The KGB (Russian: Комите́т госуда́рственной безопа́сности / КГБ; translated in English as Committee for State Security), was the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 1954 until its break-up in 1991. Formed in 1954, as a direct successor of such preceding agencies as the Cheka, NKGB, and MGB, the KGB was attached to the Council of Ministers. It was the chief government agency of “union-republican jurisdiction”, acting as internal security, intelligence, and secret police. Similar agencies were instated in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from Russia and consisted of many ministries, state committees, and state commissions.
The KGB was a military service and was governed by army laws and regulations, similar to the Soviet Army. Its main functions were foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, operative-investigatory activities, guarding the State Border of the USSR, guarding the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government, organization and ensuring of government communications as well as standing up against dissent and anti-Soviet activities.
After the dissolution of the USSR, the KGB was split into the Federal Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation. While most of the KGB archives remain classified, a few documentary sources are available.
A very informative documentary concerning the subversive activities of Soviet and communist KGB agents, operatives and spies within the United States over the past several decades. There is a brief interview with Larry Grathwohl and some Bill Ayers footage, with a bit of background on the Weather Underground. Additionally, there is a rare interview with KBG defector Yuri Bezmenov (a.k.a. Tomas Schuman). Of note is the congressional testimony of ex-communist Elizabeth Bentley discussing her cover as a “conservative”.
Christopher Andrew gave a series of three lectures in November 2018 on “The Lost History of Global Intelligence—and Why It Matters” for the Henry L. Stimson Lectures on World Affairs at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale. The lectures focused on three themes: “How the Lead Role in Strategic Intelligence Passed from Asia to the West” on November 5; “The Strange History of American-British Intelligence Relations: from George Washington to Donald J. Trump” on November 6; and “Russian Intelligence Operations and the West: from Tsar Nicholas II to Vladimir Putin” on November 8.
- The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB — Book by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin.
The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the “most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source.” Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhage of the KGB’s secrets and reveals for the first time the full extent of its worldwide network. Vasili Mitrokhin, a secret dissident who worked in the KGB archive, smuggled out copies of its most highly classified files every day for twelve years. In 1992, a U.S. ally succeeded in exfiltrating the KGB officer and his entire archive out of Moscow.
The archive covers the entire period from the Bolshevik Revolution to the 1980s and includes revelations concerning almost every country in the world. But the KGB’s main target, of course, was the United States.Though there is top-secret material on almost every country in the world, the United States is at the top of the list. As well as containing many fascinating revelations, this is a major contribution to the secret history of the twentieth century.Among the topics and revelations explored are: The KGB’s covert operations in the United States and throughout the West, some of which remain dangerous today. KGB files on Oswald and the JFK assassination that Boris Yeltsin almost certainly has no intention of showing President Clinton. The KGB’s attempts to discredit civil rights leader in the 1960s, including its infiltration of the inner circle of a key leader.
The KGB’s use of radio intercept posts in New York and Washington, D.C., in the 1970s to intercept high-level U.S. government communications. The KGB’s attempts to steal technological secrets from major U.S. aerospace and technology corporations. KGB covert operations against former President Ronald Reagan, which began five years before he became president. KGB spies who successfully posed as U.S. citizens under a series of ingenious disguises, including several who attained access to the upper echelons of New York society.
Excellent archive of articles, books, and speeches by one of most authoritative experts on Soviet espionage, counter-intelligence and KGB/GRU penetration of American domestic institutions.
- The Roots of American Communism — Book by Theodore Draper.
In this definitive history of the evolution of the Communist party in America—from its early background through its founding in 1919 to its emergence as a legal entity in the 1920s—Theodore Draper traces the native and foreign strains that comprised the party, its shifting policies, and its secret as well as its open activities. He makes clear how the party in its infancy “was transformed from a new expression of American radicalism to the American appendage of a Russian revolutionary power.”
“An outstanding contribution to knowledge and understanding of the Communist movement in this country.”—George F. Kennan.
