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“The historical truth” of Beria and Suvorov about cryptography and radio intelligence. / 16.09.15

Author A.Klepov

An extract from a news report:

“The UN has prepared a surprise attack that could become deadly for the oppressors of freedom of research and expression. The following decision binding for all the states parties to the UN Convention on Human Rights was adopted in Geneva at the 102nd Session of the UN Human Rights Committee (including Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland (General comment): “Laws that penalize the expression of opinions about historical facts are incompatible with the obligations that the Covenant imposes on States parties in relation to the respect for freedom of opinion and expression. The Covenant does not permit general prohibition of expressions of an erroneous opinion or an incorrect interpretation of past events.”

(Paragraph 49, CCPR/C/GC/34).

Why have I quoted the UN resolution? I know that the myths about the activities of our special services in the times of the NKVD are very strong. Nobody wants to downgrade the merits of Soviet intelligence and counterintelligence. But it’s impossible to conceal information on historical facts which caused considerable damage to Russia, otherwise they’ll repeat again and again. I understand perfectly well this article will be vigorously criticized by the opponents and I’m ready for constructive objections.

History may be changed if there is such a need. But some people are ready, as they say, to sacrifice even their “lying” homeland for the benefit of truth and resist history falsification by the military analysis of the past.

A writer Viktor Suvorov (it’s a pen name of Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun) appointed himself a revolutionary historian. He is a former GRU (The Main Intelligence Directorate) officer, a defector who examines the “correct” Russian history using British and American archive documents.

Viktor Suvorov wrote several dozen books mainly about World War II. They are the subject of my study. You may ask me why I’ve chosen his books.

Viktor Suvorov’s creative activity (perfect or imperfect as it may be) was a kind of catalyst that made our contemporaries research the history of World War II.

Many years historians have been trying to object him and published far more books than the defector himself. So, willing or not, they’ve been forcing the authorities to open the archives in order to avoid allegations. That fact alone gave rise to a deeper study of the modern history of Europe, hence it does him credit.

Naturally, Suvorov’s books are also based on historical material, but the question about his permanently updated sources of information remains open. He doesn’t disclose them. Let’s have a closer look at the texts of Suvorov, a writer, if Rezun, a former intelligence officer, relies on them and trusts them.

Let’s analyze what subjects he touched upon, how deep were his studies, what subjects were omitted and why?

Nikolay M. Karamzin wrote: “History should be read between the lines in order to understand the truth.” We’ll try to read between the lines history presented by Suvorov. Let’s analyze what he hasn’t written and ask why: either he was not allowed to do it or his analysis was based on misinformation...


Excursus 1. The history of history

A chronicle is an amazing part of our lives.

What did Peter the Great, the representative of the Romanov’s House, do when he came to power? First of all he destroyed the archival documents relating to the previous dynasty of kings - the Rurik dynasty. As a result only indirect information about the events prior to the rule of Peter the Great is available for us now.

According to the Romanovs’ official chronicle, everything that happened in Russia prior to their accession to the throne was a terrible mistake and injustice. And only the new rulers showed the people and the country the right way.

Similar events took place in 1917. The main ideological task of the Bolsheviks was to destroy the old order (“We’ll build our new world...”), show that the new rule was the best for the people and the events in Russia dating back to the previous millennium were of no importance. Just like Peter the Great communists destroyed a huge number of archives which proved the achievements of the Russian Empire in various fields, including science.

In 1991 there was another upheaval in our history. It was democratic though the same methods were used to seize power on the first stage of “democracy”: defamation of the previous rulers, renouncement of their biggest achievements in order to give a historical justification for the new original way of Russia’s development.

Excursus 2. Cryptography as a looking-glass of history

For centuries cryptography and its development, especially its most important section, decryption, was a taboo subject in Russia, hidden from ordinary people behind seven locks. It was a real Wonderland Looking-Glass world. It’s even extremely difficult to study the archive of the ciphering office which existed in the times of Nicholas I, let alone the later periods. Undoubtedly, the most important documents disappeared from those archives during shifts of power in Russia. And it’s clear because encoded telegrams and messages classified the most important state secrets. For example, I bought a book - encoded correspondence of Nicholas II and Wilhelm II, a translation of an English edition! We can only guess how the cipher of state leaders’ correspondence could fall into third hands. Cryptographic methods help not only to conceal secret information and hide it from the prying eyes but also to decode secret messages. Viktor Suvorov (Rezun) knows about it from his own experience and it’s very difficult or rather impossible for him to underestimate the importance of cryptography. Suvorov wrote in his book “The Aquarium”: “But there are radio stations sending messages that can’t be decoded for years. And they are the object of our main interest, since they are the most important radio stations. Patterns are detected, special cases and exceptions from the rules are taken into account. At last after years of analysis it’s possible to say: “If RB-7665-1 went into the air there’ll be a massive takeoff from Ramstein in four days. It’s an inviolable law. And if suddenly a station we call C-1000 starts operating it’s clear to a child: the alert status of the US forces in Europe will be amplified.” The example shows that Suvorov has deep knowledge about radio intelligence activities and their role in obtaining critical intelligence information. However, the words “radio intelligence” and “radio interception” are used respectively five and eight times in about 30 of his books!

It means that for some reason V. Suvorov deliberately omitted that important subject, which could play a decisive role in World War II, especially at the initial stage when Soviet leaders couldn’t determine the beginning of the treacherous aggression in June 1941. As a result the Red Army suffered immense losses. Much of what Suvorov has written will be seen from a different angle if we consider this obvious fact as a kind of a key for the analysis of his books. And we’ll approach the most interesting subject: the security level of state and military communications in the USSR, the possibility to decode Soviet cipher machines and hand coding documents and the impact of these factors on the historical processes during World War II.

During World War I Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for Air and Secretary of State for War, ordered to decode all intercepted enemy’s telegrams to understand the mindset of the German commanders. Classified messages were mainly decoded to know in time secret and carefully hidden thoughts of the enemy and prevent their dangerous impact. Many historians think that mostly tactical data - but not sensitive strategic messages - were sent over encrypted communication channels. They were gravely mistaken because they didn’t have deep knowledge of command and control whereas the outcome of a fight or a battle often depended on the speed ciphered messages were delivered to troops and the strength of encryption.

Was Suvorov aware of the effectiveness of radio intelligence? Maximilian Ronge, the chief of the military intelligence directorate of the Austrian Headquarters during World War I, wrote: “The Russians used their devices so thoughtlessly as if they were not aware that the Austrians had the same receivers which could easily be tuned to the appropriate wave. The Austrians used their radio stations more carefully, more practically, mostly for listening and managed it successfully. Sometimes deciphering was possible as a result of guesswork and sometimes with the help of direct requests over the radio during transmissions. The Russians willingly helped “their colleagues”, as they believed.”

In 1914 the Germans crushed the Russian Armies of General M. Samsonov because their commanders didn’t have encryption systems and transmitted plain text messages!

General Hoffmann wrote in his book “The War of Lost Opportunities”: “The order was sent by wireless from the Russian station, not ciphered, and we intercepted it. This was the first of the numerous orders that the Russians sent at the beginning, with quite incomprehensible thoughtlessness, enciphered by wireless… This thoughtlessness greatly facilitated the warfare in the East and sometimes it was the only reason why we could conduct operations.”

That's what radio intelligence meant during World War I. Maybe the situation described above is similar to that in 1941, when many Red Army divisions were virtually destroyed just in a few months.

Now let's see what Viktor Suvorov wrote in his book “Spetsnaz” (the Russian for “Special Purpose Forces”): "In peacetime special radio electronic combat forces broadcast “top secret” instructions from some Soviet headquarters to the others. During the war spetsnaz operations against headquarters, centers and communication lines are conducted in close contact with special radio electronic combat forces which are ready to connect to the enemy’s communication lines and send misinformation. Here’s an example of such an operation. It was conducted during the maneuvers of the Ural Military District when a spetsnaz company operated against major headquarters. Spetsnaz groups cut the communication lines and “destroyed” the headquarters while radio electronic combat forces connected to the enemy’s communication lines and started sending him instructions on behalf of the “destroyed” headquarters.”

And what did Abwehr do on the eve of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union?

Here’s a quotation from the memoirs of the KGB Colonel General Sergei Belchenko who was chief of the NKGB (People’s Commissariat for State Security) Directorate of the Belostok region in June, 1941:

“…Lieutenant-General I. A. Bogdanov, commander of the army of the Belorussian border district, called me at night on June 17 and said the border patrol had detained eight armed saboteurs in the Lomzha region. I asked to escort the group to Belostok. The saboteurs were dressed in the uniforms of KGB servicemen, Red Army commanders and political officers and had well-done fake documents. During interrogations they said they’d been instructed to covertly approach the Baranovichi region and start active operations immediately after the beginning of the war: disrupt telephone communication lines, use missiles and other means to direct German planes to airfields, the locations where our troops and military equipment were concentrated, spread panic among Soviet people, kill security officers, militia officers, Red Army commanders, spread misinformation, slanderous rumors, etc.”

It’s amazing that Soviet Special Purpose Forces described in detail by Suvorov acted the same way as Abwehr special forces. Was it a coincidence? Most likely, it wasn’t. They had a similar objective – disruption of the enemy's command and control.

Here’s a quotation from the memories of Oscar Reile, the former assistant to the head of the Abwehr Admiral W. Canaris: “…German divisions rapidly pushed forward together with the front intelligence groups. Front-line reconnaissance units together with tank and other motorized divisions tried to break through to Kovel, Lemberg (Lvov), Vilno and other cities where Russian higher headquarters had been stationed or deployed before the offensive. Meanwhile reconnaissance group III tried to quickly reach the enemy’s secret service organizations. Sometimes it was possible just in the first hours of the campaign because the NKVD, the main branch of the Soviet secret service, placed their organizations close to the German-Soviet demarcation line set across Poland. For example, immediately after an air raid front-line reconnaissance officers of commando III under the command of Major T. entered Brest-Litovsk in the advanced orders of the attacking troops and occupied the NKVD. Captain D., who was present there, describes the episode:

“…We entered the NKVD building and inspected it. It looked as if the employees had just left the office. Writing desks, safes and chairs were in their proper places. I saw that the long-distance telephone communication line operating through a switchboard in the basement hadn’t been disabled. Telephone plugs were still in the switchboard jacks and the commutator lamps were switched on. It seemed the employees had rushed out.

That’s why beyond our expectations we found many secret materials in the safes when we opened them with autogenous welders. Our commando worked for almost a week to remove and examine all documents found in the NKVD. Most of the materials were sent for analysis to the main front-line reconnaissance directorate “East III”, the so-called “Wally” Headquarters. “But we could extract a lot of information from the Soviet secret documents right on the spot. For example, we found the red list of telephone subscribers; it was the size of a matchbox and there were all office phone numbers in the Kremlin and home phones of the members of the Soviet government in it.

The secret documents made it possible for us to find out the names and addresses of informers and agents led by the Brest-Litovsk NKVD. Of course, we began searching them immediately because there was information in the data files on spy missions against Germany they were conducting or planned to conduct. In some cases the search was a success.

However, not only the NKVD but also the entire Soviet garrison in Brest-Litovsk was caught off guard by the German offensive. On Saturday evening, June 21, 1941, many garrison officers went to the ball and they were still asleep in the predawn hours on Sunday when the city bombing and then the attack began. Some Soviet officers couldn’t even get to their units. They were captured prisoners on the first day of the war.”

It should be noted that the HF communication line in the NKVD building was also captured by the German intelligence and they could easily send false messages to disrupt the Red Army command and control. Who would dare to disobey a coded telegram from the almighty NKVD?!

The HF communication line in the NKVD building was also captured by the German intelligence and they could easily send false messages to disrupt the Red Army command and control. Who would dare to disobey a coded telegram from the almighty NKVD?!

As a result there was chaos in the Red Army command and control, and historians wrote about it in many books. The German intelligence also seized keys to cryptographic equipment and code tables, kept in the NKVD building. What did it mean?

Let’s refer to Viktor Suvorov again. In his book “The Last Republic: Why did the Soviet Union loose the Second World War?” he even counted the number of topographic maps the Red Army should have had and came to the following conclusion: “It's amazing that none of the Kremlin historians drew our attention to the fact that the lack of maps caused the defeat of the Soviet Union in World War II. The official science of history ignored that interesting information.” So why did Suvorov who’d made such a scrupulous analysis not only of military equipment but also maps forgot to mention the most important factor in the modern army - encrypted communication which provided security of transmitted data?

The use of simple vulnerable communication systems during World War I including radio equipment was harmful for the Russian army. It’s strange Suvorov didn’t pay attention to it. For example, there isn’t a single mention of hand coding documents and code tables in his books.

Here’s an excerpt from the order of People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR Marshal S. K. Timoshenko: “For prompt control in regiments and below units - by March 1, 1941 the Chief of the Red Army General Staff must develop and provide the troops with special code tables for radio transmission of orders, directives, reports and commands.”(F. 4, Op. 11, d. 63, pp. 266 - 270).

But how many code tables were there in the Red Army at the beginning of the war in 1941? Unfortunately, historians don’t specify the exact figure. Information on that subject was not available in archives. It’s possible to make a rough calculation basing on the size of the Red Army and taking into account the fact that due to the lack of a sufficient number of automatic encryption systems at the beginning of the war most messages were encrypted using code tables. Re-cipher notebooks were used to enhance their security. (Re-cipher notebooks were notebooks with tables containing alphanumeric range. They were designed as key notebooks and as a rule were used to encode texts encrypted with a simple cipher.)

There were about half a million key pads and re-cipher notebooks in the Red Army and about 12 000 copies of codes and code tables. It’s strange that a person who’d served in the Main Intelligence Directorate didn’t know about the significance of encrypted and coded communications in the Red Army. Most likely, he deliberately ignored the issue or he wasn’t allowed to write about it. What’s the use of teaching the potential enemies? The Russians have already made mistakes in World War I, World War II, Afghanistan and Chechnya...

No wonder the commander of the Russian troops in Chechnya General Troshev wrote in his book “My War”: “The lack of mobile encoders in the army fighting in Chechnya caused huge losses. A miser pays twice.” Throughout the XX century our country paid with blood for its avarice and often stupidity paying little attention to the development of encryption technology required to secure lower and middle echelons of the army. Of course, writers like Suvorov will never highlight these problems. His intention is clear: let Russia pay her tribute in blood in future as well!

A few more examples may be given to show that the enemy decrypted Soviet encryption technologies. For example, Swedish cryptanalysts managed to decrypt Soviet Air Force radio telegraph messages. There were orders to bomb the capital of Finland in most of them. Very often those cryptograms were decrypted even before the departure of Soviet bombers from the airfields in Latvia and Estonia located at a distance of only a 20-minute flight from Helsinki. That was another cause of the colossal defeat of aviation at the beginning of World War II. The Germans could decipher Soviet Air Force radio transmissions. Pilots used mainly code tables for messaging. It took long to re-cipher them and it was difficult to do it during combat actions.

Deciphering service was of vital importance during the war. Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed that “Ultra” (a system used to decrypt German encoders developed by the British during World War II) was the most important and the most secret source of intelligence. He noted: “It was thanks to Ultra that we won the war.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme commander of Allied forces in West Europe, described “Ultra” as “vital” for Allied victory. There are no conclusions like this in any books by Suvorov, though there’s plenty of information on this subject in the United Kingdom and access to archives is easier there. That subject was definitely a taboo for Suvorov.

I’ve devoted my life to cryptography, so this problem is important for me. Besides we’re now living in the XXI information century and security of information is the most significant objective to ensure the country’s integrity and prosperity. This issue is not discussed out loud in Russia but these statements can often be heard in the USA.

For example, not so long ago the US President Obama declared that security of data was the most essential issue for the development and prosperity of America.

No wonder today cyber terrorism is officially considered to be a major threat to US national security.

It is no coincidence that for the first time in more than 100 years investments in information security systems have surpassed the investments in physical security devices. And we know that physical security (sophisticated safes, armored vehicles, iron doors, etc.) has always been the basis for the protection of the most important state and commercial secrets.

Turning to the history of Russia it’s a surprise to see that a huge layer of our historical science dedicated to cryptography has just vanished. We find the proof even in the books written by V. Suvorov who claims he’s an objective free of censorship researcher.

Excursus 3. Invincible or legendary?

The Red Army was rewarded with two epithets in a Soviet song – “invincible” and “legendary”. The first definition is based on true historical facts, but the second is based on propaganga and literary works.

Are there more facts in new historical researches based on archive documents or on legends falsifying history and making it impossible to draw essential lessons from the bitter defeats of the Red Army? And who benefits from often repeated propaganda clichés?

Take, for example, the history of radio intelligence. According to Soviet archive documents dated 1941, the Baltic Fleet intercepted and deciphered about 20 000 German messages since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. The reports of the Black Sea Fleet also specified the number of decoded messages...

But where’s the comparison with the reports of the German secret services? How many Soviet cryptograms did they decipher? And here we find out a stunning fact. This information is not available at Soviet archives...

Here’s another interesting fact about signals intelligence. The analysis of the Red Army signal intelligence activities during the Civil War shows that they were more efficient than their activities on the western borders of the USSR before the war. What reports and messages to state top officials formulate the activities of the German troops on the western border? That information was not available. Even if Soviet cryptographers couldn’t decrypt German ciphers they could monitor German radio stations.

Let me give an example. Alexei Zhelamsky served in a separate special mission radio reconnaissance battalion. He graduated with honors from the Leningrad Military School of Communications and specialized courses for intelligence officers. In October, 1941 when the situation near Moscow was especially difficult he was appointed Assistant Chief of the Operation Branch of the 490-th separate “OSNAZ” radio division of the Red Army High Command. Its task was to monitor enemy aircraft. Alexei Zhelamsky was a prominent signals intelligence specialist and could clearly define the objectives.

What is signals intelligence and what are its tasks?

