The Interpreter seeks support for the translation, analysis and presentation of never-before-published KGB training manuals spanning multiple decades.
EDITOR’S NOTE, Oct. 4, 2019:
Since out project “Lubyanka Files” was launched we have increased the number of KGB manuals in our possession from 11 to 20. Following the description of the project below, we now introduce the 9 titles and summaries of the new batch of manuals first, then provide a link to the titles and summaries of the original batch, which were published when this campaign began.
You can support our work at our GoFundMe page here .
The first translation, accompanied by an essay, related to the psychological characteristics of potential KGB recruits, will be published soon in The Daily Beast.
This project, presented by The Interpreter , will explore the history of Soviet espionage and subversion, as told through never-before-published KGB training manuals spanning multiple decades. Once used to train Soviet intelligence officers, these documents are still classified in modern Russia because of their continued curricular use in teaching tradecraft to Vladimir Putin’s spies at Russia’s domestic and foreign intelligence academies. They range in content from how to recruit and psychologically manipulate agents on Western soil; how to root out enemy disinformation schemes; how to infiltrate international scientific gatherings to recruit agents; to how to outflank suspected agents provocateurs. These are all methods still used today to undermine the United States and European countries.
The goal will be to provide a kind of “living history” of the Cold War, relying almost exclusively on primary sources from the Lubyanka’s own files, similar to The Mitrokhin Archive, but with the added value of bringing this history into the contemporary relevance.
Sovietologists, historians and intelligence experts will naturally find this project an invaluable addition of primary sources for understanding how Soviet intelligence pedagogy and practice worked. Lay readers will come away with accessible and useful pen portraits of how one of the most notorious security services ever contrived cynically tried to snare ordinary people — many of them Soviet citizens — for the purpose of making them do extraordinary things. Most important, this project will help illuminate the theory and practice of ongoing Russian intelligence operations against the West and better immunize people from being duped, seduced or destroyed by them.
“The Lubyanka Files” will be unveiled over the course of a year, with each calendar month dedicated to the release of a new KGB manual.
Each publication will be:
– Posted in full in scanned form at The Interpreter;
– Posted in full English translation next to the Russian-language original;
– “Curated” by Interpreter staff
Curation will include a stand-alone essay for each manual explaining the tradecraft it reveals and how it relates to actual historical episodes and contemporary Russian intelligence efforts. (To see examples of how this looks, see Interpreter Editor-in-Chief Michael Weiss’s series on four previously uncovered KGB training manuals in The Daily Beast.) These new manuals will be accompanied by a dynamic “spy exhibition,” hosted at The Interpreter’s website, which will feature:
– Audio interviews with former intelligence and counterintelligence officers on both sides of the Iron Curtain and international historians who can expound on what the case studies and theory teach us about KGB espionage;
– Short video documentaries revisiting a Cold War spy drama relevant to the manual in question.
“The Lubyanka Files” will ideally culminate (depending on how much money we can raise) with a physical publication of all the English translations and accompanying essays, as well as a series of international events with historians, experts and policymakers.
The entirety of our budget will go toward paying full-time translator/curators; an editor overseeing them; production costs for curation content; travel expenses; and publishing costs for the anticipated printed report.
The Interpreter is best known for running a daily digest of developments in the war in Ukraine, analyzing Kremlin disinformation campaigns and publishing two major reports: The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money, written by Peter Pomeranzev and Michael Weiss, and An Invasion by Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine , written by James Miller, Pierre Vaux, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, and Michael Weiss.
Owing to the success of this campaign, the source for the original set of 11 manuals has provided The Interpreter with an additional nine. Below are the titles, page-lengths, years of publication and brief summaries of their contents:
Title: “Intelligence Operational Environment: Fundamental Elements and Sources for Its Study,” 40 pp, 1970.
Summary: The literal translation of the term “intelligence operational environment” is “agent-operative setting,” i.e. the climate for agents and operatives in a given country or other setting. The author explains that as Marxism-Leninism teaches, in order to determine the direction and forms of any activity, all the conditions for that activity must be studied. The environment for agents is shaped by the political atmosphere in the country; the administrative and police regimes; geography and demography; the means of transportation; people’s everyday life; the system for foreigners’ residence; the means of communication and the rules and traditions for socializing, the climate and so on. This environment will affect the choice of the agent’s forms and methods of intelligence work.
The intelligence climate changes constantly, influenced by politics, the economy, law, even as geography and culture have long-term effects. Chief factors are the country’s attitude toward the Soviet Union and its foreign policy as well as its economic system. The KGB also looks at what social classes there are in the country; the government’s attitude toward development and the socialist countries; the presence of progressive or reactionary forces; the presence of progressive elements in the government, civic and business circles; the local population’s attitude toward the government; the existence of a peace movement; and the degree to which other capitalist countries affect it. A range of factors influencing the government and everyday life include political parties, individual political figures, major monopolists of the economy; the status of science and technology; the stage of economic development. The line taken by various media and propaganda outlets and their funding as well as the population’s standard of living are also factors.
