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Wilhelm Stieber (1818-1882)Download nowEnlargeShow similar images

Title: Wilhelm Stieber (1818-1882)

Description: Wilhelm Stieber (Wilhelm Johann Carl Eduard Stieber; AKA: King of Sleuthhounds; May 3, 1818-January 29, 1882), Prussian police official and director of Prussian Secret Service under Otto von Bismarck (Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck; April 1, 1815-July 30, 1896), Prussian Prime Minister and Chancellor of the German Empire (March 21, 1871-March 20, 1890). Stieber began his career as an investigator and intelligence officer with the Berlin Police Department. When he uncovered an assassination plot in the Revolution of 1848 to murder Frederick William IV of Prussia (October 15, 1795-January 2, 1861)--he literally saved the king's life--Stieber was promoted by the king as chief of Berlin Police. He undertook to investigate the operations of Karl Marx (Karl Heinrich Marx; May 5, 1818-March 14, 1883) and his Communist League, bluffing his way into Marx's home in London where, according to his memoirs, he stole the complete list of the League's membership, sending this information to officials in Germany and France and causing the arrests of hundreds of these conspirators. Stieber exposed counterfeiting rings and crooked inside traders in the Berlin stock exchange, but his foremost feats involved his domestic and foreign espionage for Chancellor Bismarck. Employing thousands of prostitutes as spies, he exposed many plots and conspiracies, both criminal and military, that aided the Chancellor. Painstaking, thorough and methodical, Stieber never relied upon conjecture, only facts. He traveled to Russia where he organized the Imperial Russian Secret Service (Okhrana) and, disguising himself as merchant, later traveled throughout Austria, detailing its military strengths and weaknesses, all of this provided in detailed reports to Bismarck. So well documented were Stieber's secret reports that Bismarck, through General Helmuth von Moltke (Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke; Helmuth von Moltke the Elder; October 26, 1800-April 24, 1891), was able to win the total defeat of Austria in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War at the Battle of Sadowa (Battle of Koniggratz) on July 3, 1866, which caused Bismarck to call Stieber "my king of sleuthhounds." He operated a notorious brothel in Berlin called The Green House, where his courtesans compromised and blackmailed high-ranking officials to provide him with subversive plots and conspirators. He established a foreign intelligence service, as well as a counter-intelligence service that proved effective during the Franco-Prussian War (Franco-German War; War of 1870; July 19, 1870-May 10, 1871), which enabled Bismarck to thoroughly defeat France, based upon the information Stieber provided to him. During that time, Stieber instituted a ruthless policy of encouraging his spies in Germany and abroad to murder any enemy agent and, in the same brutal policy, gave no protection for his own spies. Few mourned his passing in 1892, those attending his funeral appearing not out sympathy, but to assure themselves that this most lethal of spymasters was actually dead.

Category: Intelligence

Keywords: Wilhelm Stieber, Otto von Bismarck, Berlin Police Department, Frederick William IV of Prussia, Karl Marx, Communist League, Prussian Secret Service, German Secret Service, Imperial Russian Secret Service, Okhrana, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Battle of Sadowa, The Green House, Franco-Prussian War, Franco-German War, Austro-Prussian War, spymasters, spies, spying, espionage, Intelligence

Orientation: Portrait

Dimensions: 1800 x 2470 (4.45 MPixels) (1.37)

Print Size: 15.2 x 20.9 cm; 6.0 x 8.2 inches

File Size: 12.75 MB (13,371,704 Bytes)

Resolution: 300 x 300 dpi

Color Depth: 16.7 million (24 BitsPerPixel)

Compression: None

Image Number: 0000004430

Source: Jay Robert Nash Collection


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