“Provides the indispensable foundations for any understanding of American communism. Mr. Draper has unraveled the knotted threads of factionalism…and has presented the story with clarity, insight, and objectivity. He has woven all aspects—doctrinal, organizational, personal—into a coherent critical narrative.”—Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., New York Times.
“An uncommonly good book.”—Sidney Hook.
- The Secret World of American Communism — Book by Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov.
For the first time, the hidden world of American communism can be examined with the help of documents from the recently opened archives of the former Soviet Union. Interweaving narrative and documents, the authors of this book present a convincing new picture of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), providing proof that it was involved in espionage and other subversive activities. At the same time, they disclose fascinating details about the workings of the party and about the ordinary Americans and CPUSA leaders who participated in its clandestine activities.
“A formidable achievement in archival research. No one will be able to write about the CPUSA in the future without reference to this volume.”-Maurice Isserman, Nation
“A memorable, powerful book. . . . One of this year’s most significant books about twentieth-century American political history.”-David J. Garrow, New York Newsday
“This book contains the first new revelation about American Communism in a generation. It is superbly edited and admirably presented. No one interested in the history of the American Communism can afford to miss it.”-Theodore Draper Harvey Klehr, the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Politics at Emory University, is also the author of The Heyday of American Communism. John Earl Haynes is a specialist in twentieth-century American history at the Library of Congress. Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov is formerly of the Comintern Archive at the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent History
- The Soviet World of American Communism — Book by Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes
Drawing on documents newly available from Russian archives, this important book conclusively demonstrates the continuous and intimate ties between the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) and Moscow. Digging even deeper than the authors` earlier volume, The Secret World of American Communism, it conclusively demonstrates that the CPUSA was little more than a pawn of the Soviet regime.
- Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America — Book by Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Alexander Vassillev
This stunning book, based on KGB archives that have never come to light before, provides the most complete account of Soviet espionage in America ever written. In 1993, former KGB officer Alexander Vassiliev was permitted unique access to Stalin-era records of Soviet intelligence operations against the United States. Years later, living in Britain, Vassiliev retrieved his extensive notebooks of transcribed documents from Moscow. With these notebooks John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have meticulously constructed a new, sometimes shocking, historical account.
Along with general insights into espionage tactics and the motives of Americans who spied for Stalin, Spies resolves specific, long-seething controversies. The book confirms, among many other things, that Alger Hiss cooperated with Soviet intelligence over a long period of years, that journalist I. F. Stone worked on behalf of the KGB in the 1930s, and that Robert Oppenheimer was never recruited by Soviet intelligence. Spies also uncovers numerous American spies who were never even under suspicion and satisfyingly identifies the last unaccounted for American nuclear spies. Vassiliev tells the story of the notebooks and his own extraordinary life in a gripping introduction to the volume.
- Early Cold War Spies: The Espionage Trials that Shaped American Politics (Cambridge Essential Histories) — Book by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr
Communism was never a popular ideology in America, but the vehemence of American anticommunism varied from passive disdain in the 1920s to fervent hostility in the early years of the Cold War. Nothing so stimulated the white hot anticommunism of the late 1940s and 1950s more than a series of spy trials that revealed that American Communists had co-operated with Soviet espionage against the United States and had assisted in stealing the technical secrets of the atomic bomb as well as penetrating the U.S. State Department, the Treasury Department, and the White House itself. This book reviews the major spy cases of the early Cold War (Hiss-Chambers, Rosenberg, Bentley, Gouzenko, Coplon, Amerasia and others) and the often-frustrating clashes between the exacting rules of the American criminal justice system and the requirements of effective counter-espionage.
