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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
NOTE ON THE PLAN OF ACTION FOR SECURITY FORCES ON THE TERRITORY OF THE WESTERN SPECIAL MILITARY DISTRICT
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 Main Department for State Security of the USSR. The document dated August 8, 1936 had a title “The main sources of threats - agents of foreign intelligence services among the operating personnel and the use of various portable and easy to maintain technical means.”
The tests near Minsk in 1936 showed that conversations could be intercepted using long-wave radio receivers and antennas suspended at a distance closer than 50 meters from a long-distance circuit.
In 1937 first report about the possibility of interception was received from the BSSR NKVD secret service. It detected special line tap to the Moscow - Warsaw communication line on the territory of Poland 1,5 kilometers away from the border.
In 1938 I. Vorobyov, Chief of the government Department for High-Frequency Communication of the USSR, reported that special PCC communication utilized by the Kremlin users didn’t provide any security at all: telephone connection with the Kremlin was available only at certain hours; PCC equipment was used both for business calls and secret calls of the tops of the government and was maintained by the same technical staff.
By the beginning of the war after the incident with G. Yagoda and M. Tukhachevsky Stalin didn’t trust his army, especially its encoded communication, because he didn’t understand how it could be monitored - he wanted to keep everything under personal control.
Therefore, the system of encrypted communication of the Red Army was built in such a way that in case of war it had to use PCC telephone and telegraph communication centers and be equipped with the most trusted NKVD security systems - HF communication. In practice it meant the following. For example, if the Red Army division commander wanted to use a secure communication line he had to urgently move to the nearest town or village. Using a local communication center he had to establish connection with another town or village located close to his regiments. He had to send a messenger to inform that the division would use the communication center and the commander of the respective regiment was obliged to arrive at the indicated place to talk to him. Of course, it was absurd.
Sometimes orderlies were killed or taken prisoners on their way to the destination point and commanders of communication units were not ready to connect encrypted communication lines. As a result command and control was inefficient in the army. The situation on the battlefield changed radically while a unit commander was approaching the communication center and giving orders. Soviet commanders sent tank divisions, corps and regiments to block German troops but the order delayed and the enemy had already moved to other locations and defeated Soviet troops there.
The first weeks of the war demonstrated the weaknesses of the main pre-war theoretical principles and practical measures on the use of secure communications in warfare. Combat experience showed imperfect command and control in the Armed Forces during large-scale defense operations.
It was planned that communication between the High Command and the General Staff with the headquarters of the fronts and interior districts would be carried out over PCC lines, communication centers and by means and resources of the People’s Commissariat of Defence and the NKVD, but the initial phase of the war demonstrated it was wrong. Trunk air communication lines were located mainly along roads and railways and were quickly destroyed during air and artillery attacks. Lack of backup, by-pass, ring and lateral communication lines also affected the performance of government communications networks, military in particular. Besides, stations and government HF communication centers built in the 1930s and equipped with bulky equipment were located in the NKVD buildings in administrative cities of the country.
There was practically no field-type equipment to encode signal communications in the army hence it made it impossible to provide maneuvering troops with secure communications. Meanwhile operative situation often forced to deploy headquarters and command centers of fronts and armies far from the main lines where an extensive communication network wasn’t available.
In 1937 equipment with an index EIS-3 (Egorov - Ilyinsky - Staritsyn) was designed for radiotelephone channels and prepared for serial production. Over the next three years a factory “Krasnaya Zarya” mastered the batch production of simple coding devices similar to EC-3 (EC-2M, MEC, MEC-2, 2A-MEC, MEC 2AZh, PZh-8, PZh-8M, etc.) connected directly to high-frequency communication equipment CMT-34. By 1940 the factory produced 262 systems mainly with spectral inversion. The principle of the new device was rather simple: inversion with the simultaneous supply of the interfering tone with the high timbre into the communication channel.
In 1938 nine government trunk networks were equipped with the units. 50 out of 103 available communication lines were equipped with devices to secure phone calls by July, 1940, and 66 lines out of available 134 lines were equipped with those units by April 1, 1941. Lack of integration between organizations on the issues of construction, reconstruction, operation and protection of high-frequency communication lines affected the establishment of secure communication between senior military and political officials of the country and the Armed Forces command.
