Joseph Ratzinger was spied on by a priest who worked for the Stasi, the Eastern German Ministry for State Security, in his years as Professor at the University of Münster, between 1963 and 1966.
This was revealed by German weekly newspaper, “Der Spiegel”, which stated that among those passing on information to the men who worked for the late Markus Wolf (aka “Mischa”, the legendary West German spy chief), was also a priest from the Westphalian city.
His name was Joseph Frindt and he passed away at the age of 81.
During his career as a spy, under the pseudonym “Erich Neu”, the cleric sent 95 reports to East Berlin. Some of these provided information on the then promising theologian Joseph Ratzinger.
One of the reasons that supposedly drove Frindt to spy for the Stasi, was his desire to obtain a favour or two for his sister, who lived in the German Democratic Republic. However, it is also believed that the priest may have been blackmailed as a result of his alcohol addiction.
The article published by the Hamburg weekly, revealed that the East German Stasi had managed to infiltrate practically every institution of the Bundesrepublik, with 139 spies active in the former capital of West Germany, Bonn, and as many as 542 in West Berlin.
The Social Democrat party was target in particular, with 78 East German spies monitoring its moves, and 13 informants who kept a close check on the SPD’s leadership.
“Mischa”’s watchful eye did not even miss out the trade unions, the Catholic and Protestant organisations or the universities.
In December 1988, the GDR counted on the spying services of 1929 West German citizens.
In its 40 years of existence, the East German regime had 12 thousand informants in the Bundesrepublik.