.S. diplomats and suspected U.S. spies, submitted a search request to the central registry of the MfS regarding the Segals. HA II/3 had apparently learned about Koenig's visit to the Segal's apartment through its surveillance of Koenig or the U.S. embassy. In keeping with standard operating procedure and the intelligence principles of compartmentalization and “need-to-know,” the central registry notified the officer of the HVA responsible for “securing” the Segals about the request from HA II/3—namely, Dieter van de Sand from HVA/SWT/XIII/5. To the extent that HA II/3 wanted to receive information about the Segals, it would have to obtain it from van de Sand. On 9 October, he and the director of HVA/SWT/XIII/5, Lutz Thielemann, met with Meyer and another officer from his division.100

The group discussed a second meeting planned for the following day between the Segals, Koenig, and another representative from the U.S. embassy in East Berlin. In apparent reference to Jakob Segal, the officers of HVA/SWT declared,

The IM [inoffizieller Mitarbeiter (unofficial collaborator)] will be instructed by the HVA to the effect that he should exhaust the line likely to be presented by Koenig with special expert details and in this way compel him [Koenig] to betray the true background and potentially the concrete assignment from an American institution (GD [Geheimdienst (intelligence agency)].101

HA II/3 also reported that Segal would try to introduce Koenig to a third person—a spy from their unit, codename “Martin Bartsch.” According to Meyer's record of the conversation, HVA/SWT approved of this idea because it considered Segal too old for the stress of spying on foreigners who—at least from the Stasi's perspective—might be working for a foreign intelligence agency.102 Because the meeting between the Segals and the U.S. diplomats had been scheduled for lunch the following day, van de Sand or another officer from his division would have needed to “instruct” Segal later the same day or on the morning of 10 October regarding what he should do.

On 10 October 1986, the Segals, Koenig, and Gregory Sandford, second secretary of the U.S. embassy in Berlin, met for lunch at a local restaurant. The diplomats questioned the Segals about their research, their original interest in the origins of AIDS, and the objections of various scientists to their thesis. Lilli Segal wrote in a report that went to HVA/SWT (and subsequently to Meyer's division a few days later) under the Segals’ codename “Diagnosis”: “The whole discussion took place at a level of cultivated and equal individuals.”103 Having failed to achieve the goals that HA II/3 had set for him, Jakob Segal described the meeting differently in an interview with London's Sunday Express:

The two men showed me their credentials. One said he was a historian and the other said he was a political consul. But I am positive they were from the CIA—and that they were deeply concerned that the cover-up over the origin of AIDS was going to be exposed.104

The diplomats—who have denied any CIA connection—failed to obtain any new information from the Segals about a potential government or security-service role in initiating, encouraging, or supporting their research.105 Van de Sand's office prepared Lilli Segal's report about Koenig's visit to her apartment, along with information about the luncheon meeting, to transmit to HA II on 16–17 October. In keeping with standard operating procedures, the reports were sent via the HVA's foreign counterintelligence division to Meyer's division, involved in domestic counterintelligence, on 23 October.106

On 27 October 1986, in the wake of the U.S. diplomats’ talks with the Segals and the wave of international publicity regarding the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis after the Harare brochure and the Sunday Express article, van de Sand upgraded the Segals from “contact persons” to “prospective unofficial collaborators” for the HVA. They received a new registration number but retained van de Sand's original codename for them (“Diagnosis”) in his security dossier (Sicherungsvorgang, SVG), “Wind.” This suggested not only a more open involvement of HVA/SWT in their activities but also that the Segals now knew—if they had not known before—about the Stasi's positive, ongoing interest in their activities.107 However, as with all unofficial collaborators—let alone “prospective” unofficial collaborators—the Stasi would not have informed the Segals about all of its activities involving them, or which active measures were using their thesis.108

The West German Front: The Segals, Stefan Heym, and the taz

The decision by East German novelist and regime critic Stefan Heym, himself a target of Stasi surveillance, to assist Jakob Segal in the popularization of his thesis through the publication of an interview in the West in November 1986 presented—unbeknownst to Heym—a great opportunity for the HVA. The publication of the interview contributed unwittingly to HVA/X's goals under Operation Denver to assist the KGB in its AIDS disinformation campaign. At the same time, the association of a regime critic with Segal's thesis could bolster East Berlin's plausible deniability. The Communist government could claim that one of its critics, not the MfS or other agencies, endorsed and was seeking to spread Segal's thesis in the West. For potential Western supporters of that thesis, the East German government's prohibition of its publication domestically, along with its propagation by a prominent regime critic, meant that it could not simply be dismissed as “communist propaganda.”109

Heym, a German-Jewish journalist and novelist who had lived in exile in the United States during most of the Nazi era and served in a psychological warfare unit of the U.S. Army during World War II, had resettled in East Germany in 1952 after returning his U.S. military medals in protest against the Korean War. Within a few years, he had come into conflict with the East German authorities over the heterodox views in his novels.110 Nevertheless, he remained a staunch critic of U.S. foreign and military policy and especially the nuclear arms buildup during the Reagan administration. In early October 1986, he heard about the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis and the decision of the East German government to prevent its publication inside the GDR. Heym came to believe in the Segals’ version of the Fort Detrick thesis. Seeking to “unmask the inhuman and inhumane policies and practice of imperialism,” including in the realm of “genetic weaponry,” Heym decided to interview Jakob on 8 November 1986 and to seek publication of the resulting text in the FRG.111

However, Heym had difficulty lining up a publisher. In late 1986, he sought to interest several West German journalists, but they or their editors decided against publication because leading scientists in the FRG had already rejected Segal's speculations. Heym also insisted that the interview be published in its entirety, rather than selective citations as part of a larger article, lest an author or editor decide to mischaracterize or reject Segal's position.112

After numerous failures, Heym succeeded in transmitting the interview to the West German journalist Arno Widmann in January 1987. Widmann arranged for its publication in the Tageszeitung or taz, the alternative West Berlin newspaper for which he worked.113 This raises the question: Did the HVA or the Stasi in general play a role in Heym's successful transmission of the interview to Widmann?

At the very least, the HVA had to warn off the unit of the Stasi that spied on Heym and normally sought to disrupt his activities.114 That unit was asked to look the other way as Heym sought to publish his interview with Segal in the West.115 On 28 October 1986, van de Sand from HVA/SWT met with the officer responsible for tracking and suppressing Heym to inform him about the HVA's interests. On 12 November, the director of van de Sand's division in HVA/SWT followed up in a note to the latter's superior. The HVA, he wrote, had an “operational interest” in ensuring that “Prof. Segal's thesis that the AIDS virus is a product of U.S. bioweapons research gains dissemination” in the non-Communist world.116 Now, rather than seeking to block the interview's publication, the other unit of the Stasi simply tracked Heym's efforts and kept HVA/SWT and other units of the Stasi informed of his progress.117 This intervention by van de Sand and his superiors demonstrates once again how deeply his office in HVA/SWT was involved in assisting—on the domestic side—the propagation of Segal's thesis abroad in cooperation with the HVA's disinformation division, HVA/X.118

In addition to ensuring that other divisions of the MfS would not block publication of Heym's interview with Segal in the West, the HVA also apparently assisted Heym's efforts without his knowledge. Indirect evidence of this comes from a report in taz in 2010 on an interview with Widmann regarding the Heym-Segal article. According to the taz report, Widmann “still remembers quite well the first tip. It came from Joachim Nölte, responsible for relations with the foreign press, also with taz, at the GDR foreign ministry.” The report then quotes Widmann: “He [Nölte] told us more or less in passing that Stefan Heym is running around everywhere and telling everyone that he has a killer story [Bombengeschichte] about AIDS. And that one should not give any credence to it.”119

What Widmann did not know back then is that Nölte was an undercover officer from Department 4 of HVA/X.120 This office in the HVA's division for active measures was responsible for influencing Western journalists and others through such “legal covers” as the International Press Center in East Berlin and various press and information offices of the East German government.121 The Division for Relations with Journalists (Abteilung Journalistische Beziehungen) at the East German Foreign Ministry (Ministerium für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten; MfAA), where Nölte worked, was one of the many covers for officers and unofficial collaborators working for HVA/X/4.122 Nölte evidently sought to influence Widmann—successfully—through reverse psychology by telling him to ignore Heym's “killer story” about AIDS.123 In this way, Nölte also preserved plausible deniability for the East German government.

Regardless of whether one believes Widmann's story as reported in 2010 by colleagues at his former newspaper, he did eventually receive a copy of Heym's interview with Segal.124 He then convinced his colleagues at taz, despite the reservations of science editor Kuno Kruse, to accept Heym's conditions and print the interview in its entirety, without changes.125 The Heym-Segal interview appeared in the taz on 18 February 1987 under the title “AIDS: Man-Made in USA.”126 Science editor Kruse, having failed to block the interview's publication, subsequently arranged for the publication of opposing views in the newspaper.127

Kruse then decided to reprint Heym's interview, along with the Segals’ original study and several pieces criticizing it, in the form of a brochure titled AIDS: Erreger aus dem Genlabor? (AIDS: A Pathogen from the Gene Laboratory?)128 In the introduction, Kruse argued that even if the Segal thesis was false, as Kruse apparently believed, it deserved consideration because it pointed out the dangers of genetic engineering and biological warfare—both major themes in the West German peace and environmental movements at the time.129 Within certain leftwing circles in the FRG the slogan “SDI A—AIDS” had already taken root. (“SDI A”—the letters of AIDS arranged in reverse order—stands for “Strategic Defense Initiative—America.”)130 The HVA/X gave a copy of Kruse's brochure to Bulgarian intelligence officers for use in their active measures about the alleged origin of HIV at Fort Detrick and sought Sofia's assistance in distributing and publicizing the Segals’ study “in the USA and other Western states, as well as the developing countries.”131

What motivated the individuals who unknowingly did the KGB's and Stasi's work for them? Although the Segals perhaps do not fall into this category, their goal at this point was clear: as convinced Communists, they wanted to strike a blow against U.S. “imperialism” (and the green-monkey-hypothesis).132 Heym, who believed in the Segals’ version of the Fort Detrick thesis, wanted to “unmask the inhuman and inhumane policies and practice of imperialism,” including in the realm of “genetic weaponry.”133 The Stasi, despite viewing Heym as an enemy, still recognized that they shared a common goal of discrediting and combatting U.S. “imperialism.”

The attitudes of the journalists and the editors at taz in West Berlin make for something of a contrast. In their case, the belief that Heym's interview would cause a splash and potentially draw in new readers seemingly won the day.134 The same motivations likely played a key role in the story regarding John Seale, the Segals, and Robert Strecker in the Sunday Express.135 Kruse, for his part, hoped to spark a debate within the West German left about biological weapons and genetic engineering; he never suspected that Segal's interview and his publications would be exploited for “active measures” in other parts of the globe.136 This was especially the case since Kruse had published the views of Segal's opponents both in the taz and his ensuing brochure.

In the 1990s, after revelations about the involvement of the KGB and the Stasi in spreading Segal's thesis and an assessment of the harm that the conspiracy had caused, especially in South Africa, taz apologized for its role in popularizing the Segals’ study.137 In 1991, Heym broke off all contact with the Segals.138

A week after the publication of Heym's interview with Segal in taz, the head of the office of HVA/X responsible for Operation Denver, Hans Pfeifer, flew to Moscow with the KGB's liaison officer to HVA/X, Evgenii Dichenko. The goal of the trip was a “consultation on short notice” at KGB headquarters.139 In the last week of February 1987, the Segals visited Moscow themselves in an effort to recruit Soviet scientists to support their Fort Detrick thesis. Although Lilli reported positive and friendly conversations with scientists at the Ivanovskii Institute for Virology in Moscow, Viktor Zhdanov (the institute's director and the leading HIV/AIDS expert in the Soviet Union) conspicuously avoided the Segals by calling in sick during their visit.140 Zhdanov's steadfast belief in the natural origin of AIDS in Africa had angered Jakob Segal, and the State Department regularly cited the Soviet scientist in its reports debunking Segal's thesis and Moscow's AIDS disinformation.141 Despite friendly conversations in Moscow, the Segals failed to win over any Soviet scientists to their cause.142

Securing and Assisting the Segals: The Role of HVA/SWT

After the two visits of the U.S. diplomats to the Segals in September 1986, the “upgrading” of the Segals from contact persons to preliminary official collaborators by HVA/SWT, and the international publicity and controversy regarding the articles in the Sunday Express and the publication of Heym's interview with Segal in the Tageszeitung in February 1987, HVA/SWT sought—clandestinely—to tighten its controls around the Segals. This was not only a matter of protecting them from “possible attacks of the enemy”—for example, in the form of attempted contacts by hostile foreign journalists, diplomats, or intelligence officers. HVA/SWT was also on the lookout for individuals who contacted Segal because they supported his theory.143 Such information could provide potential leads for HVA/X and its active measures. HVA/SWT thus requested such information not only from the Segals, who had dutifully reported on the two visits by the U.S. diplomats and their discussions with Heym, but also from Segal's coauthor and English-language translator, Ronald Dehmlow, who was serving as an unofficial collaborator, codenamed “Nils,” for another unit of the Stasi.144 Dehmlow's control officer had asked him to provide this information to HVA/SWT after receiving a formal request at the end of August 1986.145

Thielemann, the head of the office in HVA/SWT responsible for “securing” the Segals, stressed these ongoing requirements at a regularly scheduled meeting between Dehmlow and his Stasi control officer at the end of August 1987. The two of them agreed that Dehmlow would continue to provide research support to Jakob Segal—something HVA/SWT had demanded a year before.146 Given the interest of HVA/X in exploiting Segal's thesis and ongoing research for its active measures, support for Segal's research was also in the HVA's interest. Van de Sand, the officer in HVA/SWT responsible for the Segals, instructed one of his own unofficial collaborators—IM “Jörg” (active since April 1987), who had a research position at the GDR's most important conglomerate for pharmaceutical production, Volkseigener Betriebe (VEB) Berlin-Chemie—to assist the Segals and report on their potentially useful or dangerous contacts.147 In keeping with the Stasi's practice of having its unofficial collaborators prepare reports on each other to test their honesty and dedication in fulfilling tasks, Dehmlow (“Nils”) prepared a report on “Jörg” in November 1987 at HVA/SWT's request. “Nils” noted “Jörg's” extraordinary assistance to the Segals in their AIDS research, including driving the Segals to the train station; “purchasing a computer, setting it up, formatting diskettes, [and] installing programs” at their home; and voluntary, unpaid library research for the Segals in both East and West Berlin—a rare privilege for East German citizens.148 “Jörg,” Dehmlow reported, also asked one of his research assistants to provide the Segals with relevant documents.149 According to Dehmlow, he and “Jörg” were collaborating well on the Segals’ AIDS research. In light of the assistance provided by “Jörg” to the Segals, Dehmlow concluded: “With a probability bordering on certainty, I have gained the impression that [Jörg] is a collaborator with our security services.”150

In contrast, Dehmlow himself found it difficult to assist Segal, despite the demands from HVA/SWT. Dehmlow was working full-time at a special hospital for the East German police and his immediate superior prevented him from performing any research work for Segal during working hours.151 Tensions also arose between HVA/SWT and Dehmlow's control officer, who insisted that Dehmlow focus primarily on spying and reporting on his colleagues at the hospital rather than acting on the HVA/SWT's demands that he assist the Segals.152 After Dehmlow's handlers realized that his hospital supervisors would not permit him to set up a joint research project with Segal at the hospital, Thielemann and van de Sand from HVA/SWT helped arrange the establishment of a new “research center” for Dehmlow directly subordinated to Deputy Minister of Health Ulrich Schneidewind, with whom the Stasi had successfully cooperated in the past.153 Under this new arrangement, which began in the spring of 1988, Dehmlow could assist the Segals as needed, and the Segals had a new facility for their research. Jakob Segal assumed the position of “scientific director” at the new research center, and Lilli worked there as an adviser for documentation.154 Although Dehmlow and Jakob Segal explored alternative therapies to treat and cure HIV/AIDS in their new position—especially the ultraviolet irradiation (UVI) of blood—the new arrangement also provided ongoing, institutional support for the Segals’ further development of their Fort Detrick thesis of AIDS's origins.155 This was in keeping with the goals of HVA/SWT.

HVA/SWT also maintained the goal of keeping close watch over the Segals’ personal and professional contacts not only for potential “enemies” but also for potential supporters and multipliers of the Fort Detrick thesis. The new “research center” made this task easier. Shortly after Dehmlow left his position at the police hospital for the new center, van de Sand took over as his Stasi control officer.156 Although HVA/SWT apparently did not inform the Segals about its clandestine role, they suspected that the Stasi was keeping tabs on their contacts. Lilli Segal wrote a colleague in 1992:

we have found out that at least one biochemist [who had worked with us], but probably 1 or 2 persons who had diligently and constantly questioned us on behalf of the Ministry of Health about our correspondence and our lectures and contacts with regard to AIDS—they did this in fact on behalf of the Stasi. And even if this was the case, we did not have any reason to keep our activities and theories secret. Still, we sometimes marveled and were amused when a health ministry employee, sent by Mr. Schneidewind, was so completely interested in our exchange of letters with doctors, biologists, psychiatrists, etc. and constantly took notes.157

Plausible Deniability: The East German Foreign Ministry, the Segal Thesis, and U.S.–East German Relations

Even as HVA/SWT continued to offer covert support for the Segals’ research and HVA/X continued its covert efforts to spread the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis internationally, the U.S. State Department and the East German Foreign Ministry explored possibilities for closer cooperation in HIV/AIDS research, along with joint efforts against drug trafficking and international terrorism. In July 1987, during a visit to East Berlin, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs Rozanne L. Ridgway proposed better cooperation in these three areas to East German Deputy Foreign Minister Herbert Krolikowski. The U.S.–East German dialogue on such matters, she said, had been “dreadful.” Krolikowski responded by handing her a non-paper expressing formal East German interest in cooperation in all three areas.158

At the time, the U.S. ambassador to East Germany, Francis J. Meehan, did not view the efforts of the Segals—if he even knew who they were—as an obstacle to improved U.S.–East German cooperation on HIV/AIDS. This was the case despite the fact that the U.S. embassy in East Berlin had put up a large poster at its front entrance—to the Segals’ chagrin—quoting Zhdanov regarding the natural origin of AIDS.159 Meehan wrote in a cable to Washington on 24 August 1987:

With respect to AIDS, the U.S. complaint has, we believe, been less with GDR unwillingness to work with the international scientific community in the search for a cure than its participation in the Soviet disinformation campaign that has sought to blame the U.S. for the alleged laboratory creation of the disease. We shall follow up Ridgway's remarks about unhelpful items that appear in the official press here whenever new material is printed. We believe that we should also undertake more vigorously, however, to enlist positive GDR cooperation in mutually beneficial scientific research. To this end, we would appreciate the Department's assistance in identifying American officials and/or scientists connected with AIDS research … who could be encouraged to visit East Berlin to meet with serious GDR researchers and health officials, not, of course, with the pseudoscientists who have cooperated in the Soviet disinformation campaign.160

Given the SED's ban on publications regarding the origins of AIDS, Meehan's comment about following up on “unhelpful items that appear in the official press here” was unlikely to lead to much action—there was little for the embassy to protest.161 Thus, at least with regard to the U.S. ambassador, the GDR's attempts to maintain plausible deniability had succeeded.