PCC forces, People’s Commissariat of Defense and the NKVD “coped with their tasks with difficulty, because their number, material and technical equipment didn’t correspond to the real needs of government communications. Those shortcomings caused frequent and long interruption of communication and, consequently, loss of control over the Red Army troops.” Of course, the entire secure communication system could be compromised if an enemy captured a communication center with high-frequency equipment - and it happened in June, 1941. That was one of the main reasons why Lavrenty Beria decided to disable HF communication and entire encryption based secure communication of the Red Army. Naturally, the chief of communications of the Western Front A.T. Grigoriev knew about it. (He was arrested on July 4, 1941 and sentenced to death by the decision of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR on July 22, 1941. He was shot that day. He was posthumously rehabilitated on July 31, 1957).
According to the Red Army Field Manual with regard to the organization of encrypted communication, radio communication should be encrypted. Could Grigoriev know that the Germans hadn’t captured the code tables? Of course, nobody could know it for sure amid the chaos of the first days of the war. But what was the way to establish secure communication?
That was one of the reasons why the Red Army military units of the Western Front didn’t use radio stations. Soldiers didn’t have trusted secure communication systems and feared they’d been compromised.
Undoubtedly Lavrenty Beria had to eliminate witnesses of his failure to provide enciphered and coded communication for the Red Army at the beginning of the war. Besides, encryption level of some systems was low and the enemy could wiretap and decode them.
Maybe the head of Government Communications Michael I. Ilyinsky was killed due to the same reason. He knew more than anybody else about the defects of our government communications and numerous violations committed with the use of encryption technology. His son said: “...a shot was heard on October 13, 1941 in the director’s office in the Central Telegraph building at Gorky Street, 6 (the management of the department of government HF communications was stationed there). Michael I. Ilyinsky was killed on the spot. He was the first head of the Department of Government Communications and had taken office only ten days before.”
Later armed NKVD cordons were placed all along the HF communication routs to defend them against the enemy so that it was not possible to physically approach them closer than at a distance of 100 meters. That was a simple way to protect critical government communication lines. It was impossible to secure them with encoding equipment but a division could be assigned to guard them. (During the war there were nearly 10 000 officers in the NKVD troops patrolling government HF communications) so the Germans couldn’t intercept secret communications.
Maybe it was not coincidentally that in 1941 immediately after the beginning of the war Stalin ordered the NKVD to inspect encryption departments of the General Staff and check if there were violations in the use of encryption equipment. But the inspectors didn’t reveal any violations.
That strange decision was taken despite the well-known fact that the retreating Red Army had lost code tables and ciphers. No wonder the NKVD with Stalin’s friend L. Beria at the head of it hushed up the catastrophic state of encoded communication in the army at the very beginning of the war. As a result the Red Army suffered considerable losses - approximately five million soldiers were killed and captured in the first months of the war.
Many Western World War II researchers who have apparently read many books by Suvorov try to politicize the events. They explain such a huge number of Soviet prisoners by the fact that the Red Army had low morale, poor military training, didn’t want to fight for Stalin, etc.
I’d like to reasonably object those who support such theories. The politicization of the events of World War II makes it very difficult to understand their true meaning and wrenches history. It makes it impossible to draw the correct conclusions about the real causes of the defeats of the Red Army and prevent such situations in future.
I can point out how many French, Belgian, Czech soldiers and soldiers of other European countries were captured by the Nazis in 1940. Maybe the Europeans also didn’t want to fight for their leaders and ancient traditional foundations of their countries?
I think the triumphant beginning of the German aggression in Europe can be explained only by military reasons. Namely the fact that the German Blitzkrieg strategy was the same in France and the USSR: first of all the enemy disrupted covert control of the armed forces and caused chaos in the troops. But it was most import that nobody understood who gave those “strange orders” that were contrary to the logic of combat. Using information weapons and sending false orders the Germans destroyed order in the ranks of their enemy.
The strategy has been known since ancient times. The Chinese commander Sun Tzu wrote in an ancient treatise “The Art of War” that it was important to disrupt army communications controlled by means of encryption and that “disruption of command and control leads to defeat in a battle.”
By the way the strategy of using encrypted command and control system is the basis of modern warfare.
Apparently it was not by chance that at the beginning of the war J. Stalin issued an order to inspect the General Staff and check if there were violations in the use of secure communications. He felt that there should be some other explanation besides the surprise factor for the catastrophe on the first days of the war.
It is stated in Stalin’s order “On communication” № 2243 dated July 23, 1941: “...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.”
Does this order correspond to the Field Manual-39 on the establishment of the Red Army communications support? The FM-39 clearly states that radio transmission should be secured.
The order № 2243 required to use procedure tables and code maps. But the major issue was forgotten: who was supposed to develop those procedure tables and code maps? After all it was real madness to use procedure tables available in the Red Army units. Who could guarantee that they hadn’t been captured by the Germans during the retreat of Soviet troops?
