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Translating the state: Czechoslovakia's search for the soviet model of the secret police, 1945-52.

In January 1948, a month before the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, Czech secret police official Jindrich Vesely went on an observation tour of the Polish secret police. His aim, as he wrote to the Central Committee in Prague, was to "become closely familiar with the organization of the Ministry of Public Security of Poland and, above all, the work of the state security organ and intelligence services." (1) While there, he conversed with Polish secret police officials, took notes on the organization of their forces, and compared and contrasted what he saw with the policing institutions of his own country. His notes reveal the differences in the communist secret police forces that had been built in each country since the end of World War II. Since there was no equivalent in Czechoslovakia to the institution Vesely was touring in Poland, he described what he was seeing to leaders in Prague in terms of analogy: the authority of the Polish secret police and its affiliated militia approximated the force of Czechoslovaks' civil police, criminal police, and regional and district government authorities.

Vesely had helped organize communist secret police networks in Czechoslovakia between 1945 and 1948. He was observing the Polish secret police forces created during the same era. Although these institutions were supposedly built on the same "Soviet model," they had developed different structures, personnel, and methods of violence from the mid- to the late 1940s. As Vesely discovered, the Polish Communists and their Soviet advisers had created a military-style force of around 30,000 officials who worked from 1945 to 1947 in a state governed by martial law. (2) Polish secret police officials, most recruited from communist partisan groups and military units, carried weapons and had the authority to arrest citizens and hold them for up to 48 hours. (3) In contrast to Czechoslovakia, Vesely noted, all political trials in Poland took place in military courts. By 1948, the Polish secret police had developed a massive infrastructure that reached into most areas of Polish public, civic, and state life and could, as Vesely described, "allow or ban meetings, allow or ban clubs, distribute permits to carry weapons, etc., etc.," and conduct surveillance on political parties, the youth, the intelligentsia, the church, and the state administration. As was evident from his conversations with local officials, Vesely concluded that the "Ministry of State Security is a decisive power factor in Poland. There is no area in which it does not intervene in a decisive way." (4) The Czechoslovak secret police he had helped organize, in contrast, was a network of around 200 agents who were not allowed to carry weapons or arrest suspects. Communist intelligence agents in Czechoslovakia dressed in civilian clothing and worked covertly in the official intelligence services of the National Front, a democratic multiparty government, to collect information on noncommunist political parties for communist leaders. (5)

Vesely's trip to Poland was one of several covert observation tours that East European secret police agents took to each other's countries between 1946 and 1954, the foundational years of communism in the region. What do these trips tell us about how East European agents learned to build communist policing institutions after World War II? What do they reveal about how East European Communists interpreted the Soviet model of political policing? As the Czechoslovaks' tour of the Polish forces shows--Vesely's trip was one of several--answering these questions requires adopting a multinational, comparative approach to policing between the mid-1940s and the 1950s. Such an approach is not only a methodological decision; it is a reflection of the decision-making processes and self-perceptions of agents and officials at the time, who consciously studied and integrated the practices of the policing systems of other countries of Eastern Europe. Almost a decade before the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955, agents, ideas, surveillance technologies, organizational practices, and institutional models crossed the national borders of the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, allowing Communists to coordinate their security forces and study the theories and practices of policing in multiple national contexts. These exchanges--not only bilateral relations between East European countries and Moscow--played a fundamental role in integrating the "Eastern Bloc" into a common security space by the early 1950s.

The Soviet model of the secret police, after all, was hardly a self-evident system to learn. By 1945, the Soviet secret police had had not one but several institutional histories. The first secret police, the Cheka, had been created in December 1917 in the chaos of the Russian Revolution and worked on the basis of decentralized, militia-style networks. The Soviet Peoples Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), created by Iosif Stalin in 1937, was a hypercentralized military-style institution organized on the basis of annual plans and quotas. (6) As historians have long known, the Stalinist secret police and its plethora of acronyms--GPU, NKVD, NKGB, MGB--was a world characterized by shifting boundaries of authority, continually changing standards of loyalty, and institutional shapelessness. Career trajectories led to dead ends, since turnover was constant and officials who remained in the system without being transferred, arrested, or executed were exceptional. As Nikita Petrov and Marc Jansen have written of Nikolai Ezhov, whose tenure coincided with the Great Terror in the Soviet Union in 1937-38, "his short period of greatness, amounting to only one and a half years, was followed by a sudden, complete, and well-enforced oblivion." (7)

How did Europeans distill this model of policing--itself a morass of legal codes, debates, administration, and organizational principles--and apply it to their own national contexts? In spite of advances in Soviet historiography in recent decades--which has focused on issues of culture, language, and everyday life under Stalin--most scholars of Eastern Europe continue to depict the Soviet model in narrowly ideological or political terms. (8) The concept of the "Sovietization" of Eastern Europe, largely theorized during the Cold War era with little recourse to archival sources, has been depicted in two ways. The first--as in the work of Hugh Seton-Watson, Philip Selznik, and Leonid Gibianski--points to East European Communists' use of Soviet tactics in the takeover of power in their countries, including national front coalitions (alliances with noncommunist political parties) and "salami tactics" (elimination of political opponents one by one). (9) The second--as in the work of Carl Friedrich, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Juan Linz--depicts Soviet-style states as "ideal types" that shared common traits, including, collectivized agriculture, a monolithic ideology, and a single party system. (10) This latter interpretation pays less attention to how communist regimes came to power than to the shape they took when they got there. While totalitarian theorists have traditionally taken a "Moscow-centric" approach that pays little attention to the intentions, historical context, ideas, and identities of local actors, revisionists tend to underestimate the role of Moscow in dictating events in Eastern Europe after 1948. (11)

This article offers a contrast between the "political" approach of the totalitarian model and the "social" approach of the revisionists. It suggests a discursive understanding of the communist secret police by examining it not only as an institution but also as a social world that extended to interpersonal relationships, laws, the social status of the police, economic relations, and language. By focusing on process rather than outcomes, it shows how Eastern Europeans disassembled the Soviet model by analyzing imperfect documentation on its institutions, administrative practices, narratives, and language from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s and reassembled it (selectively) into their own contexts. In interpreting the material, they faced challenges similar to those of a translator of a foreign text: the balance of literal and figurative meanings of words and the anxieties inherent in striving to uncover the "original" intent of a text. (12) A fruitful way to understand the origins of communist states in Europe is therefore as a process of "translation" rather than reproduction or transplantation. (13)

In examining these issues, this study reveals new avenues for research in the field of transnational communism. The number of works on this topic is growing in the field of Russian history, although they focus largely on the relationship between Russia and the West and leave Eastern Europe out of the picture. (14) While there have been a number of studies on the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe in the post-World War II period, most focus on bilateral relations between the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe. (15) Those that highlight multilateral ties between East European countries have focused on the post-Stalinist era and official international institutions such as the Warsaw Pact (1955). (16) Yet transnational ties were also fundamental to the Stalinist era and origins of the Eastern Bloc as a whole. It is not surprising that historians have not studied these security connections, since they were covert at the time, qualified in the documents as "unofficial visits" or exchange "through party channels." (17) The extent of this secrecy was striking. Specially designated airplanes shuttled operative agents and party officials from country to country, part of a "closed world" of security obscured to outsiders. (18) Reflecting the principle of the "compartmentalization of information"--the restriction of knowledge on a need-to-know basis in the police itself--these meetings were invisible even to agents inside local forces who had been "left out" of discussions. (19) They were not known to scholars writing during the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s on whose works Western models of the "Sovietization" of Eastern Europe have been based. (20)

While most recent multinational histories of communism focus on issues of consumption and tourism, this article therefore focuses on secret police forces, an institution of particular importance to communist, and particularly Stalinist, states. (21) Secret police forces were fundamental to the Communists' takeover and consolidation of power since officials were not only passively enforcers of the law but also active transformers of the societies in which they lived. This took the form of widely publicized campaigns of violence in the name of the "class struggle" in which officials disenfranchised members of former elites and redistributed property in the early 1950s to their role in establishing long-term surveillance networks in state institutions, civil life, and enemy groups. While the institution of the secret police has been well studied in scholarship on Bolshevik Russia and the USSR in the 1930s, it has been almost completely neglected by post--World War II histories or scholarship with an international perspective. (22) With respect to the Eastern Bloc, the secret police was also a fundamental institution for the study of transnational communism as a whole since it regulated, watched, and influenced all transborder exchange of people, goods, and technologies.

