BONN, OCT. 10 -- Gabriela Gast helped prepare Chancellor Helmut Kohl's weekly top-secret intelligence briefing. Klaus Kuron handled the delicate task of turning around enemy spies and creating double agents.
Senior and trusted veterans of the West German intelligence apparatus, they were both, the German government now charges, East German agents. Today, they are both under arrest, the latest fruits of Bonn's embarrassing bumper crop of East German spies.
Throughout the four decades of German division, the most popular parlor game in the West German capital was guessing which politician might be an East German mole. And West German counterintelligence agents have suspected for months that last week's unification of the two countries would prompt a few old East German spies to step out from the shadows. But the spies captured in recent days were so highly placed, with such extraordinary access to West Germany's most closely held secrets, that no one is predicting an end to the surprises.
So far this year, German prosecutors have arrested about 200 East German spy suspects -- nine of them in the week since unification. One was Kuron, who turned himself in after meeting with KGB agents on Saturday; the eight others, taken into custody tonight, were identified only as business people who knew Kuron.
"This is an extent that we had not figured on," an intelligence source said today. "There is still a lot of activity going on."
Tonight, government spokesman Hans Klein issued an appeal to former East German spies to give themselves up and announced that Bonn expects more arrests in the days to come. Prosecutors are offering lighter sentences to those who come forward.
Moments after East Germany ceased to exist Oct. 3, German police arrested the last chief of the East German intelligence service, Werner Grossmann. Grossmann's agents in West Germany -- thought to number about 4,000 -- were apparently still sending details of Bonn's domestic and foreign policy to East Berlin until hours before their client state became a closed chapter in history.
And after the Germanys reunited, the Soviet Union tried to save its key German sources, according to the German counterintelligence agency, the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution.
On Saturday, Kuron -- a 28-year veteran of the agency with access to top-secret documents -- met with KGB agents who tried to convince him to continue his work for them.
The next day, Kuron, 54, turned himself in to his superiors, hoping for a light sentence. He admitted to receiving $320,000 between 1982 and this year to spy for the foreign intelligence arm of East Germany's Stasi secret police. He said he did it for the money.
Over the years, prosecutors said, Kuron -- described by his former employers as efficient and inconspicuous -- delivered highly explosive material to his East Berlin keepers.
One of Kuron's first meetings with East German agents was with the legendary spymaster Markus Wolf, then chief of the Stasi's foreign intelligence section.
Wolf was one of the main targets of Bonn's post-unification manhunt, but the crafty spy chief eluded his captors. Although initial reports placed him in Moscow, where he has been much of the time since East Germany's anti-Communist revolution, Wolf wrote to prosecutors this week to say they could reach him through his lawyer "anytime."
Wolf -- the real-life model for spy novelist John le Carre's KGB operative Karla -- said he had not fled but was only on vacation, reportedly in Austria or Hungary.
Gast, who wrote her doctoral thesis on women in the East German Communist Party, was captured as she attempted to escape over the border to Austria last week. She had worked for the West German Federal Intelligence Service since 1973. But investigators now say she had been on the East German payroll since 1968.
In recent years, prosecutors said, she was in a position to deliver to the East Germans "valuable assessments" of Western policies toward Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
Gast also helped write the report of the most important intelligence findings given to the West German chancellor each week. According to an advance edition of the German newsmagazine Stern, it is not clear whether Kohl or East German Security Minister Erich Mielke saw the intelligence reports first.
The spate of arrests recalled Bonn's most celebrated spy case, in 1974, when Willy Brandt was forced to resign as chancellor after his political aide, Guenther Guillaume, was exposed as a longtime East German agent.
The question of what to do about former members of East Germany's world-renowned spy network has plagued the Bonn government since unification became a realistic possibility.
After months of harsh debate, West German officials temporarily rejected the idea of a general amnesty for the 200,000 people who worked for the Stasi in official or unofficial capacities. But the amnesty issue will not be resolved until a new parliament is elected in December.
Meanwhile, Germans are asking the same questions they did during and after the denazification process after World War II, when some Germans felt the shadows of Nazi involvement loomed too heavily over every application for public and even some private jobs. In later years, others argued that the country was too lax about returning ex-Nazis to positions of authority and respect.
Many residents of the former East Germany want the careful records the Stasi kept on millions of citizens to be destroyed so that the contents cannot be used to blackmail or blackball job applicants. But the government is loath to get rid of the only documents that could save it from putting ex-spies and secret police informants in sensitive positions.
Only two weeks ago, prosecutors said they envisioned pressing espionage cases against fewer than 200 Stasi agents. Now they say the numbers could rise considerably.
Several former agents who had been living safely in East Germany reportedly have fled in recent days to the Soviet Union, which offered amnesty to top-level Stasi agents, according to newspaper reports here.
A top aide to Kohl called on Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev this week to stop trying to recruit East German agents.