In her book “History of encryption business in Russia” T.A. Soboleva refers to numerous procedure tables of the Red Army that were captured by the Germans and kept now in the American archives. Apparently, procedure tables have temporary resistance and experts can decrypt them. That was why it was indicated that their expiration time was limited to 10 days. But it was not specified in the order who was authorized to produce and distribute them.
It took several months to replace them if they were compromised. For example, in 1940 when the Germans captured code tables on one of the ships of the British Navy the British Admiralty had to reprint them for three months due to capabilities of printing factories which produced code and procedure tables. Therefore that order could be considered to be an instruction for the Red Army military units to make procedure tables themselves. Of course, that was the fastest way but the level of cryptographic protection could be very low.
The interrogation transcript of the commander of the Western Front D.G. Pavlov who developed code tables shows the real situation in the Soviet army.
In his letter to the Military Council of the South-Western Front dated June 26, 1941 J. Stalin wrote that the disaster on the front could be compared with the defeat of the Russian army in 1914 in Prussia. No doubt Stalin understood that the disaster at the front was due by the lack of encryption in the army. That was why he started the inspection of encryption entities of the General Staff and wrote a letter to the Military Council in the first month of the war.
J. Stalin was a participant of the Civil War and read a lot about the causes of Russia's defeat in World War I, when the catastrophe was a result of disruption of the coded system of control and troop coordination so he suspected that the defeat of the Red Army in 1941 could be caused by the same factors. But the NKVD deceived Stalin. They understood that if the truth came up he could accuse the NKVD and its chief L. Beria as the main culprit of the Red Army defeat in the first months of the war.
Right after the war it was the NKVD which found evidence that Beria could be considered the main culprit for the defeat of the Red Army in the first months of the war.
Probably back in 1943 Stalin had reasonable doubt that our encryption technology performed properly because he started a thorough inspection of secret communications. As a result the NKVD Commission found out that secure telephone communications could be decrypted. Some other rare declassified documents of the time confirm the conclusion. Here’s a fact from a book by A. Sever “Marshall from the Lubyanka. Beria and the NKVD During the War”. In 1943 - 1946 a group of experts from the Sixth Department of the NKVD-MGB USSR under the direction of A. Peterson tested encryption equipment.
Referring secret telephone communication the final report dated December 28, 1945 stated that “all mosaic type equipment could be decrypted”. Only a year and a half later a device was designed that “automatically analyzed classified transmission and deciphered it after a conversation without laboratory processing.”
Besides it was known from the evidence of imprisoned prominent German cryptographers who decoded messages of the Red Army that encoding devices, including telephone encoding equipment, had many vulnerabilities.
Here’s a little-known fact of modern history. After the war captured German cryptographers who worked at Soviet prison-type design engineering departments continued to design modern encryption equipment. Their scientific and technical experience in decoding not only Soviet, but also British, American cipher machines and cipher machines of many other countries enhanced the strength of Soviet encoding equipment and the capability of the Soviet Union to decode cipher machines, including American. It played a significant role in the Korean War in 1950.
Dr. Otto Leiberich, former head of the Federal Office of information security (BSI) confirmed that German cryptanalysts had broken American encryption machines, in particular M-209 (better known as “Hag” or “Hagelin”).
The importance of M-209 during the war was approximately the same for the USA as that of Enigma for Germany. The US army purchased nearly 140000 M-209 devices at that time. They we also used during the war in Korea.
After World War II the United States decided to take on the role of sole world leader. But they were afraid of the competition with the Soviet Union and its great military strength. Thus since 1948 they began to introduce various kinds of embargoes, restrictions on cooperation with the Soviet Union, bans on technical and scientific publications, technology transfer, travel restrictions and so on. The West did its utmost to weaken the technological and military strength of the Soviet Union.
The situation was tense like before World War II. The country faced the threat of destruction, nuclear in particular.
In August, 1948 the US National Security Council published an anti-Soviet directive 20/1 named after its author Allan W. Dullas and called “the Dulles’ Plan”.
The White House was delighted by the directive and it was the basis of the US policy towards the Soviet Union for many decades. A distinguished historian N.N. Yakovlev analyzed the directive in his book “CIA against the USSR” and wrote: “In many respects, even its number is similar to Directive № 21 on Operation Barbarossa issued by Hitler about eight years before.”
A little later, on April 4, 1949, the United States established the NATO “to protect Europe against Soviet influence”. Its main objective was not to protect West Europe against communist influence but to destroy the Soviet Union. The world was on the verge of war again.
Stalin realized that the Soviet Union was surrounded by enemies again just a few years after the war with the Nazis and had to confront the anti-Soviet policy of the USA and its European allies.
