Ulrich Kohl was a former East German Stasi spy who was betrayed by members of his unit, and planned to eliminate his former colleagues.
Kohl was born and raised in East Germany, living in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. He eventually grew up to become a spy - approached by the Stasi to become an operative, saying his country needed him.
Kohl was part of a four-man espionage team, as an assassin; he shared trigger-duties with a team leader; Steiler, was backed up by a document forger; Wernick, and they all reported to a case officer; Heinrich Hauffe for orders. During his career, Kohl and his team went in and out of West Germany and other European countries, located and "neutralized" (murdered) East German defectors before they could talk, as well as many others. Wherever they went, people died.
Half the world's intelligence services were hunting the team at one point, but, being the "ghosts" of the time, evaded all attempts at identification and capture. On a personal level, Kohl became good friends with his team, and also met and fell deeply in love with a secretary at Stasi headquarters; Anja, and the two married. Kohl was always gone for his work, but when he was with Anja, he made it clear he loved her, even though he couldn't explain what he did for a living.
What he was unaware of was how his team began to see how much Kohl enjoyed killing, and it steadily turned his friends against him. Kohl developed a precise knowledge of areas of the human body to injury or pressure, and expertise in handling and using poison needles, and crafting the poisons applied. His colleagues laughed when they learnt of Kohl's use of needles, but they quickly became horrified at how he used them for torture and harsh interrogation of subjects.
When the Berlin Wall eventually fell, Western authorities hunted for Kohl - knowing he was responsible for the team's many assassinations of their informants: this was because his team, covertly approached by American operatives, who wanted Kohl "gone", had sold him out in exchange for new comfortable lives abroad in America.
With the Stasi having turned on him, Kohl came home to Anja and explained the situation, saying they had to leave. They fled to the Russia, intending to hide in the Soviet Union. Kohl told Anja he would keep her safe.
The two traveled separately - along the way, Kohl, officially a missing agent, received the devastating news Anja had died in a car accident, staged by the operatives hunting him. Kohl blamed his former team-mates for Anja's death.
Kohl was ultimately caught and arrested in an operation between the American and West German governments - he was jailed, without trial, in a maximum security prison, with the German government keeping him buried and out of existence - officially Kohl vanished without a trace. The years went by, and Kohl never stopped thinking of his betrayers, or planning his revenge.
Escape & Death
Kohl, who the German government now believed to be "old & feeble" gave the order to have Kohl transported to a minimum security prison to live out his final years. But Kohl, intelligent and experienced in killing, was able to attack his guards and escape - but not before getting details of his former team-mates's aliases and locations in New York City. He traveled there himself, to seek revenge for Anja's death.
Kohl arrived, evading German BND agent Heinlein, who was sent alone by his government to re-capture him secretly, and staying ahead of pursuit by John Reese and Harold Finch, who were alerted by The Machine to his presence. Kohl succeeded in killing Hauffe and fatally poisoning Wernick, and when he confronted Steiler to push him from a construction site to his death, learnt a terrible truth - Anja was alive, having also been given a new life by the Americans, as she was "more afraid of (Kohl) than anyone". Further, Kohl found he had a daughter he never knew; Marie (Anja having been pregnant at the time they fled Germany, without his knowledge).
Kohl was able to meet with his family for the last time - explaining he had to see them all together only once before he was caught. He then deliberately drove Reese to fatally shoot him, when it appeared he was about to shoot Anja (the gun had actually run out of ammunition), having never planned to have a tomorrow after his revenge. Kohl died with Reese, a fellow soldier, by his side, at peace with knowing part of him lived on with his family. Kohl was buried under his alias "Wallace Negel" - ensuring he never existed.
- Kohl's shooting was later referenced by Special Agent Donnelly, in his investigation into "The Man in a Suit". (“Identity Crisis”)
- Compared to Reese, Ulrich Kohl is one of the few opponents with a similar skill set as well as a similar background: he was a spy who had been betrayed by his government and was living under an alias, seeking revenge for the (supposedly) accidental killing of his loved one. He also doesn’t enjoy killing people, but obviously he is very good at it. Reese described himself to Fusco in a similar way. (“Pilot”)
- He is one of the few people along with IRS, Fox, Titus, and Daniel Drake's would be assassin to get the better of Reese in hand-to-hand confrontation on their first meeting.