Thus, the KGB looks at the scope for its intelligence activities in target countries through the prism of its communist belief system. A capitalist system; major monopolists; a conservative government hostile to the Soviet Union and/or socialism; a population influenced by capitalist-controlled media distrustful of communists will all conspire to make the work of agents much harder.
Title: “The Intelligence Officer’s Agent and Operative Dictionary,” 142 pp, 1967
Summary: Over decades of interacting with the KGB and receiving defectors from the Soviet Union, Western intelligence agencies learned some of the unique terms the KGB had used to describe itself and its activities — the rezidentura or station in a foreign country; konspiratsiya, which really means “tradecraft” more than it means “conspiracy”; razrabotka, the “developmental” which is the art of luring recruits with a whole range of incentives and coercions, and so on.
“The Intelligence Officer’s Agent and Operative Dictionary’ is a goldmine of such terms and their explanations — we wish we had had it at the outset of our work translating the manuals more than a year ago.
Like the manuals and the intelligence system itself, the dictionary is riddled with Marxist-Leninist ideology about class warfare and “progressive ideas” and a skewed understanding of the West. For example, curiously, the term oblava or “raid” is characterized as a “specifically capitalist police activity,” which is performed “especially at moments of political difficulties and during war at train stations, marketplaces, hotels, cafes, night clubs and other public gathering places and are accompanied by the checking of documents”.
The KGB manual is careful to make the distinction between the agent and the confidential contact — and the intelligence officer who is the full-time, trained employee who runs them. And there are at least 15 types of agents — the well-known agents of influence and double agents; the illegals and the tails and the informers — but also the “agent identifier” whose sole purpose is to identify people living under cover or hiding their identity under false passports — and then the KGB is done with those agents. There is the “route agent” whose job is simply to follow a target on a trip abroad.
The dictionary also explains English terms like “DP” (displaced person) or “G2” (the intelligence units of the US army) and the all-important “cocktail” which is “a form of diplomatic reception”. Some of the terms have Western equivalents, like “safe house” and others seem specifically Soviet such as the KSP, Kontrol’naya sledovaya polosa, a 5-meter wide strip of land along the border kept regularly plowed so that the footprints of anyone attempting to escape from the Soviet Union can become visible. There are the “legals,” which are the officially known intelligence officers in the rezidentura and the “illegals,” the spies who burrow into foreign societies, sometimes spending years creating their identities, awaiting the signal to be activated.
Title: “Information Work in Intelligence,” 34 pp, Date not shown
Summary: The KGB is clear as to what motivates information work: “to reveal the enemy’s secret plans and measures in a timely manner, primarily the imperialists of the United States, against the countries of the socialist alliance.”
Information includes documents on political, military, economic, scientific, etc. issues and also sketches, maps, diagrams, photos, models of technology, clandestine recordings, recordings of operatives’ verbal reports.
But most of all, the KGB was interested only in secret information that would reveal the enemies’ secret plans and intentions. It wasn’t interested in the mere recording of events, citations from the press or reports from people who didn’t have access to classified information.
A case history for how information fits the KGB’s demands was cited from Iraq.
The statements of the former head of the Iraqi government, Abd al-Karim Qasim (killed in 1963) often seemed like the statements of a defender of democracy and an enemy of world imperialism, the author comments. In March 1960, an evaluation of Qasim was made indicating he was interested in conducting reactionary activities and suppressing the Communist Party. Reports obtained also showed Qasim was “inciting an anti-democratic line in the country through Gen. Abdi, the former head of the general staff and other reactionaries and was plotting to split the democratic forces”. Thus, his statements were “characterized as demagogic and masking the true face of this dictator”. (Qasim and his followers seized control of Baghdad in 1958). Subsequently, Qasim licensed some “bourgeois parties” but refused to legalize the pro-Soviet Communist Party, instead, creating a splinter group called the Communist Party of Iraq.
“The objective evaluation made on the basis of secret information played a major role in conducting the correct political line regarding the Qasim government,” says the KGB.
Similar stories about “true information” obtained by the KGB related to Iran in 1960 when a new prime minister was appointed by the Shah, Sharif Imami. He purported to begin negotiations on a “goodwill mission” to the USSR to return the Soviet ambassador to Iran, asking the Soviets to cease their anti-Iranian radio propaganda.
But this was just a ruse, says the KGB author, to stop a broadcast that had a great deal of influence over the Iranian population because they were critical of the Shah’s poor economic policies.
“From the outset of the Soviet anti-Shah propaganda, within a short period, all the radio receivers which had sat in merchants’ warehouses for years were sold out,” says the report. The new prime minister merely wanted to “create the appearance that the new government intended to improve relations with the USSR and take measures to improve the situation inside the country”. The prime minister also intended to shift all the blame for any failure of the good will mission on the Soviets, to buy himself time and peace within the country. With secret reports, the Soviets were able to expose the Iranian rulers.