However, by the time Meehan responded to the GDR's non-paper at the end of December 1987, he had learned—or remembered—that the problem in U.S. relations with the GDR had arisen not from the Segals’ (non-existent) publications in East Germany but from their foreign publications and ostensible role in Moscow's AIDS disinformation campaign. In handing over a U.S. non-paper to GDR Deputy Foreign Minister Kurt Nier, Meehan questioned whether U.S. talks with the GDR over AIDS cooperation made sense given “the totally irresponsible and unscientific Jakob Segal theory of U.S. responsibility for AIDS.” Nier replied—plausibly, given the press blackout in the GDR—that he had never heard of Segal's theory but “was certain that the experts could clear up the matter.”162

The East German Foreign Ministry's division that handled relations with the United States followed up on Nier's conversation with Meehan by inquiring at the East German Ministry of Health regarding Segal's views. The health ministry responded,

The opinion of Jakob Segal to which Ambassador Meehan referred is not the position of the GDR. Professor Segal is retired. He was previously director of the Biochemical Institute at the Humboldt University in Berlin. There were debates with him regarding this and other topics connected with [his] pseudoscientific views. Professor Segal is not a GDR citizen; rather, he has French citizenship.163

With the exception of Segal's citizenship (Soviet, not French), all the statements from the East German Ministry of Health had the virtue of being true. The ministry had also informed the MfAA that the “Division for Health of the CC and the Ministry of Health disassociate themselves from that claim [i.e., Segal's thesis] because it cannot be substantiated with evidence.”164 Again, this statement was in keeping with East Germany's official stance, as communicated by Hager in September 1986 to Axen and Seidel.165 Moreover, the GDR, like the Soviet Union, had supported the draft and then final UN resolution from October 1987 that defined AIDS as “caused by one or more naturally occurring retroviruses” of undetermined origin.166 Thus, in response to Meehan's accusation, the head of the GDR Foreign Ministry's division handling policy toward the United States, Norbert Reemer, could honestly inform the political counselor at the U.S. embassy in West Berlin, G. Jonathan Greenwald, on 7 January 1988 that Segal's thesis was not the official position of the GDR. Reemer added that Segal was a citizen of France, not East Germany. Greenwald accepted this official denial on behalf of the U.S. government.167

The East German response opened the way for a visit by Robert Gallo, director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology, to East Berlin a week later. Together with the French scientist Luc Montagnier, Gallo had been recognized as codiscoverer of HIV. He met with leading East German scientists in charge of combatting HIV/AIDS in the GDR, including Sönnichsen. All the major newspapers in the GDR covered Gallo's visit and portrayed it as a sign that East Germany stood at the forefront of international scientific research. However, with the exception of one newspaper not affiliated with the SED, none of the major East German newspapers mentioned Gallo's assertion of a natural origin of AIDS among non-human primates in Africa.168

The State Department officially complained about Segal's thesis and his work on at least two other occasions. The first instance was at the end of March 1988, before the first official U.S.–East German talks on combatting AIDS. An East German representative repeated East Berlin's official statement from January rejecting Segal's claims.169 The second complaint came at the end of February 1989 after the Austrian magazine Basta published an interview with Jakob Segal repeating his thesis of AIDS's origins. In the interview, he went a step further and publicly accused Gallo of constructing the AIDS virus at Fort Detrick.170 In a protest to Reemer, Greenwald declared: “The revival of Dr. Segal's spurious charges will be interpreted by many as evidence that the GDR is not serious about desiring to work with the United States bilaterally and multilaterally, as it has said, on a successful treatment of this dread disease.” Greenwald further emphasized:

It would be very desirable, therefore, if official spokesmen were to reiterate publicly, including in the media, the position of the GDR as we understand it, namely that the GDR considers that AIDS, as the United Nations has said, “is caused by one or more naturally occurring retroviruses of undetermined origin,” and that Dr. Segal's charges are rejected as groundless.171

Reemer responded by again repeating the East German government's official position regarding AIDS and Segal and rejecting the U.S. complaint as an attempt to meddle in the GDR's internal affairs.172

The State Department decided, in the end, that the official reiteration of the GDR's position by Reemer, including the rejection of Segal's thesis, was sufficient and that cooperation with East Berlin on HIV/AIDS research could continue.173 In retrospect, one wonders what would have happened if the State Department had persisted in its demand that the GDR issue a public, official declaration against Segal's thesis. East German officials were worried about such a possibility. The United States had made cooperation with the Soviet Union on HIV/AIDS research dependent on an official, public rejection of the Fort Detrick thesis.174

Apparently, the State Department had failed to notice Lilli Segal's comments to taz in January 1989 in which she announced that she and Jakob were now conducting their AIDS research at a research center operated by the East German Ministry of Health.175 This otherwise covert arrangement, facilitated by HVA/SWT, arguably implicated the East German government in assisting the Segals’ AIDS-related activities. If, for example, the MfAA had responded to a State Department ultimatum regarding Segal's statements and publications by going to the SED's leadership, perhaps Honecker would have followed Gorbachev's example and compelled Mielke—or Mielke would have decided on his own—to curtail the HVA's support for the Segals and its covert role in spreading their thesis outside the GDR.

Fortunately for the Stasi, U.S. efforts to combat AIDS disinformation remained focused on the Soviet government. This was thanks in part to the SED's ban on domestic publications by East German scientists regarding the origins of AIDS, the Stasi's extensive efforts to hide its covert role in supporting the Segals and spreading their thesis, and the U.S. government's almost singular focus on the KGB and Moscow in combatting AIDS disinformation. The role of Novosti and Falin may have been decisive in this regard, given their ongoing, public promotion of AIDS disinformation inside the Soviet Union, in contrast to the situation in the GDR. The CIA's general neglect of the HVA and its activities may also have played a role.176 In any case, the East German government's plausible deniability, which the Stasi had helped to preserve, provided the necessary cover for the HVA to continue the AIDS disinformation campaign even after the KGB curtailed its own efforts.

“Criminal Experiments”: Broadening the AIDS Disinformation Campaign

In 1987 the KGB informed its Bulgarian “comrades” that it was seeking to broaden the AIDS disinformation campaign to a more general international effort to focus public attention “on the dangerous prospects of the biological weapons race and the need to place research in the fields of biotechnology and genetic engineering under careful international supervision.”177 The KGB explained:

In 1972, the International Convention on the Prohibition of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons was concluded, among whose parties was the United States. However, according to the world and even the American press, the USA is continuing secret work to develop bacteriological (biological) weapons in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol and this UN convention. Particularly, the right-wing groups in the Reagan administration and in the Pentagon are promoting bacteriological weapons produced on the basis of new technologies, including gene technology.178

These Soviet accusations likely came in response to the testimony of the Reagan administration's former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy Douglas J. Feith before the U.S. Congress in September 1986. Citing the development of new technologies in genetic engineering and ongoing Soviet investments in their biological weapons program, Feith had declared that “the prevailing judgment of years ago that BW [biological warfare] is not a militarily significant weapon is now unsustainable.”179 The Pentagon increased its budget for biological weapons research from $14.9 million at the beginning of the Reagan administration to $73.2 million in 1987. Feith and the Reagan administration in general asserted that the goal of the research funded by the Pentagon was purely defensive and focused on the development of vaccines against potential bioweapons; thus, it did not violate the BW Convention. The Department of Defense (DoD) was funding research at universities and private research corporations making use of new developments in gene technology, including the cloning of the genes of such potentially lethal diseases as Rift Valley fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Domestic U.S. critics argued that defensive and offensive research in bioweapons could not really be separated: the development of a vaccine for one's own troops and civilian population against a particular disease opened the possibility of its use as an offensive bioweapon against unvaccinated enemy populations or troops.180 The issue of the Pentagon's bioweapons research gained further negative publicity in the same month as Feith's testimony because of a lawsuit by environmentalist Jeremy Rifkin, head of the Foundation on Economic Trends (FET). The lawsuit sought to block DoD research into biological weapons and antidotes. Rifkin had succeeded in obtaining an injunction in 1984 against the construction of a planned biological warfare laboratory in Utah, the Dugway Proving Ground, and his new filing claimed that the Pentagon had not filed the necessary environmental impact statements for its research as required under U.S. law.181

Although the documents available to date suggest that the Bulgarians did not contribute to this planned thematic expansion of the AIDS disinformation campaign, both Czechoslovak State Security and the East German Stasi sought to do so.

For example, the Czechoslovak intelligence service—namely, the First Directorate of the State Security Service within the Federal Ministry of Interior in Prague—moved to develop active measures to expand on the original disinformation campaign. In July 1986 an officer in Division 42, which was responsible for intelligence operations against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), developed in cooperation with the active-measures division (Division 36) in Prague a plan for an active measure codenamed “Revers.” It included the forging of a letter from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a well-known U.S. anti-nuclear organization based in Boston. The letter would refer to a memorandum allegedly in the organization's possession from U.S. Secretary of Defense Weinberger to the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. General Bernard W. Rogers. Weinberger, the letter would claim, had written Rogers about preparing two strains of the AIDS virus for use in biological warfare. To fuel the contemporary dispute between the United States and France over whose scientists first discovered HIV, the fake PSR letter also would claim that the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had decided to sabotage efforts by French scientists to find a vaccine against HIV/AIDS before U.S. scientists did. The goal, Weinberger would allegedly claim, was for the U.S. pharmaceutical industry to be the first to develop the vaccine and obtain a patent. In a thinly veiled effort designed to spark fears about U.S. military bases, Weinberger, the fake PSR letter would claim, was secretly planning to infect U.S. soldiers serving overseas to test the new HIV bioweapons far away from the United States.

Czechoslovak foreign intelligence planned to send the letter in the PSR's name to the French and Belgian embassies in Washington and to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Western Europe. The fake letter would urge the NGOs to organize protests against the planned HIV bioweapons. In a second phase, Division 36 planned to send forged letters from prominent British, French, and Belgian peace organizations with the same content to scientific research institutes and scholarly journals in Western Europe for publication.182 In the end, Czechoslovak officials did not carry out this particular active measure, most likely because the proposed letter sounded too outlandish and tried to fulfill too many disinformation “requirements” at once.183

Division 69, the Czechoslovak equivalent of the HVA's SWT, proposed to Division 36 a similar, less complicated active measure, codenamed “Laban.” In this case, Czechoslovak foreign intelligence planned to forge a letter from a real or fictional employee of USAMRIID at Fort Detrick who was seeking to warn the public about the ongoing use of genetic engineering to develop new bioweapons, which, in turn, were being tested on unwitting populations throughout the Third World. The goal, the letter would claim, was the development of bacteriological “ethnic weapons of mass destruction.” Once again, Division 36 did not carry out the proposed active measure.184

In another potential active measure, “Defense-4,” proposed by the District Division for State Security in Bratislava to Division 36 in Prague, a Slovak antibiotics expert, unofficial collaborator “Biomer,” would use a research visit to the United States and conversations with prominent U.S. biologists and medical scientists to discredit not only SDI, but also the alleged “abuse” of genetic engineering by the U.S. government to develop new and more dangerous biological weapons.185 The KGB declared its support for “Defense-4” and gave the Czechoslovak StB information about the alleged genetic manipulation of influenza viruses by the U.S. government, apparently for the development of new bioweapons. “Biomer” could make use of these “findings” for his discussions in the United States.186 For whatever reason—perhaps the postponement of “Biomer's” trip—this proposal, too, never came to fruition.187

The Stasi also sought to play a role in broadening the campaign beyond HIV/AIDS disinformation to include attacking U.S. biological and chemical weapons in general. The Stasi's division for domestic propaganda prompted the GDR's flagship foreign-policy newspaper, Horizont, to publish an article on “criminal experiments” by the U.S. government with biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.188 The article, credited to an intern, made use of materials provided to the paper's editor, Ernst-Otto Schwabe, by HVA/X.189 There is no reason to believe that the intern knew about the Stasi's apparent role.

In keeping with the demands of Pfeifer, whose office in HVA/X was responsible for the AIDS disinformation campaign, the article made no mention of AIDS or the Segals’ research.190 Once again, by blocking any mention of the Segals’ thesis in domestic publications, the Stasi helped maintain the plausible deniability of the East German government regarding the Stasi's role in Soviet-bloc AIDS disinformation efforts. Nevertheless, the article touched on themes related to the AIDS disinformation campaign, including the nefarious role of Fort Detrick in the alleged development of weapons of mass destruction, in which the misuse of genetic engineering supposedly played a role, along with alleged attempts to develop an “ethnic weapon”—in this case, for use against Asians.191

The article devoted much space to the accusations of French journalist Rolande Girard in her 1985 book Le fruit de vos entrailles—Du bébé éprouvette à la guerre bactériologique: Le trafic des fœtus (The Fruit of Your Womb–From the Test-Tube Baby to Bacteriological Warfare: Trafficking in Fetuses).192 HVA/X had provided Horizont with a translation of selected excerpts from Girard's book that were cited in the article.193 Girard and now Horizont claimed that a U.S. corporation had imported fetuses from South Korea and sold them to Fort Detrick and other military research centers. Researchers at Fort Detrick had then allegedly tested the effects of nerve gas on the fetal tissue or, alternatively, exploited the tissue to develop new and more deadly bioweapons for the CIA and the Pentagon through genetic engineering.194

A former contributor to Horizont later complained in a letter to Schwabe that the article ignored Segal's thesis regarding the origins of AIDS, even though Segal had also excoriated Fort Detrick and U.S. genetic-engineering practices. Schwabe, heeding the demands of HVA/X—and thus preserving the East German government's plausible deniability—wrote to a subordinate, “Respond roughly as follows: 1/ The article cannot enumerate all U.S. transgressions. 2/ The matter [i. e., Segal's thesis] has not yet been dealt with officially, and we cannot take a specific position.”195

How did the Stasi and specifically the HVA learn about Girard's research? They likely heard about it in connection with Girard's visit to Jakob Segal on 5 December 1986. On that date, she had arrived unannounced in East Berlin to seek out Segal and discuss his Fort Detrick thesis with him. She had learned about his views, she claimed, through Agence France-Presse, which had summarized the comments of Segal, Seale, and Strecker from the Sunday Express article.196 After failing to find Segal at his previous workplace, Humboldt University, she had phoned him at home, where she subsequently interviewed him and Lilli Segal.197 Girard concluded in her ensuing book, Tristes chimères (Sad Illusion, 1987), that the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis represented the most likely explanation for the origin of HIV/AIDS, although the CIA, in her telling, was allegedly behind HIV's development. Contributing to her conclusion was Jakob Segal's assertion in their interview that Gallo had developed the virus for the CIA—not for the mafia, as Lilli had been suggesting privately.198 Girard was apparently a true believer in the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis, but she also served unwittingly as a multiplier of the KGB's preferred explanation of the origin of HIV/AIDS.

The article in Horizont also became a topic of discussion when the head of the department in HVA/X responsible for the AIDS disinformation campaign, Pfeifer, and HVA/X Deputy Director Mutz, visited Sofia in September 1988. As they had in the previous two annual meetings with their Bulgarian comrades, they discussed HVA/X's ongoing active-measures campaigns, including those related to HIV/AIDS and U.S. biological and chemical weapons. They now spoke about “Operation Detrick” in reference to the AIDS disinformation campaign, although the registered codename at HVA headquarters remained Operation Denver.199 They provided their colleagues in the active-measures division of Bulgarian foreign intelligence with a copy of the Horizont article, along with a translation into English, and suggested that the Bulgarians make use of it or at least the themes contained in it for their own active measures related to AIDS (Bulgarian codename “Pandemic”). Although the article did not mention Segal and HIV/AIDS, HVA/X told the Bulgarians that they still considered it to be part of Operation Detrick.200 This was not just a matter of the Stasi's ongoing focus on Fort Detrick as a central target for its propaganda and disinformation efforts regarding U.S. biological weapons. It was also part of a larger reorientation of the HVA/X's strategy for Operation Denver/Detrick.

Monkey Business? HVA/X, “Proving” the U.S. AIDS “Bioweapon,” and a West German Film

Mutz and Pfeifer explained the reorientation of HVA/X's propaganda and disinformation efforts at their scheduled annual meeting with the Bulgarians in Sofia in September 1988. The Bulgarians summarized their comments: “In continuing their work on ‘Detrick,’ the [East German] comrades are working from the assumption that it is not only a matter of AIDS, but also biological weapons, the misuse of gene technology and the development of an ethnic weapon.”201 This new approach conformed to the express wishes of the KGB to expand and recast the AIDS disinformation campaign to attack genetic engineering in the United States, along with U.S. chemical and biological weapons in general.202 HVA/X, Mutz and Pfeifer suggested, was adopting a two-prong strategy for Operation Denver/Detrick. On the one hand, its active measures would continue to promote the Segals’ thesis, along with the premise—popular in Africa—that all theories from Western scientists proclaiming a natural, African origin of HIV were “racist.” On the other hand, HVA/X sought to move beyond the Segals’ thesis and engage in a general attack against U.S. research into biological weapons and gene technology by promoting—in its own tendentious fashion—statements by Western critics and experts attacking that research.203

At the September 1988 meeting, Mutz and Pfeifer also spoke for the first time about HVA/X's alleged covert financing of a West German film. At the subsequent annual meeting with the Bulgarians in September 1989, Pfeifer provided further details about the film and requested the Bulgarians’ assistance in arranging for its purchase and distribution around the globe. Based on the information Mutz and Pfeifer provided at the 1988 and 1989 meetings, the film they were discussing had to be AIDS—Die Afrikalegende (AIDS—The Africa legend), along with its longer, English-language version, Monkey Business: AIDS—The Africa Story.204 The film—whether through sheer coincidence or by design—conformed to HVA/X's two-prong strategy for the AIDS disinformation campaign and the Soviet bloc's broader attack against U.S. gene-technology and biological-weapons research. A review of the film's contents helps explain HVA/X's desire in 1989 to promote the purchase and distribution of the film in both its German and English versions.205 The film propagates the same themes, documents, and individuals that HVA/X was asking its Bulgarian colleagues to help promote.

