Securitas Imperii 37 (2/2020)

Monotematické číslo odborného časopisu Securitas Imperii se zabývá stým výročím založení sovětské tajné policie Čeka. Články pokrývají témata ze Sovětského svazu, a to jak z moskevského centra, tak z regionálních republik (Estonsko, Moldávie a Litva). Dále jsou v časopise studie o dalších zemích sovětského bloku: Československu, východním Německu, Maďarsku a Polsku.



Jens Gieseke - The Post‑Stalinist Mode of Chekism: Communist Secret Police Forces and Regime Change After Mass Terror

The occasion of the centenary of establishing the Soviet secret police known as the “Cheka” encourages a closer examination of the “Soviet-type” of the secret police in terms of their long-term development. Secret police forces were evidently of constitutive importance to the communist regimes. At the same time, their role was subject to considerable change and variation concerning their role in the fabric of the communist power apparatuses, their methods, and the groups in society against which they were directed. In the first part of this study, four to five phases of the Soviet secret police development and their “brother organs” in the Eastern Bloc are outlined as a working hypothesis. In the second part, continuity and change will be exemplified by the transition to the third, “post-Stalinist” phase, focusing on the cases of the Soviet Committee for State Security (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, KGB) and the East German Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS) in terms of their role within the fabric of power relations, their self-images and public representations, and their practices of violent persecution and preventive surveillance.

Evgenia Lezina - Soviet State Security and the Regime of Secrecy: Guarding State Secrets and Political Control of Industrial Enterprises and Institutions in the Post‑Stalin Era

Having been entrusted with securing secrets in the early years of Soviet rule, the secret police remained the chief guardian of state secrets and the main driving force behind the regime of secrecy in the USSR until its collapse in 1991. This paper explores the development of the secrecy regime in the Soviet Union from the late 1950s until the late 1980s, focusing on the relevant functions, methods, and practices of regime-secrecy bodies during this period. It also addresses a double function of state security agencies at industrial enterprises and institutions as a secret police conducting counterintelligence servicing and performing surveillance over employees on the one hand, and acting as a guardian and organizer of the secrecy regime on the other. Additionally, it examines the role and implications of the personnel security screening system, which was a part of securing state secrets. This study is largely based on archival sources from the collections of the Lithuanian Special Archives in Vilnius, the archives of the State Security Service of Ukraine in Kyiv, and the Communist Party archives in Moscow.

Witold Bagieński - The Polish People’s Republic and KGB Intelligence Cooperation after 1956

Throughout the communist period in Poland, security organs were under the influence and supervision of the Soviet Union. At the beginning of 1957, it was agreed that the KGB Liaison Group would be established in Warsaw. Its role was to coordinate cooperation between security authorities. Despite the change in the situation after 1956, the KGB continued to influence the direction of the Polish Security Service. One of the most important fields of cooperation was intelligence. Department I of the Interior Ministry cooperated with the First Main Directorate of the KGB in many fields. The basis for cooperation was the exchange of information and some of the documents obtained, which were mainly about political and economic issues. Scientific and technical intelligence was also an important field of cooperation. The security authorities of the Polish People’s Republic were not treated by the KGB as an equal partner. Very often they were obliged to give more than they received in return. From the mid-1950s onwards, on the KGB’s initiative, cyclical conferences were convened for the intelligence services of Eastern Bloc countries. Contacts with the KGB ceased in the 1990s.

Igor Cașu - The Mass Deportation from Bessarabia/Moldavian SSR in Mid‑June 1941: Enhancing Security, a Social Engineering Operation, or Something Else?

This article draws on the files of the Soviet political police in Chișinău as well as Western and post‑Soviet scholarship on Stalinist deportations from the western borderlands in the wake of the German attack on the USSR on 22 June 1941. There are two main and contrasting interpretations of the motives behind the mass resettlements in this period. The first one stipulates that it was mainly security reasons which determined the timing and the target of the mass deportations. The other one states that ethnic cleansing was the aim of mass deportations before the Barbarossa operation. I argue that, at first glance, both interpretations seem mutually exclusive, but in reality, they are complementary. Among the deportees from Soviet Moldavia in mid‑June 1941, as well as from other newly annexed territories, according to the Molotov‑Ribbentrop Pact, were social elements deemed ideologically dangerous. At the same time, the official Stalinist view since the 1930s claimed that these social categories, in particular, would raise serious security threats in the event of a foreign invasion by sympathizing and siding with the external enemy.