- to locate enemy troops and their dislocation;

- to locate air bases, permanent and temporary airfields;

- to quantify aircraft based on airfields, detect their rebasing and movement from one front to another;

- to detect the takeoff time, spot enemy airfields, define the enemy aircraft flight range and direction;

- to adjust antiaircraft fire during the enemy’s air raids on cities, military and industrial facilities.

All these data are obtained by radio interception and direction finding of the enemy’s operating long-range transmitters without any contact with the enemy, hence it partly ensures our invulnerability. In fact we act on an invisible front deep in the enemy’s rear. Radio wave propagation is virtually unlimited. Fresh data (the airfield they take off from, the number of planes, their types and the groups they belong to) come into the right hands by the shortest route starting from the takeoff. Our intelligence has enough time to put anti-aircraft weapons on standby while a group of planes is flying from the airport to the front line.

The enemy planes flew from the Seshcha airfield located near the town of Orsha mainly to Moscow and later to Gorky, Yaroslavl and Rybinsk.

Each aircraft contacts an airfield radio station during takeoff and keeps in touch with it throughout the flight. The direction to operating radio stations (of the aircraft and the airfield it departed from) is tracked with the help of three or four direction finders located across the front 20-100 km away from it (depending on the stability of the front). The intersection point of these directions is the location of an airfield radio station or an aircraft radio station. The flying plane must be located simultaneously by all direction finders. A radio operator at a reception center gives commands over an audio system in the communication center, ensuring simultaneous direction finding of aircraft radio stations and, therefore, tracking the flight direction.

Till November 4, 1941 the Germans bombed Moscow mostly at night. There was a severe air assault in the afternoon of November 14 when 120 planes attacked the city. We monitored that flight and immediately informed the GRU and the Headquarters of the Moscow Air Defense Zone. That day 40 enemy planes were shot down as a result of well-coordinated joint actions and the enemy stopped massive air attacks on Moscow for a long time.

If radio reconnaissance was so effective before the war would the Red Army have suffered such losses? Here’s another interesting fact. The Soviet Marshal Vasily D. Sokolovsky wrote in his memoirs that radio intelligence officers had managed to find out when the German offensive on Moscow would be resumed in November 1941. They warned the troops just in time - two days before the attack!

Why didn’t Soviet radio intelligence monitor radio communications of the German army concentrated on the western borders of the USSR? It should be noted that 12 OSNAZ radio divisions were deployed there. However, they were ordered not to monitor the German army radio transmissions. What did they do? I'll explain later.

It should also be noted that as a result of successful operations German signal intelligence revealed a system of French and British command and control and as a result Germany defeated France in a Lightning War in 1940.

After the war historians calculated the number of shot aircraft, tanks and human losses. What about cryptography? Do we know how many German cryptograms we deciphered or the number of our cryptograms decrypted by the Germans? There’s absolutely no information about it! Zero!

It seems all historical events were falsified. But why?

Excursus 4. Not learning from mistakes

There’s a simple explanation why the history of cryptography layer disappeared from the archives if we ask who was responsible for cryptography in the Soviet Union. The answer is: chief of the NKVD Lavrentiy Beria.

Stalin’s best friend did everything to show the Father of Nations that Soviet cryptography was the best during the war.

Even though German archival materials were available for Beria he tried to conceal which Soviet cryptographic systems had been deciphered by the enemy.

It’s historical nonsense. We know that the Germans decrypted British and American codes and visa versa the British and the Americans decrypted German codes. It was the same with Japanese ciphers. But there’s no mention of Soviet ciphers decrypted during World War II.

Here are some facts about Japanese cryptanalysts. By 1940 as a result of joint actions a signal intelligence team of the Kwantung Army succeeded in breaking the Red Army’s four-digit codes and could effectively monitor the change of keys to codes and ciphers. By the spring of 1941 a specialized code department of the Army Air Forces could decode the encrypted traffic of the Soviet Air Force during aerial maneuvers on the Lake Baikal. There’s precise information that Soviet ciphers were decrypted during the Finnish War.

British cryptographers also thought that Soviet ciphers were weak before the war. There was strong evidence at Bletchley Park (a decryption establishment where the German cipher machine “Enigma” was decrypted): it was known from “Ultra” materials that on the eve of the war the Germans had read encrypted messages of Soviet sea vessels and one of the Air Force formations deployed in the Leningrad area. It’s surprising that no countries decrypted any Soviet ciphers at the beginning of the war in June, 1941. Only after the war American cryptanalysts succeeded to decrypt the messages of Soviet intelligence officers working in the USA – the Venona Project. Soviet cryptography made a technological and scientific breakthrough within a year. It’s strange. Besides Soviet cryptography suffered irrevocable losses after Stalin's repressions in 1937.

Of course, in a situation like that no one – the Americans, British or anyone else – would benefit if Soviet secret services had received reliable information about the operation of Soviet cipher machines and improved their cryptographic systems after error correction.

The recent allies’ logic was simple: if the Germans managed to read the codes they could also do it. However, not only the Americans took advantage of the imperfection of Russian cryptography. For example, Maximilian Ronge, the chief of the military intelligence directorate of the Austrian Headquarters during World War I, wrote: “The Russians used their devices so thoughtlessly as if they were not aware that the Austrians had the same receivers which could easily be tuned to the appropriate wave. The Austrians used their radio stations more carefully, more practically, mostly for listening and managed it successfully. Sometimes deciphering was possible as a result of guesswork and sometimes with the help of direct requests on the radio during the transmissions. The Russians willingly helped “their colleagues”, as they believed.”

Excursus 5. With the Leader’s name on the lips

Viktor Suvorov, a writer, has always been proud of his skill to compare specific figures and facts. Basing on them he made far-reaching conclusions about the historical events he described.

He is probably the first Russian writer who applied so many special analytical methods in his works, even frequency analysis.

It was amazing to do the same and for the first time to analyze the frequency of use of words in Suvorov’s works. I’ve already mentioned that the aim was to find out what information was hidden between the lines – intentionally or not - and whether his historical analysis was objective. The results were ready very soon.

The word “Stalin” is used most often in Suvorov’s books - 12364 times.