AIDS—Die Afrikalegende begins slowly and non-intrusively with a discussion of the AIDS epidemic, centered on New York.206 Short excerpts from interviews with Gallo, Max Essex, and Montagnier follow; they all assert a natural origin of AIDS in Africa. The first part of the film focuses on the long-discredited green-monkey hypothesis regarding the origins of AIDS.207 The film then shows scenes just outside an unnamed African city. The poverty and scenes of life from an African market stand in stark contrast to the previous footage of Western scientists, interviewed at international congresses on HIV/AIDS in various world metropoles. The U.S. AIDS researchers thus receive an “unflattering” portrayal.208

Two interviews follow with African health officials who dispute the African hypothesis as unproven—at the time, an arguably true statement.209 The film then summarizes arguments made by the London-based journalists Richard Chirimuuta and Rosalind Chirimuuta in their book AIDS, Africa and Racism.210 An interview with the journalists follows. They criticize various racist stereotypes about Africans that had appeared in Western publications asserting the African origin of HIV, including publications by Western scientists and medical doctors.211

During a discussion of the film at a September 1989 meeting with the Bulgarians, Pfeifer referred to Richard Chirimuuta and his publication. The HVA, Pfeifer claimed, had provided covert financial support for the publication of at least the second edition of AIDS, Africa and Racism.212 Although the Chirimuutas apparently did not know about the Stasi's interest in and alleged subsidization of their publication, one can understand why HVA/X would want to support the book's publication as part of its Operation “Denver”/”Detrick.” The Chirimuutas’ statements in both the book and the film coincided with the long-standing goal of the KGB and HVA/X to “expose” as “racist” the hypothesis that AIDS originated naturally in Africa.213 Already in 1987, the U.S. rejection of Soviet accusations regarding a laboratory origin of the AIDS virus had stood as proof for the Chirimuutas that the United States sought to transfer blame for HIV/AIDS to Africa.214 HVA/X undoubtedly appreciated even more the second edition of the Chirimuutas’ book. Published in 1989, it cites the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis as an alternative hypothesis to the allegedly racist thesis of an African origin of AIDS.215 The afterword to the second edition suggests, just like contemporary Soviet propaganda, that the United States was seeking to conduct criminal experiments with HIV on Africans as part of the U.S. effort to develop an effective vaccine.216

In a subsequent article published in the magazine Top Secret in December 1989, the Chirimuutas attacked an article by Bailey, the chair of the State Department's AMWG, positing an African origin of HIV. Evidence was growing, they wrote, that the AIDS virus—as the Segals had long claimed—had been constructed in a laboratory at least in part from the visna virus, which, they alleged, had previously been subjected to experiments by Gallo and Essex.217 Preceding the Chirimuutas’ contribution in the same issue of Top Secret was an article by a Nigerian journalist, David Ogunsade, denouncing the African hypothesis as racist and amplifying the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis.218 Ogunsade, the editor-in-chief and publisher of the Cologne magazine African Interpreter, was an admirer of the Segals’ work and had been in touch with them since at least 1986.219 In 1990, the subsequent issue of Top Secret published a version of the AIDS study by the Segals themselves.220

How did the articles from the Chirimuutas and others, supportive of an artificial, U.S. origin of HIV, happen to appear in Top Secret? Blind chance likely did not play a role here. Top Secret and its older, German-language sister publication, Geheim—both of which were allegedly fronts of Soviet-bloc disinformation—were the West German cousins of Philip Agee's Covert Action Information Bulletin (CAIB) in the United States.221 The publisher of both West German magazines, Michael Opperskalski, justified the establishment of Geheim in 1985 in part by pointing to the 1982 passage of the Intelligence Identities Information Act, a U.S. law that forbade the publication of CIA officers’ names. The exposure of alleged U.S. intelligence officers had been one of the main reasons for CAIB’s establishment and the KGB's alleged support for it. Because West German law did not prohibit the publication of U.S. intelligence officers’ identities, Geheim and Top Secret, Opperskalski suggested, could pick up where CAIB had left off.222 In 1994, Opperskalski was arrested, but not convicted, for allegedly spreading disinformation on behalf of HVA/X as contact person “Abraham.”223

In the film AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, after the interviews with the African doctors and the Chirimuutas, who reject a natural, African origin of HIV, a turning point comes in the form of an interview with the Segals. They repeat their version of the Fort Detrick thesis and their straw man argument regarding the (long since discarded) green-monkey hypothesis of AIDS's origins.224 Thus begins the film's discussion of a possible artificial origin of HIV at Fort Detrick or another U.S. research laboratory making use of gene technology. (This turning point also conforms to the description that Stasi officers provided to the Bulgarians in September 1988.)225 The film's narrator declares that the Segals had simply concluded “what was obvious [was nahe lag]”: the AIDS virus was not of natural origin.226 The film portrays the Segals as heroic figures—scientific “plain folks” in their East Berlin apartment—struggling to know the truth, in contrast to “the great experts of the scientific community from Washington to Paris to Moscow,” who, the narrator states, have no interest in genuinely finding out how AIDS originated.227

The scene with the Segals undoubtedly contributed to HVA/X's decision to promote international sales of the film. At the meeting in September 1988, Mutz and Pfeifer had presented their Bulgarian colleagues with a slightly revised and updated version of the Segals’ original study published in the leftwing Munich journal Streitbarer Materialismus (Militant Materialism) in July 1988.228 The HVA officers called it “good material, relatively peaceable, but convincing” and suggested that their Bulgarian colleagues should make use of it in their own active measures.229 HVA/X, like their KGB colleagues, considered the section on the AIDS disinformation campaign in the State Department report that had angered Gorbachev to be proof of the effectiveness of Operation Denver.230 However, by the time of the September 1989 meeting with the Bulgarians, the KGB had decided—apparently under pressure from Gorbachev—to abandon the further propagation of its AIDS disinformation, or at least that part of it based on the Fort Detrick thesis, and had informed HVA/X of this decision.231 At the 1989 meeting, the Bulgarians noted Pfeifer's comments:

Cde. Pfeifer is of the opinion that contrary to the views of some [i.e., the KGB], this topic is still relevant. They believe we should not distance ourselves from this operation. There is no reason for this, as they have found a trend of increasing interest in the origin and nature of the disease, and the thesis originally developed by Professor Segal is now supported by many other scholars… .

The Soviet comrades consider the idea to have run its course, but they [HVA/X] do not agree, they are adopting new ideas, but they are continuing with the old one and think they have had good results. In their opinion, the culmination of the operation has not yet been achieved.232

The interview with the Segals was a turning point in AIDS—Die Afrikalegende. Not only did the focus shift from the allegedly racist and unproven arguments regarding a natural origin of AIDS in Africa to an alleged laboratory origin of HIV in the United States, but it also shifted, perhaps coincidentally, to the second track of the Stasi's dual-track strategy for Operation Detrick/Denver; namely, “to support the activities of the many experts in the Western countries who are warning against the development of new weapons in the USA.”233 One such “expert” was Rifkin. During the talks in Sofia, Mutz and Pfeifer had referred to Rifkin and FET in connection with recent “research” suggesting that the Segal “hypothesis” was “not baseless.”234 The FET's lawsuit had halted the Pentagon's bioweapons research in September 1986, helping to bring both Fort Detrick and the Pentagon's defensive biological weapons program back into the public spotlight in the United States.

The statements by Mutz and Pfeifer regarding potential “proof” of Segal's thesis would not have surprised their colleagues from HVA/SWT, the office responsible for securing the Segals. The head of that office had claimed in talks with other Stasi colleagues as early as October 1986 that the justification for FET's lawsuit helped corroborate Segal's thesis, a claim that Segal also made in a letter to Seale during the same month.235 Specifically, the lawsuit and various press reports about it in the United States and the FRG mentioned the apparent disappearance of two liters of chikungunya virus from Fort Detrick in 1981.236 Segal used this information to attack his critics, who, he alleged, were claiming that no bioweapons research had taken place at Fort Detrick after U.S. ratification of the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972.237 The Segals also referred to this accidental release in all subsequent published versions of their study. They hinted that just as the chikungunya virus could and did escape from Fort Detrick, so had HIV/AIDS. They also cited a former researcher from Fort Detrick mentioned in the FET's lawsuit. Enough chikungunya virus, this researcher claimed, had disappeared to infect the world's population several times over.238 Although chikungunya could potentially debilitate individuals for at least several days with rashes, high fever, and joint pain, it was rarely lethal.239 Nevertheless, beginning in 1988, the Segals began to claim in revised versions of their study that the escaped virus could kill everyone on Earth several times over.240

The film AIDS—Die Afrikalegende also raises the issue of the missing chikungunya virus, along with the activities of Rifkin and FET. Following the interview with the Segals and an exchange with West German bioethicist Regine Kollek, the film turns to discuss the private gene technology firm Bionetics, with which Gallo, the film's narrator later claims, was cooperating.241 Bionetics, the narrator notes, is only a two-hour drive down the highway from Fort Detrick. A long, menacing, drive-by shot of Fort Detrick follows. After the United States signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, the film notes, military research at Fort Detrick ended, and part of the facilities were converted for use by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1973, Gallo, the film notes, began conducting research at the NIH facilities at Fort Detrick.242 The film then alludes to the disappearance of chikungunya virus from the NIH compound. The film's narrator says “experts” believe the quantity of the virus that was lost was allegedly sufficient “to kill a large portion of mankind.”243 The film then jumps to an interview with Rifkin, who discusses the large increase in funding during the Reagan administration for U.S. biological weapons research, often with the most lethal viruses. The funding, Rifkin says, has gone to universities and private firms.244

The film then raises the issue of the testimony of a Defense Department official, Donald MacArthur, before the U.S. Congress in 1969.245 In 1988, MacArthur was the president of the corporation that had written the Defense Department's draft environmental impact statement for the opening of Dugway Proving Ground—a statement made necessary by FET's previous, successful lawsuit. In February 1988, Rifkin's organization had made a formal petition to U.S. Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci demanding clarification of a statement by MacArthur before the U.S. Congress in 1969, when he had served as deputy director for research and technology at the Department of Defense.246 MacArthur had testified in 1969:

Molecular biology is a field that is advancing very rapidly, and eminent biologists believe that within a period of 5 to 10 years it would be possible to produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired.247

MacArthur had suggested a program to investigate the feasibility of developing such an organism; it would take five years and cost $10 million.248 Rifkin, in his own testimony before the U.S. Congress in 1988, explained the FET's petition for information about MacArthur's proposal:

The reason I think this [the 1969 statement by MacArthur] is instructive is that at the dawn of genetic engineering and molecular biology, the Department of Defense would even dream of developing an AIDS-like virus?

Now, let me be very clear: the AIDS-like virus [sic: HIV] is a naturally occurring virus. It is something that, as far as the scientific experts around the world conclude, is naturally occurring.

But it's instructive historically that the Department of Defense would even conceive of developing this type of virus using this molecular biology research.249

Mutz and Pfeifer had provided their Bulgarian “comrades” with a copy of the FET's petition in September 1988, including a copy of MacArthur's testimony.250 The environmental organization, the Stasi officers declared, had proven that “already at the beginning of the [19]70s biological weapons research began in the United States and the task was set to create such a weapon that would affect the human immune system.”251 Despite Rifkin's disclaimer before Congress and MacArthur's own description—“a synthetic biological agent … for which no natural immunity could have been acquired”—HVA/X went further, at least within the MfS, and depicted MacArthur's statement as proof that in 1969 “the USA planned the development of a bioweapon that would destroy the human immune system.”252 At the meeting in September 1988, Mutz and Pfeifer called on their Bulgarian colleagues to help the HVA bring international attention to this new information from FET, along with the new findings and accusations regarding U.S. weapons of mass destruction in both the Horizont article and the most recent version of the Segals’ study. “It should not be difficult,” they said, “to distribute the available American materials to more countries, where they remain unknown.”253

Whatever the Bulgarians may or may not have done, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende helped popularize MacArthur's 1969 testimony among its viewers. The film's narrator reads a tendentious and inaccurate German translation of the testimony, implying that MacArthur had said things similar to HVA/X's claims about the creation of a new organism that could “destroy” the human immune system.254 (In the English version, the film's narrator makes the same claim point-blank before reading an excerpt from MacArthur's testimony, which appears on screen.255) The German film then returns to Rifkin, who explains FET's lawsuit against DoD to obtain more information about the potential program mentioned in MacArthur's 1969 testimony. Rifkin suggests in the film—just as he did before Congress in 1988—that DoD likely did not implement such a program.256 The film's narrator notes, however, that DoD's response to FET's petition was still pending. The narrator continues: “And in between, it has become a question of billions of dollars, already due to the potential claims for compensation”—that is, for those potentially infected by an HIV bioweapon from Fort Detrick.257

The longer, English version of the film differs slightly from the original German version. For example, it features an interview with Girard. Although the Stasi had not made use of her views regarding HIV/AIDS in the article “Criminal Experiments,” given the ban on publications within the GDR about AIDS's origins, this was not an issue for the West German co-creators of Monkey Business. The film's narrator introduces Girard as a journalist who had studied the subject of AIDS for years and had “talked with almost all the experts in the AIDS community.”258 The narrator continues: “In her book on the enigma of AIDS, the prominent scientific author described what the princes of AIDS or SIDA [French for AIDS] had told her on the record and what they had said when the recorder was turned off.”259 The “major personalities,” she states, “know the facts about AIDS, but they're afraid to put them together.”260 About half had agreed, she claims, that, if the AIDS virus did not exist, it could be produced using existing gene technology.261 All of them would say, she asserts, that it would have been impossible to create such a virus in the early days of gene technology, but she maintains that reports had surfaced about the genetic modification of a retrovirus in “scientific journals” as early as 1971.262

The English version of the film contains longer excerpts from the filmmakers’ interviews with the Chirimuutas, Kollek, and Rifkin. In the German version of the film, Kollek says she does not accept the Segals’ thesis, but she does agree with them that many “ghastly things” (Schweinereien) had occurred in military research laboratories experimenting with microorganisms and gene technology. If HIV had indeed come from a laboratory, it was more likely a U.S. virological research laboratory, where, she alleges, safety standards had not been particularly high in the 1980s.263 In the English version of the film, Kollek calls for an investigation into all gene-splicing experiments in the 1960s and 1970s and their results, especially with an eye to potential accidents, including ones that might have accidentally led to the creation of the AIDS virus. The experiments of Gallo and Essex, she says, should be subject to such a review.264 Whatever merit a public review might have had for transparency and public safety, it would also have served as grist for the Soviet bloc's propaganda mills.

In Rifkin's further comments in the English version of the film, he calls for a “worldwide movement of citizens” to monitor gene-technology research, whether civilian or military, and to pressure parliaments and legislatures to “ask the hard questions” about such research.265 Although Rifkin's apparent aim was to prevent the abuse of a new technology that could potentially cause great harm to people and the planet, the KGB would have been happy to instrumentalize such potential developments in the West to its own ends. After all, among the goals the KGB had set for itself—which HVA/X had subsequently adopted for Operation Denver—was to educate the world about “the dangerous prospects of the biological weapons race and the need to place research in the fields of biotechnology and genetic engineering under careful international supervision.”266 Although Soviet officials may have believed that the United States was continuing offensive research in violation of the biological weapons convention, they opposed all potential provisions for on-site inspection.267 (The USSR's offensive bioweapons research continued throughout the Gorbachev years.268) If concerned citizens in the West monitored research developments in gene technology and bioweapons research and pressured their governments to report thoroughly and publicly on such activities, this would have provided the USSR with a distinct advantage in developing biological weapons despite professions to the contrary.

Whether through sheer coincidence or by design, both the German and the English versions of AIDS—Die Afrikalegende thus conformed to HVA/X's two-pronged strategy for Operation Denver/Detrick in 1988–1989. The film not only helped to promote the Segals’ thesis; it simultaneously moved beyond it to engage in a general attack against U.S. research into biological weapons and gene technology by citing Western critics such as Kollek and Rifkin. The film thus fulfilled the tasks for which HVA/X had requested the assistance of the Bulgarians in 1988—namely, the distribution of the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis around the globe, the promotion of Girard's views regarding “criminal experiments” in the United States, the creation of publicity for Rifkin and FET's 1988 petition to the U.S. Defense Department, and the dissemination of MacArthur's 1969 testimony regarding alleged plans to create a virus that supposedly could “destroy” the human immune system.269

Some critics, arguing that HVA/X likely played no role in the financing of the film, have suggested that the film did little to assist the popularization of the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis of AIDS's origins, given Kollek's rejection of the Segals’ thesis and the film's interviews with other scientists, such as Gallo and Essex, who argued that HIV originated in Africa.270 This argument, however, ignores the narrator's singling out of the Segals’ thesis for praise and the film's unflattering portrayal of the U.S. scientists.271 Moreover, this analysis neglects the fact that HVA/X was seeking to move beyond the Fort Detrick thesis to attack U.S. research in gene technology and biological weapons in general.272 The interview with Kollek, “the leading West German critic of genetic engineering,” arguably served this goal, as did the statements by Rifkin and the references to the research prepared by FET.273

The reception of the German and English versions of the film by third parties since 1989 suggests that it successfully transported—whether through coincidence or by design—the same messages that HVA/X sought to spread around the globe: namely, the Fort Detrick thesis and the dangers of U.S. research in gene technology and bioweapons. The Segals were pleased with the film. Lilli wrote that it had sparked an “enormous” response, and she was especially pleased when Jakob was invited to speak on a panel discussion in Frankfurt in May 1989 that would be transmitted live on FRG television after the film's broadcast.274 A positive profile of Lilli Segal in taz reported that the film was allowing “the Segals [to have] their say for the first time since the taz interview with Stefan Heym.”275 In another article, taz noted the producer's comments about the film:

What we have discovered: The Africa thesis [of AIDS's origins] is so important for some people because it is the only alternative to the other hypothesis—namely, that AIDS originated in a laboratory, either a commercial or a military-research laboratory, between which there is no longer any real difference today.276

As late as 1999, left-wing organizers of a demonstration to oppose the presentation of the highest honor in German medicine, the Paul Ehrlich Prize, to Gallo organized an “information evening” at which they showed excerpts from AIDS—Die Afrikalegende to support their contention that the AIDS virus was artificially constructed by Gallo at Fort Detrick.277

The English version of the film, Monkey Business, met with similar reactions after it was broadcast on Channel 4 in Great Britain on 22 January 1990.278 Two English researchers, concerned about the prevalence of racist stereotypes regarding HIV/AIDS, compared the attitudes of subjects regarding the origins of the disease who had viewed the film with those who had not. In contrast to the majority of the study's participants, viewers of the film not only doubted or did not believe in the African origin of HIV/AIDS; they also tended to believe that the AIDS virus had been artificially constructed in a U.S. laboratory.279 The London monthly news magazine New African published a review of the film that not only accepted its arguments but went even further. The article concludes:

Could the laboratory AIDS viruses have accidentally escaped or been stolen? It seems very probable. In an area of Fort Detrick, the US Pentagon's centre for chemical and biological research, a quart of the highly dangerous Chicungungya [sic] virus simply vanished. According to experts, that amount is sufficient to wipe out a major part of mankind.

In 1969, the US Department of Defence asked a budget committee of Congress to allocate $10 million for research to produce an artificial virus which could destroy [sic!] the human immune system.280

Although the film clearly served HVA/X's goals for Operation Denver/Detrick at the time, the question remains what role, if any, the Stasi played in its production and distribution.

When discussing Operation Denver/Detrick with Bulgarian colleagues in September 1988, Mutz and Pfeifer claimed that they had allegedly “given the order” for the “making of a film in West Germany” through an “operational channel (illegal)”—an IM, in Stasi jargon.281 This “operational channel,” they said, had “already concluded a contract with West German television.” Furthermore, HVA/X, they asserted, was covertly funding the film.282 The Bulgarians reported the East German officers’ further comments: “The interview that Professor Segal will give in October of this year will be the high point of this [active] measure.”283

In the subsequent annual meeting of the Bulgarian and East German specialists for active measures, held in Berlin in September 1989, Pfeifer provided further details about the film and HVA/X's alleged involvement in it. The Bulgarians reported his comments:

They [HVA/X] have made [sic: arranged for the making of] a movie about AIDS, which has been shown three times in the FRG… . Many countries are interested in this film and [HVA/X] hope to have it promoted. The film was produced by a private film company in collaboration with WDR [Westdeutscher Rundfunk] (West German television's first program), which even subsidized the production with a certain amount. From the West German side, 80,000 DM were paid for the production of the film, and 40,000 marks were paid by the [East] German comrades. The Soviet comrades also offered to pay about 60,000 M[arks] for the film, but the German comrades declined their contribution. The film is currently being distributed by the West German filmmakers and costs 10,000 [D]M per copy, and for Africa and Third World countries 5,000 DM. The campaign is not intended to be run from the socialist countries, but from the developed West European countries and the countries of the Third World. Cde. Pfeifer handed us two videotapes with English and German versions of the movie. They asked us to show it on various occasions to our specialists and also to offer it to our channels. It is important to raise interest in the film and to purchase it. They have conducted several operations in connection with the distribution and promotion of the film.284

The detailed comments by Pfeifer and Mutz in 1988 and 1989 leave no doubt that the film they were discussing with the Bulgarians in September 1989 was AIDS—Die Afrikalegende.285 It is the only known film on the origins of HIV/AIDS to include an interview with Jakob Segal and to have been shown three times on FRG television before the Bulgarians met with HVA/X in Berlin.286 It was produced by a private film company in collaboration with WDR, and the English version of the film was available for sale by the time of HVA/X's 1989 meeting with the Bulgarians.287 Thus, Pfeifer could present the Bulgarian officials with videotapes of both the German and the English versions of the film.288

Moreover, at the time of the film's production, one of its two cocreators, Heimo Claasen, was registered in the HVA's card file under the officer in HVA/X responsible for Operation Denver, Ingo Dams, as an “unofficial collaborator for special tasks” (inoffizieller Mitarbeiter für Sonderaufgaben; IMA)—that is, an unofficial collaborator used for conducting active measures.289 From HVA/X's perspective, an IMA “Joachim” would have qualified as the “operational channel (illegal)” that had allegedly been a party to the contract with WDR.290 Already in March 1983, Pfeifer, whose office subsequently ran Operation Denver, had taken over the “Joachim” file from another unit of the HVA.291

Claasen, however, has denied any contact with the Stasi, let alone an attempted or successful recruitment, and he has denied any Stasi role in the film, including its financing. In a reply of 27 February 2020 to a letter from me, Claasen declares,