The focus on policing raises new questions for historians of communism and transnational exchange. As George Mosse has pointed out, policing institutions are the most "national" of state institutions, "wholly dependent upon the values and the social structure of a particular society." (23) Czechoslovak Communists evidently felt the same way. They were convinced that "the tasks of the security corps are varied and originate in the experience of a people, their society, and their social structures." (24) Yet building a communist system also meant learning from the only communist country that had existed to that point in history: the Soviet Union. The tensions that informed the creation of states in the region--whether based on national or Soviet models--were not as mutually exclusive as they are presented in current scholarship. Through the process of translation between 1945 and 1948, Czechoslovaks changed, reinterpreted, and shifted the meanings of the original--sometimes without realizing it. While the Soviet model of security was important from the very beginning, they adapted its forms to their own needs and combined it with practices from other security and intelligence models to create an institution particular to their circumstances and historical realities.

A Short Course on Czechoslovak Security

In May 1945, Czech and Slovak politicians returned from London, Paris, and Moscow to a country that had been ruled by a Nazi protectorate or fascist Slovak authorities for the past seven years. As the security and police officials of the wartime protectorate abandoned their posts, the number of cases involving collaborators and war criminals soared, accompanied by threats to security such as looting, armed bands of civilians, and displaced persons. (25) As one Czech intelligence report related in July 1945, the public was frustrated by not knowing which of the armed groups roaming the cities and countryside were legitimate representatives of the Czechoslovak government. (26)

By 1945, Czechoslovakia had existed as an independent state for only 20 years, between 1918 and 1938. What was the "Czechoslovak" model of security? While there has been extensive scholarship on the idea of the nation in East European and Soviet historiography, few historians have examined how these issues were applied to the creation of security and policing forces. The study of state institutions remains surprisingly overlooked in histories of 20th-century Eastern Europe, an era and region in which states were continually dismantled, rebuilt, and remade by locals and external powers. In the literature on Eastern Europe, historians traditionally follow the views of the nation developed by 19th-century national movements, which expressly formulated the concept as a dichotomy between local nationals and external empires. (27) Soviet historians, in contrast, have focused on the role of the state in creating individual national identities. (28) In both formulations, the discourse underpinning the state itself--and its models, laws, discourses, and institutional structures--has gone largely unexamined. While individual identities can be taken up, hidden, or changed, state institutions are more inert, embodied in laws, written texts, official narratives, and training programs.

In Czechoslovakia--and across Eastern Europe--World War II had dismantled and discredited previous security forces and opened up new possibilities for the transformation of policing personnel and structures. Postwar leaders oriented the laws, trials, and policing forces toward the retribution campaigns in which they improvised a system of citizens' courts, the mobilization of the lowest levels of state administration (national committees), and a spirit of radical social justice from below. (29) For National Front politicians, the end of the war presented an opportunity to build a security force that was new--based explicitly on the principle of social and political revolution--and comprehensible to locals. Judging from the frequency with which the word "provisional" (prozatimni) was used in security laws and organizational charts from the era, Czech and Slovak leaders were unsure precisely what these institutions would look like in the long term. The system that resulted was a palimpsest of laws and decrees that integrated texts and pratices from the Habsburg Empire, First Czechoslovak Republic, Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and Scotland Yard. The choice of model was informed by language as well as history, since the most common second language in Czechoslovakia was German. Under the direction of communist official Bedrich Pokorny, training materials were translated from German into Czech, including the Austrian intelligence manual Kriege und Industrieespionage (War and Industrial Espionage). (30)

It was not entirely surprising that the "national model" was made up of various foreign and domestic models. Czechoslovak politicians traditionally perceived their country as a bridge between "East" and "West," a principle embodied not only in laws and security structures but also in the background and training of security officials, who entered the forces in 1945 with training from the First Czechoslovak Republic; the Spanish Civil War; militaries in the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France during World War II; and the security forces of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. This mix of backgrounds led to continual griping, misunderstandings, and factions in the services as agents accused one another of working for Western or Soviet intelligence forces. But they also worked remarkably well to enforce policies on which everyone "agreed," such as the retribution campaign and expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia. The main criteria for loyalty was nationality as proven through the "certificates of national reliability" required to hold any state position, a qualification not mutually exclusive with training in a non -Czechoslovak military or security force. (31)

The first communist secret police networks in Czechoslovakia were likewise of mixed origin. They overlapped in their training, purpose, and conceptions of security with those of the National Front (retribution campaigns and the expulsion of the Germans). Similar to the National Front forces, officials who joined communist networks had backgrounds in security services from East and West, including service in the military of the First Czechoslovak Republic, legal training in the First Czechoslovak Republic, military intelligence experience in Moscow during World War II, service in the Czech Army in Great Britain, and training in the Spanish Civil War. (32) Communist party leaders consciously drew on models from East and West for their intelligence networks, including an organizational chart of the London City Police. (33) In a 1946 report, they mentioned adopting Soviet espionage methods and a system of telephone lines with factories "similar to the 999 system of Scotland Yard." (34) Months after the communist takeover, officials continued to study policing laws from the First Czechoslovak Republic, comparing them with laws from Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary. They criticized these models for leaving the lowest levels of state administration out of consideration. (35) Among themselves, Czechoslovak Communists spoke not of Sovietization but of learning from Soviet experiences (sovetske zkusenosti) or adopting tactics "in the Russian manner" (po zpusobu ruskerri), terms that suggest that they could adopt some, part, or none of what they saw. (36) What was of concern was less where the model had come from than whether it contained ideas that could usefully be applied in a Czechoslovak context.

During the period of "national roads to socialism," they approached the Soviet model of policing in the same way. During their observation trips in Eastern Europe in 1948 and 1949, agents were told to "study and carefully think through" what they saw and note which aspects would be useful for "our own needs." (37) Based on their observations, they were told to prepare plans with two or more alternatives. Such decisions set them apart from other countries in the region in key respects. In the Czechoslovak communist model, for example, the security forces did not play as central a role in the takeover of power as they did elsewhere in Eastern Europe. While Vesely had observed that the massive military-style institution of the secret police was a "decisive power factor" in Poland in 1948, the same could not be said about the secret police during the revolution in Czechoslovakia, where the most important driver of the revolution were the "action committees"--revolutionary councils created, often spontaneously, by communist party members in civil, state, and public life. Such councils existed nowhere else in Eastern Europe. They were based on the laws and spirit of radical social justice of the retribution campaign in Czechoslovakia and could sentence non-Communists and others to "expulsion from public life" without the possibility of appeal. (38) The model for these councils drew not on a Soviet precedent but rather on laws governing the retribution trials in Czechoslovakia, particularly the law governing the "purge of public employees" and the Small Decree on national honor. (39)

In 1945, National Front politicians had encouraged locals to join the lowest levels of state administration--the national committees--in a way that combined populist appeal with the mobilization of new people into state service. The communist revolution likewise had a distinct populist, anti-bureaucratic sentiment that followed on this trend and differed markedly from the military and administrative takeovers in places such as Poland and East Germany. In April 1948, General Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party Rudolf Slansky proclaimed, "We have rid ourselves of the old police bureaucracy that we inherited from Austria and the pre-Munich Republic." He linked his antibureaucratic sentiments with support for direct rule from below by national committees, to which he delegated responsibility for the confiscation and redistribution of property during the revolution. In Slanskys words: "We have created national committees, which are carriers and executors of state power in their areas.... They allow people direct participation in the government, enabling them not only to determine laws but also to carry them out and directly control state affairs." For Slansky, local self-rule affirmed the dignity of a small country emerging from foreign domination: "Czechs are ridding themselves of their minority complex. We no longer have to bow before the gentlemen from Vienna or supplicate before Czech factory owners or Austrian district leaders or the millionaires from London and New York." (40)

After the revolution, Czech and Slovak Communists drew their "national" model of security from foreign and local models and the laws and spirit of the post-World War II retribution campaign. Yet even as the action committees expelled thousands of noncommunist officials from the forces and forced those who remained to join the Party, they kept most of the National Fronts postwar security and intelligence scaffolding in place. As the National Front had done, the Czech Communists gave authority to national committees and stressed the national identities of officials as "loyal Czechs." Instead of creating a separate political police, they threw the security and intelligence forces together into one institution, Security or Bezpecnost, a structure that mirrored that of the postwar system. Also like the National Front, they postponed the delineation of jurisdictions between the branches of the institution to an unspecified future date: "the division of Security into individual sectors and departments will take place gradually." (41) After February, a sense, of uncertainty about what the new state would look like, not slavish devotion to the Soviet model, reigned in internal discussions in the party and security forces. Many pre-1948 officials remained in place provided they joined the Party and received a new stamp in their file, "Loyal to the Peoples Democratic Republic."