Aigi Rahi‑Tamm, Meelis Saueauk - Relations between Soviet Security Organs and the Estonian Communist Party In 1940–1953: A Case of Mass Deportations in March 1949

The March deportation in 1949, carried out as Operation Priboi in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, was the largest post‑war deportation operation in the Soviet Union. Like the Great Terror, such major operations allow for an analysis of the mutual relations between Party authorities and Soviet State Security structures. This study aims to focus on these relations. An analysis of the March deportation clearly reveals the leading role of the security apparatus, including their relations with Party organs, in such extremely important operations concerning the sovietization of Estonia. The Estonian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (ECP/B/) Central Committee Bureau later approved the deportation in its decision. Thus, the Party authorities are jointly responsible for the planning, implementation, and consequences of the March deportation and the policy of violence as a whole. Regardless of whether the ECP(B)’s leading position was factual or fictitious, its leadership assumed the duty of directing the security organs in a serious manner and demonstrated initiative in this regard. The security organs almost completely ignored the Party as an institution, and this only started to change gradually in the final months of the Stalinist period.

Éva Petrás - The Struggle of Hungarian Christian Democrats for a Democratic Hungary, 1944–1957

After interwar antecedents, the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), or Demokrata Néppárt (DNP) in Hungarian, was established as a modern Christian democratic party at the end of 1944 in Hungary. The DPP took part in both parliamentary elections of 1945 and 1947, gaining 61 seats in 1947. After the communists’ seizure of power in 1948, it was not only the political representation of Christian democracy that was in danger but also the personal existence of its representatives. Party leader István Barankovics and 11 DPP MPs were forced to emigrate in 1949, and the operation of the Party was suspended. Communist State Security played an active role first in the surveillance of Christian democrats and then in their persecution after 1948. What awaited those who remained in Hungary was a final exclusion from public life, various forms of retaliation, show trials, imprisonment, internment, police supervision, persecution, and constant surveillance by State Security. The regime may seem to have reached its objective in the case of Christian democracy, i.e., its elimination, but this was actually far from the truth. The participation of Christian democrats in opposition movements on the one hand, and the international activity of émigré Christian democrats on the other, was significant in promoting Hungary’s turn towards democracy.

Aleš Gabrič - Communist State Security’s Role in the Persecution of “The Old Communists” in Slovenia

Immediately after the end of World War II, State Security bodies in Yugoslavia (and Slovenia) focused on the persecution of people who had collaborated with the occupiers during the war. However, State Security soon started monitoring the actions of those who were seen as potential opponents of the regime. This contribution describes the fates of three leftist intellectuals and members of the Communist Party, who had still enjoyed the privileges of the new authorities for a few years after the war but eventually became critical of the ruling communist elite due to their disagreement with its politics. Two of them were imprisoned and interrogated by State Security and sent to concentration/labour camps. They were put on the list of “Cominform supporters” although they had been arrested before the correspondence between the Soviet and Yugoslav leaderships was published.

Martin Previšić - Tito–Stalin Conflict and the Yugoslav Secret Police (UDBA) in 1948–1956

The paper deals with the Yugoslav secret police (Uprava državne bezbednosti, UDBA) during the Tito–Stalin split. From its beginnings, the Yugoslav secret police organization was one of the pillars of the newly established communist rule in Yugoslavia. Among other things, it played a crucial role in the fight against World War II’s remaining enemies. In addition, the UDBA had an essential role in the “class struggle” and sovietization of Yugoslavia. With the Tito–Stalin split in 1948, the UDBA served as the principal force for quelling Stalin supporters (ibeovci) and running and establishing a prison and labour camp system used for the incarceration of ibeovci. Labour camps, run by the UDBA, become notorious since systematic beatings and torture were used as the primary method in so‑called “political re‑education” of Stalin supporters. As many as 15,700 were imprisoned in one of the many labour camps (Goli Otok was the biggest). After the end of the Tito–Stalin split, the UDBA’s power grew even more until it was reorganized in 1966.

