(1921 - 1993)
Wolfgang Lotz was born in Germany in 1921. His father was a non-Jewish theater director and his mother
an actress. Neither of them felt any closeness to their respective religions
- so much so that Wolfgang's mother did not even have her son circumcised.
This turned out to work to his advantage in his career as a spy.
Wolfgang's parents divorced in 1931, and in 1933, with Hitler's accession to power, his mother emigrated to Palestine, taking her son
Wolfgang with her. His mother got involved in the acting scene in Tel-Aviv,
while Wolfgang attended the Ben-Shemen agricultural school. He changed
his name to Ze'ev Gur-Aryeh, Ze'ev being the Hebrew word for "wolf"
- as in Wolfgang. He became an "expert equestrian and horsetrainer."
A few years later, before he was 15, Wolfgang joined the Haganah. "His
duties included guarding the armored bus that provided the only means
of getting to Ben-Shemen, which was surrounded by increasingly hostile
Arab villages and towns. He also had to do horse-back guard patrol around
the school itself."
In 1939, World
War II broke out. Wolfgang Lotz, being fluent in German and English,
as well as Hebrew and Arabic, was a great asset to the British Army.
He volunteered and was sent to Egypt, where he remained throughout the
war. His main work consisted of the interrogation of German prisoners
of war - where his own command of the German language was very useful.
Soon after his return to Palestine, he became involved with arms smuggling
for the Haganah. When the state
of Israel was declared in May 1948, Lotz served as a lieutenant in the Israel
Defense Forces, taking part in some of the fiercest fighting in the Latrun
area. He stayed in the army after the war, and in 1956, as a major, he
commanded an infantry brigade in the Sinai/Suez
Sometime after the Sinai
Campaign of 1956, the Mossad approached Lotz about working for them. He did not look Israeli. As
he recalled, "I was blond, stocky and…a hard drinker and the very
epitome of an ex-German officer." He was also blue-eyed, and with
his native German, he could be a superb undercover agent. He was also
known to be courageous and ready to risk his life. What was more, he
had an extrovert nature "and a superb acting ability inherited
from his mother. And because he was not circumcised, he would find it
easier than most to pass, if necessary, as a non-Jew."
He was almost 35 and did not see a great future for himself
in the army. He was aware of the "intensive and exhausting"
nature of Mossad training, but accepted the challenge eagerly. He was
asked to convince others that not only was he not Jewish, but that he
was an ex-Nazi. To build a cover story, he was sent to West Germany.
He was "to play the part of a German businessman who had served
in Hitler's Army in North Africa and then had spent eleven years in
Australia breeding racehorses." All of this effort was preliminary
to placing him in Egypt,
where he was to infiltrate the coterie of ex-Nazis living and working
Lotz underwent intensive training in the art of espionage for several
months, and took courses in Egyptian history, politics and culture. "As
early as 1957 the decision had been made to send him there (to Egypt) so he
could collect information on the Soviet arms being supplied to Nasser's
government." But there was another reason the Mossad wanted a top agent
in Egypt. "An increasing number of reports (were) coming in about the
growing influence of German advisers who had been invited to the country by
Nasser. Many of them were former Nazis. Scientists, engineers, doctors, police
experts - they had come to occupy a central place in the running of the
country." The Mossad was especially worried about German scientists
working on an Egyptian rocket. The Mossad wanted more information, and Lotz
was to provide it.
In November 1959 Lotz was sent to Germany. After a year of moving from
place to place, in order to make it difficult to trace, it was decided to send
him to Egypt. He arrived in December 1960 or January 1961. He quickly set
about making contacts. He went to horse riding clubs, and he soon found which
one was often frequented by Egyptian Army officers. Lotz met Youssef Ali
Gahourab, the Chief of Egyptian police. Introducing himself as a horse
breeder, the two soon developed a real rapport and friendship.