Some time ago a Polish journalist escaped to the West and became a millionaire after he’d borrowed Khrushchev’s report at the XX Congress of the CPSU from his mistress. Most likely she’d been sent to him by the Soviet secret services. Suvorov also made good money using the leader’s name.

For comparison, he used the names Zhukov and Hitler three or four times less frequently.

This simple statistics helps to understand the direction of the main effort in Suvorov’s literary work: to show Stalin's role in history. The author's thoughts are mainly focused on the leader’s personality.

Where’s the objective war assessment? Most of the words must occur with about the same frequency if unbiased analysis of events is made in so many books. For example, the frequency of use of the words “tank”, “aircraft”, “cannons” and even the word “communication” is the same, but “Stalin” is used four times more often than “Hitler”...

Excursus 6. Control or self-control?

How often does Suvorov mention “encryption equipment” and “radio intelligence” in his books? These are the fundamental military concepts familiar to any army intelligence officer, but we seldom see them in his books. For example, encryption notebooks were widely used in the Red Army but there’s no mention about it in Suvorov’s works.

It’s strange that a military man, challenging to make a complete analysis of the war results avoided using such concepts as “secret communication” and “organization of secret communication”. They just dropped out from the narrative. But now we can’t say it was a coincidence. A coincidence is a situation when frequency characteristics are identical. But if common and widely used words were omitted at all it means it was done on purpose. Hence we can assume that Suvorov was prohibited to write about it! For example, he gives interesting statistics from the war history on the number of printed military maps and the number of maps that were burnt and logically asks how it was possible to provide control over troops if they didn’t have enough maps?

It shows Suvorov is well aware of military strategy.

But why doesn’t he write that during World War II command and control in the Red Army had to be conducted over encrypted communications?

If the author claims to be an honest chronicler he should know that Samsonov's army was defeated during World War I because the Germans could read plaintext radio communications between the advancing Russian armies and knew where they were moving. If it were not for grave mistakes in code distribution between the Russian armies Russia would have occupied Berlin in 1914 and the war would have been over. That was the main lesson of World War I, but the Red Army commanders didn’t draw conclusions from it.

There isn’t a single word about it in Suvorov’s books. Doesn’t the disastrous defeat of the Red Army at the beginning of the war in 1941 resemble the defeat of the Russian army in 1914? The roots were the same – inability to provide command and control over secure (encrypted) communication lines. Contemporary historians claim that the Red Army had sufficient communication equipment, but encryption based secure communication was not available - though it was vitally important to win the battles. The NKVD kept back that historical fact, just like Suvorov. We can find similar examples showing that Suvorov simply refuses to discuss these facts. He doesn’t want to show the Red Army had warfare problems during the war. Why should he do it? Let Russia repeat her mistakes suffering defeats in military clashes.

It’s the Achilles' heel of approximately 30 books written by V. Suvorov. It’s obvious he was working under control. But it wasn’t Soviet censorship and self-censorship of a military man who’d fled to the West. It was special control of the British intelligence that didn’t want to show that encoded command and control was one of the decisive factors to defeat an enemy!

But still, the author is a former intelligence officer, thus he couldn’t but reflect that subject in some way. It's a matter of human psychology. And V. Suvorov wrote a fantastic work with a symbolic title “Control”. Foreign censors could allow a book like that due to a simple reason. Suvorov skillfully masked the system of global communication control in the Soviet Union, including the army, mercilessly criticizing Stalin. In fact, paranoid fear of treason in the army had reached such an incredible level before the war that Stalin and the Soviet leaders were more afraid of the rebellion against the Red Army commanders than of the war with Germany. That’s why the Red Army commanders received many unconceivable and sometimes contradictory orders to avoid armed German provocations and strictly punish for disobedience. Of course, they were misled by such orders, especially at the beginning of the war.


Excursus 7. Maybe it’s the last one?

What other interesting facts do we find in the books by Viktor Suvorov who cites information he has received abroad?

Psychologists say that if a person saw or heard something he will reflect it somewhere. He surely will. So we see this reflection in a phantasmagoric book “Control”.

The author describes how Stalin bought a system in the United States that could control the entire Soviet communication network. In general, it’s fiction. Exactly the same system has never existed in the USSR. But fiction can be thoughtfully and professionally analyzed. Here are some quotes from the book “Control”:

“Kholovanov is also holding a switch in his hand: those are ruling who have communications in their hands. Those who have communications can send orders. Those who are sending orders command the parade. No wonder Comrade Lenin recommended occupying the telegraph first of all. So communication is правит in safe hands. I’m holding a switch in case the enemy rushes into the booth and starts giving the crowd wrong commands over the microphone. Then Kholovanov will pull the switch out and the entire communication system will be smashed by a single electric shock. It’s better to have no communication at all than give it to the enemy.”

Pay attention at the very interesting phrase in V. Suvorov’s book: “It’s better to have no communication at all than give it to the enemy.” And let’s see what happened to military communications in June, 1941.

“In the evening of June 29 Molotov, Malenkov, Beria and I had a meeting with Stalin in the Kremlin, A. I. Mikoyan recollected. The report on the situation in Belarus hadn’t yet arrived. We only knew there was no contact with the troops on the Belarussian Front. Stalin called Timoshenko at the People's Commissariat of Defense but he couldn’t say anything about the situation on the West. Stalin felt anxious and suggested going to the People's Commissariat of Defense to discuss the situation. Tymoshenko, Zhukov and Vatutin were already there. Zhukov reported that contact had been lost; he said he’d sent people, but no one knew how long it would take to set up the connection. The discussion was rather calm for about half an hour. Then Stalin burst out: “Is it the General Staff? Is it the Chief of Staff who was at a loss on the first day of the war, who has no contact with the troops, who doesn’t represent anyone and doesn’t command anybody?”

Of course, Zhukov was concerned about the state of affairs no less than Stalin and Stalin’s cry offended him. And that brave man simply burst into tears and rushed out of the room. Molotov followed him. We were depressed. 5-10 minutes later Molotov came back with Zhukov– he looked calm but his eyes were wet.”