I have not cooperated at any time, either as an “unofficial collaborator” [IM] or in another form with the Stasi (-HVA). I had no knowledge of an alleged “registration” [Erfassung] or “direction” [Führung]. The Stasi never made contact with me in order to recruit me or to assign me any tasks. The “tasks” that are mentioned in the documents relate exclusively to the works that I published as a journalist and were freely available to everyone—including thus also the Stasi. Furthermore, I have never received money from the Stasi (-HVA). This is also the case with the documentary film AIDS—Die Afrika-Legende / Monkey Business, which was produced without any tasking, influencing, financing, etc. from the Stasi and was financed exclusively on the basis of contracts with the ARD-broadcasting authorities (including WDR) and Channel Four.292

The available archival materials, Claasen asserts, do not prove that he knowingly worked for the Stasi, and in 1997 the German attorney general suspended its investigation of him for espionage (an investigation based on the materials available to it at the time in the Stasi archives). Geissler and Sprinkle, Claasen further notes, did not go along with the conclusions Christopher Nehring and I reached about the film's financing in our 2014 study.293 Indeed, they insisted that the HVA/X's claim to have “surreptitiously” funded a West German film ostensibly AIDS—Die Afrikalegende—was “unconfirmed.”294

Whatever Claasen's relationship to the Stasi may or may not have been, he had contacted the Segals at the end of 1986 and had tried—unsuccessfully—to arrange for the inclusion of their study in a West German scientific publication.295 A communication to HVA/X from the Stasi unit responsible for spying on Heym notes that Claasen was seeking at the beginning of February 1987 to arrange for the publication of Heym's interview with Segal outside Germany—most likely, in the Netherlands—even before it appeared in taz in West Berlin.296 At the end of February 1987, Claasen himself published an article supportive of the Segals’ thesis in the Swiss alternative-left newspaper Wochenzeitung.297 The Chirimuutas, for their part, thanked Claasen, among others, in the second edition of their book, which discusses the Segals’ thesis, for “additional information and encouragement” received since the publication of the first edition of their book, which makes no mention of the Segals or their thesis.298

Dams had also registered the film's other cocreator, its producer, Malte Rauch, with HVA/X but not in a dossier for an unofficial collaborator (as in Claasen's case). Instead, Rauch was entered into HVA/X's dossier for Operation Denver on 31 July 1987.299 This registration suggests that HVA/X sought to influence Rauch covertly as it pursued its goals for Operation Denver—that is, the AIDS disinformation campaign. Such influencing might have occurred through an unofficial collaborator—for example, an IMA “Joachim”—but the registration of Rauch suggests that the HVA would have sought to keep him in the dark about its alleged activities. That is, he should not have had any knowledge of the Stasi's interest in his film, let alone the HVA's alleged covert co-financing of the film. Rauch, for his part, wrote in a letter to the author in March 2020

I was not aware at any time of a “registration” by the Stasi. I was never spoken to or contacted regarding this. I have never cooperated with the Stasi (-HVA) in any form. Stasi employees did not influence my film at any point in time.300

He also denied that the HVA or the Stasi played any covert role in financing the film. The alleged evidence of such financing, he insisted, is “unbelievably thin.” The film, he asserted, was financed exclusively by WDR and the English version exclusively by British Channel 4.301 Claasen agrees completely with Rauch on all of these points and has also denied any involvement with the Stasi.

Nevertheless, given the film's general conformity to the argumentation and goals of HVA/X with regard to Operation Denver/Detrick; its use of individuals who were known quantities to HVA/X in the context of the AIDS disinformation campaign; the statements by Mutz and Pfeifer to Bulgarian colleagues in both 1988 and 1989 about Stasi funding for the film; their detailed knowledge of the film's content before its release; the film's interviews with key actors whose views HVA/X sought to promote internationally; the registrations of its cocreators by the officers of HVA/X responsible for Operation Denver; and the efforts of HVA/X to promote sales of the film internationally through secret-service channels, Nehring and I concluded in our previous study that HVA/X not only covertly influenced but also played a clandestine role in financially supporting the successful realization of the film project—though not necessarily in the form of, or limited to, production costs.302

Our conclusion regarding HVA/X's alleged covert financial support for the film aroused the consternation of the filmmakers, who denied it. The film's producer and Claasen's creative partner asserted that WDR had paid all production costs for the film—only 56,000 Deutschmarks (DM)—which is less than the 120,000 DM claimed by Pfeifer (allegedly 40,000 DM in covert financing from the Stasi and 80,000 DM from West German sources, including WDR).303 The 56,000 DM figure, however, apparently does not include the costs for the English version of the film. Both Claasen and the producer have claimed that WDR paid all costs for the German film and that the UK's Channel 4, which broadcast Monkey Business in January 1990, paid all the costs for the English version.304 However, the HVA may have hidden its covert funding so successfully that neither filmmaker knew about it.305 The 40,000 DM in hidden, covert financing that the HVA allegedly provided may also have gone to third parties otherwise involved in the film or its promotion, or toward pre-production or other costs associated with the film that were outside the purview of its creators. Unfortunately, the most relevant records regarding the film's financing, including any real or potential covert financing, have been destroyed.306

Our conclusion regarding HVA/X's alleged covert financial support for the film disturbed not only the filmmakers but also the (former East) German molecular biologist Geissler, who has asserted on multiple occasions that the Stasi played no timely, meaningful, or effective role in the KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign.307 Although Geissler and his colleague Sprinkle agree that Mutz and Pfeifer were indeed discussing AIDS—Die Afrikalegende in their talks with the Bulgarians, they have offered an alternative explanation for the officers’ comments. According to Geissler and Sprinkle, Mutz and Pfeifer lied and bragged to their Bulgarian colleagues about HVA/X's alleged funding and other support for the film.308 Based on a statement by Claasen, they assert that the Stasi had likely learned details of the film's content from the West German filmmakers’ application in early 1988 to conduct their interview with the Segals inside the GDR in October 1988. Pfeifer and Mutz could thus have informed their Bulgarian colleagues about such details at their September 1988 meeting even if HVA/X had no involvement with the film.309

As demonstrated in my earlier study with Nehring, as well as in the two parts of this article, an overwhelming amount of evidence indicates that Geissler and Sprinkle are simply wrong in suggesting that the HVA did little to support the KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign and acted only late in the campaign.310

The notion that Mutz and Pfeifer were lying to their Bulgarian colleagues about the HVA's alleged involvement in the film also is highly implausible. Although the active-measures divisions of the East European security services—and to a lesser extent HVA/X—sometimes exaggerated the effectiveness and outcome of their active measures, they had no reason to lie about the actual content of individual measures in bilateral discussions and meetings.311 Indeed, the Soviet-bloc units that conducted active measures regularly acknowledged the non-realization or failure of planned activities.312

Geissler and Sprinkle, in their original joint publication, treated the statements of Mutz and Pfeifer in official, secret conversations with their Bulgarian colleagues before 1989 as having the same evidentiary value as the statements of former HVA/X officer Günter Bohnsack in his memoirs and in interviews in the 1990s. They lumped all of the direct or indirect “claims of operational success” by Bohnsack beginning in 1992—five in total—together with the assertions of Mutz, Pfeifer, and HVA/X Director Rolf Wagenbreth in secret discussions with the Bulgarians in 1986–1989.313 Geissler and Sprinkle imply that because Bohnsack exaggerated or lied on several occasions in interviews and memoirs in the 1990s, this means that his colleagues in HVA/X must have been lying in their formal, secret meetings with the Bulgarians before 1989.314 The Geissler-Sprinkle argument makes no sense. For various reasons the comments of Mutz and Pfeifer in the 1980s—and the sources in which one finds them—cannot be treated in the same way as the comments of Bohnsack in various interviews and memoirs in the 1990s. First, Pfeifer was the head of the office in HVA/X responsible for Operation Denver, and Mutz was his immediate superior; Bohnsack headed another office in HVA/X.315 Based on the compartmentalized, need-to-know principle, Pfeifer would have known more details about the AIDS disinformation campaign than Bohnsack and thus would have spoken more authoritatively about it. Second, Mutz and Pfeifer were commenting on activities as they were actually happening, not years later, as was the case with Bohnsack. Third, historians consider first-hand, primary sources in archives, which governments seek to keep secret—or, in the case of the HVA, to destroy—to have a higher evidentiary value than memoirs or random public statements in interviews by former officials long after the fact.316 The records of the secret East German-Bulgarian meetings, unlike Bohnsack's comments in his interviews, were never intended to be made public. Fourth, Mutz and Pfeifer had no reason to lie about the details of HVA/X's activities for Operation Denver to their Bulgarian colleagues, especially considering that they were seeking the latter's support. False statements could have hindered eventual cooperation and coordination, and they would likely have made their way back to the Soviet KGB, which was responsible for the bloc's coordinated campaigns of active measures, or to Minister Mielke, with unpleasant consequences for both officers.317

The suggestion by Geissler and Sprinkle that Mutz, Pfeifer, and even HVA/X Director Wagenbreth were not acting in an official capacity during their talks with the Bulgarians about the film—or about other aspects of the AIDS disinformation campaign—is ludicrous.318 The meetings that Mutz and Pfeifer held with the Bulgarians in 1988 and 1989 were part of the institutionalized cooperation between the MfS and Bulgarian state security. The active-measures units had been meeting at least once a year since 1969 to discuss their various campaigns, along with mutual assistance. The meetings in 1988 and 1989 were part of this long-standing official cooperation.319 The official character of the meeting in Berlin in 1989 was underscored by the fact that Deputy Minister of State Security and Director of the HVA Werner Großmann received the Bulgarian officers and discussed issues of cooperation with them.320

Moreover, the Bulgarians treated the statements and requests of Mutz and Pfeifer with regard to the film as official requests from their “fraternal organ” in East Berlin. They subsequently sought to arrange the film's purchase and distribution in India through their “channel”—that is, their agent—“Shiva.”321 Apparently, officers from HVA/X had also discussed covert assistance for the purchase and distribution of the film with their colleagues in Prague.322 Exploitation of the film was clearly part of a larger action on the part of the HVA and the Stasi, not just some random activity on the part of Mutz and Pfeifer.

Just as absurd is the suggestion by Geissler and Sprinkle that Mutz, Pfeifer, and Wagenbreth were loose cannons, operating on their own to propagate the Fort Detrick thesis and other AIDS disinformation without the apparent authorization of the HVA's leadership and in open violation of the stated East German government policy recognizing the natural origins of AIDS.323 The Stasi operated as a militarized, hierarchical organization under the strict command of Minister Mielke. It is inconceivable that three officers could simply have gone off on their own and engaged in private, unapproved activities in the name of the Stasi. If officers did engage in such behavior, they would have been fired immediately and almost certainly subjected to criminal proceedings.324 There is no reason to believe that Wagenbreth, for example, who had joined the Stasi shortly after its establishment in 1950 and had worked his way up through its ranks, would have risked his career and his pension to engage in activities that the leaders of the HVA, the MfS, and the SED allegedly opposed.325 During a lecture for an internal training course for Stasi officers in October 1989, Wagenbreth even spoke openly about the spread of Segal's thesis as an example of the active measures in which his unit engaged and that the other units of the Stasi should support.326 He clearly did not perceive any problem in this regard with the leaders of the HVA or the Stasi.

That the HVA (HVA/X, HVA/SWT, and the HVA's leaders) assisted the spread of a disinformation thesis abroad that stood in contrast to the official East German government position need not have been—and was not—a problem given the Stasi's success in preserving the secrecy of its role and thus plausible deniability for the GDR. The exception that Hager made for Segal to propagate his own thesis outside the GDR also apparently applied to the MfS, represented on the SED Politbüro and in Honecker's inner circle by Mielke. As Geissler himself has noted, Segal was never “whistled back” (zurückgepfiffen) by the East German party from spreading his version of the Fort Detrick thesis.327 The same was apparently also true for the HVA and the Stasi in general.


A great deal of formerly top-secret evidence in the former East German and Bulgarian state security archives, along with relevant records from other archives, shows that the Stasi played an important and substantial role in the KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign. As noted in Part 1 of this article, the Stasi helped the KGB in late 1985 to locate scientists who would support the spurious Fort Detrick thesis and to find Western publications that would be willing to publish it. The Stasi may also have interested Jakob Segal in exploring the origins of HIV/AIDS in 1985. HVA/SWT began “securing” the Segals in the latter part of that year (or, at the very latest, in early 1986); registered one or both as a contact known as “Diagnosis”; began tracking the Segals’ research in early 1986 (at the latest); and offered Jakob advice about his research—which he may or may not have accepted—in the summer of 1986. HVA/X, in apparent cooperation with the KGB, helped arrange for the publication—actually, the photocopying—of the brochure containing the Segals’ study and bearing the title, AIDS: USA Home-Made Evil, NOT out of AFRICA, which was distributed at the NAM summit in Harare in August–September 1986. This, along with a review in the Zimbabwean journal Social Change and Development sparked a wave of publications throughout Africa and beyond. After the conservative English tabloid Sunday Express—without any apparent prompting from the Soviet-bloc intelligence services—sparked a further, stronger wave of international publicity for the Segals’ thesis with its article “AIDS ‘Made in Lab’ Shock” in late October 1986, journalists who were known quantities to HVA/X and the Stasi in general interviewed the Segals and wrote further publications echoing and endorsing their thesis. Among the journalists interviewing the Segals at this time were Girard and Claasen.

From 1987 to 1989, the Stasi supported the Segals’ efforts within the SED to secure permission to publish their study in the GDR and abroad. After Hager, citing Honecker, rejected publication of any articles about the origin of AIDS, including the Segals’ thesis, inside the GDR the Stasi ensured a ban on contending publications from East German scientists who opposed the Segals’ thesis, thus providing clandestine support for the Segals’ efforts to obtain further publicity and publications abroad. The Stasi also took all necessary steps to preserve plausible deniability for the East German government with regard to its clandestine efforts. Thanks in part to the SED's ban on domestic publications, the Stasi succeeded where the KGB had failed. When the East German dissenter Stefan Heym decided to publish an interview with Jakob Segal regarding his thesis in the West, HVA/SWT helped to ensure from behind the scenes that other units of the MfS would not interfere with Heym's efforts, and an officer from HVA/X likely nudged Widmann to seek out the interview for its eventual publication in the West Berlin alternative left newspaper the Tageszeitung (taz).

In keeping with the KGB's new orientation for the disinformation campaign, the Stasi sought to move beyond the issue of HIV/AIDS and the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis in 1987 to attack U.S. research into biological weapons and gene technology in general. Although Czechoslovakia's active-measures unit, Division 36, apparently did not make it past the planning stage in supporting the KGB's new line, the Stasi's domestic propaganda division, assisted by HVA/X, succeeded in making a contribution in the form of “Criminal Experiments,” an article published in the GDR's chief foreign-policy newspaper, Horizont. The article selectively recited information from U.S. congressional hearings in the mid-1980s regarding the federal government's exposure of U.S. citizens to radiation in the late 1940s and 1950s without their knowledge. The Horizont article also drew on the unfounded and discredited allegations of French journalist Girard that researchers at Fort Detrick were exploiting human fetal tissue imported from South Korea to test the effects of nerve gas on human tissue or, alternatively, to develop new and more deadly bioweapons for the CIA and the U.S. military, perhaps even an “ethnic weapon” that would kill only Asians.

“Criminal Experiments” also referred to the efforts that Rifkin's FET had undertaken to find out more about the Pentagon's planned defensive test facility for biological weapons at Dugway, Utah, including the FET's petition seeking more information about MacArthur, the head of the corporation contracted by the U.S. government to prepare the environmental impact statement for the new facility.328 For the article, HVA/X had provided the Stasi's domestic propaganda division—and it, in turn, had provided the editors of Horizont—with a German translation of MacArthur's testimony before the U.S. Congress in 1969, when he was a Defense Department official.329 In that capacity, he had spoken about the potential development of a deadly new microorganism for biological warfare that could not be stopped by the human immune system.330 Although the article in Horizont referred to MacArthur's earlier role at the Defense Department, it did not include his statement about the potential development of a new virus or bacterium, nor did it mention Girard's 1987 book, Tristes chimères, which essentially propagated the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis.331 Pfeifer, whose division in HVA/X was responsible for Operation Denver, had checked the draft manuscript of the article, lest it defy the SED's proscription against publishing anything about AIDS's origins—including the Segals’ thesis—inside the GDR.

Outside the GDR was a different matter. At the scheduled annual meeting with the Bulgarian active-measures division in Sofia in September 1988, Mutz and Pfeifer presented their Bulgarian colleagues with the latest version of the Segals’ study, containing their well-known version of the Fort Detrick thesis; the Horizont article on “Criminal Experiments,” along with an English translation; and a copy of the FET's petition to the U.S. secretary of defense demanding information about what, if anything, had come of MacArthur's proposal to the U.S. Congress in 1969. The latter also included the text of MacArthur's 1969 testimony. The officers from HVA/X asked their Bulgarian comrades to help them promote the materials (and the arguments contained therein) around the globe. This conformed to HVA/X's new, dual-track approach to Operation Denver—or, alternatively, Operation Detrick. HVA/X planned not only to continue spreading the Segals’ Fort Detrick thesis internationally (with the corresponding argument that the African hypothesis of the natural origins of AIDS was “racist”) but also to attack U.S. research in the fields of gene technology and biological weapons in general. To this end, HVA/X sought to popularize the views of Western scientists and activists critical of U.S. research in these fields.

At the September 1988 meeting with the Bulgarians, Mutz and Pfeifer also first spoke about a West German film for which they were allegedly providing covert financial support and in which one of their IMs or “channels” was allegedly involved. Based on the details provided by HVA/X at the 1988 and 1989 meetings with the Bulgarians, the film they were discussing was clearly AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, along with its English version, Monkey Business: AIDS—the Africa Story. During the film's production, one of the film's two cocreators, Claasen, was registered as an unofficial collaborator (“Joachim”) for special tasks by the officer in HVA/X responsible for Operation Denver. However, Claasen has denied any involvement with the Stasi, and both he and Rauch, the film's other cocreator—who was an apparent target of Stasi influence under “Denver” but would not have been informed by the Stasi about any of its alleged activities regarding the film—have denied any Stasi involvement in either the film or its financing.

A review of the film's content suggests why HVA/X was encouraging its Bulgarian (and apparently also its Czechoslovak) colleagues to help arrange for the purchase and distribution of the film internationally. Whether by coincidence or by design, the film conformed to the two-track strategy that HVA/X claimed to be following for Operation Denver/Detrick in its talks with its Bulgarian colleagues. The film repeated the long-standing propaganda themes from “Denver” and the KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign: namely, the Segals’ thesis of HIV's artificial construction at Fort Detrick, along with the alleged “racism” of the African hypothesis of AIDS's origins promoted by U.S. scientists. The film also included an interview with the Chirimuutas regarding their book AIDS, Africa and Racism, whose further publication HVA/X allegedly helped to finance clandestinely, without the Chirimuutas’ knowledge. The West German magazine Top Secret, a publication with alleged ties to HVA/X, also decided to publish an article by the Chirimuutas in conjunction with two other articles—one by the Segals themselves—espousing the Fort Detrick thesis.

However, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende not only builds on but also moves somewhat beyond the Segals’ thesis. The important point to take away from the Segals’ research, the film suggests, is their allegation that the AIDS virus was constructed in a laboratory in the United States, whether at Fort Detrick (as the Segals claimed) or at another civilian or military research facility. This theme in the film matches the new direction in which HVA/X was moving Operation Denver/Detrick: HVA/X sought to elaborate on and, if necessary, recast its previous disinformation to engage in a general attack against U.S. research into biological weapons and gene technology. It thus sought to popularize the views of independent Western critics of those activities. Whether by coincidence or design, the film propagates the same themes, documents, and individuals that HVA/X was seeking to promote—for example, Rifkin and his foundation's petition to the U.S. secretary of defense regarding biological-weapons facilities and MacArthur's 1969 testimony on the potential development of a microorganism against which no natural human immunity existed. The film presents MacArthur's testimony in the distorted form promoted not only by the Segals but also by HVA/X internally within the MfS. Both the German and the English versions of the film mention a virus designed to “destroy” the human immune system—that is, alleged “proof” for the Segals’ thesis, or at least their accusations about the origin of HIV in a U.S. military laboratory. The chikungunya virus that went missing from Fort Detrick and the spurious claims regarding its ability to kill off almost all of humankind received similar treatment. Both the German and the English versions of the film glide over Rifkin's disclaimer that the microorganism about which MacArthur spoke was likely never created. The English version of the film, Monkey Business, also contains an interview with Girarde, a known quantity to HVA/X, especially in conjunction with the February 1988 article in Horizont on “Criminal Experiments.” In the film, Girarde insinuates what she had earlier claimed in Tristes chimères, which was based in part on her interview with the Segals—namely, that HIV was genetically engineered in a U.S. laboratory.

