Tag Archives: Nyhavn

Narrator – A man without a face


Note: this post is a study on trust and betrayal; the people and situations in this post are fictitious [1].

On November 9, 1989 my main contribution to the work of Raven began at 8 pm in the evening. We were in West Germany near Bonn. On the eight hours of news, an item was announced regarding the spokesman for the East German Government who replied to a question by journalists when free travel for East German inhabitants would be possible, after some hesitation with: “Right now”.

Berlijn 1989[2]

This was the signal for Raven to book our flights to West Berlin. That evening we practised my new role for several weeks. Due to my years with my beloved in Sweden and Norway, I could flawlessly speak American with an East Coast accent from the vicinity of Washington.

The next morning Raven in the role of high employee of a German Ministry of Justice and I as high American officer travelled to West Berlin. It was my first time in an airplane. During the flight I looked in amazement at the apparent landscape that was formed by the clouds. This rarefied world reminded me of the fjords in Norway and of the ever repeating clouds during the day trip with my American beloved across the Hardangervidda [3] . Did we live together now in this dream landscape?

Wolken van boven[4]

Upon arriving at the airport Tempelhof in Berlin we moved to the Kaufhaus des Westens to buy  additional clothes for our work in East Berlin.

That night Raven and I crossed the just opened border post to East Berlin together with East Germans who returned home after visiting West Berlin for the first time after more than 28 years. We took two rooms in a hotel near Unter den Linden.

The next morning we visited the headquarters of the East German secret service in Lichtenberg area. Upon arrival we introduced ourselves as representatives of German and U.S. Government agencies who wished to ensure that the archives were not handed over to wrong persons. We were welcomed by three heads of units who were in charge of the service after the resignation of the political leader a few days before. One of the heads of unit looked exactly like the sailor from Rostock that Raven had met some years earlier in Nyhavn in Copenhagen. I understood that this head of unit was Fox.

Vos[5]

After a morning of meeting it was decided that we were allowed to make an inventory of the archives under the supervision of the heads of unit. Raven and Fox would carry out the detailed inventory, and another head and I would supervise as second party. The office of the previous political leader was given to me as temporary workspace.

That afternoon the general overview of the archives in the main building and the outbuildings was made. The next four weeks Raven and Fox prepared the detailed inventory. I suggested a lot of awkward and painful questions about the regional archives: during these weeks I studied the answers.

At the end of the investigation, a fivefold reports was made; one report for each head of unit and a report for Raven and for me. Everything was ready well before Christmas. During the period of Christmas shopping, Raven and I left West Berlin under different names by plane toward Frankfurt.

Later, I suspected that Raven and Fox had adapted the archives as much as possible to their advantage – the pages that could not bear the light were gone or replaced by innocent documents. Fox and Raven had prepared this operation very well.

When in January 1990 the people of Berlin invaded the building of this service, the archives about Raven and Fox were in full order thanks to their loyal cooperation within the limits of the law. During later investigation no one could find any irregularities in their actions during the Cold War.

Berlijn 1990[6]

A year later I met Fox another times in Vienna.


[1] Although the title of this blog corresponds to: Wolf, Markus, Man without a Face – The Autobiography of Communism’s greatest Spymaster. New York: Random House, 1997, there is no link at all between the author – and the content  – of this autobiography and Raven, Fox and the Narrator and their fictional activities. The writer of this blog has no indication and/or knowledge of adjusting, cleaning up and obscuring information from East German archives.

[2] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berliner_Mauer

[3] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardangervidda

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_fox

[6] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministerium_f%C3%BCr_Staatssicherheit

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Narrator – A man without qualities


Note: this post is a study in loyalty and betrayal; the persons and situations in this post are fictitious.

On a rainy afternoon during the second winter in Copenhagen, I met a man who would change the next five years in my life. I only learned the birth name of this man after his death; in my presence he called himself Raven. Suddenly he stood silently beside me. After he had introduced himself, we had diner in a small restaurant near Nyhavn. That night we spent together and that night he slept in my attic room. In the course of the next five years, I have met him with intervals in many places in Europe; usually he stayed an evening and a night, sometimes we were a few days together.