The chief of communications of the North-Western Front General P. M. Kurochkin recollected the events of that day:

“I asked a permission of the command to go to Novgorod immediately, “occupy” the post office in Novgorod before the arrival of radio communication equipment from Staraya Russa and using it establish the connection for the front HQ. The decision was approved.

We rushed to Novgorod together with N.P. Zakharov. We had to hurry, every minute counted. At last we reached Novgorod. Major V.V. Zvenigorodsky was already there trying to define what should be done to deploy a communications center for the front HQ. The range of works was only being specified but nothing had been done yet because there was neither energy nor resources. The equipment was still on the way from Staraya Russa. We went to “occupy” the post office in Novgorod. It turned out that an old friend of mine Konstantin Ivanovich Chafrov was the head of the telegraph at that time (he attended the courses in Leningrad where I was teaching in 1939.)

I briefly explained him that the Novgorod post office should provide communication for the front HQ for a day or two till the arrival of the equipment for our military communications center. He understood the task and immediately ordered to stop civilian postal and telegraph services and set up telegraph communication in the directions required for the front HQ. Telegraph communication between the Novgorod post office and the General Staff, the Northern Front HQ, army HQ, staffs of corps and also the task force HQ remaining in Pskov had been established by the arrival of the Military Council and the front HQ.

General Vatutin was surprised that communication for the front HQ had been provided without any military field facilities. He immediately ordered to allocate the key officers of the operational and intelligence departments at the post department of the office. The director’s office was allotted to the commander and the Chief of Staff. The other departments and head offices were located in military institution buildings in the city. Thus within a day the front command and control was ensured by the facilities and resources of the Novgorod post office. Civil communication personnel coped with the task quite well.”

It’s possible to come even closer to unravel why military communications didn’t function at the beginning of the war.

Let me quote Stalin: “The former head of communications of the Western Front A. T. Grigoriev could set up permanent communication between the front HQ and operating units and formations, but he showed panic and criminal inaction, he didn’t use radio and as a result command and control over the troops was disrupted on the first days of the war.”

At the beginning of the war radio communication was available for the NKVD, the Navy and the People's Commissar of Communications. But it was not available for the Red Army!

You may ask why A.T. Grigoriev didn’t use radio communications. It seems unlikely that he was an Enemy of the People. Radio communication wouldn’t have functioned at the People’s Commissariat of communications. Stalin’s worst enemies were usually at the head of it: N.K. Antipov, A.M. Ljubovich, I.N. Smirnov, A.I. Rykov, G.G. Yagoda, I.A. Khalepsky and M.D. Berman. He shot them later on. Besides, it’s also possible to learn that the most powerful communication center of the country was situated in Moscow.

Here’s the opinion of Franz Halder, Colonel General, Chief of the Nazi Army General Staff: “The importance of Moscow as the central node of Russian communication system is very high. If this node is paralyzed the whole Russian communication system will be paralyzed.”

I.T. Peresypkin, Deputy People’s Commissar of Defense, was more precise: “When I started working at the Commissariat of Communications we were allowed to build a reserve underground communication center in Moscow. By the beginning of the war it wasn’t completely constructed but the equipment was delivered there because if, God forbid, any large bomb fell on the Central Telegraph Moscow would immediately be left without communication (telegraph and telephone) with the whole country, on all directions.”

What about 12 OSNAZ radio divisions? What were they engaged in? Can you imagine Stalin’s feelings when he was afraid of provocations that could trigger a war with Germany? Besides the state authorities had a maniac idea that there were German spies in the Red Army. No wonder most of the Red Army senior officers were arrested on charges of spying for Germany. So how should J. Stalin handle the Red Army communication systems, especially radio communications? Of course, it was necessary to provide full control over them so that no one could send Germans any secret or top secret information. Hence all radio transmissions of the Red Army located on the western border of the USSR had to be monitored!

There was no problem with plaintext messages. It was more complicated if code tables were used. They might be in custody of a regulatory body, for example, OSNAZ radio divisions mentioned above. But how could a transmission be monitored if it was encoded with re-enciphering notebooks?

The only way out was to use duplicates of re-enciphering notebooks. Here’s an example from a book by Igor Lander, the author of a fundamental research “Clandestine Wars. History of Special Services. 1919-1945”: “At the beginning of March, 1942 the “Free France” HQ informed the British about the intention to ask the Americans to afford encryption privileges for the representation in Washington so that it could use not only telegraph but also radio communication.

On March 9 the Foreign Office sent an urgent instruction to its Embassy in the US capital: “Please inform confidentially the State Department that we would like to preserve the existing system when we can see and transmit their telegrams.” A British representative Lord Halifax didn’t like the idea at all. He was right stating that the authorities in Washington would think London didn’t trust de Gaulle’s loyalty and reliability any longer, and it was absolutely disadvantageous.

The Foreign Office decided to motivate their request by unreliability of French codes, which, incidentally, was absolute truth. Cipher officers at the British Foreign Ministry who were not aware of the secret part of the issue suggested providing de Gaulle with sets of one-time pads so that the French could re-encipher coded messages and thus secure their correspondence from unauthorized reading. The authorities of the diplomatic organization were even less satisfied with the proposal. They wrote on March 15, 1942: “It’s advantageous for us to see telegrams exchanged between de Gaulle and his representatives in Washington. If we provide the tables we’ll not be able to do it any longer.”

At last the decision was taken to suggest de Gaulle giving the British the copies of his most important radiograms. The General agreed so quickly that there was reasonable doubt as to his intention to keep his word.

However, the cautious GC&CS (Government Code and Cipher School) experts didn’t care about de Gaulle’s sincerity because they’d prepared in advance and had at their disposal the third set of cipher notebooks. It solved all the problems. The Americans didn’t have such opportunities but guessed the British were playing a trick. They demanded that the British should make and give them an additional copy of the “French notebooks”. In fact the new system had deprived SIGINT of the possibility they had had before to read the correspondence of the “Free France” representative office. However it was contrary to the long-term interests of London and the request was not satisfied.”