The Search for the Soviet Model of Security

In June 1948, four months after the outbreak of the February Revolution, Czechoslovak leaders sent the agent Stepan Placek to study the Bulgarian, Romanian, and Yugoslav models of the secret police. (42) In the context of domestic chaos and uncertainty, it was necessary to figure out what a communist regime in power looked like, a task that required thinking through how to delineate boundaries between security institutions, coordinate the forces from top to bottom, and build more standardized training programs for a rapidly growing rank and file. In the immediate postwar era, after all, communist networks had been unofficial, improvised, and subject to no legal restrictions, a state of affairs captured by the words of Jindrich Vesely after visiting a district intelligence office in 1946, "certain difficulties are caused by the makeshift nature and flexibility of the apparatus, which has no legal basis." (43) New political pressures contributed to the changes as well. The Cominform, which had been created in September 1947, subjected East European leaders to political and institutional pressure toward conformity and an anti-Western foreign policy. (44) The escalation of Cold War tensions throughout 1948, particularly the Marshall Plan in April, the Soviet blockade of Berlin in June, and the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Eastern Bloc in June, also increased pressure on the Czechoslovaks. On 5 April 1948, Stalin critized the mistakes of the Czechoslovak Communists, specifying that a "communist party cannot and should not be an election apparatus adapted to parliamentary elections and parliamentary struggles." (45)

In spite of external pressures, the Czechoslovaks' stated intentions in visiting the secret police forces of other East European countries suggests continuity rather than a break with their previous views on policing models. In the words of Stepan Placek when touring the Bulgarian services: "I have the impression that in Bulgaria I have become acquainted with a system similar to that of our Soviet allies. There is no doubt that mechanically introducing the experiences [of other countries] would be harmful. But our own system has been built to this point almost entirely on our own experiences and mistakes. It would be a great benefit if we could compare it to the outcomes and experiences of others and take what, in our own context, it is possible to apply with success." (46) Their intent was therefore not to copy the Soviet model but rather to selectively adopt aspects of it he thought would improve the Czechoslovaks' own system.

Placek took detailed notes on his tour of the Bulgarian secret police forces. This service, similar to those of East Germany, Romania, and Hungary, had been built in a country governed by a Soviet Allied Control Commission. In Bulgaria, Placek noted a key trait of a political police in power, namely the "strict differentiation between state security, which must have top priority, and the forces for the establishment of public safety, order, and civilian security." (47) That is, he described a separation of forces into a "political" and a "civil" police, a distinction that the Czechoslovaks' intelligence networks did not have. Separating the forces not only enabled Czechoslovak communist party leaders to distinguish between "political" and "ordinary" crimes--a distinction later embodied in legal codes--but also to favor the political police above other armed forces with respect to resource distribution, recruitment, and training. While in Czechoslovakia, a prerequisite for the forces had been education and previous military or security service--leading in many cases to continuities between the communist forces and those of the First Czechoslovak Republic and even the Nazi Protectorate--in Hungary no police experience or training was required (or desired). The political police, separate from other institutions and granted preference with regard to personnel, was deemed the most loyal of all communist armed forces. As Jindfich Vesely noted during a tour in 1949, "it is necessary to mention that the Hungarian military and civilian forces have as yet been purged very little and are on the whole unreliable. The only reliable institution that the Hungarian working-class party can rely on is the state security force." (48)

As this distinction suggests, the political police was particular not only in its jurisdiction but also in terms of its elite and favored status, a model that also contrasted with that of the Czechoslovaks, for whom the secret police existed alongside other institutions loyal to the party, such as workers' militias, national committees, and action committees. In all Czechoslovak laws and party discussions in 1948, the security forces were subordinate to the authority of the national committees. Czechoslovak leaders explicitly remarked that the Soviet system risked creating a security elite that would lead to the neglect of other branches of state administration, which would become "servile instruments without their own initiative." (49) Even after seeing the Soviet model, they decided to preserve key aspects of their own model, including the leading role of national committees, revolutionary councils, trade union and civic organizations, and surveillance practices over the security forces. (50) Even Placek, one of the most vocal advocates of Soviet tactics, insisted that national committees should remain in charge of the secret police, declaring that "there is no way that a national committee should be subordinated to a bureaucrat standing at the head of a regional security office or some head of the secret police." (51)

In other countries of Eastern Europe, the elite status of the secret police was formalized in the distribution of goods, resources, and services, in effect creating a "New Class" of state beneficiaries as described by the former Yugoslav Communist Milovan Djilas in his 1957 book. (52) The Czechoslovaks, in contrast, had delegated the confiscation of apartments and property in 1948 to national committees and had not yet established a centralized system for the control and distribution of property. In Poland, Vesely noted that the services had their own medical facilities. He might also have added that they had their own summer camps for the children of officials, apartments, and stores inaccessible to those outside the elite. Placek often used the term "luxurious" to describe the apartments and restaurants he visited with other secret police officials in Eastern Europe. When the Hungarian secret police chief Gabor Peter found out that Placek was not staying in the best hotel in town, he picked up the telephone and "took care of it," securing a room in the most luxurious hotel in Budapest, an act that said more about the communist system than detailed charts of its official structures. From Romania, Placek likewise reported, "I was put up in the largest hotel in Bucharest in a very luxurious apartment." (53) He ate dinner in an expensive restaurant and spent the evening at a lake outside Bucharest. His experience in Yugoslavia, where he was given his own apartment and an American automobile with a driver, was similar.

Placek and other Czechoslovak leaders considered it self-evident that the structure and purpose of the security forces should reflect national conditions and histories. When told by the Bulgarians to create a unit to prevent politicians' assassinations, he explained that, unlike in the Balkans, with their "infamous Macedonian terrorists," the Czechs had no history of political assassinations. Such a unit, in his view, fit neither their national character nor their history: "such acts are not consistent with the Czech character, because in the past hundred years of history serious acts of terrorism have been exceptionally rare." (54) Reflecting the sentiments of many Czechs after World War II, Placek believed that it was more likely that Ukrainians or Germans would commit acts of terror. An issue that arose in the secret police generally was whether agents would identify with a "national" or "Soviet" identity. Even in Hungary, where the criteria for selection and advancement were officially supposed to be an agent's youth, working-class background, and loyalty to the Party, the question of which nationality--Soviet or Hungarian--was the source of loyalty arose in personal disagreements. On their tour of the Hungarian secret police, the Slovaks reported an argument between two leading secret police officials in which one asked in a fit of rage: Who are you? Soviet or Hungarian security? (55)

National sentiments brought into question the coherence of Eastern Europe as a united communist space. Traditional animosities--between Hungarians and Romanians, for instance--continued unabated under the surface of communist unity. (56) Similar to issues Holly Case has raised with respect to fascist Hungary and Romania, a shared communist ideology did not appear to change the fact that the Romanians refused to give the Hungarians information because they did not trust them. (57) Travel among the countries of Eastern Europe continued to be regulated across national boundaries. Placek referred to Bulgaria as a "closed country." When Placek tried to pay for a ticket in Romania with Czechoslovak currency he noted that locals were afraid to take it and preferred to give him a free ticket rather than accept it. (58) Tensions also arose between nationals of different countries with respect to differing criteria of what constituted "loyalty" to the Party. In Hungary and Bulgaria, party loyalty was defined as youth and working-class, background. This was a problem for the Czechoslovaks, for whom party loyalty was based on membership alone rather than a person's class background (rhetoric to the contrary was introduced only in 1949). Czechoslovak diplomats in Hungary who had joined the Communist Party in 1948 were harassed by the secret police for being "bourgeois." (59) The security forces created an atmosphere of fear and closed borders that disrupted international ties, whether with communist or noncommunist countries.

