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Biography[edit | edit source]
Wolfgang Lotz was born at Mannheim, Germany in 1921 to a Jewish mother, Helene, and a non-Jewish German father, Hans. Lotz's father was a theater director who worked alongside his wife, an actress. His parents were non-religious to the extent that Lotz's mother did not even care to have her son circumcised at birth, contrary to Jewish practice. This later proved to be advantageous in his career as a spy; the fact that Lotz had not been circumcised enabled him to convince his lovers that he was not Jewish. His parents divorced in 1931; in 1933, after Adolf Hitler came to power, Lotz and his mother emigrated to Palestine, where they settled in Tel-Aviv. He adopted the Hebrew name Ze'ev Gur-Arie, and began to study at the agricultural school at Ben Shemen. In 1936 he joined the Haganah and engaged in a number of security duties.
After the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Lotz was recruited into the British Army because of his knowledge of the German language. He was stationed in Egypt, where he joined an intelligence unit and mostly interrogated German POWs. After the war, he returned to Israel and was involved in smuggling weapons for the Haganah.
In 1948 Lotz married an Israeli Jew, Rivka, and they had a son, Oded. At the outbreak of the Independence War in 1948 Lotz joined the newly formed Israel Defense Forces and served with the rank of Captain. He took part in the battle around Latrun. During the Sinai War in 1956, when Israel, the United Kingdom, and France attacked Egypt, Lotz rose to the rank of Major and commanded an Infantry brigade.
After the war, Lotz joined Aman. His superiors planned to send him to Egypt to gather intelligence on Gamal Abdel Nasser's armaments plans. Aman also hoped that because of Lotz's command of the German language and his Aryan appearance, he could infiltrate the circle of German scientists who worked on the Egyptian armaments programs.
Lotz was sent to Germany in 1959 in order to establish his cover story as a German businessman and ex-Wehrmacht officer who had served in North Africa, and was a former member of the Nazi Party After purportedly living for 11 years in Australia where he had bred horses, in his cover story Lotz had came back to Egypt in order to establish a riding club. The North Africa element of his cover story was devised because Lotz, who had interrogated hundreds of the German POWs in World War II, was familiar with their way of life and could easily tell war stories about his "comrades"; the riding club would allow Lotz to make contact with Egyptian high society. He arrived in Cairo in 1960 and began immediately to form friendships with high ranking Egyptian officials and military personnel.
Lotz traveled to Paris in June 1961 for a meeting with his operators (he was in the meantime transferred to the responsibility of the Mossad), where he received large amounts of money and a transponder for sending secret messages. During the train journey from Paris, Lotz met a German woman called Waltraud and decided to marry her, despite the fact he was married to another woman in Israel. Lotz did not discuss his intentions with his operators. Mossad was horrified by this and even considered recalling Lotz, but in the end allowed Lotz to continue his mission. His new wife was allowed to join him. While she soon discovered his real occupation, she was told Lotz worked for NATO and she began to help him.
In Cairo, Lotz eventually opened his riding club and continued to befriend the elite of Egyptian society. He managed to persuade them to show him the Egyptian missile launch sites and he gathered intelligence on the Egyptian military and its industries. He also composed a list of German scientists who worked for the Egyptians and in September 1964 he sent letter bombs to some of them, in an attempt to induce them to cease their work. Lotz'z letter bombs killed some civilians and their effects were deemed limited.
In 1965 the East German Head of State made an official visit to Egypt, and as a gesture to the East Germans, the Egyptians arrested thirty West German citizens, including Lotz. According to some sources, Lotz, thinking he was exposed, confessed to being a spy but stuck to his cover story and claimed he was tempted by the Israelis to spy for them in exchange for their giving him funds to establish his riding club. It has been alleged that this account of what took place was a fabrication by Mossad. A contrary account is given in Lotz's biography, The Champagne Spy. According to this book, Lotz was captured after a wireless set was discovered hidden inside a bathroom scale; he had used this to transmit Egyptian target coordinates prior to the impending Israeli surprise attack of 1967.
According to some Israeli accounts, the Egyptians believed Lotz even when evidence arrived from Germany which pointed to his true identity. Lotz and his wife were put on trial and the Mossad managed to get him represented by a German lawyer and ensure a German observer from the embassy who oversaw the fairness of the trial.
Lotz was sentenced to life imprisonment as a spy on 21 August 1965 and his wife was sentenced to three years in jail. Both were released in the prisoner exchange in 1968 following the Six-Day War. He resided in Israel until the death of his wife, Waltraud, in 1973, who died as of coronary disease, then, feeling remised he emigrated to Munich and died in poverty and oblivion in 1993. Lotz was buried in Israel with full military honors.
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Wolfgang Lotz. (1980). A handbook for spies. Harper & Row.
- Wolfgang Lotz. (1972). The Champagne Spy - Israel's Master Spy Tells his Story. St. Martin's Press. Made into a documentary movie, http://www.cinemattraction.com/?p=697 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0488282/ Meragel Ha-Shampaniya (2007) containing interviews with Lotz' son, acquaintances and the Mossad operatives that controlled Lotz.
References[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Gordon Thomas. (1999). Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad. St. Martin's Griffin.
- Wolfgang Berkowitz/Zev Barak (Fiction, 1993). "The Hope". Little, Brown and Company.
- "The Champagne Spy". TIME. 23 November 1970. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,943310,00.html. Retrieved 30 July 2008.