- Secret Cables of the Comintern, 1933-1943 (Annals of Communism Series) — Book by Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov, Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Lynn Visson
Drawing on secret and therefore candid coded telegraphs exchanged between Communist Party leaders around the world and their overseers at the Communist International (Comintern) headquarters in Moscow, this book uncovers key aspects of the history of the Comintern and its significant role in the Stalinist ruling system during the years 1933 to 1943. New information on aspects of the People’s Front in France, civil wars in Spain and China, World War II, and the extent of the Comintern’s cooperation with Soviet intelligence is brought to light through these archival records, never examined before.
- The Amerasia Spy Case: Prelude to McCarthyism — Book by Harvey Klehr and Ronald Radosh
The Amerasia affair was the first of the great spy cases of the postwar era. In June 1945, six people associated with the magazine Amerasia were arrested by the FBI and accused of espionage on behalf of the Chinese Communists. But only two, the editor of Amerasia and a minor government employee, were convicted of any offense, and their convictions were merely for unauthorized possession of government documents. Harvey Klehr and Ronald Radosh provide a full-scale history of the first public drama featuring charges that respectable American citizens had spied for the Communists.The Amerasia case remained a staple in American political life for the next half-decade. It provoked charges by conservatives of a cover-up of extensive Communist infiltration of the government and accusations by liberals of a witch-hunt designed to intimidate the press. And it played a significant role in the hearings held to examine Senator Joseph McCarthy’s charge that the State Department had been infiltrated by a clique of ‘card carrying Communists.’ Klehr and Radosh, the first researchers to have obtained the FBI files on the case, show that a cover-up was indeed orchestrated by prominent government officials.
- In Denial: Historians,Communism & Espionage — Book by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr.
Left-wing historians’ sympathy for American communism is an example of ideological bias and self-deception comparable to Holocaust denial, according to this uncompromising manifesto. Haynes and Klehr, historians and authors of The Secret World of American Communism, rehash major Cold War controversies-including Moscow’s financial subsidies to the American Communist Party, the espionage cases against the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss, and American communists’ support for the Hitler-Stalin pact-in light of material from recently opened Soviet archives. But their focus is on the response of what they see as a left-wing “revisionist” academic establishment to new revelations about Stalin’s crimes and American communists’ subservience to Moscow.
Taking on leading history journals and prominent scholars like Ellen Schrecker, Eric Foner and Victor Navasky, the authors accuse revisionists of ignoring, downplaying and distorting the mounting evidence of communist espionage and subversion in the United States. Instead of facing facts, they argue, revisionists have propagated a mythology of American communism as a benign, idealistic, home-grown progressive movement destroyed by McCarthyite persecution, a caricature that “resembles more the chaotic New Left of the late 1960s than the rigid Leninist party it was.” The authors champion a liberal, anticommunist “traditionalist” historiography, asserting that America’s post-war campaign against communist subversion (McCarthy’s excesses aside) was “a rational and understandable response to a real danger to American democracy.”
While their confrontational tone and penchant for academic score-settling will inflame rather than settle these rancorous debates, their incisive analysis and meticulous attention to evidence make this a formidable rejoinder to left-wing orthodoxies.
- Witness — Whitaker Chambers book
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Whitaker Chambers grew up in Lynbrook, NY, and studied at Columbia University. In 1925, he became a communist, editing the _Daily Worker_ newspaper and _New Masses_ magazine. He joined the Soviet underground (1932), defected during the Great Purge (1938), and hid with his family for a year. He joined _TIME_ magazine, where he rose to become a senior editor (1939-1948). In August 1948 under subpoena before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), he named former Federal officials as part of a Washington-based network. By September 1948, only Alger Hiss continued to deny those allegations. During legal proceedings, Chambers brought forth evidence (e.g., the “Pumpkin Papers”) that led to Hiss’s indictment, trial, and conviction (1948-1950). After the Hiss Case, he joined the editorial board of nascent _National Review_ (1957-1959).
