The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Hans-Dieter Mundt Character Analysis

A former member of the Nazi party, current member of the Abteilung, and secret British agent, Hans-Dieter Mundt is a cynical, cold-blooded killer and anti-Semite. Before the action of the novel, he worked as an East German spy in London, was involved in a murder, and tried to kill George Smiley. After returning to Berlin, he was promoted to lead the Abteilung, although he only escaped being captured by the British after pledging to be a British double agent. Over the next two years, he supplies the British with excellent information, using Karl Riemeck as an intermediary. He kills other East German British agents as soon as he feels they may be a threat to his position. In collaboration with Control, who wants to shift suspicion away from Mundt, Mundt prepares to discredit Leamas in an East German court by showing that Leamas was sent by Britain to frame him. Mundt is the antagonist of the novel, and clearly has no allegiance to either side he works for or the ideologies they represent.

Hans-Dieter Mundt Quotes in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The The Spy Who Came in From the Cold quotes below are all either spoken by Hans-Dieter Mundt or refer to Hans-Dieter Mundt. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold published in 2013.
Chapter 14 Quotes

"I've thought about it night and day. Ever since Viereck was shot, I've asked for a reason. At first it seemed fantastic. I told myself I was jealous, that the work was going to my head, that I was seeing treachery behind every tree; we get like that, people in our world. But I couldn't help myself, Leamas, I had to work it out. There’d been other things before. He was afraid—he was afraid that we would catch one who would talk too much!"
"What are you saying? You're out of your mind," said Leamas, and his voice held a trace of fear.
“It all held together, you see. Mundt escaped so easily from England; you told me yourself he did. And what did Guillam say to you? He said they didn't want to catch him! Why not? I'll tell you why—he was their man; they turned him, they caught him, don't you see, and that was the price of his freedom—that and the money he was paid.”

Related Characters: Alec Leamas (speaker), Fiedler (speaker), Hans-Dieter Mundt, Peter Guillam
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 17 Quotes

Mundt's appearance was fully consistent with his temperament. He looked an athlete. His fair hair was cut short. It lay matt and neat. His young face had a hard, clean line, and a frightening directness; it was barren of humour or fantasy. He looked young but not youthful; older men would take him seriously. He was well built. His clothes fitted him because he was an easy man to fit. Leamas found no difficulty in recalling that Mundt was a killer. There was a coldness about him, a rigorous self-sufficiency which perfectly equipped him for the business of murder. Mundt was a very hard man.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas, Hans-Dieter Mundt
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

“But what I mean is this: suppose you had done that, suppose it were true—I am taking an example, you understand, a hypothesis, would you kill a man, an innocent man—”
"Mundt's a killer himself."
"Suppose he wasn’t. Suppose it were me they wanted to kill: would London do it?"
"It depends . . . it depends on the need . . ."
“Ah,” said Fiedler contentedly, "it depends on the need. Like Stalin, in fact. The traffic accident and the statistics. That is a great relief."
"Why?"
"You must get some sleep," said Fiedler. "Order what food you want. They will bring you whatever you want. Tomorrow you can talk." As he reached the door he looked back and said, "We're all the same, you know, that's the joke."

Related Characters: Alec Leamas (speaker), Fiedler (speaker), Hans-Dieter Mundt
Page Number: 161-162
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

“Riemeck had no car himself, he could not have followed de Jong from his house in West Berlin. There was only one way he could have known—through the agency of our own Security police, who reported de Jong's presence as a matter of routine as soon as the car passed the Inter Sector checkpoint. That knowledge was available to Mundt, and Mundt made it available to Riemeck. That is the case against Hans-Dieter Mundt—I tell you, Riemeck was his creature, the link between Mundt and his imperialist masters!”
Fiedler paused, then added quietly:
“Mundt-Riemeck-Leamas: that was the chain of command, and it is axiomatic of intelligence technique the whole world over that each link of the chain be kept, as far as possible, in ignorance of the others. Thus it is right that Leamas should maintain he knows nothing to the detriment of Mundt: that is no more than the proof of good security by his masters in London.”

