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Koehler (John O.) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Location of Originals
  • Appendix: Abbreviations
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Related Material

  • Title: John O. Koehler papers
    Date (inclusive): 1934-2008
    Collection Number: 2001C75
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: In German and English
    Physical Description: 74 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box, 3 card file boxes (31.1 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, news dispatches and news stories, photocopies of East German secret police documents, photocopies of United States government documents, post-reunification German governmental reports, clippings, other printed matter, photographs, sound recordings, and video tapes, relating to political conditions in Germany, the East German secret police, the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, and Soviet espionage within the Catholic Church. In part, used as research material for the books by J. O. Koehler, Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police (Boulder, Colo., 1999), and Spies in the Vatican: The Soviet Union's War against the Catholic Church (2009).
    Creator: Koehler, John O.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    The collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2001

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John O. Koehler papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Location of Originals

    This collection contains photocopies of documents in the Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (BStU) and the United States National Archives and Records Administration.
    Abbreviation Full Name (in German) English equivalent
    BF Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, Abteilung Bildung und Forschung Research and education department of the Federal Commission for the Papers of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic
    BfgA Bundesanstalt für gesamtdeutsche Aufgaben Federal Institute for pan-German Tasks
    BRD Bundesrepublik Deutschland Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)
    BStU Die Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik Federal Commission for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic
    DDR Deutsche Demokratische Republik German Democratic Republic (GDR)
    DKP Deutsche Kommunistische Partei German Communist Party
    HA I Hauptabteilung I Chief Department I (Army)
    HA II Hauptabteilung II Chief Department II (Counterintelligence)
    HA III Hauptabteilung III Chief Department III (Technology and Radio)
    HA V Hauptabteilung V Chief Department V (Culture, Education)
    HA VII Hauptabteilung VII Chief Department VII (Prisons)
    HA XVIII Hauptabteilung XVIII Chief Department XVIII (Economy/Industry)
    HA XX Hauptabteilung XX Chief Department XX (Dissidents and Culture)
    HA XXII Hauptabteilung XXII Chief Department XXII (Terrorism)
    HVA Hauptverwaltung für Aufklärung Chief Administration for Intelligence (Foreign espionage)
    IM Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter Unofficial collaborater
    IMB Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter - Blickfeld Senior IM with close contact to the target
    Koko Komerzielle Koordinierung Commercial Coordination (department responsible for acquiring western currency and products)
    MfS Ministerium für Staatssicherheit Ministry for State Security (Stasi)
    NVA Nationale Volksarmee National People's Army
    OibE Offizier im besonderen Einsatz Officer in special service
    ZAIG Zentrale Auswertungs- und Informationsgruppe Central evaluation and information group
    ZERV Zentrale Ermittlungsstelle Regierungs- und Vereinigungskriminalität Center for discovery of governmental and reunification crimes

    Biographical Note

    June 11, 1930 Born, Dresden, Germany
    1950-1951 Freelance newsman for McGraw Hill Publications, Overseas Weekly, and Associated Press in Germany.
    1951-1952 Sub-editor and reporter for Frankfurt bureau of Reuters.
    1952 Reporter for The Canadian Press, Vancouver, WA.
    1952-1953 Reporter for United Press Association and British United Press, covering Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Seattle.
    1953-1954 Covered, wrote and edited local news for the Anacortes American (Washington).
    1954-1957 Served in the United States Army and United States Army Reserve, entering the Army as a corporal and holding the rank of captain when discharged. Assignments included intelligence collection, counter intelligence, criminal investigation, and public affairs.
    1957 Concurrent with Army service, reporter and editor for United Press Association in Phoenix, AZ.
    1957-1985 AP Correspondent for 28 years, served as head of bureau in Bonn (1959-1962), chief correspondent in Berlin (1962-1965), and bureau chief for New Jersey (1965-1967). Also serves as deputy director and general manager for Personnel, and assistant general manager and managing director for the World Services Division at Associated Press headquarters in New York.
    March 1987 Assistant to the President and Director of Communications under Ronald Reagan.
    1999 Stasi: the Untold Story of the East German Secret Police is published by Westview Press.
    July 2009 Spies in the Vatican: the Soviet Union's War Against the Catholic Church is published by Perseus Books Group.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection documents John Koehler's career as a journalist, intelligence officer, and writer; it consists of correspondence, news stories, photocopies of East German and United States government documents, post-reunification German governmental reports, clippings, printed matter, photographs, sound recordings, and videotapes. Includes papers related to the Associated Press, the U.S. Army, political conditions in Germany, espionage, and especially the East German secret police. The bulk of the papers were collected by Koehler while researching and writing his book, entitled Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police.
    The Professional Files series includes news stories written by Koehler for the Associated Press (AP) and other news organizations, many of them dating from his time as chief correspondent in Berlin, and it also includes speeches and lectures given about journalism. Additionally, the Professional Files contain a small amount of material relating to the U.S. Army, Koehler's consulting company, and his work as President Reagan's communications director. The Correspondence series records Koehler's duties at the AP, particularly after he began working in the AP administrative offices in the United States. The Photographs series is mainly composed of AP photographs from Koehler's time as a reporter, depicting escapes from East Germany as well as photographs of Koehler himself.
    The Stasi Research Materials series comprises the bulk of the collection. In the course of writing Stasi: the Untold Story of the East German Secret Police, Koehler collected information from a wide variety of sources. Thus, the series includes photocopied records from the East German Ministry of State Security (MfS), interviews with former MfS officers and victims, post-reunification German government reports, photocopied documents from various United States government agencies, and an extensive subject file of clippings and published material. The series reflects Koehler's interest in MfS abuses of power and extensively documents international espionage, terrorism, and repression of the East German population during the Cold War.


    The collection is organized into four series: Professional Files, 1946-1989; Correspondence, 1960-1997; Photographs, 1960-1979; and Stasi Research Materials, 1931-2002. The Stasi Research Material series is further divided into five subseries: German Democratic Republic State Security Ministry files, 1931-1993 [bulk 1952-1989]; Federal Republic of Germany reports, 1990-1998; United States government documents, 1943-1997; Interviews and broadcasts, 1991-1997; Subject Files, 1931-2002.

    Related Material

    Jürgen Perduss collection, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    GDR Oral History Project interviews, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    Heinrich Bortfeldt interviews, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    Christian Joppke papers, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands miscellaneous records, Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Video tapes
    Secret service -- Soviet Union
    Espionage, Russian
    Germany -- Politics and government -- 1945-1990
    Secret service -- Germany (East)
    Espionage, East German
    Catholic Church
    John Paul, Pope, II, 1920-2005
    Germany (East). Ministerium für Staatssicherheit