The Red Army command simply couldn’t prepare half a million re-enciphering notebooks to monitor correspondence. Such control would have been extremely ineffective due to complex and time-consuming message decoding procedure.

Most probably a decision was taken not to give military units re-enciphering notebooks till the beginning of combat actions.

Control of encrypted messages encoded with ciphering equipment used for the state communication networks of the USSR was technically a challenging task for the NKVD.

It’s clear from the interrogation materials of the former head of the NKVD G. Yagoda that the technical aspect of providing J. Stalin with the possibility to control a special HF circuit was one of the main reasons for the delay of its launch. Stalin always wanted to control all his subordinates regardless of the way they communicated – plaintext or encrypted.

Stalin’s order “On the improvement of communication in the Red Army” № 2243 adopted on July 23, 1941 specifies why the Red Army communication was silent at the beginning of the war.

It explicitly states: “...War experience shows that unsatisfactory command and control is mainly the result of unsatisfactory organization of the operation of signal communications and first of all the result of ignoring radio as the most reliable form of communication. Command and control based mainly on telephone is unstable and unreliable because it is cut off for a long time if phone lines are damaged.

Underestimation of radio as the most reliable form of communication and the primary means of command and control is a result of ossification of our staffs, inability to understand the importance of radio for mobile forms of modern warfare.

In defiance of all the rules operative talks are conducted over the telephone; military units and formations, their tasks and dislocation, commanding officers’ names and ranks are mentioned in plaintext communication. Thus the enemy has access to top-secret information.

Besides in defiance of all the rules our headquarters from top to bottom do not use simple procedure charts and a code map. All correspondence is executed via overloaded cryptographic centers. The most important orders, directives and instructions sink in the sea of various documents which often do not have any operational value. They arrive at subordinate headquarters with considerable delay - 8-10 hours later - and a planned operation is often compromised.”

Basing on the specified challenges Stalin ordered:

1. Overcome as soon as possible underestimation of radio as the primary means of command and control in the mobile forms of the modern warfare. Under the personal responsibility of commanders and commissars of units and formations, military councils of the armies and fronts immediately ensure full application of radio equipment for command and control, ensure secrecy transmissions.

Chief of the Red Army Department of Communication comrade Peresypkin and military councils of the fronts and armies should as soon as possible regroup radio communications so that two radio stations are provided for each division and army.

2. Once and for all stop plaintext telephone transmissions of operational tasks and orders.

3. Relieve the mass of secondary documents at the cryptographic centers of formations and units which may be transmitted using procedure charts and code maps. Commanders and HQ commissars should strictly control that cryptographic centers are not loaded with secondary and large volume correspondence.

4. Specify call sign tables and tables of simple prearranged signals (symbols) for communications of:

- the General Staff with fronts – 10 days;

- the fronts with armies – 5 days;

- armies with corps and divisions – 3 days.

Tables of call signs and prearranged signals should be immediately changed in case of failure.

5. From July 26 of this year the General Staff should establish and strictly require that HQ of the fronts code the maps changing map codes every 10 days. From July 25 of this year HQ of fronts and armies should encode maps for their own needs and the needs of units directly subordinate to them within the terms specified above for the procedure charts…»

Here’s another most interesting historical document which clarifies to a significant extent why the Red Army remained out of contact.

Top secret. Special significance. Copy № 1

“CONFIRMED”. People’s Commissar of Defense of the USSR Marshall of the Soviet Union S. Timoshenko


I. General tasks of troops for the state border defense in the district.

1. In order to cover mobilization, concentration and deployment of district forces the entire territory is subdivided into four military security areas, namely:

a) security area № 1 – Grodnensk, 3rd Army;

b) security area № 2 – Byelostok, 10th Army;

c) security area № 3 – Belsk, 13-th Army;

d) security area № 4 – Brest, 4-th Army.

2. General objectives of troops on the defense of military district border:

а) Prevent the enemy’s ground and air invasion on the territory of the area by strong defense of field fortifications located along the state border and fortified areas; provide strong defense for the mobilization, concentration and deployment of troops in the district;

b) Ensure normal operation of railways and troop concentration using air defense and air force;

c) Timely specify troop concentration and enemy force groupings using all kinds of reconnaissance means;

d) In active aircraft operations win superiority in the air, disrupt and delay concentration and deployment of enemy troops by powerful attacks on the main railway junctions, bridges, railway sections between stations and force groupings;

e) Prevent air drop and landing of airborne forces and enemy guerrilla groups on the territory of the district.

3. State border defense is based on:

5. Communication over the air defense network. Communication between the district HQ and air defence and AD units, as well as warning communication of Air Force units located on permanent and operational airfields is executed over the system of aircraft defence posts of air surveillance, warning and communication forces.

Communication between air defence stations and AD artillery and fighters is executed over permanent station communication and PCC (People’s Commissariat for Communications) wires with field cable lines suspended on the facilities of anti-aircraft artillery and searchlight units.

Warning of fighter units deployed on field aerodromes in the border area is executed directly from the air defence company points over PCC wires allocated for this purpose in peacetime.

Warning of the services of AD air surveillance warning and communication forces is executed directly over the telephone, over PCC wires allocated for air defense for wartime and by a password “air” at the directions where it's impossible to allocate PCC wires.

Warning communication in the system of air surveillance, warning and communication forces in the district is executed by observation posts, which transmit warnings to company posts, and the latter transmit warnings over direct PCC telephone wires to the key AD point.

Warning in peacetime is executed by a password “air” through the PCC entities, except fighter aircraft stations and fighter aircraft located at field aerodromes (ambush) in the border area. In peacetime direct telephone PCC wires used only by company posts to warn fighter aircraft located at field aerodromes in the border area.

Radio alarm communication system of AD air surveillance, warning and communication forces is not changed during covering operations till redeployment of the aircraft. The system of radio warning over the networks becomes more stable and reliable due to the new organization of the airfield services.

Radio communication during covering operations is conducted without restrictions and according to the peacetime radio alarm scheme.

XI. Communication organization

Minsk district HQ should establish direct-telephone communication for the period of covering operations.