Soon word spread of the rich German who had arrived among the Egyptian
elite. "Within days Lotz was being deluged with invitations to dinner
parties, cocktail parties, swimming parties. Wealthy horse-fanciers were
asking his advice. Police chief Gharoub made arrangements with him to go
Nor did Lotz skimp on his own show of generosity. "He entertained
often and lavishly, carefully noting the titles and military ranks of the
acquaintances he made." He bought horses of his own and stabled them at
the Cavalry Club.
After six months Lotz returned to Europe to report to his
superiors in the Mossad. They were very pleased with his work. As Eli
Cohen was called "Our man in Damascus", Lotz was called
"The Eye of Tel Aviv in Cairo."
Lotz prepared to go back to Egypt with a large sum of money and a radio
transmitter to secretly keep in contact and communicate with Israel. But
before he did, something very strange indeed - for a spy in his situation -
arose. Lotz was already married to a woman in Israel. His marriage was not
going well, but he remained married. Nevertheless that did not stop him form
entering into a complicated love affair. On a train from Paris in June 1961,
Lotz, in his own words, met "'a tall, extremely pretty, blue-eyed blonde
with the curvaceous figure I always have a weakness for.'" Her name was
Waltraud Martha Neumann, a refugee from East Germany living in America. She
was visiting her parents in Germany.
Two weeks later they were married. "It is almost inconceivable that a
trained and otherwise reliable agent would do such a thing, but Lotz said he
did not consult his Israeli controllers and simply took his bride to
Cairo." He insisted on taking her with him, which seriously compromised
him as an agent. "To make matters worse Lotz told her at the outset that
he was a spy for Israel. If he should be captured in Egypt, her complicity
would weaken his ability to resist the brutal torture he was certain to
undergo." On the other hand Israel needed and wanted him in Cairo. He had
proven himself as an invaluable agent. Mossad Chief Isser Harel gave the
go-ahead to continue with the operation.
There were other unconfirmed reports that Waltraud was actually just part
of his cover story, and that the BND, the West German Intelligence Agency,
assigned Waltraud to work with Lotz as part of their clandestine cooperation
Whatever the truth, their love was real. And when he told her he was spying
for Israel, she agreed to help him enthusiastically.
Lotz returned to Egypt in the summer of 1961, with Waltraud following a few
weeks later. Egyptian police chief Gahourab was there to meet him and drove
him personally to Cairo, "where a lavish party was thrown in his
honor." Despite the party, Lotz made his first transmission to Tel-Aviv.
Lotz had a virtually limitless spending account, and he used it to buy
presents for friends in high places, to throw parties, and to buy horses and
stables for the riding school he would open. Wolfgang and his wife enjoyed
themselves immensely. During the day they rode with friends, and their active
social life led to more and more contacts with people in high places. They
established good relations with Brigadier General Fouad Osman and Colonel
Mohse Said, key figures in Egyptian Military intelligence. Osman was head of
security for rocket bases and military factories, and thus was responsible
"for protecting exactly those installations that Lotz wanted to find out
about." One of Nasser's closest advisers, Hussein El-Shafei, "often
told Wolfgang of important state decisions before most government officials
knew about them."
Lotz also became very close to many Germans and former Nazis living in
Cairo. He even became genuinely friendly with one couple. Another friend was
Gerhard Bauch, who claimed to be a former Nazi officer, but was suspected of
leading a more surreptitious life. General Fouad Osman told Lotz one day;
"That man Bauch is always hanging around listening to every word you say.
Be careful. Officially he is here as an industrialist, but we know he is a spy
for the Bonn government. We allow him to operate freely, as president Nasser
wants good relations with the Germans…we also know that the information
Bauch gets here is passed on to the CIA. As you are a German he may try to
exploit your position here. Forgive me for saying so, but you are a little
naive about the dirty business of espionage. I thought I had better warn
Rather amusing words, being told to the foremost Israeli spy operating in
Egypt at the time. Wolfgang thanked his friend and promised to be more
Lotz, however, did keep up his pretense, and even succeeded in establishing
his reputation as a rabid anti-Semite - which only made him more acceptable to
former Nazis and high Egyptian officials alike. He infiltrated the most
secretive circles of the SS, as distasteful as it was to befriend these men.