Placek also noted the cultures of security that had developed in the secret police of various countries. Unlike Czechoslovak officials, influenced by the revolutionary fervor of February 1948, Bulgarian officials "seemed very serious and are not subject to illusions or romanticism." The Bulgarian forces organized more closely by Soviet advisers evidently had a different attitude toward the ideas of communism than their Czechoslovak counterpart. The culture of militarism in the secret police of other countries of the Eastern Bloc extended--as Vesely had seen in Poland--to the way agents dressed, related to one another (with military salutes, formalities, and hierachies), and propagated their messages in military parades. Bulgarian secret police training programs were "linked with military training," a culture evident among trainees: "students, even those who are otherwise in civilian positions, take part in the schools in the uniforms of soldiers, regardless of their position." (60) Placek recorded his impressions of a military parade, writing of the "intense propagation of the principles of state security," in slogans on posters, on parades, and at rallies. (61) Building a secret police was not only a question of changing elites and forming new international connections but also of transforming the very language and self-narrative of the state.

A difference between the organizational structure of the Czechoslovak system and that of the other countries of Eastern Europe was that the latter forces were based on a system of centralized planning. The introduction of centralized planning to the Czechoslovak secret police forces in Czechoslovakia was one of the most controversial issues that arose in discussions on the reorganization of the forces in 1949. Bedrich Pokorny, a key organizer of the forces, exclaimed in a meeting in 1949 that while centralized planning was effective for distributing labor, materials, and technologies, it was not possible to plan everything a year in advance: "we can't say we plan to arrest this many or that many people or how many illegal groups there will be." (62) An increased focus on security "outputs" led to the introduction of socialist competitions into the forces, which created internal competition over anything that could be quantified--from the number of hours that officials interrogated prisoners to the number of informers recruited by operative agents. The introduction of centralized planning into the forces opened the door for changes to the structure and incentive of the forces and led to the stationing of long-term informers in villages and state institutions. Placek learned in Bulgaria about the "horizontal intelligence" networks that the secret police stationed in villages to carry out long-term surveillance, in Soviet parlance the system of rezidentura. As Peter Holquist has described with respect to Bolshevik practices, in this system, agents were expected not only to passively collect information but also to actively intervene to change the milieu in which they were stationed, a "two-way" conception of surveillance. (63) Informers had a similarly active role in changing the social sphere, as Placek noted: "their actions must not be limited to handing over intelligence. It must also be about disorienting the enemy and other things." (64)

Active surveillance practices went hand-in-hand with a new approach to managing politics, particularly elections, through terror and manipulation. On an unofficial trip to Hungary, Slovak secret police officials (without the knowledge of their Czech counterparts) studied telephone monitoring, postal censorship, and tactics to manipulate elections. (65) It is likely that the Hungarians were drawing on their experiences in 1947, when they "triumphed" through voting fraud, behind-the-scenes manipulation, psychological terror, and physical violence. According to the Hungarians, the "most effective" way to influence elections was to deprive as many people from the "reactionary camp" of voting rights as possible. (66) A tactic they considered less successful was to allow supporters to vote in multiple places, a method with a "calculated gain" of only 20,000 votes. They shared how they made false ballots for reactionary candidates and "revealed" falsified ballots after the elections to discredit them. Finally, they discussed methods of "dry terror," in which secret police agents followed prominent noncommunist political candidates everywhere, so that the latter "felt themselves the subjects of heightened interest and attention." (67)

Placek also studied how East European secret police officials recorded information in the forces. Secret police documents, he explained, were subject to strict rules of conspiracy. Before an investigation began, agents worked out a plan of investigation but recorded "no particular findings from that conversation" and "no details." (68) These instructions were based on the assumption that, if found, they could not be deciphered by the enemy. This transformation removed the process of decision making from paper, revealing only the outcome of investigations. New rules of secrecy--what was "left out" as well as what was "put in" to documents and discussions--were applied to internal conversations in the forces as well. During his visit to Yugoslavia, Placek noted that the secret police general with whom he was speaking did not speak about sensitive political issues such as the arrest of two members of the Yugoslav Central Committee. He specified that "understandably, I did not bring up these issues." Referencing tensions that later led to the expulsion of Yugoslav Communist Party leader Josip Broz Tito from the Eastern Bloc, he mentioned that he had read about these issues by chance in a party newspaper and "it was clear to me that the criticism in it was directed at the [Communist Party of Yugoslavia] even though it was not named, and for that reason I avoided all political conversations and came to the conviction to limit my stay in Belgrade, which is what I did." (69) In Bulgaria, an agent with whom Placek was speaking "hinted indirectly" (naznacil neprimo) that the Yugoslavs were "closed and overly self-confident." (70)

Upon returning from his trips, Placek outlined his recommendations for change in the Czechoslovak forces inspired by what he had seen. He characterized the state security force in Czechoslovakia as "not reliable enough" and recommended it be "uncompromisingly purged" and all efforts made to ensure that the agents responsible for arrests and interrogations were "fitted to the repressive apparatus of a working class in power with respect to class background." (71) An important policy was to recruit new members to the forces who would "guarantee the security of the state and terrorize the class enemy." (72) In July 1948, Czechoslovak leaders discussed Placek's trips and planned visits to other countries of Eastern Europe in connection with the reorganization of the Ministry of the Interior. (73) They discussed, for example, introducing the division between the secret police and citizens' militia similar to Poland. On the one hand, they decided to preserve the unity of their security forces--a conscious decision to eschew the Soviet model in favor of their own, referring to the "special conditions in Czechoslovakia" to justify this decision. (74) They conceded, on the other hand, that personnel policies in the security sector be increasingly centralized and led in a "Bolshevik manner," by which they meant linking schooling to the selection of officials. (75) The new officials brought into the forces in 1949 were selected not on the basis of previous military or policing experience but according to standardized results obtained in communist training programs. (76)

After the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, Czech and Slovak officials had studied the structures, methods of training, social structures, culture, and language of security in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. While some Czechoslovak officials supported more local specificities, others favored more Soviet-inspired ones. Between 1945 and 1948, they accepted some aspects of what they saw and rejected others. Yet starting in 1949, Soviet pressure narrowed local Communists' room for decision making and shifted the process of "self-Sovietization" to one of Sovietization across Eastern Europe, a state of affairs formalized in Czechoslovakia by the arrival of the Soviet advisers in September 1949.

Stalinism in Czechoslovakia

Transnational exchanges were important d uring the period of high Stalinism and the party purges as well as the era of national roads to socialism. The Czechoslovaks traveled to Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary in April 1949 to study training programs there. They returned to Prague with training materials that captured the new political vocabulary of the age, including lectures on the "kulak question," "building socialism in the countryside," and the "dictatorship of the proletariat." (77) The Soviets used other countries of the Eastern Bloc to exert pressure toward political conformity on Czechoslovakia and force them to adopt the vocabulary of Stalinist terror, noting in 1949 that the Czechoslovaks were expected to adopt a term they had learned from the Polish Communists ("rootless cosmopolitanism") "to a Czechoslovak reality." (78) This term constituted a crucial part of the anti-intellectual campaign sweeping through the Soviet Union at the time and underpinned the violence that removed old Communists, particularly intellectuals, from power between 1949 and 1951.