Another example of the importance of information took place in 1952, when the then-British Defense Minister Alexander made a trip to Korea. His public statements claimed unanimity of positions between the UK and the US. But reports obtained by Soviet spies revealed serious disagreements between the two allies about how to conduct the Korean war. The British feared bombing by UN troops, largely run by the US, would draw China further into the war. The UK and US had fierce arguments and the Labour Party called for a vote of censure of the Churchill government in parliament.
In the end, then US Secretary of State Dean Acheson made a statement apologizing for the bombing of the Korean power stations. The British obtained concessions and had a UK representative put in command of the UN forces alongside the Americans.
The author does not make clear how the Soviets used the secret reports they obtained, but the results seem to indicate that they used it not only to stay informed about their enemies’ intentions but to sharpen disputes and conflicts to achieve their goals.
Title: “Experience in Conducting Operational Backgrounders,” 90 pp, 1965
Summary: Lt. Col. I.A. Stepanov shares his own personal field experience in the USSR and Germany as well as the knowledge of other KGB operatives abroad about preparing what are known as “agent operational sets” (profiles or backgrounders). The “set” is a “one-time operational activity involving the clandestine gathering of basic information and character references about persons or groups of interest to the KGB, and about the activity and features of the enemy’s important facilities. Sometimes the set is made for the purpose of vetting information about facilities and persons.”
The KGB obtains these profiles to help carry out various operations, but the author laments that officers do not always make use of them. He describes how once he was given an assignment to contact a foreign student and determine if he was suitable recruitment material. He was given an address that turned out to be outdated, where the gate was always kept locked. He kept watching it for days until finally a middle-aged woman appeared, and he asked her how to find the student. But the woman said he was already grown up with his own family, and no longer at that address. She gave him the man’s current address and Stepanov, not thinking that his visit to the mother would cause problems later, went to find his target.
It turned out that the parents of the one-time student held high positions in the government and found Stepanov’s visit suspicious, and thus informed the authorities. At the last minute, the KGB caught wind of this and aborted the operation. If he had done due diligence and first asked the neighbors about the people at that address, where they worked, where their son was, etc. he could have avoided this failure.
This manual is interesting for the first-person narrative and variety of examples from the officer’s experience. When he was just starting out, he, too, was casual and careless about preparing the profiles but then found himself in trouble when having to do them on the fly. Despite an extensive, two-month study of public places such as museums and cafes; learning traffic rules and customs; reading local newspapers; and even striking up conversations with strangers, the colonel found himself ill-prepared when he went to a foreign country.
The author provides exhaustive lists of activities needed to prepare the operative who will draw up such background reports.
– study the assignment and clarify its tasks
– use official sources of information
– make a preliminary study of the target’s area
– work out and document the cover legend
– preliminarily study the sources of information
– create a plan for talking to sources
– create a plan of action
When gathering information for the target’s profile, there are the obvious factors such as where he went to school, whether he is married and happy in his family life and where he works but also his past residences, his close relatives, his political views, civic activities, attitude toward work, style of socializing, ways of meeting foreigners, financial status and sources of income, moral profile, recreational activities, degree of discipline, and so on.
As a cover for such detailed snooping, the KGB colonel suggests pretending to be from the phone company, an insurance company, a notary/real estate office, a public opinion pollster, or a member of a society seeking supporters and donations.
Title: “Mobilization of Capitalist State Police Services in Fighting Organized Crime and Its Effect on Foreign Intelligence Activities,” 127 pp, 1982
Summary: This analytical survey looks at the growth of organized crime in the West and the related increase in police activity in the capitalist countries from the perspective of its effect on the KGB’s intelligence work. The manual includes terrorist attacks such as on Pope John Paul II and the assassination attempt on Reagan as part of “organized crime.” It recounts the features of organized crime groups and their methods (using fake documents, transporting illegal contraband and persons, renting safe houses, etc.), which are similar to the KGB’s own methods. The actions taken by the capitalist police forces against organized crime are listed, along with a description of the campaign against international crime groups. A separate section describes the new technology of the era which police were using to battle organized crime.
All of this activity has evidently put a crimp on the KGB, itself an entity that grew out of the history of the Bolsheviks’ organized crime and terrorism as they forcibly took power in Russia in 1917. With a crackdown on false passports and various types of clandestine activity, the KGB could be caught in the net, especially as police now had better methods to identify people using their photographs as well as fingerprints, voice prints, footprints and making use of then-new methods of hand-writing and text analysis – not to mention lie detectors.
The report cites as an example an international crime ring based in Germany with cells in Italy and France involved in jewelry theft, drug sales, and currency counterfeiting. Authorities raided cafes, bars, and restaurants hunting for these criminals as they were often the places where they sold their ill-gotten loot.
Criminals looking for safe-houses — like the KGB — look for apartments whose windows don’t face on to the windows of other apartments, which have a telephone and an elevator and an underground parking lot. Police look for tenants who have paid in cash for several months in advance; who used fake names; who never received mail at the addresses and had mailboxes that were always empty.