Related Characters: Fiedler (speaker), Alec Leamas, Hans-Dieter Mundt, Karl Riemeck
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

"Comrade Mundt took one precaution while the British, with Fiedler’s aid, planned his murder.
"He caused scrupulous enquiries to be made in London. He examined every tiny detail of that double life which Leamas led in Bayswater. He was looking, you see, for some human error in a scheme of almost superhuman subtlety. Somewhere, he thought, in Leamas' long sojourn in the wilderness, he would have to break faith with his oath of poverty, drunkenness, degeneracy, above all of solitude. He would need a companion, a mistress perhaps; he would long for the warmth of human contact, long to reveal a part of the other soul within his breast. Comrade Mundt was right you see. Leamas, that skilled, experienced operator, made a mistake so elementary, so human that . . ."

Related Characters: Karden (speaker), Alec Leamas, Hans-Dieter Mundt, Liz Gold
Related Symbols: The Cold
Page Number: 183-184
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

Fiedler, who had returned to his chair and was listening with rather studied detachment, looked at Leamas blandly for a moment:
“And you messed it all up, Leamas, is that it?” he asked. “An old dog like Leamas, engaged in the crowning operation of his career, falls for a . . . what did you call her? . . . a frustrated little girl in a crackpot library? London must have known; Smiley couldn't have done it alone.” Fiedler turned to Mundt: “Here's an odd thing, Mundt; they must have known you'd check up on every part of his story. That was why Leamas lived the life. Yet afterwards they sent money to the grocer, paid up the rent; and they bought the lease for the girl. Of all the extraordinary things for them to do . . . people of their experience . . . to pay a thousand pounds, to a girl—to a member of the Party—who was supposed to believe he was broke. Don't tell me Smiley's conscience goes that far. London must have done it. What a risk!”

Related Characters: Fiedler (speaker), Alec Leamas, Hans-Dieter Mundt, Liz Gold, George Smiley
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 24 Quotes

"As for the Jew," she continued, "he made an accusation against a loyal comrade."
"Will they shoot Fiedler for that?" asked Liz incredulously.
“Jews are all the same,” the woman commented. “Comrade Mundt knows what to do with Jews. We don't need their kind here. If they join the Party they think it belongs to them. If they stay out, they think it is conspiring against them. It is said that Leamas and Fiedler plotted against Mundt. Are you going to eat that?” she enquired, indicating the food on the desk. Liz shook her head.

Related Characters: Liz Gold (speaker), The Prison Wardress (speaker), Alec Leamas, Hans-Dieter Mundt, Fiedler
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