On 14 September 1949, days before the start of the public show trial of the leading communist official Laszlo Rajk in Hungary, Jindrich Vesely declared that enemies had also infiltrated the ranks of the Czechoslovak Party and state. (79) The Soviet advisers sent to Prague to organize the trial were the same ones who had organized the trial of Laszlo Rajk in Hungary. (80) During the Rajk trial, the Hungarian secret police was a "Stakhanovite" secret police of sorts, an overachiever that other secret police agents in the region were flown in to observe and emulate. Polish, Czech, and Romanian secret police officials traveled to Hungary to study interrogation techniques during the preparations for the trial. The notes of Polish secret police officer Jozef Swiatlo reveal what they observed there, including the behavior of the accused at the trial, interrogation methods, and the atmosphere in which the trial was held. He noted mockingly that "in the concluding speeches all the defendants behaved correctly. The exception was Rajk, who wanted to play the hero [chcial wyjsc po bohatersku] and demanded a death sentence for himself." (81) The "multinational" nature of the trials was also evident in the international hysteria unleashed by the search for internal party enemies in Eastern Europe. According to Swiatlo, Polish officials were being named as enemies in the confessions of Hungarian defendants and witnesses. Hungarian officials played a crucial role in pushing forward the party terror in other countries by collecting "evidence" against Czech and Polish citizens and officials. (82)

The materials for the course in which Czechoslovak secret police officials were trained in 1949 reflected the atmosphere of this international hysteria. The show trials in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, designed and propagated for a wide domestic and international audience at the time, were a key component of transnational Stalinism in the 1950s. Materials from the Soviet Union that became the foundation for the Czechoslovak secret police training courses in 1949 included the transcript of the Shakhty trial, the speech of the Soviet prosecutor in the Moscow trials, and materials from the trial of Genrikh Iagoda, the main Soviet secret police official in building the NKVD during the Great Terror in the 1930s, suggesting the long shadow of the 1930s and its explicit links to the party trials in Eastern Europe in the 1950s. (83) A 16-hour slot was reserved for secret police officials to discuss the Moscow trials. (84) It is not entirely clear how much Czechoslovak officials, many of whom had never been to the Soviet Union, would have understood about the terror in the Soviet Union prior to the de-Stalinization campaign in 1956. In a testimony on the issue from 1951, Bedrich Pokorny referred to the Shakhty trial vaguely as "some kind of speech from some kind of sabotage trial in the USSR." (85)

Laszlo Rajk became an international symbol of what was to be condemned in countries across the Eastern Bloc. Newly recruited secret police officials in Czechoslovakia were told that Rajk had been an intellectual and was dangerous to the communist system. (86) They were told that highly ranked party members like Rajk should be closely watched, because they might be (or might not be but probably were) trying to undermine the party from within. Meetings in regional offices across Czechoslovakia were called to "assess the Rajk trial." (87) In discussions of the trial, instructors and newly appointed regional secret police officials drove home the message that it was necessary to centrally plan secret police work and obligatory to spy on superiors and coworkers. (88) The Slansky trial in Czechoslovakia was in turn used in the planning stages of a similar campaign in East Germany. (89) Drawing on "lessons" from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Romania, Walter Ulbricht announced in July 1952 that the "subversive activity" of the Slansky group in Czechoslovakia, the Gomulka group in Poland, and the case of Luca Georgescu and Ana Pauker in Romania had made clear that the "enemy" might be active in the East Germany Communist Party as well. (90)

In early December 1949, Czechoslovak regional secret police officials, many newly recruited to the forces, met with central officials to discuss the lessons learned that year. How, asked the newly appointed head of the Plzen office in a rhetorical flourish, could "all other countries of the socialist bloc" that followed a system of central planning be wrong? Did Czechoslovakia really want to continue to implement their "arbitrary" and "unplanned" system alone in the Eastern Bloc? (91) Not that all Czechoslovak agents agreed with these new officials. In the midst of the internal party terror in 1950, Jindrich Vesely approached the Soviet advisers to protest against what was happening, which the latter duly reported to Moscow: "[Vesely] told us that Czechoslovakia doesn't need a strong security service because it has a large working class as compared to the other countries of the Eastern Bloc. These people, Vesely believes, will do everything necessary for the security of Czechoslovakia." (92)

Many high-ranking Czechoslovak secret police officials in this period were arrested in a single operation carried out at the end of January 1951. Along with the 14 defendants in the Slansky trial, 150 high-ranking officials from the Party, military, security forces, and other institutions were arrested and put on trial in the early 1950s. (93) In the Czechoslovak secret police, this process culminated in the "security trial," in which prominent members of the postwar Czechoslovak secret police were arrested, tortured, and in one case executed. (94) Transnational connections among the countries of the Eastern Bloc played a major role in the planning, direction, and atmosphere of high Stalinism, whether by introducing a new vocabulary to the countries of Eastern Europe (rootless cosmopolitanism, kulak), spreading accusations of enemy activity, or teaching and enforcing methods of interrogations and show trials.

Toward a Transnational History of Stalinism

The Stalinist terror in Eastern Europe and consolidation of communist states in the region starting in 1949 raises the issue of what the dividing line between "Soviet" and "Czechoslovak" was to local officials at different times in this era. The question is far from straightforward. In a 1961 article, Gordon Skilling explores how Soviet scholarship on the "Peoples Democracies" changed dramatically between the immediate post--World War II period and 1949, shifting from a concept that emphasized open-ended development to one reflecting a single-minded focus on the "dictatorship of the proletariat." Tellingly, what was common to both eras was that Soviet scholars made "no attempt to include consideration of the views held by Eastern European communists or of the course of events in the states of Eastern Europe" in their analyses, focusing on abstractions and ideological arguements rather than the desires and debates of the people themselves. (95)

The question of how East Europeans understood the "Soviet model" of the state suggests areas of future research into the study of communist institutions, law, language, and conceptions of security, all of which Soviet and European historiography have gone far to uncover, but rarely in conversation with one another. Integrating Eastern Europe back into the picture of transnational communism raises anew the question of the European roots of the Soviet project, an issue covered extensively in the literature on the Soviet Union but rarely discussed in studies of Eastern Europe. As the work of Peter Holquist, Stephen Kotkin, Peter Solomon, and others suggests, Soviet structures and practices, including surveillance, the welfare state, and criminal law were deeply rooted in European history. The case of communist Eastern Europe allows us to look at these questions from another angle. What was rethought or misunderstood when reintroduced back into a European context?

The issue of legal codes also has direct consequences for that of policing. As Peter Solomon has pointed out, one of the most characteristic qualities of the Stalinist legal code, the principle of class bias, was one of the most controversial principles in the criminal legislation of 1924. (96) For Europeans, the principle of class bias also did not follow self-evidently from Marxist ideas. In Czechoslovakia, it was introduced only in 1949 after extensive external pressure. Soviet criminal codes were adopted in Czechoslovakia only in 1950. The Soviet diplomat in Warsaw ridiculed the Poles for assuming that educated people, not members of the working class, should hold state positions. As the Soviet ambassador to Poland wrote to Stalin in February 1950: "[Poles] have this 'theory that people holding leading positions in state administration need education or knowledge of the law. As a result, positions are held only by intellectuals, many of whom have a very suspicious background." (97) In some ways, Europeans rehashed the Soviet debates of the 1920s and the ambiguities that had arisen in that era, suggesting that Stalinist "solutions" to these questions were neither self-evident nor fully accepted among European Communists--many of whom had joined the Communist Party in the 1920s when such discussions were taking place.

While there has been much discussion of the role of ideology in the transfer of the Soviet system to Europe, few have asked which texts European Communists read and how these texts were interpreted and discussed. From the standpoint of the 1940s, it is also necessary to ask which texts East Europeans could not read. How did the silences created by the Great Terror influence what was taught or not taught about the Soviet system? Is it possible to teach the Russian Revolution without the writings of Lev Trotskii? Moreover, as historians of the Soviet Union have long known, the canonical Stalinist texts from the 1930s were written when the focal point of Soviet policy was "socialism in one country," a policy that expressly abandoned the world revolution and introduced a resurgence in Russian nationalism, culture, and patriotism in the USSR. (98) The fact that the Stalinist canon was deeply embedded in Russian history and the specificities of Soviet development had consequences for the messages and purposes of these texts. Excerpts from a Soviet law on state security translated into Czech, for example, linked the origin of the Soviet secret police to World War I and the Russian Civil War. It explained the secret police was transformed from the Bolshevik Cheka to the Stalinist NKVD in response to the demands of the New Economic Policy (NEP) and War Communism, both specific to Soviet history. (99) Certain ambiguities were retained in the message sent by these texts. Speeches by Andrei Vyshinskii and Nikolai Krylenko, notorious adversaries in Stalinist legal theory, were both included in Czechoslovak secret police courses, suggesting that the model of Stalinist law these services were expected to follow was not entirely straightforward. While the former represented a more statist legal tradition, the latter advocated the nihilistic approach characteristic of the period of collectivization in the USSR. (100) Since Marxist theory never resolved the issue of law--whether it was an instrument of the working class or should be abolished--these issues were also not self-evident to those building the system for the "second time."

Stephen Kotkin has pointed to the importance of language--"speaking Bolshevik"--to the culture and self-understanding of Soviet citizens under Stalin. (101) For Kotkin, language shaped the way citizens framed everyday situations, made sense of their lives, and negotiated with the state. Indeed, language was an important, and understudied, aspect of the transfer of the Soviet system to Europe, involving a linguistic transfer both ways--from Russian into European languages (training materials, trial transcripts, interrogation documents); and from European languages into Russian (intelligence, informer reports). There were many levels to these translations, including political language (kulak, Trotskyite, rootless cosmopolitan), professional language (policing and intelligence vocabulary), and the language of legal and criminal codes (class enemy, sabotage) that point to the need for more research into the modes of transfer and enforcement mechanisms through which language was taught and policed. Soviet advisers, moreover, arrived in Eastern Europe armed not with weapons but with forms, documents, and protocols that shaped the questions that East European police officials asked, the way they recorded information, and the type of information they recorded. (102)

While most historians have focused either on the destruction of language under Stalinist demagoguery or the constitutive aspects of Soviet political language and its consequences for the creation of the new "Soviet man," the study of the language of political violence in Eastern Europe has remained largely unexamined. In October 1948 a meeting of the Czechoslovak Central Committee centered on the translation of the Soviet term "kulak." Much was at stake in how this word was rendered into Czech, including the Party's relationship with the countryside and its justification for a campaign of class warfare. As the leadership discussed, it was impossible to adopt the term found in Czech translations of the work of Lenin and Stalin: "capitalist elements in the countryside" (kapitalisticke zivly na vsi) because it was too bookish and abstract. The term "landowner" (statkar) was rejected, since its connotation was too positive to render logical what the Communists were trying to do, which was wage war on it. (103) The discussion devolved into verbal hedging, including the terms "element, against which we are waging war in the village" (zivelproti kteremu my vedeme na vesnici boj) and the bizarre "element, who is in all likelihood a kulak in the village" (zivel, kdo ma byt kulakem na vesnici), the latter immersing the Russian word in a Czech descriptive context. Party chief Klement Gottwald intervened with the laconic but nondescriptive bohdc, or "rich man," which was unanimously adopted. Nevertheless, "local" interpretations of the class enemy remained, which in the Czechoslovak case was often Germans and other foreign nationals. A report of May 1949 noted that agents misinterpreted the concept of the class enemy: "several are confused and don't know who to consider a class enemy.... They wasted their efforts following Germans and the like." (104) Understanding the roots of Soviet power in language will allow us to better understand, as the work of Alexei Yurchak suggests, the broader significance of a shift away from Stalinist-era language and its implications for the coherence and stability of political power in the Eastern Bloc. (105)

There are still many unanswered questions about the role of Soviet advisers in creating the states of Eastern Europe. Their presence obviously differed, for example, in East Germany, which had thousands of advisers in the post-World War II era, and Czechoslovakia, which had none until the fall of 1949. But Soviet influence was more than just a question of numbers. In response to the question of how many Soviet advisers were present in post-World War II Poland, the official Jakub Berman explained: "It's not a question of numbers; the point is that they were there. It could have been just one person in the department, and that would have been enough for him to exert a considerable influence on decisions." (106) There have been few comparative studies on how Soviet power was exerted not only through force but also though propaganda, texts, language, and behind-the-scenes manipulation. Even when historians know that Soviet advisers were present--and numbers are far from certain--questions remain about what they actually did in each country, questions that would benefit from archivally based microstudies. With a few exceptions, there have also been few studies of who these officials were in the context of Soviet politics and their role in Soviet domestic violence such as the Great Terror.

The creation of secret police forces in the countries of Eastern Europe required a revolution in the state institutions, social fabric, and political life of the region in which local Communists looked toward the Soviets and the other states that were transforming simultaneously to see what worked and what did not work and to coordinate security policies across state boundaries in unprecedented ways. In the process, they drew--consciously and unconsciously--on their own national models of policing and disagreed over interpretations, translations, and the principles of communist states, revealing not only unity but also discord over what communist states would look like and the role of the secret police in the diverse states that were rapidly becoming the "Eastern Bloc."


This article has explored the complex networks of people, language, structures, culture, institutions, and models that made up communist secret police forces in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. It has shown that focusing solely on domestic contexts loses sight of the influence of the Soviet model in defining these roads, the rapidly changing international stage in which they unfolded, and the way that agents studied each other to understand the Soviet system. Much is lost likewise with a focus only on the Soviet model: the influence of Western and domestic models on local structures and institutions of violence, the sense of open-endedness and improvisation that informed decisions at the time, local Communists' imperfect knowledge about the Soviet Union and its institutions of violence before 1956, and the ambiguity and flexibility of the Soviet model itself--ranging from the revolutionary, Bolshevik Cheka to the militaristic, Stalinist NKVD.

Starting in 1946, Czech and Slovak agents traveled to the secret police of other countries of Eastern Europe to exchange information and study the organization of their forces as one of several possible models for their own services, which they compared and contrasted with materials and experience from the Habsburg Empire, First Czechoslovak Republic, Spanish Civil War, and Nazi Protectorate administration. Their "national model" was not mutually exclusive with Soviet influence or foreign model(s) but rather continually influenced by them. In spite of the standardization and centralization in the late 1940s and early 1950s, national contexts were at the fore of self-perceptions and decision making. Czechoslovakia followed a unique course when compared with the other countries of Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1948. As Igor Lukes has pointed out, they relied on local initiative rather than Soviet advisers to make major decisions about the structures of their forces. (107) This resulted in a smaller police force than the other countries of the region and greater emphasis on lower-level administration. As well as studying secret police institutions through official charts--themselves rapidly changing--this article suggests new ways of uncovering .the form and substance of these institutions and their relationship with law and state power under communism as an ongoing process of translation involving written words, texts, political culture, and language, spoken and unspoken.

Dept. of History

Trinity College

Dublin 2, Ireland

This article emerged from many discussions with Norman Naimark, Amir Weiner, and Tamar Herzog during my years as a PhD student at Stanford University. It benefited greatly from my time as a Max Weber fellow at the European University Institute and the comments of Alexander Etkind, Pavel Kolar, and the Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies Working Group in particular. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback during the review process.

(1) Jindrich Vesely, "Uredni zaznam," 19 January 1948, Archiv bezpecnostnich slozek (ABS) Prague f. 310, a.c. 310-43-14,1. 1.

(2) Krzysztof Szwagrzyk, ed., Aparat bezpieczenstwa w Polsce: Kadra kierotvnicza, 1: 1944-1956 (Warsaw: Instytut Pamieci Narodowej, 2005), 20.

(3) On Polish security culture, see Andrzej Paczkowski, Trzy twarze Jozefa Swiatly (Warsaw: Proszynski Media Sp., 2009).

(4) Vesely, "Uredni zaznam," 1. 5.

(5) Internal reports on the Czech lands from the end of March 1947 estimate that there were 189 agents in the communist-dominated intelligence network, the ZOB II ("Stav pracovniku a spolupracovniku ZOB II Cechy od 1.3. do 31.3.1947," 31 March 1947, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-1-9, nonpaginated).

(6) Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times. Soviet Russia in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 108.

(7) Marc Jansen, Stalin's Loyal Executioner': People's Commissar Nikolai Ezhov, 1895-1940 (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2002), x.

(8) Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov, Inside the Kremlins Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996); Vojtech Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity: The Stalin Years (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996); Jonathan Haslam, Russia's Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011). A notable exception dealing with the case of Czechoslovakia is Bradley F. Abrams, The Struggle for the Soul of the Nation: Czech Culture and the Rise of Communism (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004).

(9) Hugh Seton-Watson, The East European Revolution (London: Methuen, 1950); Philip Selznick, The Organizational Weapon: A Study of Bolshevik Strategy and Tactics (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1960); Leonid J. Gibianskij, "Sowjetisierung Osteuropas- Charakter und Typologie," in Sowjetisierung und Eigenstandigkeit in der SBZ/DDR, ed. Michael Lemke (Cologne: Bohlau, 1999).