Chambers’s memoir _Witness_ (1952) was a best-seller, serialized in the _Saturday Evening Post_ and _Readers Digest_ and read aloud by the author on NBC radio. His wife published further essays as _Cold Friday_ (1964). Others have published his writings and articles: _Odyssey of a Friend_ (1969), _Ghosts on the Roof_ (1989), and _Notes from the Underground_ (1997). To support himself while both communist and defector, the polyglot Chambers translated more than a dozen books from German and French (1928-1939), including _Bambi_ (1928).
President Ronald Reagan awarded Chambers the Medal of Freedom (1984) and added the Whittaker Chambers Farm to the National Register (1988).
- Harry Hopkins Hosted Soviet Spy Cell — David Martin article
- Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies –– Documentary
- Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies — Transcript
- The One-Time Pad
- Duck and Cover — Civil Defense Film.
Duck and Cover is a civil defense social guidance film. Film production started in 1951 and it gained its first public screening in January 1952 during the era after the Soviet Union began nuclear testing in 1949 and the Korean War (1950–53) was in full swing. Funded by the US Federal Civil Defense Administration, it was written by Raymond J. Mauer, directed by Anthony Rizzo of Archer Productions, narrated by actor Robert Middleton and made with the help of schoolchildren from New York City and Astoria, New York. It was shown in schools as the cornerstone of the government’s “duck and cover” public awareness campaign, being aired to generations of United States school children from the early 1950s until 1991, which marked the end of the Cold War.
- The Venona Secrets, Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors — Book by Herbert Romerstein and Eric Briendel
The Venona Secrets presents one of the last great, untold stories of World War II and the Cold War. In 1995 the Venona documents secret Soviet cable traffic from the 1940s that the United States intercepted and eventually decrypted finally became available to American historians. Now, after spending more than five years researching all the available evidence, espionage experts Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel reveal the full, shocking story of the days when Soviet spies ran their fingers through America s atomic-age secrets.
Included in The Venona Secrets are the details of the spying activities that reached from Harry Hopkins in Franklin Roosevelt s White House to Alger Hiss in the State Department to Harry Dexter White in the Treasury. More than that, The Venona Secrets exposes: information that links Albert Einstein to Soviet intelligence and conclusive evidence showing that J. Robert Oppenheimer gave Moscow our atomic secrets How Soviet espionage reached its height when the United States and the Soviet Union were supposedly allies in World War II The previously unsuspected vast network of Soviet spies in America How the Venona documents confirm the controversial revelations made in the 1940s by former Soviet agents Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley.
The role of the American Communist Party in supporting and directing Soviet agents How Stalin s paranoia had him target Jews (code-named Rats ) and Trotskyites even after Trotsky s death How the Soviets penetrated America s own intelligence services The Venona Secrets is a masterful compendium of spy versus spy that puts the Venona transcripts in context with secret FBI reports, congressional investigations, and documents recently uncovered in the former Soviet archives. Romerstein and Breindel cast a spotlight on one of the most shadowy episodes in recent American history a past when treason infected Washington and Soviet agents were shielded, either wittingly or unwittingly, by our very own government officials.
- Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America — Book by Harvey Klehr and John Earl Hayes
The Venona secret US army project of the 1940’s was a monumental achievement in this history of American code breaking and one of the America’s most closely guarded secrets. This book exposes the greatest domestic counter-espionage operation that has ever been launched against the Soviet Union.
- “VENONA and Cold War Historiography in the Academic World” –Harvey Klehr, 2005 NSA Cryptologic History Symposium
- Top Secret Umbra — Venona
- The Venona Story
- VENONA PROJECT, MITROKHIN ARCHIVES, & SOVIET ESPIONAGE
- Venona: Soviet Espionage and the American Response, 1939-1957
- Introduction, Alexander Vassiliev’s Notebooks: Provenance and Documentation of Soviet Intelligence Activities in the United States
- JOURNALISTIC TREACHERY: A new report’s chilling findings on the extent of Soviet spies in the American press — Matthew Vadum article
- Guide to Soviet and Russian Intelligence Services — Robert W. Pringle article
- Espionage, Treason, and the Cambridge Five — Amazon book list