In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2016. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 195–216.
This article addresses how the secret service in Denmark, Sweden and Norway handled the GDR friendship societies in these countries. Firstly, the article presents the background of these societies, their organisation, activities and their role in context of East German foreign policy before and after 1973. Secondly, discusses the secret services’ assessments, as well as their justifications for surveillances, of the friendship societies. The Scandinavian authorities mistrusted their close relationship with the socialist GDR and they regarded the organisations as part of wider communist subversion and as a potential platform for Warsaw Pact espionage. Due to this, the secret services observed members, meetings and other activities using a variety of methods from wiretapping to placing agents inside the societies. In the 1980’s Norway and Denmark intensified their interest. Together with the West German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) they initiated operation “Verona”, which targeted East German cultural officials and university researchers. Finally, the article presents some case studies of how East German Intelligence actually used the friendship-societies. In the late 1980’s, the final crisis of GDR also spread to the friendship-societies which crumbled as their political and financial support from Berlin dried up.