The Spy who loved her

Needless to say, the most effective agents and spies are those motivated by patriotism and ideology; these spies will go to any length for the cause they believe in.

“Topaz” is the most dangerous GDR- STASI secret agent.

During my schooling, training, and preparation to work in diplomatic security intelligence in the late 1990s, one of our lecturers informed us that one of the most lethal weapons the enemy has and may use against us is the woman.

I understand how hilarious or crazy this sounds, but in the realm of espionage, women are the most lethal weapon for neutralising other countries’ espionage activities.

It goes without saying that, like in real life, love is always present in spy flicks.

My next chapter tells the story of one of the GDR’s most dangerous spies—one who adores his wife.

This is the story of Rainer Rupp, a senior spy for the East German intelligence service HVA (General Reconnaissance Administration) at NATO headquarters in Brussels who went by the code names Mosel and then Topaz.
Between 1977 and 1989, he provided the Soviet Union with documents of extreme importance (Cosmic Top Secret).

Who is Rainer Rupp, the deadliest STASI spy at the core of NATO?

Rupp grew up in West Germany and has strong left-wing political convictions. Born in Saarluis out of wedlock in 1945, his mother and stepfather raised him in the West German district of Saarland. He spent the majority of his adolescence looking for a purpose and meaning in life.

When Rainer was 16, he escaped to Parisian cafes to learn about existential philosophy.

Like many Germans at the time, he idolised John F. Kennedy and was especially struck by the young president’s “Don’t Ask…” speech. “I wanted to do something,” Rupp explained.

A dish of goulash

Rainer Rupp’s agency career began in 1968 with a serving of goulash soup.

Rupp was dining with many students in a Mainz restaurant after the rally against the emergency law and was unable to pay the bill due to a lack of 50 pfennigs.

Kurt, a lovely man at the adjacent table, offered to cover the difference and invited the group to join him for another drink.

They became friends, and when Kurt confessed that he worked for the Stasi, Rupp was not deterred. “Kurt was able to divide a difficult problem into manageable steps. I was perplexed. “He gave me direction,” Rupp said.

Within six months, Rupp agreed to work for the Stasi, believing that the West German government was a hand puppet for American imperialist forces.

Rupp then visited East Berlin many times and got spy training. He learned how to operate the agent’s radio and refill dead mailboxes. Because of his history, the student was assigned the code name “Mosel”.

The controllers in East Berlin instructed him to complete his studies, wait, and remain silent.

Turquoise and Topaz

Rainer Rupp entered a Brussels restaurant in the spring of 1970, where Bowen and some friends were gathering.

He met a lovely British secretary with short black hair through a mutual acquaintance. They hit it off immediately away.

Ann-Christine Bowen, the daughter of an army major, was born in Dorchester, on England’s south coast. She accepted a post as a secretary at the Ministry of Defence in London because of his influence.

She spent three years in 1968 as part of the British military’s NATO mission in Brussels. She met Rupp in Brussels.

The beautiful and well-read economics student fascinated her, eager to offer his knowledge without any hint of condescension.

Rainer Rupp had the difficult decision of telling his spouse everything about himself—that is, everything he did. However, his feelings for Ann grew deeper, and he revealed to her that he is a trainee agent with the feared Stasi security police in East Germany. Ann was surprised.

In a meeting with his Stasi handlers in Berlin, he claimed to have told the girl what he was doing, and they were horrified by his admission.

They informed him, “You must not return.” “You will be arrested.”

After some serious thinking, Rainer Rupp returned to Brussels, where his girlfriend lived, “gnashing his teeth” and half expecting and partly trusting that Western agents would track him down.

“I knew if she hadn’t betrayed me, she love me” she said.

Ann-Christine Bowen did not betray him

Rather, they married in less than a year, and she later joined Rainer Rupp, a Stasi officer.

The two were critical to Operation Topaz, which NATO officials claim is the most damaging case of espionage in the Western alliance’s history.

They exchanged intelligence that would have been critical to the Warsaw Pact in the case of conflict.

Following their wedding in April 1972, the Rupps enjoyed a happy life as a spy couple.

Ann was a prominent agent at the beginning.

She got a position as a secretary at NATO headquarters in 1971, which gave her easy access to alliance communications data, which she snuck into her purse.

Rainer would photograph the smuggled documents in his cellar using Stasi spy cameras, while Anne turned the pages.

Rainer Rupp would tune a Stasi-issued radio to a specified frequency once a week to get coded instructions on how to meet with their handler.

The couple toured beautiful places including Antwerp, Paris, and Istanbul while posing as a loving couple and passing on vital information.

They would mail the results of their labour, the microfilms, which were frequently concealed in specially mounted Tuborg beer cans.