What actions did Joseph Stalin undertake at that time? What way out did he find in the critical situation that was even more serious than in 1930 when the Soviet Union was planning the industrial development of the country. It’s clear that in the 1930s the country needed many cars, tanks and airplanes. It had to build factories. And due to the world economic crisis many latest technologies were purchased almost free of charge. Besides the United States, Germany and other countries provided economic help to the Soviet Union at that time. But after the war an iron curtain was drawn down upon the Soviet Union and shut off technology exchange and economic cooperation with many highly-developed countries.
Despite all the problems J. Stalin found the Gordian knot that could be cut to outgame the North Atlantic Alliance threatening the Soviet Union with a new war.
Years of the war showed Stalin that decryption system and radio intelligence played the most important role in the strategic victories of the Soviet Union over Germany. In the most critical period of the war in the winter of 1941 Soviet cryptanalysts managed to read Japanese ciphers and confirmed the passive position of the Japanese Army in the Far East. Thus Stalin could move a considerable part of the army from the East to the West of the country to defend Moscow and win the most important battle of World War II.
The members of Cambridge Five had access to the “Ultra” project executed by the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park. Their successful operation was another factor that showed Stalin the right way to confront the West. During the war the British decoded German ciphers and the Soviet secret agents sent information to the Soviet Union. That information was often strategically important for successful military operations and contributed to the victory in the Battle of Kursk.
It was clear for Stalin that the British had a powerful decryption agency at Cambridge and its activities could influence military operations. No wonder the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed that “Ultra” was the most important and most secret source of information”. He also noted: “…it was thanks to Ultra that we won the war.”
British cryptographers achieved the biggest progress intercepting and decoding messages of the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. The Germans didn’t worry about the security their secret communication lines: they were sure it was impossible to decode messages enciphered on the “Enigma” machine.
However, British cryptographers succeeded and could regularly collect and send Winston Churchill summaries of intelligence reports on the enemy. The British were not aware that our intelligence agents at the Government Communications Headquarters sent some of those reports to Stalin. They were vitally important for the development of the Red Army operations on the fronts.
Thus Stalin came to the conclusion that in future the most important objective in the confrontation with the NATO wouldn’t be only conventional arms race but the priority in radio intelligence, encryption, decryption and covert command and control over troops.
A collective appeal of Soviet cryptographers to Stalin played a significant role in that decision. They directly asked Stalin for the permission not to obey the NKVD. It was done without Beria’s approval.
A Soviet cryptographer Leonid A. Kuzmin recalls that “contrary to expectations the appeal was heard and Soviet cryptography was taken under the wing of the most powerful organization of the Soviet Union - the Central Committee of the CPSU (B). In autumn, 1949 the Politburo of the Central Committee adopted several important decisions on Soviet cryptography. Their essence was as follows. General Directorate of Special Services under the Central Committee of the CPSU (B) was established on the basis of separate units. Considerable funds were alloted for its formation and development. Measures were taken to engage the most prominent scientists to fulfill operational tasks of cryptographic services and train new highly qualified personnel. High School of cryptography and a closed branch at the faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics of the Moscow State University were organized for that purpose.”
Stalin made that unprecedented step after the in-depth analysis of the outcome of World War II, the defeat in the first years of the war and the work of our intelligence officers who procured invaluable information in England.
By Stalin’s strong-willed decision the Politburo of the CPSU (B) issued an Order № P71/426 and on October 19, 1949 the Chief Directorate of Special Communications under the Central Committee of the CPSU (B) - CPSU was formed on the basis of the Sixth Department of the Ministry for State Security and decryption-intelligence service of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. Measures were taken to fulfill Stalin’s task and the most prominent scientists were invited to work at the new organization.
The USSR outran the West with that single step and Soviet cryptography greatly advanced by the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. The United States started building a structure similar to the Main Directorate for Special Communications to eliminate the gap in radio intelligence and cryptography. The most secret National Security Agency (NSA) was established on November 4, 1952 by the secret order of President Truman. It was subdivided into two divisions: radio-electronic intelligence responsible for receiving information from foreign communication channels and information security protecting American information systems.
The quintessence of all Soviet modern information technologies were centralized at the Main Directorate for Special Communications of the USSR: electronics, radio electronics, computer engineering and mathematical analysis. Everything had to comply with the highest international standards.
Ultra-modern cryptographic technologies raised the related industries to a higher level. The result was not long in coming in the early 1950s. The Main Directorate for Special Communications of the USSR designed a cryptographic supercomputer. It was more powerful than the American computers of the same kind. Unfortunately, the Main Directorate for Special Communications was shut down on April 24, 1953, almost a month after Stalin's death. Beria immediately took it under his control and assigned its subdivisions to the NKVD. He was afraid that the independent organization could discover the extent of his guilt in the defeat of the Red Army in the first months of the war.