The report describes various drug cartels around the world and the top cities for drug sales and their need for buyers, sellers, loaders, transporters, etc. Drugs are often concealed in cosmetic cases; in feminine hygiene items; perfume bottles; canned food; packaging inside medication bottles; inner belts; false bottoms in shoes or suitcases, etc. Drug dealers often swallowed plastic bags as well.
The author complains about how the capitalist law-enforcers’ stepped-up campaign against terrorism is targeting not criminals, but revolutionary and liberation movements, partisan and rebel groups who are rightfully, in the Soviet mind, fighting imperialist regimes. Crime is built into the bourgeois social system itself, says the author, as there is social inequality, discrimination against minorities and other factors that push people into crime. Murder, smuggling, and drugs are, at the end of the day, methods of expressing dissatisfaction with the bourgeois social system. The Soviets were critical of UN efforts to combat terrorism as they felt the definitions were vague and the means of prevention problematic.
The KGB was concerned about automated systems for population registration involving telephone numbers, rent payments, payment for gas and electric services, car registration, hotel registration, registry of radio and telephone equipment and so on which by 1982 were already being done electronically, enabling authorities to amass large data bases and quickly compare them. At German customs, for example, an IBM machine enabled border guards to type in a name and get three responses: “not in list,” “detain” or “put under surveillance.” Random or sudden document checks became easier and more used. Such data bases made international cooperation easier, but this meant, for example, that West Germany and Italy kept lists of leftists as well as ultra-right organizations to check. British and US police were also cooperating closely. Such cooperation for example through Interpol was hampered by local law prohibiting the disclosure of surveillance methods and technology.
Somewhat in awe, the KGB describes a device made by Sperry System Management which enabled police to take a photograph of a suspect and within 7 seconds get a digital version which enabled it to be classified within 45 seconds and then be used to search for matches in another 45 seconds. There was also technology to see how the suspect could look for 10 or 25 years older. Another firm, Calspan, had enabled the digitization of fingerprints. Bell Telephone Laboratories had made great advances in voice recognition; Rockwell International had a contract with US law-enforcers for a voice-recognition system. Siemens’ Kormoran [Cormorant] program facilitated text identification. Sandia Lab had created a special ball-point pen that could be linked to a signature-identification system.
The KGB also found that American intelligence had put various research centers to work investigating “odorology” — the science of smells, the chemical components of sweat, the components of exhalation, a scent portrait of an individual, smells absorbed by clothes, and so on.
Title: “Using Delegations and Tourism for Intelligence Purposes,” 82 pp, 1968
Summary: In the late 1960s, the KGB has to step up its game with America’s “predatory war” in Vietnam and a number of crises around the world, with increased “subversive activity from the US against national-liberation movements and international communism.
Soviet intelligence was required to maintain “high vigilance, timely detection and interception of hostile plots and intentions of the imperialist states, above all the USA and their partners in the aggressive blocs aimed at the USSR, states friendly to us, and progressive forces.”
Tourist trips abroad and other kinds of exchanges with foreigners offer an opportunity for Soviet intelligence to gather information. KGB divisions can use Soviet tourist organizations to:
– study and cultivate foreigners, above all Americans in the USSR, for the purpose of drawing them into collaboration as either agents or confidential contacts, to use them abroad in the interests of political and scientific and technical intelligence and to penetrate the enemy’s intelligence services;
– to obtain intelligence political, military, scientific, technical, counterintelligence information on the USA and other imperialist countries;
– to conduct active measures and promote disinformation against the enemy;
– to bring foreigners of interest to the USSR to the USSR;
– to perform special intelligence tasks from illegal positions.
In 1967, 160,000 tourists came to the USSR from the capitalist countries: 19,000 from the US; 7,000 from England; 13,000 from West Germany; 12,000 from France; and 7,000 from Japan. These included 21,000 who were business people; 11,000 who came to exhibits; 4,000 on private visits; 6,000 for study from capitalist countries and 9,000 for study from developing countries.
The USSR was involved in more than 250 international organizations devoted to science, sports, tourism, etc. and provides economic aid to 35 countries. About 40,000 Soviet citizens went abroad in 1967 in 1,800 delegations and tour groups; this figure included agents and operatives. The Western countries are always trying to send in spies and saboteurs to the USSR under various covers, the authors complain. The KGB believed that the US and UK gave all their citizens who traveled to the USSR as “legal travelers” various intelligence assignments; such tourists were bent on recruiting Soviet citizens as agents; this is mirror-imaging on the part of the Soviets.
The author cites John Alex McCone, the former head of the CIA, who allegedly had “4.5 million tourists and 2 million Americans abroad” working for him, and former senator Robert Kennedy who “said outright” in 1965, “If you can’t agitate for America, you had better sit home.” These quotations out of context were served up to imply McCone and Kennedy ran vast agent networks.
The agents and others co-opted into intelligence actions abroad must be “tested, politically literate, mentally stable” who know how to improvise, conduct themselves abroad and orient themselves in various situations. Agents put into groups undercover have to be well-trained and prepared and fit in well in the group.