1. According to the following scheme:

a) with the HQ of the 3rd, 10th and 4th armies (Grodno, Belostok, Kobrin) over two PCC wires via Bodo and ST machines;

b) the connection with the HQ of the 13th army (Belsk) is established over М-3 after the arrival of the army authorities;

c) The direct communication of the district HQ is established over the telephone, Morse or CT machines: with the 20th Mechanized Corps - Oshmyany; with the 17th Mechanized Corps - Volkovysk; with the 21st Infantry Corps - Ozery (if direct communication fails to pass the connection with the 21st Infantry Corps is conducted via the 3rd Army HQ); with the 47th Infantry Corps - Pruzhany; with the 8th antitank artillery brigade - Lida; with the 7th antitank brigade - via the 10th Army HQ; with the 4th airborne corps - Pukhovichi.

2. Communication of the army front administration is executed out over the telephone, direct PCC wires allocated for the armies. Сommunication along the front of the 10th Army HQ is established with the 4th Army HQ before the arrival of the 13th Army HQ to Belsk.

3. Communication with the General Staff is executed over the telephone according to the peacetime scheme, over a Bodo duplex unit, the second Bodo unit is prepared for operation.

4. Communication with the neighbors: Riga and Tarnapol – is established over the phone and Bodo units on the directions of Minsk, Borisov, Polotsk, Dvinsk, Riga using transmissions in Polotsk. Communication with Tarnapol is established according to the direction specified by the Red Army General Staff for the covering period.

5. Telephone communication with armies, the General Staff of the Red Army and the neighbors is executed according to the peacetime scheme over HF system via the NKVD.

6. Radio communication of a district HQ is organized according to the following scheme:

а) The General Staff network for the operation with Moscow, Riga and Tarnapol: the wave is specified by the Red Army General Staff, call signs are used according to the peacetime scheme;

b) The first network (operative communication) provides communication with the HQ of the 3rd, 4th and 10th Armies and later with the HQ of the 13th Army. The network operates over Army Corps radio stations. Waves and call signs are specified in the radio communication scheme.

c) The second network (with front reserve units) provides communication with the units of the 21 and 47 Infantry Corps, 20th and 17th Mechanized Corps. The network operates over AC radio stations. Waves and call signs are indicated in the radio communication scheme;

d) Besides district radio stations readiness capability is provided for the radio station of the district army commander (RSB radio sets) on the wave 160, КМВ call signs;

e) During the period of covering operations radio signals are used for communication according to the radio signals table developed in peacetime by the district HQ;

f) independent radio receivers at the district communication center - reconnaissance strike center - are installed to monitor the performance of army radio communications; waves and radio call signs of armies are indicated in the scheme of the district radio network;

g) During the covering period communication of the Air Force is executed at the alarm according to the scheme developed in peacetime by the Air Force HQ.

XII. Organization of covert command and control.

Covert control and command over troops is executed using codes, coded maps and radio signal tables. The latter are used not only for radio voice communication but also for phone talks. Open talks over the telegraph, especially over the phone are strictly prohibited; severely punish the guilty. Commander of the Special Military District General (signature) D. Pavlov

Member of the military council of the Western Special Military District Corps Commissar (signature) A. FOMINYKH

Chief of Staff of the Western Special Military District Major General (signature) KLIMOVSKYKH

Printed in 2 copies:

Copy № 1 – for the General Staff of the Red Army, copy № 2 – for the Western Special Military District HQ

Executive officer Major General SEMYONOV.

The documents show that the district HQ had to organize its communication and communication with the neighbor fronts using PCC public telephone lines.

It’s interesting that according to paragraph 5 Telephone communication with armies, the General Staff of the Red Army and the neighbors was executed according to the peacetime scheme over HF system via the NKVD. But the NKVD HF system was also based on the PCC communication lines! Consequently, the NKVD probably disabled it so that it was not captured by the Germans.

I quoted V. Suvorov at the beginning of the article: “It’s better to have no communication at all than give it to the enemy.” So L. Beria disabled HF communication of the Red Army but at the same time imposed a ban on the use of encryption means fearing that the Germans could seize the keys to them...

I quoted V. Suvorov’s words at the beginning of the article: “It’s better to have no communication at all than give it to the enemy.” So L. Beria disabled HF communication of the Red Army but at the same time he imposed a ban on the use of encryption fearing that the Germans could seize the keys to them…

Let me give some explanation on HF (high frequency) communications and quote an excerpt from the article “Soviet cryptographic service: 1920-1940”: “From an organizational and technical point of view the system of government long-distance communication was based on the network of peripheral HF stations of the NKVD departments (fixed component), and permanent air lines of the People’s Commissariat of communications (linear component).

In 1930 the first lines of government long-distance high-frequency communication Moscow - Leningrad and Moscow - Kharkov were put into operation. In 1931 an independent long-distance HF communication network equipped with special security means was established. In 1934 a factory “Krasnaya Zarya” in Leningrad began a high-volume production of three-channel high-frequency telephone equipment CMT-34. It operated at 10,4 - 38,4 kHz and provided satisfactory communication within 2000 kilometers. At the beginning of 1941 20-channel high-frequency equipment was installed on the Moscow - Leningrad telephone line.

By June HF communication was established between Moscow and most of the capitals of the Soviet republics, regional centers and military districts. But the high-frequency technology could protect only against direct wiretapping if encryption equipment wasn’t used.

In fact high frequency current modulated by a sound signal of the membrane is transmitted over wires. It can’t be perceived by a human ear without appropriate processing because a human ear doesn’t detect electromagnetic waves. But if the signal passes through an elementary crystal receiver the conversation can be restored.

Any technician at a long-distance PCC communication station could hear conversations of government officials over a HF channel. During the interrogations G. Yagoda, People's Commissar of Internal Affairs (1934-1937), explained that he’d deliberately hampered the creation of equipment to secure communication lines because he had no idea how to monitor them. He thought that he and - first and foremost - Stalin needed communication channels which they could use to control each and everyone.

Vulnerability of high-frequency communications was mentioned for the first time in the report of a senior technician engineer M. Ilyinsky addressed to I. Vorobyov, chief of the 13th Branch of the Operations Department of the NKVD

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