Werner von Alvensleben was widely known in big game hunting circles for his proficiency with the Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle, described by firearms experts as the “World’s Finest Rifle”. Kennedy was said to have been assassinated by shots from a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle which used ammunition virtually identical to that fired in the Mannlicher-Schoenauer. Warren Commission member (and former High Commissioner for Germany) John McCloy, in the official investigation of Kennedy’s assassination, questioned the FBI’s firearms expert as to whether the ammunition of the two rifles could be fired interchangeably. The FBI expert said he did not know the answer as he was unfamiliar with the Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle.
Münster interested the Stasi for two reasons: It was both an important stronghold for the center-right political party Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and a university town with a left-wing scene. Stasi boss Erich Mielke had his agents seek out unofficial collaborators to work within the conservative political establishment. They attached themselves to the police and armed forces and worked their way into the political system. They also recruited students, promising young talents who might one day rank among West Germany's leaders, and thus become important informants for the GDR.