His friendships with key military figures proved invaluable. He was able to
visit even "closely guarded, top-secret bases near the Suez Canal. He and
Waltraud were allowed access to airports where the Egyptians stationed their
newly arrived Migs, and took photographs of the aircraft at close range with
their pilots standing proudly by." Arms depots, air hangars,
communication centers - all were open to him. At one point Israel wanted to
find out more about the Russian Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) base being built
near the Suez Canal City of Ismailia. It was absolutely off limits to people
like him. But he went ahead and when arrested, he protested he had no idea
where he was and if there were any problems, the military base commander could
call Youssef Gahourab and Fouad Osman. The commander did so, and they indeed
got Lotz off the hook.
The Egyptians boasted to Lotz about the clever way they mixed real fighter
planes in with dummies on the airfields in order to confuse the Israeli
Air Force. Lotz dutifully complimented them on their ingenuity and
reported all of this to Tel-Aviv.
In the early 1960's Mossad Chief Isser
Harel was very concerned by the danger of German scientists working
in Egypt to develop their surface to surface rocket missile program.
There was a perceived danger of the missiles reaching Israeli cities.
Therefore, Harel pressed Lotz for more information on the development
of the project.
Until then Lotz had given then Mossad very little information on the German
scientists working in Egypt. But within six weeks Lotz "was back in Paris
with a full list of every single German scientist living in Cairo. He had
their Cairo addresses and the locations of their families in Germany and
Austria. Through high-placed sources he had gained exact details of the exact
role which each man played in the Egyptian armaments factories." From
Lotz, the Israelis learned to their satisfaction that the Egyptians were
having great difficulty in "finding a reliable guidance system."
Lotz maintained his horse breeding and horseracing charade, so much so that
he even built his own riding establishment, "complete with miniature race
track, stables, paddocks and a training ring." His friends came in droves
to watch and admire his creation, which was just as he wanted; the more
champagne flowed, the more his high-ranking friends divulged military and
Lotz contributed to the Mossad campaign of threatening German scientists
working in Egypt, mainly by writing threatening letters. One of them read;
"We are writing to tell you that your name now appears on our black list
of German scientists employed in Egypt. We would like to think that you care
for the safety of your wife, Elizabeth, and your two children, Niels and Trudi.
It would be in your interest to cease working for the Egyptian military."
Things were working fine for Wolfgang Lotz for a number of years until
certain changes took place in Egyptian foreign policy in the autumn of 1964.
The Egyptians had been dependent on Soviet military and economic aid since the
mid 1950's. The Soviets used this leverage to pressure Nasser into inviting
East German President Walter Ulbricht to come to Cairo. The West German
Government protested, but Nasser felt he had to accede to Soviet wishes. So in
the winter of 1965 he indeed invited the East German president. What was more,
the Soviets had been complaining that the West German intelligence service,
Gehlen, was working with the CIA against the Soviets.
Nasser decided to cooperate with the Soviets and show the West Germans that
he couldn't be pressured in one move. He thus "ordered the arrest of some
thirty West Germans living in Cairo." Wolfgang Lotz, his wife Waltraud,
and Waltraud's parents, who had come to Egypt for a visit, were all arrested.
The Egyptians told the German ambassador that the arrests were purely a
matter of form, and that they would all be released after the East German
President left. But Wolfgang Lotz had no way of knowing this. He assumed that
the Egyptians had found out about his spying activities. His first
consideration, as the Mossad had feared from the start, was for Waltraud - and
now her parents who were visiting as well. Lotz decided to cooperate fully
with the Egyptians, who hadn't suspected a thing.
When they began to interrogate Lotz as a matter of routine, he volunteered
to his stunned and unsuspecting interlocutor all they wanted to know. If the
Egyptian interrogator had shown surprise, Lotz might have caught on, but the
Egyptian didn't betray his astonishment. He merely told Lotz: "'I want to
know where you hide your espionage equipment.'" He was just catching on
to the meaning of Lotz' words, but he continued on with aplomb and presence of
mind: "'We know everything. So as to avoid wasting time - mine and yours
- it would be best if you confessed fully right here and now.'"