Moreover, shutdown of the Main Directorate for Special Communications hampered the development of national information security systems in the USSR and, consequently, electronics, computer and radio which are the basis of modern technology nowadays.
As for Suvorov’s “phantasmagoria”, judging by some details in his book the control system purchased in the United States resembles a key generation system for cryptographic hardware providing control of all encrypted communication systems. Even today no one knows how it appeared in the Soviet Union before the war - the Soviet Union didn’t produce that equipment. Capacitors, resistors, not to mention radio tubes were not manufactured in the Soviet Union. In fact it was a prototype of modern computers, but how was it possible to produce that sophisticated electronic device?
There was another option. At the end of 1935 the Soviet Union signed an agreement on technical assistance with an American company RCA (Radio Corporation of America) giving a start to “Americanization” of Soviet military and civilian radio engineering. It was an agreement on the US assistance in the production of modern radio tubes because it was obvious by the mid-1930s that our country was lagging behind in that sphere. Along with the lines for the production of American tubes American equipment was deployed in 1937-1938 to produce mica pressed capacitors and composite compression molding thin film resistors.
Taking into consideration these facts and reading V. Suvorov’s books we can assume that the key generation system based on electronic components that were not manufactured in the Soviet Union was also purchased in the United States.
The main requirement for it was computation of large quantities of high-quality equiprobable sequences for the production of hand-coding documents – it was the main encryption tool in the Red Army at that time.
Of course, in the 1930s the army needed many coding notebooks since the number of units and formations in the Red Army considerably increased. It was necessary to generate a huge amount of scales - random numbers, industrialize that process and organize key generation production that would comply with all technological requirements, such as quality control and others.
There was a great need for more code tables at the beginning of the war. Production facilities were insufficient and the army was growing. It was necessary to stop using compromised systems and design new ones. That’s why, according to historians, commanding radio communication operators had to find a way out; they relied on luck throwing up balls or using other unusual ways to create ciphers based on random numbers. But it was impossible to make up many ciphers that way. The large army needed an automated process to generate high-quality keys, produce encoding notebooks and encoding documents.
Therefore most likely Suvorov was right: a key generation system for encryption equipment was purchased in the USA. Willing or not Suvorov gave away that information. Working with the British Intelligence Service or having access to the British archives V. Suvorov described the vulnerability of Soviet cryptographic technologies and summarized the facts in his book under the name “Control systems”.
It seems to be an insignificant fact of the past. But it’s leading us further as if by a thread into the depths of the so far closed details of the history of Soviet cryptography.
Could Soviet cryptographers test key generation accuracy and reliability after they’d received foreign cryptographic equipment?
In general it’s clear from Suvorov’s story why Beria covered up all his tracks, removed specialists who knew or could guess that foreign encryption technology had been purchased and passed off as a domestic product. He shot Gleb Bokii, head of the cryptographic service, imprisoned many prominent cryptographers, ordered to kill the Director of Government Communications Ilyinsky in the center of Moscow.
It turns out Beria informed Stalin as if Stalin didn’t need professional Soviet cryptographers any longer. He relied on “friendly” Americans and their magic cipher machines. And many people who had been somehow involved in purchasing that equipment disappeared without a trace.
Here’s another example from the article by M.A. Bykhovsky “Contribution of Soviet scientists and engineers in the victory in the Great Patriotic War”: “High Command had high quality communication with the fronts during the war. Domestic 12-channel communication system developed by the Central Scientific Research Institute for Communications (CSRIC) was established on the communication line between Moscow and Kazan. It was designed to provide reliable communication with plants in the Urals and beyond the Urals area which supplied the front with tanks, planes, guns and ammunition. That communication line operated for a long time after the war.
12-channel equipment - the prototype of the equipment developed at CSRIC was delivered from the United States according to the Lend-Lease to provide communication with the fronts. Mark U. Polyak, one of the leading CSRIC experts, was sent to the United States to select the required communications equipment and organized it’s delivery to the USSR by steamers passing the northern ports and via Iran. Installation, debugging and maintenance of the equipment was conducted by a signal company under the command of Gregory Borisovich Davidov also worked at CSRIC before the war.”
And, of course, Beria did everything to conceal the fact that cryptographic systems, including key generation, were produced abroad.
The situation with the German encryption equipment was the same. It was purchased in Germany and delivered to the Soviet Union. Labels were removed and it was presented as a Soviet-made product. That was why a foreign encoder was used on government communication lines. Of course, it was a secret.