(10) See Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960); and John Connelly, Captive University: Ihe Sovietization of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1945-1956 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

(11) Abrams, Struggle for the Soul of the Nation; Gordon Skilling, "People's Democracy, the Proletarian Dictatorship and the Czechoslovak Path to Socialism," American Slavic and East European Review 10, 2 (1951): 100-16. Most revisionist approaches focus on either the National Front period (1945-48) or the revolution (1948) and end in 1949.

(12) Gregory Rabassa, "No Two Snowflakes Are Alike: Translation as Metaphor," in The Craft of Translation, ed. John Biguenet and Rainer Schulte (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).

(13) E. A. Rees uses the term "transplantation" in the introduction to The Sovietization of Eastern Europe: New Perspectives on the Postwar Period (Washington, DC: New Academia Publishing, 2008), 2.

(14) Michael David-Fox, "The Implications of Transnationalism," Kritika 12, 4 (2011): 885-904; David-Fox, Showcasing the Great Experiment: Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union, 1921-1941 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Katerina Clark, Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1951-1941 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011). Exceptions include Michel Christian, "Les partis communistes du bloc de l'Est: Un objet transnational? L'exemple des ecoles superieures du parti," Vingtieme siecle, no. 109 (2011): 31-43; and Pavel Kolar, "Transnationalism, Global History, and the Study of Communism," presentation given at the European University Institute, 25 May 2016.

(15) Mark Kramer, "Stalin, Soviet Policy, and the Consolidation of a Communist Bloc in Eastern Europe, 1944-1953," paper delivered at the Freeman Spogli International Institute, 30 April 2010; Norman Naimark, The Russians in Ger many (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995).

(16) Dariusz Stola and Mark Keck-Szajbel, "Crossing the Borders of Friendship: Mobility across Communist Borders," East European Politics and Societies 29, 1 (2015): 92-95; Jorg Requate, "Visions of the Future: GDR, CSSR, and the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1960s," in Comparative and Transnational History: Central European Approaches and New Perspectives, ed. Heinz-Gerhard Haupt and Jiirgen Kocka (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009), 178-203.

(17) On the Poles, see "Uredni zaznam o porade, konane ve dnech 23-25 zari 1946," ABS Prague MNB 11/4-104. On the Bulgarians, see "Zpriva o navsteve s. Bogdanova," 7 September 1946, ABS Prague MNB 11/4-104.

(18) Testimonies of officials collected in the investigations for the Slansky Trial contain materials on these trips. See "Zapis o vypovedi sepsany na zdejsim velitelstvi s obvinenym Hejtmanek Albin," 8 June 1951, ABS Prague MNB 11/6 106, folder 8,11. 24-29.

(19) "Zaznam," 9 April 1948, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-43-12,1. 4.

(20) Hugh Seton-Watson, Tfte East European Revolution (London: Methuen, 1950); Brzezinski, Soviet Bloc.

(21) Gyorgy Peteri, "Nylon Curtain: Transnational and TranssystemicTendencies in the Cultural Life of State-Socialist Russia and East-Central Europe," Slavonica 10, 2 (2004): 113-23; Paulina Bren and Mary Neuburger, eds., Communism Unurrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

(22) On the Cheka, see George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981); Peter Holquist, "'Information Is the Alpha and Omega of Our Work': Bolshevik Surveillance in Its Pan-European Context," Journal of Modern History 69, 3 (1997): 415-50; Paul Gregory, Terror by Quota: State Security from Lenin to Stalin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009); Nikita Petrov, Pervyi predsedatel'KGB Ivan Serov (Moscow: Materik, 2005); and Amir Weiner and Aigi Rahi-Tamm, "Getting to Know You: The Soviet Surveillance System, 1939-57," Kritika 13, 1 (2012): 5-45.

(23) George L. Mosse, "Introduction," in Police Forces in History (London: Sage, 1975), 1.

(24) "Porada o novem zakonu narodni bezpecnosti," 1 June 1948, ABS Prague f. 310, a.c. 310-21-21, nonpaginated.

(25) "Opatreni ve veci zpracovani spisii u statni bezpecnosti v Praze," ABS Prague f. 304, sv. 60, aj. 2, 11. 4-6.

(26) "Tydenni zprava o nalade a smysleni obyvatelstva Velke Ptahy,"14 July 1945, ABS Prague f. 300, a.c. 300-29-2, 1. 1.

(27) Jeremy King, Budweisers into Czechs and Germans: A Local History of Bohemian Politics, 1848-1948 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002); Pieter Judson, Guardians of the Nation: Activists on the Language Frontiers of Imperial Austria (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006); Chad Bryant, Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007); Tara Zahra, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008).

(28) Yuri Slezkine, "The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism," Slavic Review 53, 2 (1994): 414-52; Terry Martin, the Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001); Francine Hirsch, Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005).

(29) Benjamin Frommer, National Cleansing: Retribution against Nazi Collaborators in Postwar Czechoslovakia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

(30) "Zapis o vypovedi s obvinenym Bedfichem Pokornym," 23 July 1951, ABS Prague f. Zvlastni vysetrovani, a.c. ZV 4 MV Pokorny, 1. 17.

(31) "Osvedceni o narodni a politicke spolehlivosti: Narodni spravci," 8 October 1945, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-81-1, 1. 117.

(32) OZO X Litomefice, 14 March 1946, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-1-7, nonpaginated; OZO XII Liberec, 14 March 1946, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-1-7, nonpaginated; OZOXV Hradec Kralove: Subert Miroslav, 15 March 1946, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-1-7, nonpaginated; OZO VII Plzen: Snejdarek, Antonin 14 March 1946, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-1-7, nonpaginated; OZO VII Plzen; Polacekjiri, 14 March 1946, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-1-7, nonpaginated.

(33) Zdenek Toman, "Londynska mestska policie," 9 January 1947, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-25-10, 11. 1-9.

(34) "Navrhy na zlepeni sluzby Z," 30 September 1946, ABS Prague f. 304, ac. 304-60-5, nonpaginated.

(35) "Zaznam pro p. prednostu skup. III-Ao pracich nazakoneo narodnibezpecnosti," undated, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-21-20, nonpaginated.

(36) "Navrhy na zlepseni chodu zpravodajski sluzby," 1 October 1946, ABS Prague, f. 304, ac. 304-60-5, nonpaginated.

(37) "Zapis z porady," 29 July 1948, ABS Prague f. ZV, ac. ZV 4 MV-34-15, nonpaginated.

(38) On action committees, see Karel Kaplan, Pet kapitol o unoru (Brno: Doplnek, 1997); Kaplan, Ndrodnifronta (Praha: Academia, 2012); and John Connelly, Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1945-1956 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

(39) The first instructions on action committees in the security forces repeated the law on the purge of public employees from 1945: "Prozatimni opatreni o sluzebnim pomeru zamestnancu odstranenych v ramci ocisty z verejne sluzby," 1 March 1948, ABS Prague f. A14, ac. A14-618, nonpaginated.

(40) "Nova ustava je dokladem vyssi, lepsi a dokonalejsi demokracie," Rude Pravo, 14 April 1948.

(41) "Organisace skupiny I. 'Bezpecnost': Vseobecne zasady a podrobnejsi organisace presidia bezpecnosti," 1 December 1948, ABS Prague f. 304, a.c. 304-47-6, nonpaginated.

(42) Stepan Placek, "Zprava o ceste do Bukuresti, Sofie a Belehradu konane ve dnech 17.6.1948 do 28.6.1948," 30 June 1948, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-43-6.

(43) Jindrich Vesely, "Uredni zaznam," February 1946, ABS Prague f. 310, a.c. 310-4-20, 1. 4.

(44) Andrzej Paczkowski, The Spring Will Be Ours: Poland and the Poles from Occupation to Freedom, trans. Jane Cave (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003), 199.

(45) "Spravka OVP TsK VKPb M. A. Suslovu, 'O nckotorykh oshibkakh Kommunisticheskoi partii Chekhoslovakii,'" 5 April 1948, in Vostochnaia Evropa v dokumentakh rossiiskikh arkhivov 1944-1953, ed. Tat'iana Volokitina et al. (Moscow: Sibirskii khronograf, 1997), 2:831-51.

