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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Case of Agent Gorbachev

East Germany acquired technology the old-fashioned way: by stealing it. But did it do their industrial enterprise any good?

Kristie Macrakis

Figure 4. For his work as Agent GorbachevClick to Enlarge Image

During the Cold War, much scientific and technical information passed from West to East (and vice versa) through the hands of scientists and engineers induced to act as spies. Macrakis, a historian of science, provides a window on this cloak-and-dagger world with a case study of a physicist and high-ranking employee of AEG/Telefunken in West Berlin who spied for East Germany for nearly two decades. Although East Germany ran a large industrial-espionage operation, Macrakis concludes that the strategy of developing technology by stealing it, rather than investing in research and development, turned out to be short-sighted.


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