Soviet high-rank bureaucrats often acted like that when they were ordered to design something new. If they couldn’t cope with the task they committed outright forgery and sometimes it even impaired national defense.
The required equipment was often purchased abroad and presented as someone’s personal design. By the way, it was common practice in industry throughout the history of the Soviet Union. For example, in the 1980s a computer “EC1841” was designed for military purposes. The designers even managed to get the USSR State Award. Later it turned out that Soviet computer chips had never been designed – they were imported from the USA and embedded in the computer. Original labels were brushed out and Soviet labels were put on the chips instead of them...
After Suvorov’s acknowledgement the results of the Venona Project - a US counter-intelligence secret program aimed at deciphering Soviet encrypted reports and initiated on February 1, 1943 – can be logically explained.
The Americans knew how the key generation system operated and generated scales. Hence they could probably decode messages and expose Soviet spies in America engaged in atomic espionage.
Historians think that one of the Soviet intelligence officers was guilty. He allegedly reused encoding notebooks due to their deficit. That’s why the Americans could decode Soviet ciphers.
But it’s strange no one was punished after such a flagrant violation, though the NKVD regularly inspected cryptographic organizations and even minor violations in the use of encryption were reported to the management! It seems someone among the NKVD top officials approved the reuse of encoding notebooks. But here’s a very important question. Was the reuse of the tables allowed or maybe our scientists didn’t consider it to be a violation that could cause decryption?
That fact might prove that from a mathematical point of view we couldn’t evaluate the accuracy of gamma equiprobability, the main parameter of cipher security. It is quite possible that the scientists didn’t know that equiprobability parameters decreased if encoding notebooks were reused.
However, according to another version a clerk who’d committed that offense was punished. But could he take that decision? It’s hardly possible, though none of the NKVD officials who were in charge of that most important operation were punished.
Therefore, it is reasonable to ask: how did the Americans break the codes of our secret agents in the United States?
Gammas and keys for encoding notebooks were prepared with the key generation system received in America. And knowing the key generator features the Americans managed to decode our secret agents’ messages.
Of course, the Americans didn’t want to admit it. They devised legends about the methods used to decode Soviet codes so that Soviet intelligence couldn’t find out that poor key generation caused the leak.
It turns out Stalin had the keys to the ciphers of all his secret services because of the use of foreign equipment. He controlled the communications of the Army, Navy and the NKVD. And Americans controlled him...
With the NKVD “assistance” Stalin was probably the first victim of the arising fight of information technologies. He destroyed his cryptographic service and removed his best scientists and technical specialists, but he didn’t have deep technical knowledge to efficiently and properly assess the system of clandestine command and control over the Red Army. A large research team of highly qualified cryptographers was necessary for that purpose.
Before World War II the country lost its basic scientific and industrial capabilities. It was forced to purchase foreign equipment turning into a hostage of foreign technologies.
Only in 1942 a Cryptographic Council was established in the Soviet Union “to organize and coordinate scientific research and training as part of the Fifth Department of the NKVD”. According to the reports of the Sixth Department of the Ministry for State Security, decryption of secret phone transmissions began only in 1943. In 1953 Vladimir Yakovlevich Kozlov, a future member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and an outstanding Soviet cryptographer started an important research to make the mathematical analysis of key generation quality...
There’s indirect evidence in Viktor Suvorov’s book “Control” that the Soviet Union turned out to be on the US information needle. But after his escape to the world of unlimited ideological space, as he thought, Suvorov’s rank was still the same– he was a pawn in the long information war between two systems. It’s gaining momentum as time goes by.
That’s why it is important to make an objective analysis of events in the tragic historical periods. If we reveal our mistakes which caused huge material and human losses it will help to prevent them in future. We should understand that if we lose control over the development of electronics and information systems we’ll have to import electronics and software again.
Up till now a domestic computer operating system hasn’t been designed in Russia that could guarantee users that their processed data are secure. Electronic component production base is still not available in this country and we are taking to the needle of foreign control just like in the 1930s. The statement made by the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald only confirms this assumption. Last year he started publishing the documents handed over to him by Edward Snowden, a former employee of the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States.
According to Glenn Greenwald, the NSA introduces “bugs” and spyware in routers, servers and other computer network equipment supplied outside the United States. Thus the American intelligence agency provides a possibility to break, if necessary, the required information system (E-mail, mobile phones, bank account information, etc.) or gather confidential information about their targets virtually anywhere around the world.
In the last century attempts were made to intercept information transmitted over the radio and extract information. But that method was bulky and depended only on the activity of the transmitting party.
