A brief on the secret service or state police from the Communist Era
SIGURIMI- Albanian Secret Police: Its main goal was protecting the country from dangers, but de facto the Sigurimi served to suppress political activity in the population and hold the political system in place. Albania is famous for allowing the films of Norman Wisdom to be screened during the Communist era. ‘Mr.Pitkin’, as Norman was known to generations of Albanians from one of his films, is treated with adulation whenever he visited. Albania was one of the most ‘closed’ Communist countries and was frightened of being invaded. It used to have more than 1 million bunkers, approximately 1 for every 5 Albanians!
DGI- Cuban Intelligence Service: Founded in late 1961, shortly after the Cuban revolution and is responsible for all foreign intelligence collection. Che Guevara was a DGI agent. It was probably the most internationally active Communist secret service, being active in South America, Central America, Caribbean and the Middle East.
AVH- Hungarian Secret Service: it was conceived as an external appendage of the Soviet Union’s secret police forces but gained an indigenous reputation for brutality during a series of purges beginning in 1948. It was slowly phased out after the death of Stalin in 1953, and with the actions of the Prime Minister Imre Nagy, leading up to the Hungarian revolution in 1956. Hungary become the only European Communist country without an intelligence service.
Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (SB)- Polish Secret Service: The goals were eradication of the anti-communist structures, persecution of former underground soldiers of the army, counterintelligence, border security and criminal investigations. Lech Walesa, originally the leader of the Solidarity Trade Union, and the future President of Poland, was put under constant surveillance by the SB. Solidarity was the first non-communist trade union in a Communist country.
UDBA- Yugoslavian Secret Police: Exercised a feared tool of control. It was responsible for the eliminations of millions of ‘alleged enemies’ of the state and over 200 assassinations & kidnappings internationally. With the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the files of the UDBA were highly sought after. A website published archived information of about 1.5 million citizens of Slovenia in 2003, when the population of Slovenia was only 2 million.
Darzhavna Sigurnost (DS)- Bulgarian Secret Service: Dedicated to murders, kidnappings and disinformation against Bulgarian dissidents living abroad. DS were behind the infamous murder in London of the dissident Georgi Markov in 1978, using a poison-tipped umbrella.
Securitate- Romanian Secret Service: Founded in 1948, with the help from the Soviet NKVD, while Romania was practically under the Red Army’s occupation. The Securitate, was probably, in proportion to the country’s population, the largest European Secret Police Service. It employed over 11,000 agent and more than a million informers. It was the most brutal secret police service in the world and was used extensively to manipulate and control its citizens.
STB- Czechoslovakian Secret Police: Serving as an intelligence and counter-intelligence agency, it dealt with any activity that was considered opposition to the Communist Party and the state. The STB’s part in the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989 was rather unusual. One of their agents pretended to be a dead student, by lying in the street, after an early demonstration was dispersed. Whether the spreading rumor of a ‘dead student’ helped further the revolution is unclear, but it is certainly a strange action for the secret police to take- faking the death of an opponent.
Stasi- East German Secret Police: It has been described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police ever existed. The main tasks were spying on the population and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures. After German reunification, the surveillance files that the Stasi had maintained on the millions of East Germans were opened, so that all the citizens could inspect their personal file.
KGB- Soviet Secret Service: From 1954 until 1991, it was a military service governed by army laws and regulations and their archives remain classified. Its main functions were foreign intelligence, spying, guarding the state border and the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the KGB split into the Federal Security Service and Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation