What We Now Know about Secret Services in the Cold War

International Conference – What We Now Know about Secret Services in the Cold War. A State of Affairs 25 Years after 1989

Leuven, BelgiumOctober 23-24, 2014

Intelligence services make headlines. An increasing number of scandals and revelations demonstrate that they have been more active than one has thought. The NSA did not only spy on its enemies, but also on US allies. It monitored millions of people by reading their correspondence and eavesdropping on their conversations. Unfortunately, systematic and scholarly research of these activities is impossible. We can only rely on random data that leak sporadically. They do not allow to paint a complete picture of intelligence services’ activities, focuses, results, and impact.

However, we do dispose of archival sources of modern intelligence services. After the fall of the Iron Curtain several former communist countries declassified their state security’s archives. Over the last decades, this has led to a daunting number of studies on a wide variety of aspects related to the Cold War, communist regimes, dissident movements, transnational contact between East and West, etc.

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is an appropriate moment to make up a balance sheet and to reflect on the general conclusions the analysis of these archives has led to. What have these sources taught us? To what extent and in which ways did security services change the course of history? Have they appeared as omnipresent and efficient as they are usually deemed to be? What do the archives tell us about Western intelligence services?

The language of the conference will be English.

All those interested are encouraged to participate as auditors. Conference participation is free of charge.

The “Need to Know” conferences were founded in 2011 and since then they have taken place annually. The focus of the conferences is on foreign intelligence and they invite scholars of intelligence studies as well as former practioners to an interdisciplinary discussion of historical, current and methodological questions within the field. Intelligence studies have benefitted greatly from the opening of archives in Central Europe and it is the result of this research in particular, that has been presented on the conferences. The conferences have established themselves as an important meeting place for scholars from Europe, the US, Canada and Russia.
23 October, 2014

Session I – Successes

Chair: Prof. Idesbald Goddeeris (University of Leuven, Belgium)

Prof. Mark Kramer (Harvard University, USA) – Soviet foreign intelligence tradecraft and operation, 1941–1991: what have we learned?
Prof. Andrzej Paczkowski (Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Science, Poland) – Fifteen years of research into intelligence: personal experience, major trends and first conclusions
Dr. Gordan Akrap (Croatia) – Communist intelligence community and violence – case of Yugoslavia
Dr Shlomo Shpiro (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) – Between eupforia and security realism: Post Cold War intelligence research


Session II – Failure

Chair: Sir Rodric Quentin Braithwaite (United Kingdom)

Prof. Idesbald Goddeeris (University of Leuven, Belgium) – The Polish rezydentura in Brussels: a prime example of amateurism
Dr Władysław Bułhak (Institute of National Remembrance, Poland) – The fabricator from Zagreb. “Alessandro” and the case of fake transcripts of political discussions of Paul VI
Dr Bernd Schaefer (Woodrow Wilson International Center, USA) – “RYAN”: The Soviet warning system before a “surprise nuclear missile attack” in the 1980s
Dr Petre Opris (C.S. Nicolăescu-Plopşor Institute for Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities, Romania) – “Unexpected” challenges for intelligence officers of Romania in the United States, France, Turkey and Italy (1960–1964)


Session III – The East European intelligence and security services: The European experience (Panel discussion)

Chair: Prof. Thomas Wegener Friis (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark)

Participants: Dr Anna Kaminsky (Federal Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship, Germany), Dr Łukasz Kamiński (Institute of National Remembrance, Poland), Nikita Petrov (Memorial Society, Russia), Anders B. Werp (Parliament of Norway)

24 October, 2014
Session IV – 1989

Chair: Associate Prof. Svend Gottschalk Rasmussen (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark)

Daniel Belousek (Ministry of Defence, Czech Republic) – In the shadow of the Velvet Revolution – shredding of operative files within the Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior after 17 November 1989
Dr Nadia Boyadjieva (University of Plodviv “Paisii Hilendarski”, Bulgaria) – Todor Zhivkov’s regime, civil movements, and the state security organs in Bulgaria in the late 1980s
Przemysław Gasztold-Seń (Institute of National Remembrance, Poland) – “Brotherly” concerns. The Soviet bloc countries’ official and secret pressure on Polish intelligence services in 1980s
Prof. Wanda Jarząbek (Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Science, Poland) – Something old, something new: Polish Communist intelligence during the German reunification


Session V – Western Intelligence

Chair: TBC

Michael Fredholm (Stockholm International Program for Central Asian Studies, Sweden) – Trust, but verify: the verification role of signals intelligence. Then for decision-makers, now for historians
Miriam Matejova (University of British Columbia, Canada) / Don Muton (Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan) – Intelligence from Southeast Asia and its impact on the Cold War: the allies and the superpowers
Prof. Jacek Tebinka (Gdańsk University, Poland) – British intelligence and the Polish revolution 1980–1982
Guenther K. Weisse (International Intelligence History Association, Germany) – NATO-SIGINT: 1985–1989


Session VI – Culture

Chair: Dr Krzysztof Persak (Institute of National Remembrance, Poland)

Dr Franciszek Dąbrowski (Institute of National Remembrance, Poland) –The system of electronic intelligence information processing of the 1st Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the People’s Republic of Poland: The impact of the technological progress and the change of information exchange culture
Dr Patryk Pleskot (Institute of National Remembrance, Poland) – Dangerous foundation. Australian-Polish Polcul Foundation and the secret services of communist Poland (1980–1984)
Dr Douglas Selvage (Office of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives, Germany) – The limits of repression: The East German Ministry for State Security, relative economic decline and the East’s opening to the West, 1972–1989
Mihaela Toader (Institute for Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of Romanian Exile, Romania) – The Romanian Library of Freiburg: Advanced outpost of the Romanian culture in the West in attention of the foreign intelligence services.
Prof. Joanna Wojdon (University of Wrocław, Poland) – Polish American cultural activities from the perspective of the secret services of the Comunist Poland

Institute of National Remembrance
University of Leuven
Center for Cold War Studies of the University of Southern Denmark
Baltic Intelligence and Security Studies Association
Information & contacts
Institute of National Remembrance
e-mail: anna.piekarska@ipn.gov.pl

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