In 1965, an agent who had been in the US recently was put in a delegation of Russian Orthodox church leaders who visited the US. An American journalist happened to recognize him and asked one of the members of the delegation why he visited the US so often. The priest replied that “someone puts him in,” which then led to the journalist writing up the incident as being told he was a KGB agent. This led to a letter being handed to him proposing that he should not return to the Soviet Union.
Foreign counterintelligence will suspect that Soviet agents are hiding under the cover of deputy heads of delegations, translators, and secretaries, thinking that they won’t be noticed as technical helpers.
The author cites “Pazov,” an agent who was too versatile; although his field was art history, he went on delegations not only related to art but youth, science — even sports. People began to talk, saying he was “on a special mission,” and a NATO country denied him a visa.
Another agent, “Sizov” went abroad on one delegation — then two months later, went on a different one, that still had a similar profile. He had also been to the same country the year previously on a specialized tourist group. A local newspaper noticed he had become a frequent flyer and dubbed him a KGB agent. The manual references a 1964 order from the Center forbidding traveling agents to contact local rezidenturas unless there was an emergency, and not to let foreigners recruited in the USSR to meet with them either, or neither to be allowed near the code room.
One type of traveler is of particular interest because of the ample opportunities to pressure recruits — emigres returning to visit family. In the 1960s, there were already 3.5 million emigres from the Soviet republics in the US, some of them with jobs in the government — even the FBI and CIA.
The KGB also notes that it can make use of the propensity of American bureaucrats to sell themselves to the enemy for needed cash. The manual describes several cases where emigres from Ukraine and the Baltic states were approached and cultivated and ended up informing on their fellow emigres, including plans for OUN activists to travel to Ukraine to commit “sabotage”. In another case, a homesick Latvian who worked at the FBI was persuaded to turn over secret information.
Since the KGB penetrated every aspect of Soviet society and had no qualms about using every contact from science to culture to sports for intelligence ends, it was paranoid that the West did the same thing. This manual, as others, reveals the KGB to be obsessed with foiling Western counterintelligence and assumed every traveler from the West to the USSR was likely an undercover agent or operative. Future agents are also instructed to be on the lookout for disinformation
Title: “Using Delegations and Tourism for Intelligence Purposes,” 63 pp, 1971
Summary: The manual by the same title as the previous one but published in 1971 deals with delegations coming in the opposite direction — foreigners traveling to the USSR, some of whom are agents disguised as students, business people, scientists, etc.
The authors concede that not all foreigners coming to the Soviet Union are intelligence plants or have a hostile intent, especially those from the friendly fellow socialist countries, which make up a large percent of the travelers.
While the KGB wants to attempt to turn every traveler into an agent or confidential contact working for them, the authors concede that not all travelers are of interest to intelligence — housewives and pensioners, for example. “You shouldn’t spread yourself too thin in this work,” the manual cautions.
The same care that goes into recruiting agents abroad must be taken on home turf — the prospects have to be carefully studied and vetted and tested for their fitness as recruits. While the best kind of recruit is one who is a fervent fellow-traveler with communist beliefs, material incentive can be used as well as “methods and means” that become possible within the Soviet Union. This is a hint at the possibilities for surveillance and taping and the use of pressure and blackmail.
In 1964, an American called “Ricks” came to the USSR. Knowing that he had access to classified information and contacts in government circles, the KGB had already studied him as a possible recruit. He was known to be “loyal” to the Soviet Union and “unhappy” with US foreign policy. Operatives were assigned to him to influence him on the basis of his political views. But he needed to be examined further, so an offer was made to extend his trip and visit the Bratsk power station, which he found impressive. An operative worked on him during the trip, and ultimately successfully recruited him, playing on his feelings about American aggression and the need to help peace-loving countries.
But the KGB manual doesn’t hide the willingness of the organs to play hardball. In 1969, “Pierre,” a citizen of “a capitalist country” was in the USSR for six months. He started a relationship with a Russian woman, rented a room to meet with her but pretended to be a Balt. The neighbors turned out to be former KGB agents, and were activated to help operatives detain Pierre and the woman in the rented room. The couple did not have their passports with them, which the KGB knew beforehand. Pierre was keen not to leave the Soviet Union prematurely, or have difficulties at his job over the incident, and begged the KGB not to inform his employers about the incident. This provided the opportunity to compel him to become a KGB helper, and he agreed to inform on his fellow citizens coming to the Soviet Union, although he said he would only do this verbally.
Title, “‘Albert’: Review of the Topic ‘Exposure of a Dangle,'” 60 pp, No date shown
Summary: This entire report is devoted to a narrative about an agent who first worked for the KGB, but then was found to be double-crossing them.
