1961, West Germany. Hansen is a man who escaped from the German Democratic Republic and now works for an American company called Concordia. In fact, Hansen is an agent of the Stasi, and Concordia is the headquarters of Military Intelligence Division in Germany, from which countless saboteurs and spies have been sent over the border to wreak havoc in East Germany. The United States plans to invade the country, after staging an internal uprising as a provocation to intervene. The plans are held by Collins, Hansen's superior. The latter intends to steal them, but has to evade the suspicions of security officer Rocker, who knows there is a leak. He is assisted by his chauffeur, František, who discovered his covert identity but intends to help him, in order to return to his homeland Czechoslovakia. The two manage to steal the safe with the invasion plans and cross the border to the East, pursued by the police and army. The plan is uncovered and the invasion has to be canceled.Alfred Müller: Hansen
Helmut Schreiber: Major Ted Collins
Ivan Palec: František
Hans Lucke: Colonel Rock
Werner Lierck: Schuck
Martin Flörchinger: Stasi colonel
Peter Marx: Hartmann
Eva-Maria Hagen: Peggy
Rolf Herricht: Max
Gerd E. Schäfer: Charly
Christine Laszar: Hella
Ingrid Ohlenschläger: Liz
Renate Geißler: Gisela
Marion van de Kamp: Adelheid
Eberhard Esche: Stasi agent
Norbert Flohr: Manfred
Peter Friedrich: bearded man
Georg Gudzent: MID general
Hans Köcke: man with glass eye
The idea to make For Eyes Only was conceived by dramatist Hans Lucke, who also played in the film. Although the its main theme - the planned invasion of the GDR by American-led NATO forces - was a common motif in East German propaganda since the beginning of the Cold War, author Bernd Stöver viewed For Eyes Only as the final link in a chain of publications, starting at 1958, intended by the government to demonstrate the necessity of building the Berlin Wall and to justify it after it was erected. Dramatist Heinz Hafke commented that "the Imperialist forces view the Cold War as a never-ending struggle against the Socialist states. The Cold War can become hot instantly, if the forces of peace will let down their guard. In this film, although we used some artistic freedom, we based the plot on actual people and documents... The setting of the story sometime before 13 August 1961 is justified and is supported by fact." Stöver claimed that the picture was to give the impression that the planned invasion was prevented by building the wall. This was reinforced by the disclaimer, that announced: "Resemblance to real persons is intended".
The film's plot was loosely based on three actual espionage affairs: primarily, it was modeled after the case of Horst Hesse, an East German agent who infiltrated the American Military Intelligence Division in 1955 and managed to smuggle out two safes containing classified documents, which allowed the Stasi to uncover some 140 spies. Hesse was celebrated as a hero in East Germany - largely due to the film's success - but later research established that his role in the operation was exaggerated. The chief protagonist Hansen was meant to allude to him. The invasion plans mentioned in the film were inspired by DECO II, an operational plan of the Bundeswehr to attack the GDR, which was known to the Stasi since 1955 but was granted great publicity in the early 1960s as proof for the danger of imminent invasion. The producers also mentioned MC-96, a NATO plan to use tactical nuclear weapons in East Germany, as another inspiration. The fifth column of Western saboteurs referred to in the film, that were to organize a second '17 June 1953', was based on a network uncovered in 1959, when three American agents related to it were captured in Karl-Marx-Stadt.
The producers received full cooperation from the Stasi, and several officers from the service were used as consultants. Director János Veiczi saw actor Alfred Müller in theater, playing Phileas Fogg, and offered him the main role. Principal photography took place in Leipzig. Müller, who had no driving license, was only shot in the Opel Kapitän used in the filming when it was pushed or towed, while a member of the production team drove it in the car chase scenes.
The film was viewed by 800,000 people in the first month after its release, and also exported to other Eastern Block countries, selling 9,000,000 tickets overall. On 5 October 1964, Veiczi and writer Harry Thürk both received the National Prize of East Germany, 3rd Class for For Eyes Only Erich Mielke had personally awarded the National People's Army Medal of Merit to Thürk, editor Christel Ehrlich, the dramatists and the leading actors. Composer Günter Hauk was awarded the Heinrich Greif Prize on 17 May 1966, in recognition of his work on the picture's soundtrack.
The film was received in a highly positive manner in the East German press: on 23 July 1963, the critic of the Schweriner Volkszeitung wrote: "it is thrilling, because its plot is true: a real plan to invade our country existed, but had to be canceled after 13 August 1961." On 10 August 1963, a commentator in Das Freie Wort noted "there is nothing fictional in there... Bonn constantly declares its intention to 'free' East Germany."
Peter Ulrich Weiß, who researched Cold War media in East Germany, pointed out that the film presented a highly politicized portrayal of the characters: Stasi agent Hansen was depicted as humane and devoted to his country, while being contrasted with the West Germans: he was only suspected, as one of the MID personnel tells in the film, because "he is the only one from the East... and the only one to have served during World War II merely as an infantry corporal. All the rest of our German employees have all either been in the SD or the Gestapo, or at the least in the SS." The Americans in the film - whose authenticity was enhanced by having the actors speak in American English, with a German dubbing over it - were all negative characters: one is active in trading stolen art, others are serial fornicators and another makes antisemitic remarks. One more Cold War token figure was the Czechoslovak driver of Hansen, who longs to return to his Socialist homeland. When he realizes his employer is a spy, he volunteers to help him in exchange for being allowed to flee with him to East Germany. Daniela Berghahn considered For Eyes Only as the most famous and successful spy thriller ever made in the GDR.