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Hans-Dieter Mundt Character Timeline in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The timeline below shows where the character Hans-Dieter Mundt appears in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Checkpoint
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...minder—a CIA agent—that he must keep waiting, because his agent is on the run from Mundt. The American wonders aloud how Mundt knows that Riemeck is spying for the British, and... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...the East will start a war. Leamas explains that he is awaiting an agent that Mundt’s men are pursuing. They tell him there are still places where a person can climb... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Circus
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...from Berlin, Leamas reflects that he has failed in his career and been beaten by Mundt. He knows that his bosses have never liked him, but they did not fire him... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...point: he wants Leamas to stay “out in the cold” to help to take out Mundt. Leamas asks why, since they have no other agents to protect in Berlin. Control says... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Leamas says he wants to do it, if it means he will get to see Mundt killed. Control asks if Leamas really hates Mundt or if he is just nauseated and... (full context)
Chapter 6: Contact
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...that Smiley doesn’t like the operation. Control asks if Smiley gave Leamas the background on Mundt, and Leamas says he did. Leamas asks if Smiley knows about the “special interest” the... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Third Day
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...a few weeks and then he could come back to England and lie low until Mundt was eliminated. Now Leamas realizes that if he says he wants to return to England,... (full context)
Chapter 12: East
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Elites and Others Theme Icon
...assignment). Control had told them that Fiedler, a Jew, was their best bet to get Mundt, the former Nazi, and that Leamas should supply Fiedler the material he would need to... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...ambition: Fiedler, Leamas says, wants to succeed in a brilliant operation to be promoted above Mundt. Fiedler says it remains to be seen how successful an operation it will be, and... (full context)
Chapter 13: Pins or Paper Clips
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...perpetrating. Leamas reflects that Control had been right that Fiedler could be fed evidence against Mundt. Leamas wonders if perhaps Fiedler is the agent that Control wants him to protect, but... (full context)
Chapter 14: Letter to a Client
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On a walk that day, Fiedler steers the conversation to Mundt. He asks Leamas if he knew that Mundt was in England. Leamas says that Peter... (full context)
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...he and Leamas get out of the car to talk. Fiedler begins to talk about Mundt, who he says shoots first and asks questions later. This is illogical in their profession,... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Fiedler says he has worked it out: Mundt was caught in England and then turned into a British spy. Leamas says Fiedler is... (full context)
Chapter 16: Arrest
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...after he lost consciousness. After hours, the door opens and a man enters. Leamas recognizes Mundt by a description Smiley had given him of his eyes. (full context)
Chapter 17: Mundt
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...and then Leamas attacks the guard. The guard is about to kick Leamas again when Mundt tells him to bring Leamas into the other room. Mundt gives Leamas water and orders... (full context)
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Mundt tells Leamas that he will be charged with murdering the guard at the lodge. If... (full context)
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Mundt asks Leamas when he last saw Smiley. Leamas says he cannot remember, but Mundt persists,... (full context)
Chapter 18: Fiedler
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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... (full context)
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Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
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Fiedler says that Mundt wanted him to confess that he was in league with the British to frame Mundt.... (full context)
Chapter 20: Tribunal
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Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...place in a small courtroom. Leamas sits in the back, in his own clothes, while Mundt is in the front of the room, in prison clothing. Fiedler presents his case by... (full context)
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Fiedler continues his speech, giving a summary of Mundt’s career. He describes Mundt as having been a talented and successful agent in Norway, Sweden,... (full context)
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Mundt’s brilliant escape from London, Fiedler contends, would never have been possible if Mundt had not... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...Leamas testifies that he heard from Peter Guillam that there was no full search for Mundt when he was in London, but that it would have been impossible for Mundt to... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
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...Riemeck were not included in the files that Riemeck had access to. Instead, Fiedler says, Mundt passed the information to Riemeck to give to Leamas. Mundt also promoted Riemeck’s career every... (full context)
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
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Fiedler describes Mundt’s technique. He says that the British were likely hesitant to trust Mundt at first, fearing... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Witness
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Karden, Mundt’s lawyer, makes an opening statement. He says that it is consistent with British practice to... (full context)
Chapter 22: The President
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...testimony, saying that Liz’s testimony has proved that Leamas was part of a plot against Mundt. (full context)
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...lunch with Ashe, and the story about his having stolen money from the Circus, which Mundt had mentioned while interrogating him, had only been meant to be spread around within the... (full context)
Chapter 23: Confession
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Leamas testifies that Karden was right: he was sent by the Circus to frame Mundt. They came up with all the details to incriminate Mundt. Leamas tries to make an... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
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...the grocer and bought the lease for Liz, if it was a plot to frame Mundt. Leamas shrugs and says that the Circus never expected that he would be brought to... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...The President continues, saying that another court will determine Leamas’s punishment. Then she looks at Mundt, who is staring at Fiedler. At that moment, Leamas suddenly understands “the whole ghastly trick.” (full context)
Chapter 24: The Commissar
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...killed a guard, and Fiedler because he accused a loyal comrade. She continues, saying that Mundt knows what to do with Jews. Then she eats the food that Liz could not... (full context)
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In the middle of the night, footsteps approach Liz’s cell. Mundt is in the corridor, and he tells Liz to come with him. Liz is terrified,... (full context)
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Leamas tells Liz to get into the car, and starts driving. Liz asks why Mundt is letting them go, since they are enemies. Leamas says they need to reach Berlin... (full context)
Chapter 25: The Wall
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...in the operation. Leamas says that Fiedler was too powerful to be taken down by Mundt alone. London saw that Fiedler needed to be discredited entirely, not just killed, to save... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
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...say that it was his job to make them think what was actually true: that Mundt was a British spy. Then, once his plot was uncovered, Mundt would be safe. Liz... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
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...because she knows so much and is a Party member. Leamas says that he imagines Mundt will secure his position by blaming their escape on someone else. Liz asks if he... (full context)
Chapter 26: In from the Cold
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...they move towards the wall. Leamas holds Liz very close, as if he is scared Mundt will find a way to snatch her away at the last moment. Leamas finds the... (full context)