Orders of the Chief of the Main SNB Intelligence Service Directorate from the year 1989

Introductory Notes :: Main Intelligence Service Directorate

In October 1953, within the scope of the emergence of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (ČSSR), the foreign-political intelligence service (with the cover name Directorate I of the Ministry of the Interior) was created, to replace the current offensive intelligence – at that time called the 2nd Sector of the Ministry of National Security, or Section Z and the ZPR Directorate. In close cooperation with Soviet advisors, the original apparatus of 180 agents at the headquarters as well as 18 residenturas was increased to 327 people by the end of 1955. 123 servicemen worked abroad, of those, 90 were operatives who were legalized in positions as employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign trade or the Czechoslovak Press Agency (ČTK). In addition to infiltrating central state organs of Western states, their agent operative activity was aimed against those in exile, the Vatican, and Radio Free Europe, among others.

The Intelligence Service was not systematically focused only on the standard acquisition of secret information, but also on the discrediting of exile leaders, disinformation of Western intelligence services, abductions, and in limited cases, even on the physical liquidation of persons. At the turn of the 1950s to the 1960s, Directorate I was, as a part of the Soviet intelligence apparatus, focused on penetrating the third world – Africa, Latin America and Asia (in 1961, it employed as many as 930 servicemen).

In 1964, there emerged within the scope of the Czechoslovak Intelligence Service the special assignments service, aimed at the realization of special operations (among others, the “enforcement of socialist lawfulness”), including the destruction of subjects in the Federal Republic of Germany, France and the Benelux states; a list of agent-executor targets included the names Josef and Radek Mašín, Frantisek Tišler, etc.. In August 1968, some of the headquarters agents were interned with collaborators from the Soviet KGB; eventually an extensive personnel purge commenced.

During the transformation in the spring of 1969, the Main Intelligence Service Directorate was created, consisting of operative directorate A – political intelligence, directorate B – foreign counterintelligence, directorate C – scientific-technical intelligence, directorate D – illegal intelligence, and directorate F – the Main Intelligence Service Directorate’s Bratislava branch. A later reorganization at the beginning of 1971 – influenced by the defections of Ladislav Bittman, Josef Frolik, František August and others – returned the Main Intelligence Service Directorate to its previous structure (directorate-section-department). The final reorganization of the SNB (National Security Corps, or Sbor Národní Bezpečnosti) Directorate I, in the year 1988, took place chiefly as a result of the defection of Vlastimil Ludvik. Directorate I chiefs usually answered directly to Ministers of the Interior, and in limited cases also to the First Deputy Ministers: [the chiefs who served in 1989 were] March 1981-April 1989 General Major Karel Sochor (b. 1930), May-June 1989 Col. Karel Vodrážka (1930-1989), July 1989-January 1990 Lt. Col. PhDr. Vilém Václavek, alias Kainar (b. 1944).

Excerpted from Encyklopedie tajných služeb ve 20. století (Encylopedia of Secret Services in the 20th Century). Helmut Roewer, Stefan Schafer, Matthias Uhl. Czech edendum 2005 by Pavel Žáček. Euromedia Group, k.s. – knižní klub v edici Universum. Prague 2006.

Web Project: The Events of 1989 in Czechoslovakia

Orders of the Chief of the Main SNB Intelligence Service Directorate – or SNB Directorate I – from the year 1989 (in Czech only):