During these years he told me about his past; he was taciturn about his work, but I understood that his profession had to do with trust and betrayal in all shapes and gradations. His work consisted of unnoticingly retrieving confidential information in other countries, and of the dissemination of altered or misleading information. Like me, Raven spoke many languages and dialects fluently and without an accent; also in this way he adapted himself as a chameleon to his environment. He regularly changed name and passport.

Rush Hour by[1]

From our conversations I understood that Raven was born in London near the end of the First World War. Several years before the Second World War he moved first to Heidelberg and later to Munich for his study philosophy and linguistics in Germany. There he met two friends for life – he called them Fox and Bear.

Fox was a fellow student who had grown up in the Rhineland and Bear was the father of their girlfriend. In all circumstances they remained faithful to each other and thus they had betrayed everything and everyone in their environment.

At the beginning of the Second World War Fox and Raven retrieved strategic information in Germany for Russia and England. Bear was a high officer in the German army who prevented Fox and Raven for their doom, because Bear despised the new regime in Germany with all his being, and because he loved his daughter dearly. During the Second World War Raven went off to England several times and he returned in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany to disseminate misleading information and to retrieve new secret information with the help of acquaintances and relatives. Hereby he had deliberately endangered the lives of his relatives; some of his family had not survived the war.

At the end of the Second World War Bear was made prisoner by the English. With help of his contacts in England Raven had assured that Bear could soon start soon a new life as a businessman in Germany.

After the war, Fox – with his preference for socialism and communism – decided to start working for the secret service in East Germany; he received a key position within this service.

Raven – with a tendency towards tradition – returned in June 1945 to England to work for a British secret service. First he said goodbye for good to his girlfriend – the daughter of Bear. She married Fox one month later. In February of the next year, a daughter was born from this marriage who looked like Raven, but she had the character of her mother.

Throughout the Cold War – invisible to the outside world – Raven was head of the Eastern European operations. Also in this position, he had endangered the lives of colleagues, friends, acquaintances and relatives; a number of his family did not survive their missions in Eastern Europe.

Berlin_tanks[2]

The emptiness caused by the death and absence of so many loved ones remained anywhere and any time in his life. With this fathomless emptiness and with his constant fear of discovery he did penance for his actions and for the betrayal of everyone and everything in his environment.

The following afternoon, he met an older sailor from Rostock in a bar in the Nyhavn. Later I understood that this sailor was his study friend Fox. Raven asked me to distract the attention from his entry in the bar.

Nyhavn_copenhagen1[3]

This was the beginning of my small contributions to the work of Raven in the area of loyalty and betrayal that lasted until his death five years later. After his death, a distant cousin who had succeeded him in the work for a secret service, asked me for information; within this investigation I was involved in a meeting with Fox.

For Raven, I looked for meeting places and places to sleep that changed sometimes for unclear reasons. I distracted attention when Raven wanted to meet someone unobtrusively, because with my black/blue colour and my exuberant appearance I stood out anywhere. And I served as a beacon to see if a location was observed by opponents.

Smiley[4]

Was Raven also faithful to me? The answer is: as far as he could be within his activities. Looking back, I would never have wanted to miss the friendship and relationship with Raven, and I have had no regrets of my small share in the work of Raven.


[1] Source image: http://otravida.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/march-26th-rush-hour-by-george-segal/ ; a photo of the sculptors “Rush Hour” made by George Segal. See also: Histoire de la Vie privée. Tome 5: De la première Guerre mondiale à nos jours. Red. Ariès, Philippe et al., p. 8

[2] Tanks at Checkpoint Charlie on October 27 during the Berlin Crisis in 1961. Bron afbeelding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War

[3] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyhavn

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Smiley

Narrator – Copenhagen and Amsterdam – a reunion


With all my belongings in the trunk of the Citroën DS, I left Stockholm on an early morning in spring. During the Nordic cycle that lasted more than one year, my reincarnation wherein I had adopted the appearance of an idol earlier in Amsterdam, evaporated. In the nearness of my beloved I had returned in the world of ordinary mortals again.