Lotz told him that he would "find the security transmitter in the
bathroom." He went on tell him that in bars of soap they would find
explosives and microfilm. They found over $75,000 in various caches.
But Wolfgang Lotz' acting ability and cool enabled him to keep much from
his Egyptian interlocutors. He stuck to his cover story that he was a German,
had been educated in Germany, and when World War II broke out he had joined
the Afrika Corps. There, he said, he learned the equestrian art.
Following the war he went to Australia for 11 years before returning to
Germany. He claimed that at a riding club he got an offer to breed horses and
open his own riding establishment in Egypt. Only later, he said, did he
understand that the Israelis had led him into a trap. He explained that he
always dreamed of a horse farm and racetrack, and the price was to transmit
information to Israel. "'I am a weak man'" he told them. "'I
agreed right away. I did not even hesitate. I feared, at the time, that if I
backed out my life would be in danger. The Israelis were ruthless and arrogant
like all Jews. I thought it safest to follow their suggestions.'" He went
on to warn the Egyptians: "Never have anything to do with them (the
The Egyptians seemed to accept his story of a rather slow ex-German
soldier. But they checked to see if he was circumcised to make sure he was not
a Jew. As we recall, he was not circumcised.
The Egyptians asked him for all of his contacts - who had trained him,
where he had been trained, etc.
After days of this he convinced Egyptian Intelligence that Waltraud's
parents were uninvolved. But they did not believe that Waltraud herself was
Lotz pretended to cooperate fully by volunteering all kinds of information
- but his information was only partially true. The Egyptians believed he was a
German spying for Israel but of course he was really an Israeli. He even made
a televised broadcast to the German people urging anyone who considered spying
on behalf of Israel not to do so, and expressed remorse for his own actions.
The Egyptians were thrilled with the propaganda - but the Israelis were
even happier. Lotz' cover was obviously still not blown.
Just as the Egyptian-Jewish spies in the Operation Susannah fiasco received
a trial, so did Wolfgang Lotz and his wife Waltraud. The Mossad secretly
arranged for Lotz to have a German defense lawyer and an observer from Germany
was even present.
Lotz continued to use his expert mix of truth and deception to convince the
Egyptians that he was really a German. They believed him. There was a scare
when a letter came from Germany, from a German lawyer representing victims of
the Israeli threatening letter campaign. The lawyer accurately reported that
Lotz' mother was Jewish and that he had emigrated to Palestine in the early
1930's, and that he had even served in the Israeli Army. But Lotz swore the
information was false and the court still believed him.
On August 21, 1965, Wolfgang Lotz was sentenced to life imprisonment with
hard labor. Waltraud was sentenced to three years.
But Wolfgang was never forced to do hard labor. He won over the guards and
befriended the other Israeli spies we learned about a number of weeks ago -
Robert Dassa, Victor Levy, and Philip Nathanson. Lotz was even permitted to
see his wife Waltraud now and then. Waltraud herself had become friends with
Marcelle Ninio in the Women's prison.
At first Lotz did not reveal that he was an Israeli to his fellow Israeli
spies. With time he did, and they became even more closely knit.
Months after the 1967 War, in the
winter of 1968, Lotz, Waltraud, and the other Israeli spies were released in a
spy exchange with Egypt.
Lotz returned to live in Israel. He went into various business ventures
that never really worked out. But although never well known, Wolfgang Lotz
deserves to be remembered for the tremendous contribution he made to Israeli
security prior to the Six Day War, and
for the presence of mind to fool his interrogators and jailers about his true
identity as not only an Israeli spy, which they knew him to be, but as a
citizen of Israel.
Pedagogic Center, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish
Agency for Israel, (c) 1992-2005, Director: Dr. Motti Friedman,
Webmaster: Esther Carciente. This material may not be republished without
the permission of the copyright owner.