The statements of Mutz and Pfeifer in 1988 and 1989; the film's conformity to the new direction for Operation Denver/Detrick adopted by HVA/X; the film's promotion of individuals, documents, and theses supported by HVA/X; and the (different) registrations of its cocreators by HVA/X—along with the fact that West German television (WDR) showed the film multiple times and Great Britain's Channel 4 broadcast the English version at least once—caused Nehring and me to conclude in our original study that HVA/X's alleged co-financing and promotion of the film represented, at least from HVA/X's perspective, its final and perhaps most audacious active measure for Operation Denver/Detrick. To date, I have seen no reason to alter this assessment.



Spravka [Memorandum] Nr. 2742, n.d. (1987), in Committee for Disclosing the Documents and Announcing Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens to the State Security and the Intelligence Services of the Bulgarian National Army (COMDOS), Fond (F.) 9, Opis (Op.) 4, Arkhivna edinitsa (A.E.) 675, Listy (Ll.). 156–157.


Douglas Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’: The East German Ministry of State Security and the KGB's AIDS Disinformation Campaign, 1985–1986 (Part 1),” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Fall 2019), pp. 78, 83–84, 97–98.


Ibid., p. 78.


Ibid., p. 82.


Spravka Nr. 2742.


On the destruction of the HVA's files, see Hubertus Knabe, West-Arbeit des MfS: Das Zusammenspiel von “Aufklärung” und “Abwehr” (Berlin: Ch. Links, 1999), p. 133.


Regarding HVA/SWT, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 98–102.


Ibid., pp. 95–96, 110–112.


Ibid., p. 98.


Ibid., pp. 98–102.


Ibid., p. 122.


Ibid., pp. 103–110.


Ibid., pp. 115–116.


Ibid., pp. 116–118.


Ibid., pp. 118–120.


Regarding the cartoon, see ibid., pp. 119–120.


Spravka Nr. 2742.


Alvin A. Snyder, Warriors of Disinformation: How Charles Wick, the USIA, and Videotape Won the Cold War (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1995), pp. 100–101, 105, 114–115.


Yu. V. Andropov Red Banner Institute of the KGB of the USSR, Department 1, Politicheskaya razvedka s territorii SSSR: Uchebnoe posobie [Political Intelligence from the Territory of the USSR: A Textbook] (Moscow: NIRIO, 1989), p. 94. Journalist Michael Weiss from The Daily Beast published a scan of the book online as “The Secret KGB Manual for Recruiting Spies.” See “The KGB Papers: Here Are the Originals,” Daily Beast, 29 December 2017, https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-kgb-papers-here-are-the-originals.


According to the KGB textbook, both the KGB and Novosti were responsible for “supporting the foreign policy course of the Soviet Union and exposing the aggressive policies of the USA and the NATO bloc that threaten world peace.” See KGB, Politicheskaya razvedka s territorii SSSR.


Mark Kramer, “The Role of the CPSU International Department in Soviet Foreign Relations and National Security Policy,” Soviet Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3 (July 1990), pp. 429-446; and Roy Godson and Richard H. Shultz, “Active Measures in Soviet Strategy,” in Robbin Frederick Laird and Erik P. Hoffmann, eds., Soviet Foreign Policy in a Changing World (Hawthorne, NY: Aldine Transactions, 1986), p. 208.


Jerry F. Hough, Democratization and Revolution in the USSR, 1985–91 (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1997), pp. 178–182.


Alexander Jakowlew, Die Abgründe meines Jahrhunderts: Eine Autobiographie, trans. by Friedrich Hitzer (Leipzig: Faber & Faber, 2003), p. 462.


Hannes Adomeit, Imperial Overstretch: Germany in Soviet Policy from Stalin to Gorbachev (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2014), p. 415; and Snyder, Warriors of Disinformation, pp. 115–116.


Fletcher Schoen and Christopher J. Lamb, “Deception, Disinformation, and Strategic Communications: How One Interagency Group Made a Major Difference,” Strategic Perspectives 11 (Washington, DC: National Defense University, June 2012), pp. 30–42.


Douglas Selvage, “Operation Synonym: Soviet-Bloc Active Measures and the Helsinki Process, 1976–1983,” in Władysław Bułhak and Thomas Wegener Friis, eds., Need to Know: Eastern and Western Perspectives (Odense: University of Southern Denmark Press, 2014), p. 92.


Schoen and Lamb, “Deception, Disinformation, and Strategic Communications,” pp. 46–48; and Dennis Kux, “Soviet Active Measures and Disinformation: Overview and Assessment,” Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College, Vol. XV, No. 4 (January 1985), pp. 26–27.


Thomas Boghardt, “Operation INFEKTION: Soviet Bloc Intelligence and Its AIDS Disinformation Campaign,” Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 53, No. 4 (2009), p. 15.


See, for example, Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” p. 117 n. 203; I. Petrov, “Dirizheri izvestni” [Known Conductors], Literaturnaya gazeta (LG), 2 December 1986; and Philip Williams, “Soviet Disinformation on AIDS Alarms U.S.,” Ottawa Citizen, 20 December 1986, p. B16.


Robert Gillette, “Soviets Suggest Experiment Leaks in U.S. Created the AIDS Epidemic,” Los Angeles Times, 9 August 1987, p. D15.


Erhard Geissler and Robert Hunt Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared: Was the HIV-from-Fort-Detrick Myth a Stasi Success?” Politics and the Life Sciences, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Fall 2013), p. 26. For the cartoon, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” p. 119.


Vladislav Zubok, “Why Did the Cold War End in 1989? Explanations of ‘The Turn,’” in Odd Arne Westad, ed., Reviewing the Cold War: Approaches, Interpretations, Theory (London: F. Cass, 2000), p. 349.


“Meeting Minutes of the Politburo of the CC CPSU, Regarding the Aftermath of the Reykjavik US-Soviet Summit,” 22 October 1986, in Wilson Center Digital Archive, http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/115984.




Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 26.


Theses for the presentation by A. N. Yakovlev to the CPSU Politburo regarding the duties of foreign propaganda, 6 January 1987, in Aleksandr Yakovlev, Perestroĭka, 1985–1991: Neizdannoe, maloizvestnoe, zabytoe [Perestroika, 1985–1991: Unpublished, little known, forgotten] (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyĭ fond “Demokratiiya,” 2008), p. 72.


Ibid., pp. 70–71.


Ibid., p. 72.


Wick and Yakovlev mainly discussed broadcasting and U.S.-Soviet exchanges. Snyder, Warriors of Disinformation, pp. 169–174; and Telegram 8961 from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to the Department of State, 9 June 1987, pp. 2–3, in U.S. Department of State, Freedom of Information Act Virtual Reading Room.


Telegram 8961, 9 June 1987; and Snyder, Warriors of Disinformation, pp. 115–116.


Memorandum of Conversation, 23 October 1987, in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1981–1988, Vol. VI, p. 469 (hereinafter referred to as FRUS, with appropriate year and volume numbers). See also William Taubman, Gorbachev: His Life and Times (New York: W. W. Norton, 2017), p. 398. Gorbachev referred to the following AMWG publication: U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS), Soviet Influence Activities: A Report on Active Measures and Propaganda, 1986–1987 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, August 1987).


Norman Kempster and William J. Eaton, “State Dept. Report Angers Soviet Leader: Shultz-Gorbachev Talks Turn Heated,” Los Angeles Times, 24 October 1987. See also Shultz's memoirs: George P. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1993), p. 998.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 27.


Ibid. To Shultz's credit, he does not portray the meeting as a turning point in his memoirs. See Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, p. 998. According to the official State Department transcript from the meeting, Shultz's statement about AIDS disinformation was not as direct as he and the U.S. press portrayed it in October 1987. The official U.S. transcript of the meeting reads: “The Secretary continued that, more recently, Soviet sources had sought to spread rumors that the U.S. had invented AIDS and was trying to spread it. We had thus been glad when Soviet authorities had informed us the campaign would stop. GORBACHEV asked why, in that case, the Secretary was raising the issue.” Memorandum of Conversation, 23 October 1987, p. 470. Shevardnadze had reportedly promised Shultz during their talks in Moscow that the USSR would end the disinformation. See Terry Atlas, “‘Dirty Trick’ File Upsets Soviets: Gorbachev Angered by U.S. Report on Disinformation,” Chicago Tribune, 28 October 1987, p. 3.


The resolution was approved with slight revisions on 24 November 1987. See UN General Assembly (UNGA), “Report of the Economic and Social Council: Prevention and Control of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS),” A/42/L.7, 16 October 1987, in United Nations Digital Library, https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/145033; and UNGA, “Resolution 42/8 of the General Assembly of the United Nations: Prevention and Control of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS),” A/RES 42/8, 24 November 1987, in World Health Organization (WHO), 41st World Health Assembly, “Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of AIDS: Report by the Director General,” p. 42, in WHO Documentation Centre, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/164164/WHA41_5_eng.pdf; emphasis added.


Milton Leitenberg and Raymond A. Zilinskas, The Soviet Biological Weapons Program: A History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), pp. 414–417.


Priem M. S. Gorbachevim Dzhordzha Shultza [George Shultz received by M. S. Gorbachev], Izvestiya, 24 October 1987, p. 1. The article—with the accusation against the United States and the State Department report—was reprinted in the East German party organ Neues Deutschland (ND). See “Michail Gorbatschow empfing den Außenminister der USA,” ND, 24 October 1987, p. 2. This was also the interpretation spread internally within the MfS by the HVA, which had received a copy of the State Department's report from its “legal” residency inside the GDR's embassy in Washington. Note from HVA/VII to the Zentrale Auswertungs- und Informationsgruppe (Central Analysis and Information Group, ZAIG), “Studie des USA-Außenministeriums über aktive Maßnahmen der UdSSR,” 29 November 1987, in Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (BStU), Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), ZAIG, Nr. 6359, pp. 1–2. On the origins of the information, see BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/6, SIRA-TDB 12, SE8708630.


Memorandum of Conversation, 10 December 1987, in FRUS 1981–88, Vol. VI, p. 677.


Snyder, Warriors of Disinformation, pp. 181–182.


L. Sergeev, “Kto dezinformiruet?” Izvestiya, 15 September 1988, p. 4. For the new line, see “TASS's Shishkin Interviewed on US Visit,” Moscow Domestic Service in Russia, 0945 GMT 13.5.1988, in U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), Daily Report, Soviet Union, FBIS-SOV-88-094, 16 May 1988, p. 12.


Sergeev, “Kto dezinformiruet?”; and “Ein Bumerang,” Militärbulletin (Novosti Press Agency), July 1988, p. 4. Both referred to the following article: Charley Shively, “Speaking Out: The CDC-CIA-AIDS Political Alliance,” Gay Community News (Boston), 9 July 1983, p. 5. For more about Shively and the article, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 79–81.


Snyder, Warriors of Disinformation, pp. 115–116.


Ibid., pp. 182–183.


Colonel Dimo Stankov, Deputy Director of the First Main Directorate (FMD) and Director of Division 8 of the FMD of Bulgarian State Security (Durzhavna Sigurnost; DS), “Our Conversations with the Representatives of the AM Service [Service “A”] of the FMD of the KGB Regarding the Situation in Certain Countries and the Tasks for Intelligence in the AM Field,” 19 November 1987, in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 675, pp. 16–17. The conversations took place on 12–16 October 1987 in Sofia.




“SPID: Voprosov bol'she, chem otvetov” [AIDS: More questions than answers], LG, 17 May 1986, p. 15. On this article's role in Moscow's Fort Detrick disinformation thesis, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 89–90.


Dimo Stankov, “Memorandum regarding the Conversations Held with Service “A” of the FMD of the KGB in Moscow from 25–30 October 1988 Regarding Cooperation (Bulgarian), 28 November 1988,” in Tatyana Kiryakova and Nadezhda Angelova, eds., KGB i DS—Br'zki i zavisimosti [KGB and DS (Bulgarian State Security)—Relationships and dependencies], DVD Version (Sofia: CDDAABCSSISBNA, 2010), p. 1,884.


Stankov, “Our Conversations with the Representatives of the AM Service [Service “A”] of the FMD of the KGB,” 19 November 1987, pp. 16–17.


M. Mihov, Director of Division 8 of the FMD of the DS, Memorandum Regarding the Conversations Held with the German Comrades from 9/26 to 9/29/1989, 10 October 1989, in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 691, p. 189.


Lubomír Morbacher, “Aktivní opatření AIDS—Příprava operace čs. rozvědky proti USA s cílem ovlivnit řeckou veřejnost proti americkým vojenským základnám v Řecku” [Active Measures ‘AIDS’—Preparation of an Operation by Czechoslovak Intelligence against the USA to Sway the Greek Public against U.S. Military Bases in Greece], Minulost [The Past] (Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes), 16 December 2019, https://www.minulost.cz/cs/aktivne-opatrenie-aids.


See Memorandum from Colonel Václav Stárek, Director, Division 36 of the First Directorate of the State Security Service, Federal Ministry of the Interior (Federální Ministerstvo Vnitra, FMV), ČSSR, Conclusions from the DOS and USIA Reports “on Soviet Active Measures,” 15 July 1988, in Archiv Bezpečnostních Složek (ABS), Prague, Archival Signature (Archivní číslo, A. č.) 81206/131, pp. 40–44; Pavel Žáček, “Za mír a socialismus až do trpkého konce II: Dokumenty o spolupráci československé a sovětské rozvědky v letech 1987–1989” [For Peace and Socialism until the Bitter End II: Documents on cooperation between Czechoslovak and Soviet intelligence in 1987–1989], Securitas Imperii, Vol. 31 (February 2017), p. 190; and U.S. DOS, Soviet Influence Activities, 1986–1987, p. 40.


U.S. DOS, Soviet Influence Activities, 1986–1987, p. 40.




Robert Gillette, “AIDS: A GLOBAL ASSESSMENT: Soviets Suggest Experiment Leaks in U.S. Created the AIDS Epidemic,” Los Angeles Times, 9 August 1987, p. 5.


See USIA, “Soviet Active Measures in the Era of Glasnost: A Report to Congress by the United States Information Agency,” March 1988, http://insidethecoldwar.org/sites/default/files/documents/Soviet%20Active%20Measures%20in%20the%20Era%20of%20Glasnot%20March%201988.pdf. Also see the U.S. government press release, “Soviets Continue Disinformation Program Says USIA (Article on Romerstein Briefing),” n.d. (23 March 1988), in Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes (PA/AA), Bestand Ministerium für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten (Bestand MfAA), ZR 1202/13, pp. 42–43.


Dimo Stankov, Memorandum Regarding the Conversations Held with Service “A” of the FMD of the KGB in Moscow from 25 to 28 October 1988 about Cooperation with Division 8 of the FMD of the DS, 10 November 1988, in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 681, p. 118.


Ibid. Valentin Pokrovskii was a prominent epidemiologist and the president of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences.


Leitenberg and Zilinskas, The Soviet Biological Weapons Program, pp. 416–417.


The KGB officers suggested, for example, spreading a new conspiracy theory (one derived from the slanderous accusations of an “Islamic sect” in the United States) that Jewish doctors were intentionally infecting African-American children with contaminated blood. See Dimo Stankov, Memorandum Regarding the Conversations Held with Service “A,” p. 118. Regarding the accusation, which came from the “health minister” of the Nation of Islam in the United States, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” p. 93.


See Pfeifer's comments at the meeting with the Bulgarians: Mihov, Memorandum Regarding the Conversations Held with the German Comrades from 9/26 to 9/29/1989, p. 188. The week before the meeting with the Bulgarians, Ivanov had visited East Berlin with a delegation for talks with the director of HVA/X, Rolf Wagenbreth. See Wagenbreth, Note to the Director of Division X of the MfS, Willi Damm, 24 August 1989, in BStU, MfS, Abteilung X, Nr. 1124, p. 65. Apparently this was the meeting at which HVA/X was notified about the KGB's decision to drop its AIDS disinformation efforts.


On this point, see, for example, Michael F. Scholz, “Active Measures and Disinformation as Part of East Germany's Propaganda War, 1953–1972,” in Thomas Wegener Friis, Kristie Macrakis, and Helmut Müller-Enbergs, eds., East German Foreign Intelligence: Myth, Reality, and Controversy (New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 113–133; and Douglas Selvage and Walter Süß, Staatssicherheit und KSZE-Prozess: MfS zwischen SED und KGB (1972–1989) (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019), pp. 149–154, 273–282, 348–350, 435–447, 450–455.


The Czechoslovak Communist Party's main newspaper, Rudé Právo, in keeping with Moscow's example, had published a summary of the Sunday Express article as reported in the Irish press. When U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia Julian Niemczyk officially protested in a letter to the editor, the party organ responded that it was merely repeating claims in the Irish press and had even used a question mark in the article's title: “AIDS Virus the Work of the Pentagon?” See “On a Report That Caused Displeasure,” Rudé Právo, 21 November 1986, p. 7, as cited in Foreign Broadcast Information Service, FBIS Daily Report, Eastern Europe, FBIS-EEU-86-227, 25 November 1986, p. D2.


Memorandum from Segal to Axen, 26 August 1986, in Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMO-BA), DY 30/26444, p. 1. In a recent publication, Geissler and Sprinkle ignore Axen's responsibilities for the GDR's foreign propaganda, which were comparable to Ponomarev's in the USSR. Geissler and Sprinkle write: “Among his [Axen's] main interests was disarmament and, thus, maintenance of relations with the United States and enforcement of the BWC [biological weapons convention].” Erhard Geissler and Robert Hunt Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right about the Stasi? AIDS Disinformation and ‘Disinformation Squared’ after Five Years,” Politics and the Life Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 1 (January 2019), p. 41. Although Axen arguably sought to improve the GDR's relations with the United States, his top priority remained good relations with the Soviet Union, the country on which East Germany depended for its very existence. The GDR continued to coordinate its foreign propaganda with the Soviet Union until the Communist regime's collapse in late 1989. On Axen's responsibilities as the SED's highest official overseeing foreign propaganda, see Ingrid Muth, Die DDR-Außenpolitik 1949–1972: Inhalte, Strukturen, Mechanismen, 2nd Ed. (Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag, 2001), pp. 59, 66–67.


Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 100–101.


Memorandum from Segal to Axen, 26 August 1986, p. 1.


Oral report from “Nils” (alias Ronald Dehmlow) to the MfS, 10 September 1986, in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. I, p. 138.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” pp. 43–44.


K. Seidel, Abt. Gesundheitspolitik, Aktennotiz über ein Gespräch mit Genossen Prof. Jakob Segal am 17.9.1986, in SAPMO-BA, DY 30/26444.


Although no corresponding record of a conversation between Seidel and Stasi officers before 16 September has turned up, there is no reason to doubt a priori that such a conversation did take place. Geissler and Sprinkle have suggested in this case—once again—that absence of evidence in the archives (i.e., of a conversation between Seidel and Stasi officers) is evidence of absence (i.e., the non-existence of such a conversation). See Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 41; and Erhard Geißler, “Es gab keine AIDS-Verschwörung des MfS mit den Segals,” Zeitschrift des Forschungsverbundes SED-Staat, Vol. 37 (2015), p. 106. On the extensive use of argumentum ad ignorantiam (i.e., “absence of evidence is evidence of absence”) by Geissler and Sprinkle, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 77, 106–108, 108 n. 158, 122–123. Of course, Mutz's comments to the Bulgarians are important evidence in their own right.


