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They were the regular Mr. and Mrs. Smith. 54-year-old Andreas Anschlag was a car engineer who had worked at several companies, while 48-year-old Heidrun Anschlag was a devoted housewife. The couple lived in a comfortable detached home in the quiet community of Marburg, West Germany. A perfectly boring existence right? Not quite!
If the allegations by the German government are true, 48-year old Andreas and 54-year old Heidrun are actually Russian spies who have been sending thousands of secret EU, NATO and UN documents, initially to the former Soviet Union and after the break-up, to the Russian Foreign Service, for the last 23 years! Just like in the movies they communicated the secrets using 'dead letter boxes' and via satellite and the Internet!
The fascinating story begins in 1998, a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall that signified the unification of East and West Germany. Andreas entered the country first. Heidrun followed two years later, in 1990. Both claimed to have been born in South America and raised in Austria, which accounted for their thick European accents and Austrian passports. (Of course upon their arrests, all of this information turned out to be totally fake). And it gets better!
According to the officials, the couple immediately began recruiting other agents not just in Germany, but also, in neighboring European countries. It is believed that Heidrun received detailed instructions from her employer - Russian Intelligence agency, SWR twice a week, via a shortwave receiver that was connected to a decoder and computer. The couple in turn, replied via satellite or the Internet.
In fact, just as in the movies, Heidrun was in the midst of receiving an encoded message on her shortwave frequency when the commandos from Germany's special forces stormed into her house and made a dramatic arrest in October 2011. Though she managed to pull the connection cable out before they got too close, they suspect that she was communicating with her superiors in Moscow. Andreas was arrested a few days later, albeit not in such a dramatic fashion.
Fittingly enough, the couple whose trial began in Stuttgart on Tuesday, January 15th, is being defended by Horst-Dieter Pötschke better known as 'lawyer of spies' because of his reputation of representing a number of other Eastern European spies.
The next six months will reveal more details about this thrilling real-life espionage case - Things like names of the people they recruited, the kind of secrets the 'spies' managed to leak out and most important of all their true identity - For now, the only sure thing known is that their spy names in Moscow were Pit and Tina and that their real first names are Sasha and Olga.
And while everybody is waiting anxiously for the next chapter to unveil, nobody is as curious as their long-term neighbors who now say they always suspected something was odd about the Anschlags. After all, their last name does mean 'attack' in German. Also, Heidrun was often seen in her garden, even during the coldest winter months, making phone calls!
The fact that someone in Hollywood is already drooling to get rights on this story is pretty obvious. We just wonder who will play the couple and their famous lawyer. Do you have any thoughts? Be sure to let us know, by adding your comments below!