The Spy Who Came in From the Cold


John Le Carré

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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Fiedler tells Leamas that he was also interrogated, and that Mundt not only had him beat up, but also whispered anti-Semitic taunts in his ear the whole time. Fiedler says it is all over now, because he had already applied for an arrest warrant for Mundt as an enemy of the people. Fiedler sent the entire Praesidium his report on Mundt and they finally arrested Mundt. A secret Tribunal will begin tomorrow. Fiedler tells Leamas that there will be three judges, drawn from the members of the Praesidium, and these judges will prepare a report which contains a recommendation similar to a verdict. Fiedler will prosecute Mundt, and a man named Karden, who was also a Nazi, will defend him. Fiedler says that he has heard that Karden will call a witness, but Leamas shrugs at this.
Fiedler sent his report accusing Mundt of spying to the other members of the Praesidium, but they still deferred to Mundt and, at least initially, agreed to arrest Fiedler and turn him over to Mundt. This distrust towards Fiedler and deference towards Mundt is a sign of the deep undercurrents of anti-Semitism throughout the East German leadership, as is Mundt’s choice of a fellow ex-Nazi to lead his defense. Leamas is so battered from his experience during the arrest that he barely considers what it means that the defense will also call a witness.
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Fiedler says that Mundt wanted him to confess that he was in league with the British to frame Mundt. Leamas says that Mundt said the same to him, accusing him of being part of a British plot to destroy Mundt. Fiedler asks Leamas if the British had sent Leamas in order to get the East Germans to kill Mundt, if they would be willing to kill an innocent man. Leamas retorts that Mundt is a killer, not an innocent man, but Fiedler presses him further, asking if London would be willing to see him—Fiedler—killed. Leamas says that depends on what was at stake. Fiedler says that this proves the two systems are the same. Fiedler leaves, telling Leamas to rest. Leamas falls asleep, content in the knowledge that he will soon bring Mundt to his death.
Fiedler has clearly been struggling with the question of whether Communist spies are more brutal in their methods than the Western ones. He knows that Communists are ideologically able to justify the deaths of innocents, while the Western powers claim that this is unacceptable. But in the fight against Communists, Western spies are just as willing to kill—Leamas himself admits this. Fiedler believes that Leamas only understands a part of the Circus’s strategy and he wonders if Leamas is actually an unwitting part of a British plot to kill Fiedler himself.
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