Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Passings : Wolfgang Vogel

Lawyer helped with spy swaps

August 23, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Wolfgang Vogel, 82, the point man for spy swaps and prisoner exchanges between West and East Germany during the Cold War, died on Thursday in Schliersee, a small town in Bavaria state, according to his family. Vogel had had a heart attack earlier this year.

A lawyer, Vogel made a career of sorts as the main point of contact for the governments of the then-divided Germany when the two had few formal ties or links. They reunified in 1990. In 1962, he gained a sense of acclaim, if not notoriety, for overseeing the exchange of KGB spy Rudolf J. Abel for Francis Gary Powers, the American pilot shot down over what was then the Soviet Union while piloting his U-2 spy plane in 1960.

He also oversaw the exchange of others involved in espionage or imprisoned in East Germany for those held in the West, including Jewish dissident Anatoly Shcharansky -- now Natan Sharansky -- who spent nearly nine years in Soviet captivity on espionage charges.

In a 1958 case, 23 people held by East Germany on espionage charges were exchanged for four agents of the German Democratic Republic convicted by the U.S.

Vogel was born in the East German city of Leipzig in 1925. The son of strict Roman Catholic parents, he studied law in Jena and Leipzig and served in the German army during World War II. The politically well-connected Vogel set up a private law practice in East Berlin in 1954, one of only a few East German lawyers to do so.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|