Just before the departure to his new stay in a monastery in America, my beloved was engaged in the Buddhist question: “One gain, One loss” [1]. Now he had left more than two months ago, my life felt like a gain and a loss – a void and a new destination. In the notes to this Buddhist question was written: “If you want to avoid misery, rely on your own lot” and “Gain and loss, right and wrong, let go of them all at once” [2]. Both sentences were applicable to my new reincarnation as ordinary mortal. Much later during the quest to “Who are you” I would get more insight in the first sentence. The peace of the second sentence I hoped to find in my final homecoming.

Via a road along the many water of several inland lakes – to which I had become accustomed during my stay in Holland – I drove in my white Citroën DS from Stockholm to Malmö. There I took the ferry to Copenhagen. First I visited my friends where I could stay a few nights. With their help I could quickly rent a room in the attic floor of a characteristic House in the Klosterstræde in the Centre of Copenhagen near the University and various libraries. First I saw this room as a temporary stay for several months; eventually I lived there for several years. I felt immediately at home. From my window I could see the moon and the starry sky at night. During daytime the name of the street reminded me of my beloved who really lived in a monastery now. I had received his book with Buddhist question [3] as a farewell gift. From time to time I read a passage from this book whereupon the question found a place in my life as far as I could realise. In this way my beloved and I remained connected with each other.

KLOSTE~1[4]

My years in Copenhagen I lived from the legacy – that my beloved had left for me – supplemented by a small income from performances in Jazz ensembles. Almost every day I visited the colourful painted houses along the Nyhavn, that reminded me of the fields with flowers and the canals in Holland.

Nyhavn_copenhagen[5]

My first autumn in Copenhagen I received sad news from Amsterdam; one of my precious lovers died from the mysterious disease which at that time around 1983 had received the name HIV and AIDS [6]. After reading the funeral card, I drove to Amsterdam in one day. Upon arrival I heard that many more of my former lovers suffered from this disease, which is caused by transfer of a virus – that affects the human immune system – during the love game [7].

Human_Immunodeficency_Virus_-_stylized_rendering[8]

In this sad environment I was welcomed by my former friends and acquaintances as an long lost friend and they saw me as a refound idol. I had discarded my mask of an idol during my stay in Sweden and the former carefree feast of everlasting love that wafted exotically around me through Amsterdam, was gone forever.

The funeral of my deceased lover was impressive. One of our loved ones was too ill to attend. With several former friends we cared for him until his death; his funeral was also intense. Both times all relatives, friends and acquaintances were present. For a number of lovers it was a sombre forecast for their future.

After this second funeral I fled to Copenhagen. Again it was an escape from my earlier stay in Amsterdam where I did not belong anymore and it was at the same time a flight for this disease wherefrom I was saved by a wondrous lot [9]. Later, during a medical examination it appeared that I belonged to a small group, which is resistant to the infection of HIV.

Back in Copenhagen, I was again an ordinary mortal, that was only noticed by a black/blue colour and rhythmic play on percussion during Jazz music.


[1] The Zen Koan: “Fayan points to the blinds”

[2] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 118

[3] Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998

[4] Source image: http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Den_danske_guldalder

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS

[7] See also: http://www.rivm.nl/Bibliotheek/Professioneel_Praktisch/Richtlijnen/Infectieziekten/LCI_richtlijnen/LCI_richtlijn_Hivinfectie

[8] Cross-section of the Human Immunodeficientie Virus (HIV). Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aids

[9] Source: http://www.nationaalkompas.nl/gezondheid-en-ziekte/ziekten-en-aandoeningen/infectieziekten-en-parasitaire-ziekten/soa/aids-en-hiv-infectie/welke-factoren-beinvloeden-de-kans-op-hiv-infectie-en-aids/