Now there are terabytes of publicly available information in the Internet so there’s no need to intercept it. In 90% of cases exactly this information is an easy target for the NSA.
This statistics doesn’t mean that American secret agents don’t work efficiently. The NSA can examine thoroughly any person using phone interception, reading plain text E-mail messages and tapping social media posts. This knowledge makes it possible to control human emotions and even behavior.
No wonder government officials in various countries, especially those serving at intelligence agencies and the army, are the main targets of total electronic surveillance.
That’s why the US government invests so much in the NSA. Analyzing information “wandering” free on the Internet they can manipulate the emotions of the multitude or individuals serving at intelligence agencies, the army and law enforcement agencies and change power structures of countries the way they require.
In due course sophisticated bugs planted in information systems by security services significantly impair the entire defense of information against unauthorized access.
But there’s another invisible side of the problem. Very soon special services’ gadgets somehow fall into hackers’ hands. It’s a good reason why their criminal profits have recently boosted up to $400 billion in annual terms. According to law enforcement agencies, they have even surpassed the revenues of drug dealers.
History is repeating itself in a remarkable manner. In 1930-1940 our country received unverified key generators and various electronic devices from the USA. Today our country is flooded with questionable information systems. Unfortunately, we start examining the core of the problem only if a global information security problem is revealed once again causing a crisis in Russia. Only then we start to analyze problems caused by the lack of domestic analogues.
VISA and Master Card have recently blocked credit card services for several Russian banks as part of Washington’s policy to extend sanctions against Russia. Then at last the decision was taken in Russia that it was time to build our own processing system. Why was it impossible to forecast all these events?
Back in 1992 $200 billion were stolen from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation with the help of so-called “fake letters of advice”. Russia was on the brink of a financial collapse. The Central Bank was urgently equipped with more than 10 000 encoders manufactured at Russian plants. It helped to prevent thefts. It should be noted that there were no foreign electronic components in the encoders, even keypads and displays were manufactured in Russia.
Why don’t we learn from tragic lessons of our history and have been making the same mistakes on an all too regular basis for 100 years?
It was obvious after the publication of the next series of compromising materials on the activities of the NSA that information security in our country and all over the world was in crisis.
The US President Barack Obama said that information security was the determining factor in the development of America in the XXI century. And, apparently, thinking that his country has a distinct advantage in this area he said addressing the graduates of the leading military academy at West Point: “America must always lead on the world stage.” The statement makes it clear why immense funds are spent on electronic intelligence. (The NSA budget today exceeds the budget of the CIA!)
Maybe we should look back and use our own experience during the “cold war” when the Soviet Union was compelled to seek and find effective solutions to confront the West and the United States?
Why not merge cryptographic services of various Russian institutions under the President of the Russian Federation to significantly enhance their authority and effectiveness at such a tense moment? As I’ve already mentioned a step like that was taken in 1949 when Stalin found the right way to break the technical blockade of the West. He ordered to single out cryptography into an independent focus area and established the Main Directorate of Special Service subject directly to the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks.
Stalin understood it was the beginning of the information warfare era. And he didn’t want to be defeated by the West on the new major front line.
Half a century later our opponents acknowledged that information security was still the priority in the XXI century.
Moreover, this trend is a technological locomotive that can “pull out” the most advanced technologies and make Russia a Hi-Tech leader.
Information systems around the world are based on advanced electronics. Some of our government agencies suggest to secure data transmission, receipt and with the help of special anti-wiretap systems. These attempts won’t help much: we all know that most often information may be read not only over microphones - like fifty years ago - but on the level of processors which handle information transmitted over a device. The scope of these activities has grown to such an extent that US intelligence agencies started introducing their spying “bugs” even in home appliance chips.
Finally if we rely only on acoustic protection of information iron chambers should be constructed in all government offices to secure private talks.
Only homemade advanced super information security technologies developed on domestic element base will help Russia to overcome current threats. We should again follow the way paved by the Soviet Union after World War II. Otherwise we may repeat the lessons of the First World War I, the Great Patriotic War, the war in Afghanistan, Karabachos, the financial crisis caused by false letters of advice, the war in Chechnya, the events in Abkhazia and our information security system may be destroyed in a critical situation.
In this regard I often quote Colonel-General, Hero of Russia Gennady Troshev, Commander of the federal forces during the conflict in Chechnya and Dagestan (1995-2002), who wrote in his book “My War”: "Lack of encoders in the army fighting in Chechnya caused huge human losses. A miser pays twice. We didn’t have enough of them and finally we had to pay in blood.” In these few sentences our outstanding military commander clearly defined the essence not only of the war in Chechnya but also of the largest battles of Russian and Soviet armies during the wars of the XX and XXI century.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Soviet Union won the Great Patriotic War only at the cost of enormous human losses, mainly the civilians. But do we have the same recourses today?