To the extent that other divisions of the Stasi had matters of interest to be discussed with Seidel, Jaekel would have represented these interests. See, for example, the following exchanges between Stasi foreign intelligence and Jaekel regarding a problem with an IM working for him in an area influenced by Seidel: Abteilung XV/1, BV Potsdam, “Bericht zum Stand der operative Bearbeitung des Vorganges ‘Lux’ und ‘Turm,’” 28 January 1981, and Jaekel, HA XX/1, Vermerk, 9 March 1983, both in BStU, MfS, HA XX, Nr. 41, pp. 195–201. The same file includes notes from Jaekel's regular meetings with Seidel.


See Sonja Süß, Politisch mißbraucht? Psychiatrie und Staatssicherheit in der DDR (Berlin: Ch. Links, 1998), pp. 182, 584–589, 593–600, 603–611, 615–619, 628–632.


Memorandum from HA XX/1, 11 March 1987, in BStU, MfS, AOP 26320/91, Beifügung, Bd. 20, p. 19.


Kurt Hager, Hausmitteilung an Genossen Seidel, 25 September 1986, in SAPMO-BA, DY 30/26444.


Geissler and Sprinkle state incorrectly that Mielke was merely a member of the Council of Ministers at this time. Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” p. 41. In fact, Mielke had become a candidate member of the Politbüro in 1971 and a full member in 1976. See Wilfriede Otto, Erich Mielke: Biographie (Berlin: Karl Dietz, 2000), pp. 352–354. Mielke was at the height of his power within the Politbüro in the second half of the 1980s. Other Politbüro members complained privately that Honecker made his decisions mainly in coordination with Mielke and Economics Secretary Günter Mittag. See Heike Amos, Die SED-Deutschlandpolitik 1961 bis 1989: Ziele, Aktivitäten und Konflikte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), pp. 28, 358; and Handschriftliche Aufzeichnung von Werner Krolikowski, 16 January 1990, in Peter Przybylski, Tatort Politbüro: Die Akte Honecker (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1992), p. 335.


Hager, Hausmitteilung an Genossen Seidel, 25 September 1986.


W. Bickerich and Ulrich Schwarz, “Mit Strafen kann man nichts verhindern: Der Ostberliner Dermatologe Niels Sönnichsen im Interview über Aids in der DDR,” Der Spiegel, 9 March 1987, p. 40.


Memorandum from HA XX/1, 11 March 1987.


For a more detailed discussion, see Selvage and Nehring, AIDS-Verschwörung, pp. 84–89. See also Geißler, “‘Lieber AIDS,’” p. 106; and Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 67.


Jaekel wrote, for example, in a note attached to his record of the meeting with Segal, addressed to another division of HA XX, “I am interested in further information regarding developments in this area [i.e., potential publications on the origins of AIDS] so that the necessary influence can be exercised.” See BStU, MfS, AOP 26320/91, Beifügung, Bd. 20, p. 18.


Segal to the Deputy Minister of Health of the GDR, Ulrich Schneidewind, 3 October 1987, in BStU, MfS, Hauptabteilung (HA) XX, Nr. 7101, p. 319.


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” pp. 118–119.


IM “Maria,” HA XX/9, Talk with Dr. Lilly Segal on 4/9/1987, 14 April 1987, in BStU, MfS, AOP 26320/91, Beifügung, Bd. 20, p. 33.


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” pp. 85–89. The objections were reported in Office (Referat) 3 of Division XX (XX/3) of the District Administration for State Security in Berlin, responsible for “securing” the Humboldt University of Berlin, including the Charité’s medical faculty, who played a leading role in the GDR's AIDS research. This office reported on the complaints made against Segal and his thesis by the GDR's leading researchers, including their concerns about the potential damage to the GDR's international scientific reputation. Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” pp. 68–69. Regarding the role of the Stasi's Division XX/3 at Humboldt University and the Charité, see Rainer Eckert, “Die Berliner Humboldt-Universität und das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit,” Deutschland Archiv, Vol. 26, No. 7 (1993), pp. 772–774.


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” p. 89. Geissler confirmed in 2003 that Segal was never “whistled back” (zurückgepfiffen) by the East German party from spreading his version of the Fort Detrick thesis. Erhard Geissler, Anthrax und das Versagen der Geheimdienste (Berlin: Kai Homilius Verlag, 2003), p. 250.


Major Jahnke, HA XX/9, “Abschrift (IM-Bericht ‘Maria’ v. 10.4.1987),” 15 April 1987, in BStU, MfS, AOP 26320/91, Beifügung, Bd. 20, p. 30.


Information zu Aktivitäten von USA-Dienststellen im Zusammenhang mit einer wissenschaftlichen Arbeit über den Ursprung des AIDS, n.d., in BStU, MfS, HA II, Nr. 22082, p. 36. Koenig confirmed his visit in an e-mail exchange with me on 28 October 2013. At the time, he was the U.S. ambassador to Cyprus.


Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” p. 101; and Information zu Aktivitäten von USA-Dienststellen im Zusammenhang mit einer wissenschaftlichen Arbeit über den Ursprung des AIDS, n.d., p. 36, in BStU, MfS, HA II, Nr. 22082. HVA/SWT/XIII/5 had forwarded the report via the HVA's foreign counterintelligence division, HVA/IX, to HA II/3, responsible for domestic counterintelligence against the United States, including the U.S. embassy in East Berlin and its diplomats, on 16–17 October 1986. See BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/5, SIRA-TDB 14, SE8607428 and SE8607429. HVA/SWT/XIII had been “securing” the Segals since September 1985 at the earliest or May 1986 at the latest. For details, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 98–99.


Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 98–99.


L. Nikolov, Director of Department in Division 8 of the FMD of the DS, “Information Regarding the Working Consultations Held with the German Comrades from 16 to 19 September in Sofia,” 7 October 1986, in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 670, p. 104. Mutz claimed incorrectly, however, that Koenig had not received a copy of Segal's study. Although he may have lied to his Bulgarian comrades due to potential embarrassment, a more likely explanation is that he had received incomplete information or had misunderstood it. Originally, the director of the office (HVA/X/1) overseeing Operation Denver, Hans Pfeifer, was supposed to accompany Mutz to Sofia, but he had been unable to attend the meeting as a result of other “operational tasks.” Telegram Nr. 1005/86 from the MfS in Berlin to the DS in Sofia, 12 September 1986, in BStU, MfS, Abt. X, Nr. 2547, p. 234. Mutz likely garbled some details that his subordinate, Pfeifer, would have otherwise presented.


Senior Lieutenant Meyer, HA II/3, “Memorandum of Agreement,” 10 October 1986, in BStU, MfS, HA II, Nr. 22082, p. 26.






“Ergänzung zur Information über Aktivitäten von US-Dienststellen im Zusammenhang mit einer wissenschaftlichen Arbeit über den Ursprung des AIDS,” n.d., in BStU, MfS, HA II, Nr. 22082, p. 48. In an undated letter to journalist Erich Friedländer in Dar es Salaam, Lilli Segal also described the U.S. diplomats as “highly cultivated and well-informed.” The letter is in Bundesarchiv Berlin (BAB), NY 4516 (Nachlass Jakob und Lilli Segal), Karton (K.) 12, “AIDS+Nazi-Verbrechen, DDR.” Regarding Friedländer, the HVA's “Hugo Lang,” see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 116–117.


Alfred Lee, “AIDS ‘Made in Lab’ Shock,” Sunday Express, 26 October 1986, p. 1.


Gregory W. Sandford, telephone interview, 18 June 2013; and email correspondence from John Monroe Koenig to Douglas Selvage, 28 October 2013.


Memorandum from Colonel Oldenburg, Deputy Director, HVA IX/C, to Lieutenant Colonel Häseler, 23 October 1986, with attachment, “Information Regarding the Activities of U.S. Government Institutions with Regard to a Scientific Work on the Origin of AIDS,” n.d., in BStU, MfS, HA II, Nr. 22082, p. 51; and Report on Being Contacted by Employees of the U.S. Embassy in the GDR, n.d., in BStU, MfS, HA II, Nr. 22082, pp. 39–40. Regarding the forwarding of both reports from HVA/SWT/XIII/5 via HVA/IX, see BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/5, SIRA-TDB 14, SE8607428 and SE8607429.


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” pp. 66–68. Regarding SVG “Wind,” see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 98–99.


For example, van de Sand continued to monitor the Segals’ incoming and outgoing mail. See the documents pertaining to the Segals in BStU, AR 2, M/01-Bln-Ost.


The Austrian magazine Basta demonstrated how Heym's support for Segal's thesis, along with the SED's ban on its domestic publication, could provide the East German regime with plausible deniability while simultaneously contributing to the willingness of certain Western publications to publish Segal's views. The magazine wrote in its introduction to an interview with Jakob Segal regarding his AIDS thesis, “[N]aturally, one could dismiss his theses as mere communist propaganda against U.S. defense measures, as a mystification, whose wire-pullers are sitting in Moscow—if Segal were not de facto hushed up [totgeschwiegen] in the GDR press … and had he not formulated [sic] his theory with the help of the ostracized East German dissident Stefan Heym.” “Der AIDS-Krimi,” Basta, October 1988. The clipping, without page numbers, can be found in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13.


Regarding Heym, see Peter Hutchinson, Stefan Heym: Perpetual Dissident (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992).


HA XX/7, “Information Regarding the Current Behavior of Stefan Heym,” 30 October 1987, in BStU, MfS, AOP 26320/91, Bd. 20, pp. 123–124.


Jan Feddersen and Wolfgang Gast, “Wie das Aids-Virus nach Fort Detrick kam,” Tageszeitung (taz), 9 January 2010, pp. 16–17.




Namely, Division 9 of Main Division XX (Hauptabteilung XX) of the Stasi, abbreviated as “HA XX/9.” HA XX/9 was responsible for combatting “political underground activity” in the GDR, especially—but not only—in cultural and artistic circles.


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” p. 77.


Note from Colonel Jesse, Director, HVA/SWT/XIII, to the Director of HA XX/9, 12 November 1986, in BStU, AOP 26320/91, Bd. 19, p. 203. Jesse included as an attachment to the note a report of a meeting between Heym and the Segals at the latter's apartment on 9 November 1986 (p. 204). The HVA's database for incoming and outgoing information indicates the report came from “Diagnosis”—HVA/SWT's codename for one or both of the Segals. See BStU, MfS, HVA/MD/5, SIRA-TDB 14, SE8707031.


HA XX, “Information about the Planned Publication of an Interview of the Writer Stefan Heym with Prof. Dr. Segal Regarding the Origins of the AIDS Virus,” 25 November 1986, in BStU, MfS, HA XX/AKG, Nr. 6443, pp. 113–114.


For further discussion of the role of HVA/SWT/XIII/5 and van de Sand, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 98–100; and, more extensively, Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” pp. 61–68, 89–95. In a recent publication, Geissler and Sprinkle simply ignore our documentation of HVA/SWT's extensive efforts to assist the Segals with their research—likely without their knowledge—and promote their efforts to spread their thesis abroad in apparent cooperation with HVA/X. In a massive understatement, they simply assert, “HV A/SWT/XIII was responsible for gathering scientific and technical information, and Jakob and Lilli Segal had been mentioned there.” Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” p. 40.


Feddersen and Gast, “Wie das Aids-Virus nach Fort Detrick kam.”


Ibid.; Nölte, Joachim, in BStU, AR 2, HA KuSch/AKG-KA HM; Nölte, Joachim, Reg.-Nr. XV 2553/80, in BStU, Archiv (AR) 2, Rosenholz (RoHo) F16; Offizier im besonderen Einsatz (OibE) “Tell,” Reg.-Nr. XV 2553/80, in BStU, AR 2, RoHo F22; and Besoldungsstammkarte, Reg.-Nr. XV 2553/80, in BStU, AR 2, Abt. Fin./Abt. 6-BSK OibE.


See Helmut Müller-Enbergs, “Hauptverwaltung A (HV A): Aufgaben—Strukturen—Quellen,” in MfS-Handbuch (Berlin: BStU, 2011), pp. 176–177.


Selvage and Süß, Staatssicherheit und KSZE-Prozess, pp. 186–187.


Widmann apparently informed Nölte in a subsequent meeting on 7 July 1987 about his success in obtaining the interview's publication. Wolfgang Gast, “Der Auftrag hieß Desinformation,” taz, 30 December 1992, p. 12.


Widmann, in contrast to his comments to journalists in 2010, has asserted in an exchange with Geissler in 2017 that he no longer remembers how he received the original tip about Heym's interview. Presumably, Widmann would have remembered better in 2010 what had happened in 1987 than in 2017, but Geissler and Sprinkle view the matter differently. They also conclude on their own that Widmann met with Nölte only once, in March 1987, after the publication of the Heym interview and had mistakenly predated this meeting in the 2010 interview. See Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” p. 40. More likely, Widmann met with Nölte at least twice—and probably on several occasions. To conduct interviews or other planned research in the GDR, Western journalists normally had to obtain permission from the division of the foreign ministry where Nölte worked undercover for HVA/X/4. On the role of this office, as well as the undercover officers of HVA/X/4 who worked there, see Selvage and Süß, Staatssicherheit und KSZE-Prozess, pp. 186–187.


Feddersen and Gast, “Wie das Aids-Virus nach Fort Detrick kam.”


“AIDS: Man-Made in USA,” taz, 18 February 1987, pp. 11–13.


Feddersen and Gast, “Wie das Aids-Virus nach Fort Detrick kam.”


Kuno Kruse, ed., AIDS: Erreger aus dem Genlabor? (Berlin: Simon & Leutner, 1987).


Kruse, “Vorwort,” in Kruse, ed., AIDS, p. 6.


See, for example, Günter Amendt, “Jetzt ist alles Gras aufgefressen,” in Volkmar Sigusch and Hermann L. Gremliza, eds., Operation AIDS: Das Geschäft mit der Angst: Sexualforscher geben Auskunft, Konkret Sexualität No. 7 (Hamburg: n. pub., 1986), p. 24.


Memorandum in German (apparently from HVA/X), 29 June 1987, in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 676, pp. 46–47.


See the reported comments of Lilli Segal in Major Jahnke, HA XX/9, “Abschrift (IM-Bericht “Maria” vom 10.4.1987),” 15 April 1987, in BStU, MfS, AOP 26320/91, Beifügung, Bd. 20, p. 33–37.


HA XX/7, “Information zum derzeitigen Verhalten von Stefan Heym,” 30 October 1987, in BStU, MfS, AOP 26320/91, Bd. 20, pp. 123–124.


Feddersen and Gast, “Wie das AIDS-Virus nach Fort Detrick kam.”


After the initial article's publication, the newspaper followed up by trumpeting the resonance it had found throughout the world. Mark Elsdon-Dew, “How Exclusive AIDS Story Shook the World,” Sunday Express (London), 2 November 1986, p. 3.


Statement by Kuno Kruse at the presentation and public discussion of the book, AIDS-Verschwörung, on 7 May 2015 at the Schwules Museum in Berlin.


Feddersen and Gast, “Wie das AIDS-Virus nach Fort Detrick kam.”


Lilli Segal to Prof. Benno Müller-Hill, 23 August 1991.


Note from Colonel Rolf Wagenbreth, Director of HVA/X, to the Director of Division X of the MfS, Major General Willi Damm, 12 February 1987, in BStU, MfS, Abt. X, Nr. 1123, p. 36. Pfeifer traveled under his alias, “Hans Glaser.” See “Glaser, Hans,” Reg.-Nr. XV 1093/62, in BStU, MfS, RoHo F16.


Prof. Dr. Jakob Segal und Dr. Lilli Segal, Bericht über die Reise nach Moskau, 23.–27.2.1987, n.d., in BStU, MfS, Bezirksverwaltung (BV) Berlin, Abt. XX, Nr. 3822, pp. 16–18.


For example, an entire section of the State Department report that had angered Gorbachev bore the title “What Has Dr. Viktor Zhdanov Said?” It contained comments by the Soviet scientist about the natural origins of AIDS, which were used in rebutting the Segals’ assertions. U.S. DOS, Soviet Influence Activities, 1986–1987, p. 37.


Segal and Segal, Bericht über die Reise nach Moskau, n.d., p. 17.


Oltn. Theisinger, HA VII/7, “Treffbericht: IMS ‘Nils,’” 27 August 1987, in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. I, pp. 307–308.


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” pp. 50–52, 64–66.


Oltn. Theisinger, HA VII/7, “Treffbericht: IMS ‘Nils,’” 10 October 1986, in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. I, pp. 143–144; and Eintrag 1974/86, Posteingangsbuch des HA VII/7, 29 August 1986, in BStU, MfS, HA VII, Bd. 6163, n.p.


Theisinger, HA VII/7, “Treffbericht: IMS ‘Nils,’” 27 August 1987, pp. 307–308. Thielemann also requested that Dehmlow prepare a counterargument against his shared position with Segal that the AIDS virus arose from genetic engineering. Ibid. Whether the ultimate goal in this regard was scientific intelligence, preparation of HVA/X for attacks by opponents of Segal's thesis, or both, remains unclear.


See BStU, AR 2, RoHo, F16 and F22, Reg.-Nr. XV 1229/77, IMS “Jörg.”


“Nils,” “Erste kurze Bemerkungen zu [‘Jörg’],” 10 November 1987, in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. 2, pp. 6–7. The relevant information from the report was transmitted to HVA/SWT/XIII by Dehmlow's case officer. See Theisinger, “Information zum [‘Jörg’], Auftrag HVA,” 12 November 1987, in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. 2, p. 5.


Theisinger, “Information zum [‘Jörg’], Auftrag HVA.” This research assistant was most likely contact person “Bianca.” Her codename first appeared in the HVA's database on 9 February 1988 under security dossier (Sicherungsvorgang) “Wind”—that is, the same dossier related to genetic engineering and AIDS research in which van de Sand had originally registered the Segals. See BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/6, SIRA-TDB 12, SE8861596. Van de Sand credited “Bianca” with the delivery of U.S. government reports related to the ongoing debates in the United States over genetic engineering and biological warfare in which Rifkin's foundation was involved. See, for example, the entry credited to “Bianca” for “Biological Aerosol Test Facility,” attributed to the U.S. Department of the Army, in BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/6, SIRA-TDB 12, SE8807521. The reference is clearly to the following publication: U.S. Department of the Army, Biological Aerosol Test Facility: Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Washington: U.S. Department of the Army, January 1988). Rifkin's FET had responded to this report with its petition. See Petition from Jeremy Rifkin, Foundation of Economic Trends, to U.S. Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, 10 February 1988, Attachment TE-4, in Dynamac Corporation: Environmental Services, Final Environmental Impact Statement: Life Sciences Test Facilities, Dugway Proving Ground, Vol. 3, Public Comments (Dugway, UT: Department of the Army, U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, March 1992), pp. 135–137. Such materials would naturally have been of use to both HVA/X and the Segals. In November 1988, van de Sand upgraded “Bianca” from a contact person to a prospective unofficial collaborator. See BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/6, SIRA-TDB 21, ZV8815074. For the other materials provided by “Bianca,” see BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/3, SIRA-TDB 11: SE8804673, SE8804674, SE8804675, SE8808066, SE8808880, SE8809393, SE8809394, SE8861596, SE8962192.


“Nils,” “Erste kurze Bemerkungen,” 10 November 1987, p. 6.


Theisinger, HA VII/7, “Treffbericht, IMS ‘Nils,’” 7 January 1987, in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. I, pp. 190–191; and Handwritten note from “Nils,” n.d., in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. I, pp. 192–193.


Dehmlow's control officer had stressed during their meeting with Thielemann from HVA/SWT in August 1987 that Dehmlow's priority should be “counterintelligence work”—namely, spying and reporting on developments at the hospital—not the various requests from HVA/SWT. See Theisinger, HA VII/7, “Treffbericht, IMS ‘Nils,’” 27 August 1987, p. 308.