Mária Palasik - From The Budapest Dance Palace to the Autopsy Table: The Lapusnyik Case, or the Defection and Death of a Secret Agent at the Beginning of the Kádár Era

In the summer of 1962, the political police had an extraordinary case in Hungary. Béla Lapusnyik, a police sergeant with the Interior Ministry, committed the crime of illegally crossing the border to Austria during the night of 8 May. His act was regarded as treason and generated a series of actions at the ministry. Leaders feared that Lapusnyik could give information to Austrian intelligence, counterintelligence, and even military counterintelligence. This could lead to dangerous consequences for the Hungarian secret agencies. Everybody was certain that Lapusnyik would indeed give sensitive information to Austrian state security, although, ultimately, he could not, as he died under suspicious circumstances in a Vienna hospital. Today, it is certain that Lapusnyik was killed at the behest of the KGB. We do not know who the killer was, but it is already known that Lapusnyik was murdered using a particular liquid poison, called DMS (dimethyl sulphate), which was designed to evaporate from the body’s system by the time of his death. This would explain why Austrian autopsy experts were unable to establish poisoning as the cause of death. The poison was created in a special Soviet laboratory. Under the bureaucracy of the Hungarian Interior Ministry, the everyday life of the political police was well‑documented. The investigation of this case shows how the framework of State Security could provide great opportunities for a young man and yet radically corrupt his personality. This study concentrates on the investigation of Hungarian State Security services. As background, the author also introduces Béla Lapusnyik, his life, family origin, career, and other details about his illegal border crossing. In conclusion, it summarizes the known facts about how a healthy young man could die as a prisoner of the Austrian state police (Staatspolizei, STAPO).

Fernando Jiménez Herrera - Between Spain and Russia: The Long Shadow of The Soviet Cheka And its Use in Propaganda in Spain in the 1920s and 1930s as well as during the Spanish Civil War

During the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), a concept gained great relevance on the rebel side: the term “Cheka”. This concept was used repeatedly by Francoʼs propaganda to define the popular committees that emerged in the Republican rearguard. Throughout this text, the different meanings of the concept are analysed, as is the meaning given to it by the media, mainly the press, to compare both the Spanish revolutionary committees and the Russian Cheka. After studying the Soviet institution in its context – the Russian Civil War – and a compilation of the main news about it during the 1920s and 1930s in Spain (although it was no longer known as Cheka, the concept remained in the press), this essay will proceed to analyse the revolutionary processes of 1936 and the organs that promoted them: the committees. The Francoists established parallels between the Cheka and the committees based on the use of violence. They maintained that the Spanish committees emulated the actions of the Commission, and taking it as an example, they launched the revolution. However, the present investigation attempts to dismantle such a hypothesis. The revolutionary violence of 1936 had nothing to do with the Cheka or its agents in Spain during the civil war. It was a popular reaction to an unexpected situation: the loss of power by the state. The committees exercised the “justice of the people” in the face of mistrust towards the judicial apparatus – classifying it as bourgeois – and under their own guidelines. They were neither guided by a foreign institution nor attempted to emulate one. The 1936 violence in Spain had its own dynamics, as did the violence in Russia between 1917 and 1923. While the committees emerged as an alternative to the state, the Cheka was born under its protection. The governments favoured the Commission, granted it prerogatives as well as extensive legislation and budgets. The committees, on the other hand, had successive governments fight them to regain the monopoly of lost power. They were two different structures, which only had the use of violence in common. So why did they call them “Chekas”? This is the question that guides the following investigation.




Ondřej Vojtěchovský - Every Assassination Led into a Circle of Violence: An Interview with Christian Axboe Nielsen on his Research and Forthcoming Book on the Yugoslav State Security Service’s “Illegal Operations”

Christian Axboe Nielsen is an associate professor of history and human security at Aarhus University in Denmark, where he regularly lectures on the history of South Eastern Europe and other topics. Besides his academic career, he worked as an analyst and external consultant for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and witnessed at five trials including the trial of Radovan Karadžić. Currently he is conducting research on the state security and intelligence services of socialist Yugoslavia. The activity of Yugoslav state security (UDBA, SDB) was a topic of Professor Nielsen’s presentation at the Prague conference on the 100th anniversary of Cheka in November 2017. His book "Yugoslavia and Political Assassinations. The History and Legacy of Tito’s Campaign Against the Émigrés" on violent operations of Yugoslav secret service against political émigrés is scheduled for publication in November 2020.