(46) Placek, "Zprava o ceste do Bukuresti, Sofie a Belehradu," 1. 10.

(47) "Dopis S. Placka a K. Cerneho UV KSC," 13 July 1948, in Kalous, Stepan Placek, 297.

(48) Jindrich Vesely, "Zprava o stavu bezpecnostniho skolstvi v Madarsku," 22 April 1949, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-43-7, 1. 16.

(49) "Porada o novem zakonu narodni bezpecnosti," 1 June 1948, ABS Prague f. 310, a.c. 310-21-21, nonpaginated.

(50) Ibid.

(51) "Navrh dr. Placka," undated, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-21-20, nonpaginated.

(52) Milovan Djilas, The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System (New York: Praeger, 1957).

(53) Placek, "Zprava o ceste do Bukuresti, Sofie a Belehradu," 1. 3.

(54) Stepan Placek, "Zaznam cislo 2 o poznatcich z cesty na Balkan," June 1948, ABS Prague f 310, ac. 310-43-6, 1. 31.

(55) "Zaznam," 9 April 1948, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-43-12, 1. 4.

(56) Jindrich Vesely characterized the Romanian secret police in April 1949 as the "most conspiratorial" of the forces and explained that they maintained an "extraordinary distance" from the Hungarians. See Vesely, "Zajezd do Bulharska, Rumunska a Madarska-zprava," 22 April 1949, ABS Prague f. 310-43-7, 1. 3.

(57) Holly Case, Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during World War II (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009).

(58) Placek, "Zprava o ceste do Bukuresti, Sofie a Belehradu," 1. 3.

(59) Ibid., 1. 12.

(60) Ibid., 1. 6.

(61) Ibid., 1.5.

(62) "Velitelske shromazdeni," 7 December 1949, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-30-4, 1. 88.

(63) Holquist, " 'Information Is the Alpha and Omega of Our Work,'" 420.

(64) Placek, "Zaznam 4 o dojmech z cesty na Balkan," ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-43-6, 1. 118.

(65) "Zaznam," 9 April 1948, 11. 4-8. On the Slovak secret police, which worked independently of the Czechoslovak secret police (and party) until late 1948, see Jan Pesek, Stdtna bezpefnost na Slovensku 1948-1953 (Bratislava: Veda, 1996).

(66) Ibid., 1. 8.

(67) Ibid.

(68) Placek, "Poznatky z rozhovoru, konaneho dne 21.6.1948 dopoledne s vedoucim IV: Od reditelstvi statni bezpecnosti pri ministerstvu vnitra Lidovc republiky Bulharskc, s. Stefanem Bogdanovem," 21 June 1948, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-43-6,1. 19.

(69) Placek, "Zprava o ceste do Bukuresti, Sofie a Belehradu," 1. 12.

(70) Ibid., 1.5.

(71) "Dopis S. Placka a K. Cemcho UV KSC," 293-94.

(72) Ibid., 295.

(73) "Zapis z porady," 29 July 1948, ABS Prague f. ZV 4 ac. ZV MV 34 15,1. 3.

(74) "Porada o novem zakonu narodni bezpecnosti," 1 June 1948, ABS Prague f. 310, a.c. 310-21-21, nonpaginated.

(75) "Zapis z porady," 29 July 1948.

(76) Ibid.

(77) "Skolni ucebni latka skoly statni bezpecnosti pro dustojniky na duben 1949," 22 April 1949, ABS Prague f. 310, a.c. 310-43-7, 11. 22-23.

(78) Volokitina et al., Vostochnaia Evropa v dokumentahh rossiiskikh arkhivakh, 2:87 n. 2.

(79) Jindrich Vesely, "Pokyny o zrizeni funkce a ustaveni obrannych referentu," 14 September 1949, HIA, Jiri Setina Collection, box 28, folder 2, nonpaginated.

(80) George Hodos, Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948--1954 (New York: Praeger, 1987), 65.

(81) "Notatka sluzbowa z podrozy do Budapesztu w dn. 14-27.IX. 49," 3 October 1949, Instytut Pamieci Narodowej, Warsaw, IPN BU 2089-789, s. 3-8.

(82) Hodos, Show Trials, 142.

(83) "Ucebni osnova 12. tydenniho kursu pro nizsi a stredni velitelske kadry Stb," ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-39-4, 1. 2; "Smernice pro kurs nizsich a strednich velitelskych kadru statni bezpecnosti," undated, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-39-4, 1. 56.

(84) "Kurs pro nizsi a stredni velitelske kadry Stb," 12 September 1949, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-39-4,1.1.

(85) "Zapis o vypovedi s obvinenym Bedrichem Pokornym," 23 July 1951, ABS Prague f. Zvlastni vysetfovani, a.c. ZV 4 MV Pokorny, 1.18.

(86) "Zapis o velitelske schuzce na KVStb Karl. Vary," 4 November 1949, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-13-3, 1. 3.

(87) "Zaznam o velitelske porade na KVStb Karl. Vary," 9 December 1949, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-13-3, 1. 11.

(88) "Svolani krajskeho velitelskiho shromazdeni: Jihlava," 26 October 1949, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-15-6,1.4.

(89) Hermann Weber, "Schauprozess Vorbereitungen in der DDR," in Stalinistische Parteisauberungen, 1936-1953, ed. Weber and Ulricht Mahlert (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh, 2001), 475-76.

(90) Ibid., 476.

(91) "Velitelske shromazdeni," 7 December 1949, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-30-4, 1. 88.

(92) "Soprovoditel'noe pis'mo V. S. Abakumova V. M. Molotovu s prilozheniem soobshcheniia sotrudnikov MGB SSSR M. T. Likhacheva i N. I. Makarova o rabote chekhoslovatskikh organov bezopasnosti," 16 March 1950, in Sovetskii faktor v Vostochnoi Evrope, 1944-1953, 2: 1949-1953, ed. T. V. Volokitina and G. P. Murashko (Moscow: Rosspen, 2002, 285-89.

(93) "Jak strana ridila bezpecnost po unoru," HIA, Jiri Setina Collection, box 8, folder 1, nonpaginated.

(94) Jan Kalous, "Nepratele ve Statni bezpecnosti: Procesy s prislusniky Stb," in Politicke procesy v Ceskoslovensku po roce 1945 a pripad Slansky, ed. Jiri Pernes (Brno: Ustav pro soudobe dejiny, 2005).

(95) Gordon Skilling, "'Peoples Democracy' in Soviet Theory," Soviet Studies 3, 1 (1951): 20.

(96) Peter H. Solomon, Soviet Criminal Justice under Stalin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 28.

(97) "Pis'mo B. Z. Lebedeva I. V. Stalinu ob otsenke K. K. Rokossovskim situatsii v rukovodstve PORP, noiabr'skogo plenuma TsK PORP, nastroenii pol'skikh rabochikh i krest'ian i dr.," 26 February 1950, in Vostochnaia Evropa v dokumentakh rossiiskikh arkhivov, 2:311.

(98) Nicholas Timasheff, The Great Retreat: The Growth and Decline of Communism in Russia (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1946).

(99) "Sovetske spravni pravo-kapit. XII: Rizeni na poli statni bezpecnosti a verejneho poradkuvyvoj organizacnich forem rizeni v oblasti ochrany statni bezpecnosti a verejneho poradku," undated, ABS Prague f. 310, ac. 310-21-25, nonpaginated.

(100) Eugene Huskey, "Vyshinsky, Krylenko, and the Shaping of the Soviet Legal Order," Slavic Review 46, 3-4 (1987): 414.

(101) Stephen Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 198-237.

(102) Karel Kaplan, Nejvetsi politicky proces M. Horakova a spol. (Prague: Ustav pro soudobe dejiny AV CR, 1995), 8.

(103) Karel Jech, Kolektivizace a vyhaneni sedlaku z pudy (Prague: Vysehrad, 2008), 59.

(104) "Pracovni plan KV-NB-instruktori," 7 May 1949, ABS Prague f. 304, ac. 304-98-1, 1. 40.

(105) Alexei Yurchak, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).

(106) Teresa Torariska, "Them": Stalin's Polish Puppets (New York: Harper and Row, 1987), 258.
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