In 1939, the KGB legal rezidentura in Turkey wanted to recruit an agent to send into Germany. They found Yury Malin, son of Russian emigres, who had graduated from English college in Istanbul and planned to go to Germany to study. A recruiter was dispatched to cultivate him under the pretext of looking for a Russian furrier and Yury wound up inviting him to his home as he and his parents were happy to find a compatriot. He gave the Soviet agent memos on the Russian emigre community in Istanbul and relations with the Turkish government and eventually agreed to collaborate with the KGB under the pseudonym “Albert.” The Center hadn’t found anything suspicious in his record and he was cleared, although he was the son of a White emigrant, a wealthy Cossack who had fled to Turkey and set up a construction company. His mother was well-educated and came from the family of a famous poet.
The Center kept vetting him and his parents and couldn’t find a reason not to use him, so he registered at Berlin University physics department, where he became acquainted with the daughter of a German Air Force general and visited his home often. He wrote a report for the KGB on the political and economic situation in fascist Germany which “had some flaws,” so the KGB didn’t give him any big assignments yet. He married the daughter, Helga. Although the rezidentura in Turkey wanted to use him, the Center decided to wait until Albert became more established in his field to use him, and to send him to Moscow for ideological training.
After the Soviets defeated Nazi troops outside Moscow, Albert’s wife left him “for ideological reasons” and then he was barred from study at the physics faculty and could only enter the law faculty while he reported to police weekly. He didn’t report his divorce to the KGB at first. The authorities wanted to expel him, but he pleaded loyalty to fascism and agreed to renounce his Turkish citizenship. He went to Vienna to meet with his handlers who tried to decide what to do with him as returning to Turkey was not possible and he no longer had his father-in-law’s connections. After a three-month stay in Moscow, he was placed in Berlin but found he couldn’t obtain work as a lawyer. He was given a few assignments by the KGB, but he asked if he could start a business, as there were more opportunities for trading among the post-war sectors of Berlin than there was an opportunity to find a job in a law office without experience.
A British major whom he had known at college named Vokob who said he could help him get the permits to start a construction business in the British zone. The KGB rezident cleared his contact with the Englishman as he thought it could be useful. The Brit obtained various items like paint, window frames, door handles, carpentry tools, etc. at discount prices. The Center provided Albert with money to start the business, and eventually branches in other cities, which served as a cover for him to travel around and gather information. He brought his parents to Germany to live and his father brought rugs to sell and helped him in the business. After 10 years, the KGB decided he was trustworthy. Albert asked his handler about placing an agent in his store, which had been discussed, and he began to prepare a trained agent named “Vet” for this.
But the Center then delayed its approval. Then Albert didn’t show up at a meeting or call for several days, which had not happened before. He sent Vet to look for him at a hospital, since he thought perhaps Albert had fallen ill, after complaining of stomach pains, and there he did in fact find him. Eventually he was released, but he began to provide only superficial reports to the KGB.
An officer at the Center named Mikhail began a thorough vetting of Albert and decided he didn’t make enough profit to place Vet in the store, and that the authorities might become suspicious about the provenance of his investment, which actually came from the KGB. There was also the strange fact that Albert had ceased providing useful reports after his discharge from the hospital.
What follows is a long and complicated tale where Mikhail comes to suspect Albert on the basis of little signs of stress; of his seeming ignorance of his own business; and Albert’s persistent questions about the location of a new safe house — which Mikhail refused to give him. After a number of twists and turns, Mikhail had Albert tailed, found him meeting in the British sector with Brits, and also concluded that parts of his reports were copied from the British press. He reported his findings to the Center, which instantly ordered him arrested as a traitor.
The arrest wasn’t instant, as Mikhail first had to lull Albert into thinking everything was fine, pay his some more money and ostensibly given him an assignment. He noticed German intelligence was following Albert. The next time they met he took them to a guarded Soviet residence where he was arrested and was discovered to be holding a tape recorder and a pistol. Mikhail and another agent, disguised to appear like Albert, left to throw off the surveillance.
Hauled back to Moscow, Albert confessed that while Vokob wasn’t a spy, British intelligence found out about him through Vokob, confronted him with evidence that he was working for the KGB, and then while in the hospital, forced him to work for them.
While the author doesn’t describe Albert’s fate, he notes that Albert was fully aware of the punishment that awaited traitors – execution. Mikhail went through the motions of appearing at Albert’s back-up meeting places under watch from British tails, as if he didn’t know where he was, and concluded that they weren’t sure the Soviets had him. There was no report about Albert’s “disappearance” in the German press, concludes the author.
Title, “‘Advisor’: Review on the Topic ‘False-Flag Recruitment,'” By Lt. Col. A.A. Fabrichnikov and Maj. L.M. Danilin, 90 pp, 1965
Summary: Because of the worsening climate for intelligence operations, the KGB had to refine its false-flag recruitments. This report is devoted entirely to a study of a complicated and convoluted effort to deploy an agent to recruit Hans Adolf Baumgarten, a young advisor in the foreign affairs department of the office of the Austrian president who was responsible for preparing issues concerning Austria’s relations with the Soviet Union. He was valuable to Soviet intelligence because he was also married to the youngest sister of an aide to the foreign minister, which meant he was frequently in his home with other Austrian ministers and foreign diplomats. Baumgarten struggled to keep his wife in the fine clothes she desired to keep up with her older sister, which seemed to offer a hook for recruitment.
The KGB already had another agent in the Austrian foreign minister, “Nordpol,” and they used him to get close to Baumgarten, who complained of his debts. But an attempt to recruit him as a Soviet agent, although he did not seem to have antipathy to Moscow ended up failing. He said he “respected” but “did not love” the USSR. An officer reviewing the case tried to find out why. His value increased when a list of personnel revealed that he was now head of a department responsible for Eastern Europe.
Since Baumgarter’s father was originally from Bavaria, it was decided to use Germany as the false flag to recruit him; he was said to be well-disposed toward Germany. His father had fought on the eastern front in World War I and after being wounded had settled in Salzburg and opened several stores. He was described as a greater German chauvinist. His brother was killed at Ardennes. Baumgartner himself had served on the Western front and then the occupying forces in France but was demobilized in 1943 because he suffered from a heart condition and returned to live with his parents and work as a translator.
KGB Maj. Pavlovsky took up Baumgartner’s case, giving him the code name “Advisor” and decided to deploy “Safo,” who was a Volga German and worked in the Soviet press. He was first recruited to army intelligence and then worked for the KGB, and was to be trained for deployment in Germany, but then fell ill. Eventually he was sent to Kharkiv to attempt to penetrate German intelligence there. He managed to pass himself off as a loyal German and get a job at a pro-fascist newspaper and then worked as a translator for the deputy commandant of the city, where he was recruited as an officer of Abvergrup 104. Eventually he was sent to Austria to recruit agents within the Soviet military administration, trying to get Soviet soldiers to turn, but with the caveat he would not deal directly with Soviets so as not to expose himself — a condition his Soviet masters in fact set for him. Ultimately, he was assigned to befriend Advisor. But at the age of 50 and in poor health, he wanted to retire and return to the Soviet Union to write a book, which complicated the ruse of his working for Germany.
Maj. Pavlovsky decided to send Safo to the same Alpine hotel where Advisor and his wife were vacationing, with the cover that he had a friend who had also worked in the chancellery and knew Advisor, so that they could become acquainted.
In great detail, the author describes his near misses, his unsuccessful attempts at friendship, and finally stumbling on the clue that he needed to reassure Advisor: that he wouldn’t be hitting on his wife. He decided not to pursue him too aggressively after they left the inn, and using other operatives who spied on Advisor, Safo contrived an “accidental” meeting at the opera (Die Fledermaus), which they both liked. During the intermission, he “ran into” Advisor who seemed glad to see him and even invited him out for wine afterwards, along with a Parisian celebrity. No serious conversation was possible, so Safo chatted up his wife who was glad when Advisor invited him to his home.
Finally, they got to the topic of interest to the Advisor, Czechoslovakia’s relations with Austria, and he told him information he had gotten from the foreign ministry that Advisor should have known. But that was enough to get Advisor giving out his inside information about the plans of some rulers of Austria for a union with Germany. When Safo objected that this sounded like Hitler’s Anschluss, Advisor, who said the union was needed for Austria to enter the common market, grew indignant because he said there were no longer fascists in Germany, which now had a democratic government. Safo did not disclose that he had worked for fascist intelligence so as not to scare Advisor away, and also hid his Russian background.
Safo then wrote four articles about the Russian economy for a local pro Adenauer newspaper, for which he was paid well, using some of the information Advisor had given him without attribution. This laid the groundwork to offer Advisor money and even to ask him to write articles that Safo would print under his own name, since Advisor was worried about his job if he published in a “foreign” newspaper, even if Germany. Thus, Safo could meet with him regularly, establish that their relationship had to be kept from his employers, pay him money, and also get information about Austria’s internal affairs. But within two weeks, he ran into difficulties and summoned Col. Pavlovsky, his handler to an emergency meeting.
His faux boss in West German intelligence had summoned him for an accounting of his work with four targets besides Advisor. His boss was not entirely satisfied about one prospect, whom Safo discounted, and urged him to extend his efforts. He also chastised him for not having found any pro-German recruits from the Austrian Foreign Ministry, nor a single prospect from the USSR or Eastern Europe. Safo said he needed more time, but his boss wasn’t happy, and then revealed that he knew about all the time he had spent with Advisor in the Alps and at his home without reporting to West German intelligence. Safo claimed he hadn’t felt confident enough to report him as a prospect and hid from his German boss the fact that he was getting information from Safo and paying him part of his honoraria. He said Advisor opposed fascism and the rehabilitation of the Nazis although he was sympathetic to a democratized Germany. Safo lied about his political leanings, say he was more on the side of the Social Democrat Ollenhauer rather than Adenauer and Strauss. This is why he couldn’t be sure Advisor would work for West Germany.
His boss didn’t fall for this and ordered him to spend more time with Advisor and get him recruited for the FRG, and that his affinity with the Social Democrats didn’t matter, as they weren’t distinguishable from the ruling party. Safo reported to Pavlovsky that FRG intelligence would use Advisor’s sister in Cologne and possibly his father in Salzburg. This new development forced the KGB to drop their slow approach to Advisor and to plan to recruit him ostensibly to West German intelligence in 2 weeks. That meant they would have to start meeting with him clandestinely and fake a break with him to his friends.
