Wilhelm Johann Carl Eduard
Stieber (3 May 1818 – January 29, 1882) was Otto von Bismarck's master spy and director of the Prussian Feldgendarmerie.
Stieber was both an
agent of domestic surveillance
external agent. Along with Joseph
, he invented modern information gathering
to his questionable memoirs (see discussion page regarding "The
Chancellor's Spy"), Stieber was born in Merseburg, Prussian Saxony.
His parents were Hypolith Stieber, a minor
government official who later entered the Lutheran
ministry, and Daisy Cromwell, an English
noblewoman. He began studying German law at Friedrich
Wilhelm University in Berlin against the
wishes of his father, who desired a career for him in the Prussian Church.
He was then employed
in 1841 in a criminal court. When his father learned that he was
studying law, he ended all funding towards his education.In order
to earn his tuition, young Stieber began working for the Berlin police
. Finding this much more exciting
than Law, he obtained a promotion to Inspector of Division IV, the
Criminal Division. After the Revolution of 1848
, he was promoted by
King Frederick William
IV of Prussia
as chief of police. During the winter of 1850, he
was ordered to investigate an exiled political extremist named
dubious memoirs state that, posing as a doctor, he bluffed his way
into Marx's London household
and stole the membership listings of Marx's Communist League.
The information in
the files was sent to France and also to several German States.
Many of Marx's associates were then sentenced to long prison terms.
Stieber's memoirs also describe his involvement with matters
embarrassing to the House of
. He refers to an occasion when a Greek
swindler named Simonides bilked the Berlin Academy of Science
via a forged Ancient Greek
manuscript. As the money had
come from the king's private purse, Stieber was ordered to get it
back as discreetly as possible. Using an elderly circus performer
as an interpreter, Stieber forced Simonides to return the money by
threatening to hand him over to the notoriously brutal Greek
police. With the money secured, Simonides was escorted to the
border and ordered never to return to Prussia.
also investigated a counterfeiting gang in the Rhineland and insider trading
on the Berlin stock
He also became something of an expert on the
prostitution trade in Berlin and recruited many of its denizens as
- together with Carl G. Wermuth: Die Communisten-Verschwörungen
des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, ASIN: B0000BU4N6 (English:
Communist Conspiracies of the Nineteenth Century)
- Die Prostitution in Berlin und ihre Opfer, Berlin,
Hofmann & Co., 1846 (English: Prostitution in Berlin and Its
- Wilhelm Stieber, "The Chancellor's Spy," pages 25-38.
- Wilhelm Stieber, "The Chancellor's Spy," pages 47-50.