This issue begins with a symposium of four articles exploring how the European Communist foreign intelligence and state security organs conducted operations during the Cold War. The first of the four articles, by Christopher Nehring, discusses how the Soviet State Security Committee (KGB) worked with the Bulgarian State Security service (DS) on a wide range of matters during the Cold War. Of particular importance was KGB-DS cooperation on “active measures” (disinformation campaigns and other means of discrediting and demoralizing the enemy) and covert operations, including sabotage and assassinations. Nehring examines how these operations unfolded and explains several episodes that have long been controversial, including the KGB-DS deployment of a poison-tipped umbrella to assassinate the exiled Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov on a bridge in London in 1978 and the two agencies’ role in the attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Rome in May 1981.
The next article, by Douglas Selvage, discusses the coordinated campaign launched by the KGB and other Warsaw Pact intelligence services in the latter half of the 1970s and early 1980s to ensure that the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), signed in Helsinki on 1 August 1975, would be implemented in a way that would benefit Soviet and Warsaw Pact interests by consolidating the territorial and political status quo in Europe. Under KGB supervision, the foreign intelligence agencies of the Warsaw Pact countries launched a wide-ranging effort to ensure that the provisions of CSCE relating to human rights and human contacts would not be used against the Soviet bloc. Drawing on declassified documents from numerous countries, Selvage shows how the various operations proceeded, including covert propaganda portraying Western (rather than Soviet-bloc) countries as the real violators of human rights in Europe. The foreign intelligence branch (HVA) of the East German Ministry for State Security (MfS, or Stasi) worked particularly closely with the KGB not only on covert propaganda operations but also in promoting a version of East-West détente consisting of military agreements favoring the Warsaw Pact. Selvage focuses on two operations that were indicative of the larger effort, showing that both operations fell short of their intended goals.
The next article, by Molly Pucci, discusses how the Stalinist police-states in Eastern Europe established blanket surveillance networks in the late 1940s and used them for internal security and repression thereafter. After the Soviet Union sharply tightened its grip over Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1947–1948 and orchestrated a Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia in February 1948, the Soviet state security organs supervised the wide-scale deployment of surveillance to maintain a repressive political order and deter any challenges to Communist rule. The Soviet-bloc security agencies had fewer informants than most people assumed, but they deliberately fostered the impression that they maintained total, round-the-clock surveillance. To the extent that most East European citizens believed the informant networks were ubiquitous, the Warsaw Pact state security agencies kept up their reputation for omnipotence irrespective of the reality.
The fourth article in the symposium, by Christian Axboe Nielsen, discusses how the Yugoslav Communists under Josip Broz Tito dealt with “enemies of the state” from the mid-1940s through the early 1950s. Tito's forces had established a repressive Communist dictatorship as soon as they seized power in Yugoslavia in 1944–1945, and they systematically killed thousands of their opponents and cracked down harshly on all hints of internal opposition. Nielsen draws on recently declassified files from Bosnia and Herzegovina to examine the policies adopted by Tito's regime to neutralize and rehabilitate “enemies of the state.” Although numerous changes occurred in Yugoslavia after Joseph Stalin expelled Tito's regime from the Soviet bloc in mid-1948, incarceration policies vis-à-vis internal enemies remained relatively stable for a long while. Nielsen uses recently opened archival collections to trace the incarceration policies of the Yugoslav Communists and the relative weight they gave to punishment and reeducation.
After the symposium, the issue continues with an article by Jeffrey Herf, who discusses the impact of the Cold War on the stance of the superpowers vis-à-vis the creation of Israel in 1948. Although President Harry Truman was strongly supportive of the formation of a Jewish state, senior officials at the U.S. State Department, especially Policy Planning Director George F. Kennan and Secretary of State George C. Marshall, opposed the Zionist quest for an independent country and sought to keep the United States from facilitating its creation. By contrast, the Soviet Union and its East European allies, especially Czechoslovakia and Poland, were supportive of Israel's creation and provided crucial backing during key United Nations (UN) votes in November 1947 and May 1948. Even though Stalin soon reversed his stance toward Israel and launched a vicious anti-Semitic campaign at home and in Eastern Europe, the irony is that when crucial decisions were taken at the UN in 1947–1948 the Soviet bloc was more strongly supportive of Israel than the United States was.
The issue includes two forums on recently published books: To Build a Better World: Choices to End the Cold War and Create a Global Commonwealth, by Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice; and A Cold War over Austria: The Struggle for the State Treaty, Neutrality, and the End of East–West Occupation, 1945–1955, by Gerald Stourzh and Wolfgang Mueller. In each case we enlisted three experts to provide commentaries on the book, and we are publishing the commentaries seriatim along with replies from the authors.
The issue ends with eight shorter book reviews.