The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

by

John Le Carré

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Karl Riemeck Character Analysis

A member of the East German government, Riemeck becomes a spy for the British. Riemeck is a member of the Secretariat and the Praesidium, which gives him access to documents that he photographs and gives to the British. Riemeck tells his lover, Elvira, a great deal, and Leamas believes that this is what gets him killed. Riemeck is killed by Mundt after he comes under suspicion of spying for the British. It is revealed at the end of the novel that Riemeck was actually Mundt’s intermediary, whom Mundt killed to protect himself.

Karl Riemeck 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 Karl Riemeck or refer to Karl Riemeck. 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 1 Quotes

That damned woman, thought Leamas, and that fool Karl who'd lied about her. Lied by omission, as they all do, agents the world over. You teach them to cheat, to cover their tracks, and they cheat you as well. He'd only produced her once, after that dinner in the Schürzstrasse last year. Karl had just had his big scoop and Control had wanted to meet him. Control always came in on success. They'd had dinner together—Leamas, Control, and Karl. Karl loved that kind of thing. He turned up looking like a Sunday School boy, scrubbed and shining, doffing his hat and all respectful. Control had shaken his hand for five minutes and said: "I want you to know how pleased we are, Karl, damn pleased." Leamas had watched and thought, "That'll cost us another couple of hundred a year." When they'd finished dinner Control pumped their hands again, nodded significantly and implying that he had to go off and risk his life somewhere else, got back into his chauffeur-driven car.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas, Karl Riemeck, Control, Elvira
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
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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Karl Riemeck Character Timeline in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The timeline below shows where the character Karl Riemeck 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
...secret service agent Alec Leamas has been waiting for nine hours for his agent Karl Riemeck to cross from East Berlin into West Berlin. Alec Leamas tells his impatient American minder—a... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
...talk to the occupant of the car, a woman named Elvira. She tells Leamas that Riemeck escaped arrest in East Berlin and will try to cross through the Berlin Wall tonight... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...II. He thinks back on the moment, some months before, when he first discovered that Riemeck had confided in Elvira. Riemeck had had a huge success and Control had come to... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...offered Elvira a place to stay at his flat and told her he would bring Riemeck later, calls to tell his landlady to expect guests that night. One of the policemen... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Circus
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...be killed off, one after another, on Mundt’s orders, up until the latest killing of Riemeck. (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...about banal topics like the cold and the secretaries. Control says it’s a shame that Riemeck was shot, and says that Elvira must have turned him in. Leamas does not ask... (full context)
Chapter 8: Le Mirage
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Berlin as Deputy-Controller of Area in charge of all operational work. In 1959, he recruited Riemeck, who was the best agent he ever had. He was on the Praesidium of the... (full context)
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Leamas tells Peters that he returned to London after Riemeck’s death and worked in the Banking sector, supervising overseas payments to agents. He describes the... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...and 1956, but then could not find a good source of intel until 1959, when Riemeck left a tin full of film in the car of a man who worked for... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...From a list of members of the Presidium, he narrowed it down to a guess: Riemeck. Because the documents contained crossed out words, Leamas guessed that the source was one of... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Leamas. He asks Leamas if he really believes all the information he received came from Riemeck. Peters says Riemeck must have had help, and asks if no one at the Circus... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Leamas continues to tell Peters about Riemeck, saying he was an exceptional source because he had access to the Praesidium, internal political... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Leamas recalls all the information that Riemeck provided to the British in detail. Peters finally says that it is impossible that Riemeck... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...knows about operations in Berlin. Leamas reflects that it’s odd that Peters is so certain Riemeck could not have had access to all the information he provided. He remembers that Control... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...He decides to give up trying to unravel Control’s reasoning and falls asleep, thinking that Riemeck died because he told Elvira so much. Leamas also remembers Liz. (full context)
Chapter 9: The Second Day
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...at Le Mirage, he and Leamas discuss Leamas’s work once he returned to London after Riemeck’s death. Leamas says he was going to be retired, but because of his broken service... (full context)
Chapter 12: East
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
...getting burnt out. He remembers that last year he was on his way to meet Riemeck, speeding on the highway, which was crowded with huge, heavy lorries, when he had to... (full context)
Chapter 14: Letter to a Client
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
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Elites and Others Theme Icon
Fiedler steers the conversation to Riemeck, asking Leamas about the occasion when Riemeck and Control met. Leamas says that Control always... (full context)
Chapter 20: Tribunal
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Leamas also testifies that Riemeck and Control met alone in his apartment in Berlin. Fiedler explains that the documents that... (full context)
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...no network. But by the end of 1959, Mundt informed London that he had found Riemeck, a man in the Praesidium who could be his intermediary to London. In Mundt’s position,... (full context)
Chapter 22: The President
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Leamas had told her too much, and then says that Leamas made the same mistake Riemeck did by confiding in a woman. (full context)