The Soviet Union saved the world from fascism suffering irreplaceable losses. We lost our future scientists, researchers and those who had to develop our industry.
No doubt we have a long way to go because judging by the statement of Dmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and the curator of the Russian military-industrial complex, Russian science is at a dead-lock and “we’ve exhausted our former scientific capacity."
Russia’s prime task now is to restore High-Tech industry and production because they are the basis of her future existence.
In conclusion I’d like to quote the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Addressing the Security Council meeting he compared the current tasks of economy and industry in Russia with the times of industrialization and said: “Defense industries need a powerful overall breakthrough like the one that happened in the thirties in the last century.” The President said it was necessary to upgrade the production facilities and provide surpassing scientific and technological reserve for mass production of advanced systems.
Indeed, when the construction the “White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal” (1931 - 1933) began the main tools there were spades, hand carts and “Cranes” for load lifting. Just in 10 years the Soviet Union became the largest industrial power and won the war against Nazi Germany.
But do we need a new war and new tragedies? It’s unlikely that Hitler would have decided to attack the USSR knowing that Russian resources and technologies were more advanced than those in Nazi Germany.
In the digital era information security and its foundation, cryptography, is a backbone supporting and ensuring the rise of electronics and defense capability of Russia just like in the early 1950s. At that time our country frustrated the NATO plans to use devastating modern technologies against our country, nuclear and information weapons.
Postscript on the most important issues
Someone may ask me why investigating the unknown causes of the Soviet army defeat in the early months of World War II I thought it possible to equate one of the leading Stalin’s ministers who was side by side with Stalin throughout the war and the defector, a former Soviet military intelligence officer who became an English writer.
On the example of these two persons and their deeds we see that their attitude towards some historical events which were very important for the country amazingly intersected. Sometimes an equals sign was placed between the traitors of the Motherland and the “successful” government bureaucrats who undermined the interests of their Motherland.
On the one hand, Viktor Suvorov (Vladimir Rezun), a person who defected to the enemy, will never describe real causes of Russia’s defeat so that it won’t take advantage of the lessons of history and repeat the mistakes. On the other hand, Laverty Beria, a state official responsible for information security of the USSR, not only hushed up but also rooted out real historical facts on cryptography in the Soviet Union at the beginning of the war.
What an odd similarity between the traitor’s and one of the top state official’s attitude towards historical facts!
Suvorov distorts the true causes of the Red Army defeat in the first years of the war because he’s been working for the Western ideology for many years.
Beria silenced and destroyed true facts because he was afraid of losing power and ending up in jail. Hence he created the illusion that the Cryptographic Service subordinate to him was incredibly successful and invincible. He acted as a typical bureaucrat-loser hiding his mistakes and “cleaning up” history. Besides he cared only about his family and the way they would be treated in future.
Beria and Suvorov created falsified historical “truth” about World War II to justify themselves. Unfortunately, some of us still trust its credibility.
I’ve digitized about 40 books by Viktor Suvorov. Then they were transferred to a format suitable for mathematical methods of linguistic analysis, in particular, the frequency of use of the words “Stalin”, “Hitler”, “Zhukov”, “artillery”, given in Part 1 of the publication.
The Germans could read a Soviet 5-digit code used at the highest level. It is stated in the report Referat 5/Referat Bleschke dated August 16, 1941. It’s written in the Inspection-7 military journal that they were able to crack 155 Soviet cryptosystems, including two five-digit additive systems. “The German unit with Agnest Bleshke at the head of it broke 155 Soviet codes, including 5-z algorithms (it was very difficult to break them). Within 2 months after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War the Germans cracked 69 Soviet encryption algorithms. That was how the algorithm RC-130 was broken, hence 6 days after the beginning of the war the Germans were in the know about the most important operations and divisions of the Soviet Army.”
(The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Political Archive. TICOM. 1941 War Diary of Inspection 7/VI in block 142)
Besides, the German Air Force Chi Stelle division could crack the Soviet 5-digit code. It’s mentioned in IF-175 Seabourne Report, Volume XIII, PT. 2 by Waldemar Werther. This information is available at TICOM archive.
Author’s note. Given the format of the publication and the fact that the bibliographic references are bulky I had to place them in a separate file. It will be published on my personal page at the largest Russian literary portal Proza.ru.
I am grateful to all reputable authors - their information helped me to work on this material!