The Stasi gave them code names – he was Topaz, and she was Turquoise – but they were only used by control officials.

Anne maintains that she did not hear them until many years later.

After working for two separate companies in Brussels, Rainer Rupp acquired a post in NATO’s economic directorate in 1977, providing him access to a wealth of information.

While the Rupps were sending papers classified by the alliance as “space top secret,” no one in NATO had any suspicions.

It helped that they were both popular with their coworkers and skilled at their occupations. Rainer Rupp distinguished himself as a skilled economist who understood his field inside and out.

Ann Rupp was well-known among her NATO colleagues working in increasingly sensitive departments for her knowledge and dedication.

Despite Stasi coercion, the pair refused to disclose information about their colleagues.

They made a lot of money

Reiner’s salary at NATO was around $120,000 per year, whereas hers was $35,000.

Stasi compensation was quite small, averaging roughly $1,500 each month plus expenses.

They moved on to larger apartments until acquiring a house in the Brussels outskirts with a $125,000 loan from the Stasi.

Rainer made investments in real estate and stocks.

The children went to private schools, and the family took frequent holidays to the south of France.

In the centre of NATO

Rupp, who went by the code name “Topaz,” would to joke that if someone suspected him, they’d say, “You’ve probably seen too many Hitchcock movies.”

As one of the presidents of the NATO Situation Center’s Current Intelligence Group, he was required to regularly report on his and the enemy’s situation to ambassadors and generals during NATO headquarters exercises or in crisis situations; he recorded the lectures he gave during the day on tapes in the evening and sent them encrypted to East Berlin via a special payphone device.

He used a small camera to photograph secret documents and sent messages “in the classic way using a code,” but the messages were not always consistent. “You have to change things so you don’t make it easy for the other side to discover things,” he said.

His understanding encompassed East-West policy, NATO armament planning, stationing, and armament concerns.

Rupp’s most dramatic coup was most likely the transfer of NATO Study MC 161, a collection of “Cosmic Top Secret” documents containing the Western defence alliance’s comprehensive awareness of the Warsaw Pact’s militarily significant facts.

Nuclear War Averted

Rupp believes his intelligence activities helped prevent a nuclear war.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and its allies believed that the West was planning a nuclear missile attack.

The Soviet war hysteria culminated in the fall of 1983 with NATO’s Able Archer exercise, which simulated the simultaneous deployment of nuclear weapons.

At the time, the Kremlin had put its strategic nuclear forces on alert, which may have resulted in disaster.

Using the information they gathered, GDR scouts “calmed the receivers in Moscow” and “prevented a nuclear war”.

The truth was revealed.

Ann Rupp chance to read a story one day in 1990 that stated that a former Stasi spy had furnished Western intelligence with some disturbing information.

A spy acquired access to top NATO officials, revealing various Warsaw Pact secrets.

Espionage persisted until the fall of the Berlin Wall. There is a vigourous search on to find the spy, who has accomplices. The Stasi operative only knew the spy’s code name, Topaz.

Although former colonel Heinz Busch, a defector from the HVA, provided the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) with information about a critical NATO source as early as 1990, Rupp was not exposed for at least three years.

The BND source, who worked in the HVA’s evaluation section, said he knew of no Western spies. However, based on the information provided, the former colonel was able to establish the exact location of “Topaz” in NATO, but the investigators were unable to find it.

The Rupps were held by the German Federal Police on July 31, 1993, while visiting Rainer’s mother and stepfather in Saarland.

The prosecutor proposed that Rainer Rupp spend 15 years in jail and Anne Rupp serve 22 months with a suspension.

The conflict persisted.

Rupp was impressed when the Federal Prosecutor’s Office representative in the trial before the Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf jokingly referred to him as “the permanent representative of the Warsaw Pact in NATO”.

Presiding judge Klaus Wagner reached a grim conclusion, stating that “Topaz” gave the East with a “comprehensive overview,” particularly of the Western alliance’s military planning. Wagner claimed that in an emergency, this could have been “devastating and decisive for the war” for the Federal Republic and NATO.

The State Security Senate sentenced the defendant to twelve years in prison.

Even while imprisoned in Saarbrücken, Rupp wrote for the daily publication Junge Welt, the main organ of the GDR’s youth FDJ SED.

As a commentator, he bolsters his anti-imperialist campaign.

In the late 1990s, while still imprisoned in an open-air penitentiary, Rupp worked as a foreign and security policy consultant for the PDS parliamentary group in the Bundestag.

Rupp was granted parole and released from prison in July 2000.

He left the PDS in 2003, citing Rupp’s claim that it had turned into a “basically bourgeois party.”

This post was written by Mario Bekes