To Safo’s boss, they would claim that Safo had refused to work for West Germany, although he remained positively disposed to it, and they would get taped recordings to this effect. Meanwhile, the Soviet rezidenturas got to work checking out the sister and father, although later reported they couldn’t find much. A plan to have Safo disappear from Austria was discussed, and a plan to have another agent from the Soviet Union come in and see if in fact Advisor could be recruited directly to the KGB. Meanwhile, the KGB decided to allow Safo to recruit “Paul,” an official in the Austrian Foreign Ministry’s Eastern Department, which he had not previously allowed so as not to give him away to the BND (German intelligence). That way Safo’s stock would rise in the BND.
Then Advisor’s father, still estranged from Advisor for not pursuing a military career, suddenly landed in the hospital after a fall. Advisor said he didn’t maintain relations with his sister, who had married a former Gestapo official. Meanwhile, Safo finally nailed him down as a recruit ostensibly for West Germany, but to his boss at the BND he said Advisor had refused – and then supplied him with a doctored tape. He provoked Advisor to say how much he disliked fascist Germany, then he would ask him if, during the war, he would have collaborated with the Gestapo, eliciting a heated refusal, not for any amount of money. So that answer was spliced together with other parts of the tape to create disinformation for the BND, giving the impression that Advisor had been negative about the BND, when in fact it was about the Gestapo.
Advisor wasn’t happy to be told explicitly that now he was offered a job to spy on West Germany’s behalf. He chastised Safo for first drawing him into newspaper work, supposedly, and paying him money, and now offering him to become a spy. Safo tried to turn it into a conversation about how Germans had to help Germans. Safo was furious at first, but gradually when simply offered half his salary at the Austrian Foreign Ministry and the possibility of relocation with his family to West Germany if necessary, he agreed. Safo tasked him with supplying reports on Austria’s relations with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe — but also the attitudes of pro-German Austrians within the Foreign Ministry. Safo felt he was laying the groundwork to recruit Advisor directly to the KGB eventually — by confronting him with kompromat to force the issue.
Safo and his KGB handlers debated various options to move Advisor directly to collaboration with Soviet intelligence, so they could get more out of him — after all, most of what he divulged was about Austrians’ attitudes toward Germany, and less often related to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe because he couldn’t draw suspicion about his false flag. So, the KGB conspirators pondered the possibility of engineering Advisor’s career to bring him to the Austrian embassy in Moscow, with Safo returning home; changing agents entirely so that it would be easier to move him to KGB collaboration; strong-arming him with kompromat and threats, either in Moscow or Austria.
The problem is that any action against him in Russia might lead him to go to other Austrians in the Embassy and the jig would be up. Muscling him could backfire and he might simply cease to cooperate and inform on them, and then two Soviet agents would be exposed (Safo and the new handler) rather than just one. Finally, they concocted a twisted plan that was as twisted as the original false flag, and leaves you wondering whether the Soviets might have been better off just being more diplomatic to get the information they needed rather than trying to get it by stealth.
Safo began a year-long campaign to set the stage for his ostensible growing disenchantment with German Gen. Gehlen’s intelligence service — too many fascists remain, not enough appreciation of his sacrifices, etc. Ultimately, he wanted to leave the service and write a book. He would disappear — on a ship to Canada, leaving a letter to his West German handlers to explain his disappearance. Safo’s double would be sent with his passport to Canada to throw Western intelligence off the sent; then with other ID, he would leave Canada and get back to Russia
Meanwhile, Advisor, listening to the steady drumbeat of his complaints, also came to be jaded about the BND, and staging various psychological dramas, Safo led Advisor to the point where he thought he would turn toward the Soviets.
Before Safo’s departure, Col. Popov, who spoke excellent Bavarian German, came to a safe house to meet with Advisor and Safo, who finally confessed in a roundabout conversation that he had gone over to the Russians (where in fact he had always been). He said he had turned all his files and information over to the KGB — including Advisor’s reports.
Advisor was shocked and angry, but when they played the doctored tape to him and explained that no more reports had been going to the Germans from him, but his reports were put under other agents’ names, and that now the Soviets had a huge file on him, Advisor felt he was trapped. Popov continued with rhetoric that he wasn’t an agent but a friend in the joint battle against fascism.
Finally, after five hours of tormented dialogue, Advisor reluctantly agreed to become a Soviet agent. He then failed to come to meetings, but careful surveillance indicated he hadn’t gone to Austrian intelligence. Instead, he took to his bed and skipped work for five days. The report ends with the KGB happy that they still have Advisor working on “their side of the barrier,” and they conceded his request not to be subjected to ideological workovers, since he was only helping them due to blackmail.
The titles of the original set of 11 manuals; their page-lengths, years of publication, and brief summaries of their contents can be found here.