Theisinger, “Treffbericht IMS ‘Nils,’” 3 March 1988, in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. 2, p. 48. In 1986, Eberhard Jaekel, the Stasi officer from HA XX/1 who had been assisting the HVA in coordinating with SED Secretary Seidel, successfully proposed that the Stasi honor Schneidewind with a gold medal from the East German People's Army for his 60th birthday. Schneidewind, Jaekel had written, “feels bound as closely as possible to the MfS. Since 1963, he has unfailingly supported the operations tasks and interests of the MfS in various state leadership roles in the Ministry of Health.” Jaekel, HA XX/1, “Vorschlag zur Auszeichnung des Gen. Prof. Dr. SCHNEIDEWIND, Ulrich anläßlich seines 60. Geburtstages am 17.06.1986,” 12 May 1986, in BStU, MfS, AP 40930/92, p. 52. In January 1987, Dehmlow presented his control officer with a proposal for a research center for “biophysical chemistry” to be established at the hospital. See “Vorlage: Konzeption für Forschungsstelle für medizinische Biophysikochemie,” n.d., in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. I, pp. 224–233.


Jakob Segal wrote to a professor in Frankfurt am Main at the end of May 1988: “A ‘Research Center for Medical-Biophysical Chemistry’ was created for us at the Ministry of Health. There, I am the scientific director … , [and] my friend and collaborator for many years, Ronald Dehmlow, will be the state director with all responsibilities for administration, which will completely relieve me from such things, and my wife will be responsible for scientific documentation. Generous funding has been approved for co-workers, facilities and equipment.” See the letter in SAPMO-BA, NY 4516, K. 13. See also Lilli Segal to a friend, 13 August 1988, in SAPMO-BA, NY 4516, K. 12. Lilli Segal credited the center's establishment to her and Jakob's “partisan methods” of struggle within the academic world. See Charlotte Böhm, “Wir bleiben auf den Barrikaden,” taz, 7 January 1989, p. 9.


On Segal's UVI research, see “Vorlage: Konzeption für Forschungsstelle für medizinische Biophysikochemie,” n.d. In 1990, Segal and Dehmlow published the meager results of that research. Jakob Segal and Ronald Dehmlow, “Zellphysiologische Grundlagen der Wirkung UV-bestrahlten Blutes,” in Jakob Segal and Gunther Seng, eds., Methoden der UV-Bestrahlung von Blut—HOT und UVB (Stuttgart: Hippokrates Verlag, 1990), p. 48. For the Segals, (alternative) treatment of HIV/AIDS could not be separated from their thesis of the virus's origins. In August 1988, Lilli Segal wrote to a friend regarding her and Jakob's new positions at the “research center”: “It has to do with working on the NATURE of the AIDS virus in the hope of finding better methods of combatting it.” Lilli Segal to a friend, 13 August 1988.


See Theisinger, “Treffbericht: IMS ‘Nils,’” 3 March 1988, p. 48; Theisinger, HA VII/7, “Beschluss: Entarchivierung wegen Übergabe,” 21 April 1988, in BStU, MfS, AIM 4835/88, Bd. 2, p. 75; and the entry for IM “Nils,” Reg.-Nr. XV 2987/86, in BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/6, SIRA-TDB 21, ZV8815425.


Lilli Segal to Benno Müller-Hill, 11 July 1992, in Archiv der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (ABBAW), Nachlass (NL) Benno Müller-Hill, Nr. 88, Segal 20.


See the non-paper from the Government of the GDR, n.d., in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, p. 50; and “Auszug ‘AIDS’ aus [dem] Gespräch Gen. Dr. Krolikowski-Ridgway,“ 24 July 1987, in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, p. 52.


Ian Johnson, “German Scientist Couple Presses Theory That AIDS Was Created at Fort Detrick,” Baltimore Sun, 21 February 1992, p. 2A; and Lilli Segal, “AIDS ein Laborprodukt?” taz, 25 January 1993, p. 19.


Telegram 3415 from Francis J. Meehan, U.S. Ambassador to the GDR in East Berlin, to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State William Bodde, Jr., 24 August 1987, pp. 8–9, in U.S. DOS FOIA Website, Case No. F-2014-23141, Doc No. C05838563.




Telegram 5424 from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin to Department of State, 30 December 1987, in U.S. DOS FOIA Website, Case No. F-2014-23141, Doc No. C05838555.


Herbert Barth, Abteilung USA, Notiz für Genossen Oskar Fischer, 5 January 1988, in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, pp. 61–62.


Siegler to Herbert Barth, n.d., in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, p. 80.


Kurt Hager, Hausmitteilung an Genossen Seidel, 25 September 1986, in SAPMO-BA, DY 30/26444.


UNGA, “Report of the Economic and Social Council: Prevention and Control of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS),” A/42/L.7, 16 October 1987, in United Nations Digital Library, https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/145033; and UNGA, “Resolution 42/8 of the General Assembly of the United Nations: Prevention and Control of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS),” A/RES 42/8, 24 November 1987, in World Health Organization (WHO), 41st World Health Assembly, “Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of AIDS: Report by the Director General,” p. 42, in WHO Documentation Centre, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/164164/WHA41_5_eng.pdf.


Dr. Norbert Reemer, Sektorenleiter, Abteilung USA, Notiz, 8 January 1988, in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, p. 63.


See, for example, “USA-Forscher sprach über den Stand der AIDS-Forschung,” ND, 13 January 1988, p. 2; and “Kolloquium zum Stand der AIDS-Forschung,” Berliner Zeitung, 13 January 1988, p. 1. The exception was an interview with Gallo in the newspaper of the East German Christian Democratic Union, a bloc party subordinated to the SED in a “National Front” since 1948. See Marianne Waterstradt, “Das Jahr Fünf nach der Entdeckung: Im Gespräch mit dem amerikanischen AIDS-Spezialisten Prof. Dr. Robert Gallo,” Neue Zeit, 14 January 1988, p. 7.


See the note regarding “Prof. Segal,” n.d., in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, p. 78.


“Der AIDS-Krimi,” Basta, October 1988. Before the Basta interview, Segal had told Polish science-fiction writer Stanisław Lem that Gallo had been “purchased” by the U.S. government to develop the AIDS virus. Jakob Segal to Stanislas [sic] Lem, 18 October 1988, in ABBAW, NL Müller-Hill, Nr. 267.


See the printed, English copy of Greenwald's remarks, which was attached to Siegler, “Vermerk über ein Gespräch von Genossen Dr. Norbert Reemer, Sektor-Leiter in der Abteilung USA, mit dem Rat der USA-Botschaft, John Greenwald, am 28. Februar 1989 im MfAA,” 28 February 1989, in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, p. 116.


Siegler, “Vermerk über ein Gespräch,” 28 February 1989, pp. 110–111.


Note from Barth to Klaus Wagner, Director of Division for the Non-socialist Countries and World Health Organization, GDR Ministry of Health, 20 March 1989, in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, pp. 107–108.


On the GDR's concerns, see, for example, Note regarding “Prof. Segal,” n.d., in PA/AA, Bestand MfAA, ZR 1202/13, p. 78.


Charlotte Böhm, “Wir bleiben auf den Barrikaden,” taz, 7 January 1989, p. 9.


Benjamin B. Fischer, “Deaf, Dumb and Blind: The CIA and East Germany,” in Friis, Macrakis, and Müller-Enbergs, eds., East German Foreign Intelligence, pp. 48–69. To be fair, even though the State Department and AMWG focused almost exclusively on the KGB or Soviet role in their publications, the CIA knew, at least generally, that the other Soviet-bloc intelligence services, including the HVA, were participating in the KGB's active-measures campaigns. See, for example, the statement of Robert M. Gates, Director of Intelligence, CIA, 12 September 1985, in U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on European Affairs, Soviet Active Measures: Hearings, 99th Cong., 1st Sess., (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985), p. 7.


Spravka Nr. 2742. See also Stankov, “Our Conversations with the Representatives of the AM Service [Service “A”] of the FMD of the KGB,” 19 November 1987, pp. 16–17.


Spravka Nr. 2742, p. 126. The “International Convention” refers to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, signed initially by the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain on 10 April 1972 (and subsequently by many other states). For the text of the treaty, see United Nations, The Biological Weapons Convention: An Introduction (Geneva: United Nations Office, June 2017), pp. 25-35.


Susan Wright, “New Designs for Biological Weapons,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 43, No. 1 (January/February 1987), p. 44.


Ibid., pp. 44–46; and Seth Shulman, “Military Spending Spurs Interest in Research on Biological Weapons,” The Scientist, December 1986, https://www.the-scientist.com/news/military-spending-spurs-interest-in-research-on-biological-weapons-64134.


Wright, “New Designs for Biological Weapons,” pp. 45–46; and John H. Cushman, Jr., “Research on Biological Warfare is Challenged,” The New York Times, 3 September 1986, p. A20.


Memorandum from Division 42 to Division 36 of the First Directorate of Czechoslovak State Security with attachments, 22 July 1986, in ABS, a. č. 90083/100, pp. 430–437. The author thanks Matěj Kotalík for his translation of this Czech document into German.


Captain Severný, Division 36 of the First Directorate, “Proposal to Store a Sub-dossier in the Archives of the First Directorate of the State Security Service,” November 1989, in ABS, Prague, a. č. 90083/100, p. 586.


Memorandum from Division 69 to Division 36 of the First Directorate of Czechoslovak State Security, 15 July 1987, in ABS, a. č. 90083/100, pp. 508–512.


Memorandum from the District Division for State Security in Bratislava to Division 36 of the First Directorate, with attachments, 12 June 1987, in ABS, a. č. 90083/100, pp. 515–518. The author thanks Matěj Kotalík for his translation of this document from Slovak into German. “Biomer” was classified as an “ideological collaborator” (ideový spolupracovník; IS) with Czechoslovak State Security—namely, a Czechoslovak citizen who collaborated with state security for ideological reasons. For the official definition, see “Slovník rozvědné terminologie (I. správa SNB) z roku 1988,” 1988, available online at https://www.abscr.cz/data/pdf/pomucky/slovnik1s.pdf, pp. 14–15.


Telegram from the KGB, December 1987, in ABS, a. č. 90083/100, p. 527.


Memorandum from the StB District Division in Bratislava to Division 36 of the First Directorate, 2 June 1987, p. 516, in ABS, a. č. 90083/100; and Severný, FMV, “Proposal to Store a Sub-dossier,” November 1989, p. 586.


Marion Kunze, “Verbrecherische Experimente: Ein Dokumentarbericht,” Horizont, Vol. 21, No. 7, p. 32. The Stasi's division for domestic propaganda was Section 6 of the Zentrale Auswertungs- und Informationsgruppe (Central Analysis and Information Group, ZAIG) of the MfS. In 1985, the former Division for Agitation (Abteilung Agitation) of the MfS had been integrated into the ZAIG as Section 6. See Roger Engelmann und Frank Joestel, “Die Zentrale Auswertungs- und Informationsgruppe,” in MfS-Handbuch (Berlin: BStU, 2009), p. 84.


See handwritten note, n.d., in BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 36422, p. 260; and Marion Schütrumpf-Kunze, “UTOPIE konkret—Wie diese Zeitschrift ihren Namen erhielt,” UTOPIE kreativ, No. 99 (January 1999), p. 81.


An undated, handwritten note about the article, apparently from Schwabe or one of the editorial staff at Horizont reads: “With regard to the issue of genetic engineering, do not make any mention of AIDS!” The note then offers to make an officer from Pfeifer's office at HVA/X available for consultation with the author, if needed. Handwritten note, n.d. Another handwritten note from the editorial staff or ZAIG/5 reads, “Roland, a further coordination of the page proofs with the HVA (Cde. [Comrade] Pfeiffer) [sic] took place in accordance with the wishes of E. O. S. [Ernst Otto Schwabe] on 6/29.” Handwritten note, n.d., in BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 36422, p. 155. A corrected version of the article's page proofs can also be found in BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 36422, pp. 158–166.


Kunze, “Verbrecherische Experimente,” p. 32.


Ibid.; and Rolande Girard, Le Fruit de vos entrailles—Du bébé éprouvette à la guerre bactériologique: Le trafic des fœtus (Paris: Éd. Suger, 1985).


See the translation into German of various passages of Girard's book in BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 36422, pp. 167–228.


Ibid.; and Kunze, “Verbrecherische Experimente,” p. 32. Girard also prepared a documentary film bearing the same title as her book, broadcast by French television (Télévision Française 1) in 1986. A report in the French newspaper Le Monde summarized and repeated the arguments Girard made in the film. Alain Woodrow, “Trafic de fœtus, expériences sur embryons, guerre ethnique … ,” Le Monde, 31 May 1986, p. 9. Girard's 1985 book was possibly an inspiration or forerunner for a new disinformation campaign launched by Moscow in 1987: the “baby parts” campaign. In this new offensive, Moscow accused wealthy individuals in the United States of buying organs for transplant from babies in Latin America who were murdered to this end. See Snyder, Warriors of Disinformation, pp. 117–119; and U.S. DOS, Soviet Influence Activities: A Report on Active Measures and Propaganda, 1987–88 (Washington: Department of State, August 1989), pp. 5–10.


See the letter to Schwabe, 7 July 1988, along with his handwritten comments on it, in BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 36422, p. 154.


Abt. XX/3, BV Berlin des MfS, Bericht, 6 January 1987, in BStU, MfS, BV Berlin, Abt. XX, Nr. 3822, p. 20.


Rolande Girard, Tristes chimères (Paris: Bernhard Grasset, 1987), p. 126.


Ibid., pp. 126, 281–282. I am grateful to Matěj Kotalík for translating this portion of Girard's book from French into German. Regarding Lilli Segal's speculation about Gallo's potential connection to the mafia, see “Report on Being Contacted by Employees of the U.S. Embassy in the GDR,” n.d., in BStU, MfS, HA II, Nr. 22082, pp. 39–40; and IM “Maria,” HA XX/9, Talk with Dr. Lilly Segal on 4/9/1987, 14 April 1987, in BStU, MfS, AOP 26320/91, Beifügung, Bd. 20, p. 33. According to the latter report by an unofficial collaborator, Lilli Segal claimed that Gallo had also visited her and Jakob at some point and had debated with them about their thesis regarding the origins of AIDS. No other record of such a meeting has been found.


Objekt-Vorgang (OVO) “Denver,” Reg.-Nr. XV 3429/86, in BStU, AR 2, MfS, RoHo, F22.


See “List of the Materials Presented by the German Comrades during the Working Meeting in Sofia in 1988,” n.d., in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 691, pp. 109–111.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 92. Already in May 1987, HVA/X had informed its Bulgarian “comrades” about an “active measure” (not “operation”) codenamed “Detrick”: “It is planned to continue the [active] measure regarding AIDS and to direct it in a more targeted fashion against the most aggressive monopoly capitalist circles in the USA. In particular, the blows should be directed against: the planning and preparations by the USA for war with bioweapons, against the USA's military bases abroad, the disturbance of the USA's foreign relations, and the initiation of political conflicts inside the USA.” See Memorandum [in German], 29 June 1987, in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 676, pp. 76–77.


Spravka Nr. 2742.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 92.


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” pp. 109–111; Heimo Claasen and Malte Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende (Frankfurt am Main: mrf, 1989); and Heimo Claasen and Malte Rauch, Monkey Business: AIDS—The Africa Story (Frankfurt am Main: mrf, n.d. [1989]).


Mihov, Memorandum Regarding the Conversations Held with the German Comrades from 9/26 to 9/29/1989, pp. 188–189.


In September 1988, Mutz and Pfeifer had told their Bulgarian colleagues: “It [the film] will be a documentary in the style of English investigative crime films. The ideas will not be presented in an intrusive fashion, with one exception: when it is stated that the Americans are conducting disinformation about the AIDS issue, that they have abused technological interventions [i.e., gene technology].” Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 94.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 0:00–10:46.


Ibid., 0:47–12:23. Geissler and Sprinkle acknowledge that the U.S. researchers were portrayed “unflatteringly.” See Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 74.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 12:24–13:39; and Jacques Pépin, The Origins of AIDS (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 6–7.


Richard C. Chirimuuta and Rosalind J. Chirimuuta, AIDS, Africa and Racism ([Stanhope, UK]: R. C. Chirimuuta, 1987).


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 13:40–16:04.


During Pfeifer's discussion of the film with the Bulgarians in September 1989, the HVA officer claimed that HVA/X had covertly assisted the publication of two “brochures” on the topic of AIDS, including one by Richard Chirimuuta that was entering its second edition—clearly, AIDS, Africa and Racism. Mihov, Memorandum Regarding the Conversations Held with the German Comrades from 9/26 to 9/29/1989, p. 189. The Stasi often sought to provide covert assistance for the production and international distribution of publications—often without the knowledge of the publications’ authors—if those publications supported the organization's active measures. See Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” p. 105.


Spravka Nr. 2742.


Chirimuuta and Chirimuuta, AIDS, Africa and Racism (1987), p. 8.


Richard C. Chirimuuta and Rosalind J. Chirimuuta, AIDS, Africa and Racism, 2nd Enlarged Edition (London: Free Association Books, 1989), pp. 141–164.


Ibid., pp. 164–165. Regarding the Soviet propaganda about U.S. experiments in Africa, see CIA, Directorate of Intelligence, “Worldwide Active Measures and Propaganda Alert, February 1987,” p. 2; and Annex, “AIDS Disinformation Campaign,” attachment to Director of Central Intelligence, “Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) 70/1-87, Sub-Saharan Africa: Implications of the AIDS Pandemic,” 2 June 1987, p. 19, in CIA Freedom of Information Act Website, https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/.


Rosalind and Richard Chirimuuta, “The Racist Origins of the ‘African AIDS Connection,’” Top Secret: International News and Analyses, Winter [19]89/Spring [19]90, p. 10.


David Ogunsade, “African AIDS: Epidemic or Propaganda?” Top Secret, Winter [19]89/Spring [19]90, pp. 3–5.


“Wieder einmal versucht sich Nigeria an der Demokratie,” ND, 23 May 1992, p. 11; and Jakob Segal (or Lilli Segal) to Erich Friedländer, n.d. (end of 1986), in SAPMO-BA, NY 4516, K. 12, “AIDS+Nazi-Verbrechen.”


Prof. Dr. J. Segal and Dr. L. Segal, “AIDS: US-Made Monster (Part Two): AIDS—Its Nature and Its Origins,” Top Secret, Summer/Autumn 1990, pp. 4–13.


See Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 92–93.


USIA, Soviet Active Measures in the “Post–Cold War” Era, 1988–1991: A Report Prepared at the Request of the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations (Washington: USIA, June 1992), p. 37. Regarding the KGB's alleged support for CAIB, see Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (New York: Basic Books, 2001), pp. 206, 232–233.


Hubertus Knabe, Die unterwanderte Republik: Stasi im Westen, 2nd ed. (Munich: Ullstein, 2001), p. 112; Wolfgang Gast, “Geheime Ermittlungen … gegen einen Geheimdienstkritiker,” taz, 23 November 1994, p. 5; and Klaus Marxen and Gerhard Werle, eds., Strafjustiz und DDR-Unrecht: Dokumentation: Bd. 4/1: Spionage (Berlin: De Gruyter Recht, 2004), p. 481.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 16:05–20:06. Regarding the Segals’ straw-man argument, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 113–114.


Mutz and Pfeifer had said that the interview with Jakob Segal would constitute the “high point” of the film. Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 94.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 29:46. The narrator in the English version of the film praises the Segals in a similar fashion: “Even after the collapse of the African hypothesis [sic], hardly any scientist, except the Segals, dared publicly to say the unthinkable: that the AIDS virus did not have a natural, but an artificial or engineered origin.” Claasen and Rauch, Monkey Business, 42:43.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 10:28, 31:43–31:53.


“List of the Materials,” n.d., p. 110; and Jakob Segal, Lilli Segal, and Ronald Dehmlow, “Das AIDS—Seine Natur und sein Ursprung,” Streitbarer Materialismus, No. 11 (July 1988), pp. 7–65.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 94.


