Lilli Pöttrich

Lilli Pöttrich (b. 1954) is a German lawyer chiefly famous for having served as an agent of East Germany’s Hauptwverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA), the de defacto foreign inteligence service of the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi).

Lilli-PottrichHer IM cover-name was Angelika. IM stands for inoffizieller Mitarbeiter (“unoffical coworker”), a German euphemism for an informant who delivered private information to Stasi.

According to data entered into the Sira database, Pöttrich delivered 38 reports to HVA that were deemed important. Out of these, 34 were passed on to the Soviet KGB. Out of 29 documents from her kept by Deparment I/3 at HVA, 17 were marked wertvoll (valuable) and one as sehr wertvoll (very valuable). The document market sehr wertvoll included extracts from a conversation that took place in December 1985 between West Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and the United States Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

Short facts about Lilli Margarethe Pöttrich

Full name Lilli Margarethe Pöttrich
Born 3 November 1954, in Wiesbaden, West Germany
Alma mater
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, West Germany
  • Universität zu Köln, West Germany
Ocupation Lawyer

Agent / Spy / IM

Childhood and adolescence

Lilli Margarethe Pöttrich was born in Weisbaden, West Germany, in 1954. Her father, Raimund Pötttrich, was a port worker and trades-union activist, first in Düsseldorf-Eller and then in Düsseldorf-Benrath. The family had two daughters; Lilli Pöttrich was the oldest one.

Lilli Pöttrich attended a Roman Catholic primary school in Düsseldorf-Benrath, followed by the Annette von Droste Hülshoff Gymnasium in the same part of Düsseldorf. While still in school, she joined the centre-left Social Democratic Party ( Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands ), then headed by German chancellor Willy Brandt.

Pöttrich completed her final exams at Annette von Droste Hülshoff Gymnasium in 1973, earning the abitur qualification that made it possible for her to go on to university studies.

University

Pöttrich studied at Frankfurt University with her aim set on a law degree. Pretty soon, she joined the then recently formed Socialist University Association (Sozialistischer Hochschulbund), a group closely associated with Social Democratic Party.

Recruitment

As a member of the Socialist University Association, Pöttrich was given the chance to travel to East Germany to visit the Free German Youth (Freie Deutsche Jugend – FDJ) organisation in Potsdam. FDJ was the youth organsiation of East Germany’s ruling Socialist Unity Party, and the visit gave MfS / Stasi a chance to evaluate the West German visitor’s political views and potential usefulness.

Soon after returning to West Germany, Pöttrich was visited by two East Germans acting on behalf of Stasi, although it is unclear if they revealed their affiliation to Pöttrich at the time. They invited Pöttrich to join Institute fur Imperialismusforsching (Institute for Research into Imperialism), and she was also invited to visit East Berlin.

Pöttrich’s next trip to East Germany took place in the fall of 1975, where she met with a man called Rüdi. In January/February the following year, she visited Strausberg and this is where she formally joined the service, signed the standard secret service contract (the Verpflichtungserklärung) and chose the cover name Angelika.

Rüdi, the man she had first met in 1975, was assigned as her principal point of contact.

Move to Köln

Soon after becoming an “informal collaborator” for Stasi, Pöttrich was asked to transfer from the University of Frankfurt to the University of Köln (Cologne), since Köln was located close to Bonn, the political and administrative capital of West Germany at the time.

Pöttrich commenced her studies in Köln in 1976, where she also compiled reports on the academic and social milieu and passed them to her handlers, sometimes in the form of microfilm documents.

In 1981, she passed her level one national law exams.

Becoming a civil servant in West Germany

In December 1981, Pöttrich – who had been given a false passport – travelled to East Germany by way of Denmark. In Schöneiche near Berlin, she was introduced to several high ranking officers. This was the first of a series of secret meetings in various locations outside West Germany.

About this time, Pöttrich became an East German citizen and joined the ruling party. Together with Stasi officers, she developed a long-term strategy that would enable her to become an even more valuable spy for the East Bloc. The first step in this strategy was for Pöttrich to join the West German diplomatic service at the higher civil service grade, a step that she completed in 1982.

In April 1983, Pöttrich became a Foreign Ministry trainee in Bonn, with the goal of attaining work as a diplomatic attachée. Due to the nature of the job, security checks were carried out, but Pöttrich passed them without incident.

Diplomatic career

In 1986, Pöttrich was given lifelong employment by the West German authorities, solidifying her diplomatic career. Soon, she was sent to Bangladesh, but returned to Europe in December 1988 to work at the West Germany Embassy in Paris.

In Paris, Pöttrich was the deputy to the official in charge of the “CoCom” section – the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls; a commitee working to prevent the exportation of western technologies (especially military tech) to countries alligned with the Soviet Union. As the deputy, Pöttrich gained access to a lot of key reports and meeting minutes, and she passed the information along to the handlers in East Germany.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall

In March 1990, the East Germany one-party rule ended, but Pöttrich continued her work for the East German intelligence service. She also continued her work for the West German diplomatic service, until 1 december 1993 when she was arrested by West German authorities. At this point, she had recently been promoted to the rank of senior councillor and appointed as head of the West German consulate in Sibiu, Romania, but she was arrested before she could start working at the consulate.

How she came to be discovered by West Germany remains unclear. There has been some speculation that her name might have been included in the Rosenholz files; an East German collection of 381 CD-ROMs that disappeared from Stasi during the German reunifcation and, under unclear circumstances, ended up in the hands of the United States Central Agency (CIA).

As a result of her arrest, Pöttrich was dismissed from public office.

Sentence and aftermath

On 28 April 1995, Pöttrich was sentenced to two years in jail by the district high courti in Düsseldorf, after being found guilty of serious espionage offences. The sentence was suspended however, and Pöttrich was left at liberty, albeit with certain limitations that she had to adhere to.

The conviction was accompanied by a ban on practising law, but this ban eventually expired and Pöttrich set up a legal practise in Düsseldorf.