From negotiating with Hezbollah to tracing stolen toxic waste, Werner Mauss was one of Germany’s most prolific secret agents

In secret service circles, he was either known as “Institution M” or “The Man with Nine Fingers”, because of a missing digit on his left hand. Locals in his village thought he was called “Richard Nelson” but his bank clerk knew him as “Claus Möllner”. Politicians at the top of government simply referred to their top secret agent as “007”.

For at least three decades Werner Mauss was Germany’s real-life answer to James Bond: a rogue operator who moved in the shadowy realm between criminal underworld and intelligence agencies, entrapping drug dealers, retrieving stolen goods, negotiating with terrorists, often changing identity on his private plane mid-air.

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