Stankov, Memorandum Regarding the Conversations Held with Service “A,” 28 November 1988, p. 118. The Bulgarians summarized the comments of Mutz and Pfeifer regarding the State Department's report: “The Americans, despite their malicious reaction, were not in a position to refute Professor Segal's hypothesis about the origin of the AIDS virus. The measures for the operation are continuing.” Stankov, Memorandum, 10 November 1988, p. 88. HVA/X had already communicated its analysis of the State Department report—that is, its confirmation of the effectiveness of the AIDS disinformation campaign—in February 1988. It had been disappointed, however, with the lack of attention to the spread of AIDS disinformation in Europe. “Perhaps in an effort to downplay the impact of the thesis in the NATO member-states,” HVA/X wrote, “the U.S. foreign ministry did not report in the study much about the reaction of the mass media and political activity in NATO member-states (announcement in the press and radio in Italy and the FRG, publications in journals in the FRG, papers/reports in the FRG).” See Translation from the German [into Bulgarian], 29 February 1988, in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 676, p. 50. The reaction of the active-measures division of Czechoslovakia's State Security (StB) to the State Department report diverged significantly from that of its Soviet and East German counterparts. The head of Division 36 had decided that any future active measures regarding AIDS should use only “new, original theses discrediting the USA for the spread of the disease.” In apparent reference to the Segals’ thesis, the officer in Prague wrote: “It is necessary to avoid active measures that stereotypically repeat already well-known and oft-refuted claims about the origins of this disease.” See Memorandum from Stárek, “Conclusions from the DOS and USIA Reports,” 15 July 1988, p. 41.


Mihov, Memorandum regarding the Talks Held with the German Comrades from 9/26 to 9/29/1989, 10 October 1989, pp. 188–189.




Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 93.




Segal to Seale, 26 October 1986, in SAPMO-BA, NL Segal, vorl. K. 13; and Senior Lieutenant Meyer, HA II/3, Memorandum of Agreement, 10 October 1986, in BStU, MfS, HA II, Nr. 22082, p. 26. The head of HVA/SWT/XIII/5 apparently misspoke. He referred to the lawsuit but suggested that samples of a virus had disappeared from Fort Bragg rather than Fort Detrick.


See, for example, Michael Fischer, “Virus aus Waffenlabor verschwunden,“ taz, 25 September 1986, p. 1; and Michael R. Gordon, “Suit Charges Army Misplaced a Virus,” The New York Times, 24 September 1986, p. A27. Excerpts of the lawsuit can be found in Wright, “New Designs for Biological Weapons,” p. 45.


See, for example, Jakob Segal, “Erwiderung,” in Kruse, ed., AIDS: Erreger aus dem Genlabor?, p. 49. The United States claimed to have curtailed only offensive bioweapons research in 1972, not defensive research, which was still permitted by the 1972 Convention.


See, for example, Jakob Segal and Lilli Segal, “AIDS—Natur und Ursprung,“ in Kruse, ed., AIDS: Erreger aus dem Genlabor? p. 94. For the original accusation, see Norman Black, “Environmentalists Challenge Army on Biological Research Problem,” AP News, 24 September 1986, https://apnews.com/76ddd2806250bfade5ae658e607e0607.


See World Health Organization, “Fact Sheet: Chikungunya,” 12 April 2017, https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/chikungunya.


See, for example, Segal, Segal, and Dehmlow, “Das AIDS,” p. 26; and Jakob Segal and Lilli Segal, AIDS—Die Spur führt ins Pentagon, 2nd Exp. Ed. (Essen: Verlag Neuer Weg, 1990), p. 206.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS---Die Afrikalegende, 32:27–32:50.


Ibid., 32:51–33:18. The data on the film from WDR's internal database speaks of a “long drive-by shot” of Fort Detrick. WDR, “Vollinformation: AIDS—Die Afrikalegende,” 13 May 2013, in database of the Historical Archive of the WDR, Cologne. Geissler and Sprinkle, despite their differing analysis of the film and its contents, concede that the film portrays Fort Detrick “menacingly.” Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 74.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 33:19–33:34. Once again, the claims about the lethality of chikungunya were exaggerated, although not as wildly as the Segals claimed beginning in 1988. World Health Organization, “Fact Sheet: Chikungunya.”


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 33:36–34:53.


Ibid., 35:25–35:47.


Petition from Jeremy Rifkin, pp. 135–137.


U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense, Department of Defense Appropriations for 1970: Hearings, 91st Congress, 2nd Sess., 1969, p. 129.




U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Arms Control, International Security, and Science; Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Military Installations and Facilities; and Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Biological Warfare Testing: Hearing, 100th Congress, 2nd Sess., 3 May 1988, p. 77.


“List of the Materials,” n.d., pp. 109–111.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 93.


House Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, Hearings: Department of Defense Appropriations for 1970, p. 129; emphasis added. See the HVA/X's description of MacArthur's testimony in BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 36422, p. 234; emphasis added. HVA/X applied this description to a photocopy of MacArthur's original testimony in English, along with a German translation. HVA/X had provided the original and translation to the Stasi's domestic propaganda division for use in the Horizont article on “criminal experiments.” See BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 36422, pp. 235–244. Because the article, at HVA/X's insistence, could not refer to the Segals or HIV/AIDS, it merely noted that Rifkin was demanding full disclosure of MacArthur's role in the planned proving ground at Dugway. See Kunze, “Verbrecherische Experimente,” p. 32.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 93.


The German film shows a generally correct English text of MacArthur's testimony on screen, with minor omissions: “Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which [ellipsis omitted] might be refractory to the immunological [omitted: “and therapeutic”] processes upon which we depend.” However, the German translation of the text, read by the film's narrator, omits the word “probably” and, just like HVA internally within the MfS, speaks of a “new infectious microorganism that would destroy human immune defenses” (“einen neuen, ansteckenden Mikroorganismus …, der die menschliche Immunabwehr zerstören würde”). See Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 35:25–35:47; emphasis added.


The narrator states: “In 1969, on June the 9th, the U.S. Department of Defense asked the budget committee of Congress to allocate $10 million for research to produce an artificial virus that could destroy the human immune system.” Claasen and Rauch, Monkey Business, 50:54.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende, 35:54–36:35.


Ibid., 36:38–36:56.


Claasen and Rauch, Monkey Business, 40:59–41:12.


Ibid., 41:12–41:22.


Ibid., 41:40–41:42.


Ibid., 42:01–42:12.


Ibid., 42:31–42:45.


Ibid., 31:05–32:27.


Ibid., 58:23–1:00:17.


Ibid., 1:00:18–1:00:33.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 92; and Spravka Nr. 2742, p. 157.


Leitenberg and Zilinskas, The Soviet Biological Weapons Program, pp. 534, 539–540, 543–545.


Ibid., pp. 581–589, 595–597.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, pp. 92–95. See also “List of the Materials,” n.d., pp. 109–111.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” pp. 31, 74.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 74. See also Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 92.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 92.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 31.


See the letter from Lilli Segal to a professor in Hannoversch Münden, 24 February 1989, in SAPMO-BA, NY 4516, K. 13, n.p. See also “‘AIDS—Die Afrikalegende,’” p. 14.


Charlotte Böhm, “‘Wir bleiben auf den Barrikaden,’” taz, 7 January 1989, p. 9.


Marietta Frühwein, “Vorlauf: Woher kommt AIDS?” taz, 3 January 1989, p. 14.


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” p. 131.


Jenny Kitzinger and David Miller, “‘African AIDS’: Media and Audience Beliefs,” in Peter Aggleton, Peter Davies, and Graham Hart, eds., AIDS: Rights, Risk and Reason (London: Palmer Press, 1992), p. 51 n. 11.


Ibid., p. 51.


Anvers Versi, “Africa and the AIDS Myth,” New African, April 1990, p. 12.


On the Soviet bloc intelligence services’ use of the term “channels,” see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 105–106; and Nehring, “Die Zusammenarbeit der DDR-Auslandsaufklärung,” pp. 157, 387.


The Bulgarians reported their comments: “They [HVA/X] are making every effort to obscure the fact that the GDR stands in relation to the film, although they have had to provide financial assistance.” Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 94.




Mihov, FMD Memorandum Regarding the Talks Held with the German Comrades from 9/26 to 9/29/1989, 10 October 1989, pp. 188–189.


Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende.


Marietta Frühwein, “Vorlauf: Woher kommt AIDS?” taz, 3 January 1989, p. 14; “‘AIDS—Die Afrikalegende,’” taz, 22 May 1989, p. 14; and WDR, “Vollinformation.”


Claasen and Rauch, Monkey Business. The credits at the end of the film note, “A production of mrf, Frankfurt am Main, under contract with Westdeutscher Rundfunk.” Claasen and Rauch, AIDS—Die Afrikalegende.


Mihov, Memorandum Regarding the Talks Held with the German Comrades from 9/26 to 9/29/1989, 10 October 1989, pp. 188–189.


See the cards for the IMA file in BStU, AR 2, RoHo, F16 and Statistikbogen, Reg.-Nr. XV 4735/63. For the Stasi definition of IMA, see Helmut Müller-Enbergs, ed., Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit, Vol. 2, Anleitungen für die Arbeit mit Agenten, Kundschaftern und Spionen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Berlin: Ch. Links, 1998), pp. 41–42.


Stankov, “Memorandum Regarding Our Conversations with the German Comrades on the AM Line,” 10 November 1988, p. 94.


The files are stored in BStU, MfS, HV A/MD/6, SIRA-TDB 21, ZV8237870; and BStU, AR 2, RoHo, F16 u. F22, Reg.-Nr. XV 4735/63.


Letter from Claasen to Douglas Selvage, 27 February 2020.




Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 76.


Selvage and Nehring, AIDS-Verschwörung, p. 76.


Memorandum from Colonel Reuter, HA XX/9, to Lieutenant Colonel Müller, HVA/X, 5 February 1987, in BStU, MfS, AOP 26920/91, Beifügung, Bd. 20, p. 7.


Heimo Claasen, “Debatte um die Herkunft des AIDS-Virus (HIV): Afrika- und Affentheorie widerlegt: Die Fährte führt ins Genlabor,” WoZ: Die Wochenzeitung (Zurich), 27 February 1987, p. 5.


See the acknowledgments in Chirimuuta and Chirimuuta, AIDS, Africa and Racism, 2nd enlarged ed.


Rauch, Malte, in BStU, AR 2, RoHo, F16, Reg.-Nr. XV 3429/86.


Malte Rauch to Douglas Selvage, 2 March 2020. Rauch even took the BStU to court to block the further publication or distribution of certain portions of our earlier study asserting an alleged Stasi role in co-financing the film. He succeeded in attaining a temporary injunction. See Sven Felix Kellerhoff, “Die Aids-Legende des WDR und das Geld der Stasi,” Welt, 30 September 2015, https://www.welt.de/geschichte/article147033786/Die-Aids-Legende-des-WDR-und-das-Geld-der-Stasi.html. After a five-year court battle, the German Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) ruled in favor of BStU and lifted the temporary injunction against all portions of the publication. See Sven Felix Kellerhoff, “Die Aids-Legende des WDR und das Geld der Stasi,” Welt, 30 September 2015, https://www.welt.de/geschichte/article147033786/Die-Aids-Legende-des-WDR-und-das-Geld-der-Stasi.html; and Federal Republic of Germany, Bundesgerichtshof, Urteil in dem Rechtsstreit Bundesrepublik Deutschland, vertreten durch den Bundesbeauftragten für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR … Beklagte, Revisionsklägerin und Anschlussrevisionsbeklagte … gegen R… . Kläger, Revisionsbeklagter und Anschlussrevisionskläger, VI ZR 494/17, 2 July 2019, http://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/document.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=en&az=VI%20ZR%20494/17&nr=98914


In reply to a letter from me, Rauch wrote, “I financed the film AIDS—Die Afrikalegende as producer exclusively on the basis of contracts with WDR and the British Channel Four and can prove this with records. There are no ambiguities regarding the financing or unexplained sources of funding. The budget was so small and manageable that it is comprehensible, without any gaps, where the money came from (WDR and Channel Four in relation to “Monkey Business”). You do not have any receipts or supporting documents [Belege] that the Stasi actually paid the money, but have asserted that it was theoretically possible that money flowed—unnoticed—to WDR.” The evidence, Rauch insists, is “unbelievably thin.” Letter from Rauch to Douglas Selvage, 2 March 2020).


Selvage and Nehring, “AIDS-Verschwörung,” pp. 20, 110, 149.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” p. 53.


Ibid., p. 52.


Even Geissler and Sprinkle acknowledge that this could have happened. See Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 75.


The HVA, for its part, destroyed or otherwise disposed of its dossiers for IM “Joachim” and Operation Denver, which could have provided additional information. Regarding the destruction of around 90 percent of the HVA's operational files, see Knabe, West-Arbeit des MfS, p. 133. Unfortunately, WDR destroyed all financial and other records relating to the film, except for an entry in an internal database. Email correspondence from the Historical Archives of the WDR in Cologne to Douglas Selvage, 27 May 2013; and WDR, “Vollinformation,” 13 May 2013.


Geissler, “Es gab keine AIDS-Verschwörung,” pp. 105–107, 112–113; Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” pp. 41, 51–53; Erhard Geissler, “Die Gurkentruppe von der HV A. Nochmal zum AIDS-Mythos, seinen trüben Quellen und eigenwilligen Interpreten,” Zeitschrift des Forschungsverbundes SED-Staat, Vol. 44 (2019), pp. 200–204; and Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” pp. 2–3, 77–79, 82.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 75.


Ibid. In general, Geissler and Sprinkle have accepted the assertions by Claasen and other interviewees at face value, even in the face of contradictory evidence. For example, Claasen allegedly claimed in an earlier exchange with Geissler that the idea for the film came to him during a visit to Zaire in 1984. See Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 74. Years later, Claasen allegedly asserted in another exchange with Geissler that the idea for the film came to him after finding the brochure with the Segals’ study in it in the press room at the Non-Aligned summit in Harare in September 1986. Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” p. 58.


Selvage and Nehring, AIDS-Verschwörung; and Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1).”


See, for example, Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, More “Instructions from the Centre”: Top-Secret Files on KGB Global Operations, 1975–1985 (London: Cass, 1992), pp. 34–36.


See, for example, the discussion of the stalled and likely failed creation of a “Committee for Human Rights in Europe” in Selvage and Süß, Staatssicherheit und KSZE-Prozess, p. 152.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Disinformation Squared,” p. 76.


Ibid., pp. 76–78.


The AIDS disinformation campaign (“Denver”) fell under the aegis of Pfeifer's division, HVA/X/1. See Objekt-Vorgang (OVO) “Denver,” Reg.-Nr. XV 3429/86, in BStU, AR 2, MfS, RoHo, F22. Since 1978, Bohnsack had been the director of Division 7 of HVA/X (HVA/X/7), responsible for influencing the FRG's foreign trade policy or, alternatively, undermining the FRG's economy and trade through active measures. See Helmut Müller-Enbergs, “Hauptverwaltung A (HV A): Aufgaben—Strukturen—Quellen,” in MfS-Handbuch (2011), p. 179.


See Richard J. Evans, “Expert Report by Professor Richard Evans: [David] Irving vs. (1) [Deborah] Lipstadt and (2) Penguin Books,” 2000, at points 2.3.1 and 2.4.1, https://phdn.org/negation/irving/EvansReport.pdf.


Christopher Nehring, Kleine Brüder des KGB: Die Kooperation von DDR-Auslandsaufklärung und bulgarischer Staatssicherheit (Berlin: BStU, 2019), p. 57. For example, officer Horst Kopp from HVA/X, who had organized bribes for two members of the FRG Bundestag to save the chancellorship of Willy Brandt during a no-confidence vote in 1972, was punished in 1985 for a much less serious offense. Because of an extramarital affair and a request to a West German IM to bring a present for his erstwhile lover, he had lost his planned promotion, been subjected to interrogation and house arrest, and subsequently been demoted to a lower post outside the HVA: reviewing applications for emigration from East German citizens at a city office in East Berlin. See Horst Kopp, Der Desinformant: Erinnerungen eines DDR-Geheimdienstlers (Berlin: Das Neue Berlin, 2017), pp. 215–224.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” pp. 49, 53; and Geissler, “Die Gurkentruppe von der HV A,” p. 197.


Nehring, Kleine Brüder des KGB, pp. 57–65. See also the memorandum from Wagenbreth to the director of the Stasi's International Division, Willi Damm, 18 August 1989, in BStU, MfS, Abt. X, Nr. 1125, p. 190. Wagenbreth requested that the Stasi's International Division make the necessary organizational arrangements for the official visit on 26–29 September 1989 of the Bulgarian “comrades” from the active-measures division.


Mihov, Memorandum Regarding Conversations Held with the German Comrades from 9/26 to 9/29/1989, pp. 191–193.


“European Direction: Tasks and Measures from the Talks with the German Comrades, September 26–29, 1989, in Berlin,” n.d., in COMDOS, F. 9, Op. 4, A. E. 691, p. 222.


“Operace ‘Denver’—Dezinformační operace KGB a Stasi týkající se AIDS,” Minulost, 16 December 2019, https://www.minulost.cz/cs/operace-denver-dezinformacni-operace-kgb-stasi-tykajici-se-aids.


Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” p. 52; and Geissler, “Die Gurkentruppe von der HV A,” p. 197. Geissler has even denounced the actions of Mutz and Pfeifer in propagating the Segals’ thesis as “republikfeindlich” (“hostile to the republic”)—a term frequently used by SED officials before 1989 to denounce opposition figures in East Germany and to justify repressive measures against them. Geissler, “Die Gurkentruppe von der HV A,” pp. 191, 197. On the matter of HVA's official involvement in the AIDS disinformation campaign, Geissler and Sprinkle write, “In reality, ‘the HV A,’ meaning the Main Directorate HV A, did not support the [Fort Detrick] myth.” Geissler and Sprinkle, “Were Our Critics Right?” p. 49. They write further, “Whether the three named Stasi officers were acting on orders or without orders or even against orders, we cannot say. But we have seen no evidence of the acting-on-orders possibility” (p. 53). Thus, Geissler and Sprinkle seek to suggest once again that the absence of evidence in the Stasi archives—in this case, formal orders, which, to the extent that they existed, would likely have been destroyed along with the other 90 percent of the HVA's operational files—is evidence of their non-existence (i.e., absence). Regarding the destruction of HVA files, see Knabe, West-Arbeit des MfS, p. 133. On the extensive use of argumentum ad ignorantiam by Geissler and Sprinkle, see Selvage, “Operation ‘Denver’ (Part 1),” pp. 77, 106–108, 108 n. 158, 122–123.


Jens Gieseke, Die hauptamtlichen Mitarbeiter der Staatssicherheit: Personalstruktur und Lebenswelt 1950-1989/90 (Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag, 2000), pp. 443–449.


Kopp notes in his memoirs that Wagenbreth was preoccupied with his plans to divorce and remarry in 1985, even as scandals had put the entire HVA (i.e., not only HVA/X) into disrepute with Mielke. Kopp, Der Desinformant, pp. 215–216.


An officer's notes from Wagenbreth's lecture read, “Act[ive] meas[ures] cannot hold back lawful developments [i.e., the predicted evolution of the world based on Marxist-Leninist principles] over the long term! Hypothesis: AIDS-virus developed in the USA—genetic manipulation. For the military, not of real interest, because unpredictable. Prisoners infected with it, who did not fall ill, were released, and as homosexuals, spread HIV.” See Notes from an officer of Division XV of the District Directorate for State Security in Cottbus from the professional-development course, “Evaluation of Intelligence and Active Measures,” October 1989, in BStU, MfS, Bezirksverwaltung Cottbus, Abt. XV, Nr. 195, p. 33. The first, jargon-filled sentence means that reality (or at least reality from a Marxist-Leninist perspective) would eventually catch up and surpass the “reality” portrayed in active measures. In this particular context, Wagenbreth was hinting that the alleged “proof” coming out in the United States was indeed confirming U.S. involvement in constructing the AIDS virus and would eventually supersede Segal's thesis as spread by HVA/X.


Geissler, Anthrax und das Versagen der Geheimdienste, p. 250.


See Kunze, “Verbrecherische Experimente,” p. 32.


See BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 36422, pp. 235–244.


House of Representatives, Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, Hearings: Department of Defense Appropriations for 1970, p. 129.


See Kunze, “Verbrecherische Experimente,” p. 32; and Girard, Tristes chimères.