Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Discussions on all aspects of the USSR, from the Russian Civil War till the end of the Great Patriotic War and the war against Japan. Hosted by Art.
Volyn
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Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by Volyn » 18 Jul 2020 21:56

I do not see a thread for this topic -

From what I understand, the Soviets obtained the means to decipher German codes via their embassy spies in Sweden who were able to steal Arne Beurling's work. A few questions about this subject:

1. Did the Soviets attempt to steal or decipher the US or UK codes?
2. Did the Allies attempt to steal or decipher Soviet codes?
3. Were the Soviets able to break the Japanese codes like the US did?
4. How successful where the Germans overall at stealing or deciphering the Soviet/Allies codes?

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stg 44
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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by stg 44 » 19 Jul 2020 01:37

Volyn wrote:
18 Jul 2020 21:56
I do not see a thread for this topic -

From what I understand, the Soviets obtained the means to decipher German codes via their embassy spies in Sweden who were able to steal Arne Beurling's work. A few questions about this subject:

1. Did the Soviets attempt to steal or decipher the US or UK codes?
2. Did the Allies attempt to steal or decipher Soviet codes?
3. Were the Soviets able to break the Japanese codes like the US did?
4. How successful where the Germans overall at stealing or deciphering the Soviet/Allies codes?
Check out Christos' blog:
http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.com/ ... rn%20front

You have to scroll through the articles on the Eastern Front, but it has plenty of in depth articles about these topics.

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by steve248 » 22 Jul 2020 17:43

The British gave the USSR the means and wherewithal to intercept and decrypt German radio messages.
This was in the hope the Soviet would pass to them the same material. The Soviet accepted the means but did not pass back any intercepted message.
You can probably still find on the web a free copy of a National Security Agency publication (2005):
Robert J Hanyok, "Eavesdropping on Hell. Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust, 1939-1945" (and I get a word of thanks in the acknowledgements).

And Christos, blog is really good.

If you are interested in Soviet radio deception games (and you have German) there was a recent publication by a German historian (can't see it on bookshelves so must be in the loft) entitled "Klatt". There's also a decent book in Polish which I also have - looks like that's in the loft. I can dig them out if you are interested.

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by Volyn » 25 Jul 2020 17:24

stg 44 wrote:
19 Jul 2020 01:37
Check out Christos' blog:
http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.com/ ... rn%20front

You have to scroll through the articles on the Eastern Front, but it has plenty of in depth articles about these topics.
steve248 wrote:
22 Jul 2020 17:43
If you are interested in Soviet radio deception games (and you have German) there was a recent publication by a German historian (can't see it on bookshelves so must be in the loft) entitled "Klatt". There's also a decent book in Polish which I also have - looks like that's in the loft. I can dig them out if you are interested.
Thank you both, this is great material to read, and steve248 if it is not too much trouble to find the book it would be a good to know its name!

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by steve248 » 26 Jul 2020 19:24

Winfried Meyer
"Klatt. Hitlers jüdischer Meisteragent gegen Stalin..."
publ. Metropol, Berlin, 2015 (a hefty 1287 pages)

Details on the Polish book when I find it.

AllenM
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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by AllenM » 26 Jul 2020 20:24

US Brigadier General Carter Clarke issued an order to begin cracking Russian codes in January 1943.

The Secret Sentry by Matthew M. Aid, page 3.

Volyn
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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by Volyn » 28 Jul 2020 14:20

steve248 wrote:
26 Jul 2020 19:24
Winfried Meyer
"Klatt. Hitlers jüdischer Meisteragent gegen Stalin..."
publ. Metropol, Berlin, 2015 (a hefty 1287 pages)

Details on the Polish book when I find it.
Thank you!
AllenM wrote:
26 Jul 2020 20:24
US Brigadier General Carter Clarke issued an order to begin cracking Russian codes in January 1943.

The Secret Sentry by Matthew M. Aid, page 3.
Great information, it was called the Venona project and it was responsible for discovering Julius and Ethel Rosenberg among so many others. Really incredible how the Soviets were able to infiltrate almost every aspect of UK and US intelligence.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venona_project

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by steve248 » 28 Jul 2020 15:10

The VENONA project was more complicated than just finding the Rosenbergs. Bletchley Park and various British intercept/listening stations in Canada and Australia were also involved. Some of the intercepted traffic can be found in 62 files at UK National Archives:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.u ... 6/C6918890

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by AllenM » 28 Jul 2020 18:47

The Russians were only Allies of convenience. The US would provide them with military equipment during the war and Stalin did what he wanted. Germany and the US were the most technologically advanced countries in the world during the war. The sheer size of the USSR demanded that other governments know its secrets as much as possible. VENONA, due to its secrecy, created problems. "Declassified FBI documents show that only 15 of the 206 Soviet agents identified in the Venona decrypts were ever prosecuted, in large part because the secrecy of these decrypts prevented them from being used in an American court of law." The Secret Sentry, page 23.

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stg 44
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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by stg 44 » 30 Jul 2020 21:33

Volyn wrote:
28 Jul 2020 14:20
Really incredible how the Soviets were able to infiltrate almost every aspect of UK and US intelligence.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venona_project
Basically during the Great Depression Communism (and a bit before in the 1920s due to the rise of the USSR and disillusionment over WW1) got pretty popular in the US and UK, especially among the middle and upper clasess, so there was a large pool of willing people who for ideological reasons were very willing to spy on their own society. That largely fell apart after WW2 though given how so many were disillusioned with the USSR over what Stalin did from 1939-53.

Volyn
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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by Volyn » 31 Jul 2020 18:43

stg 44 wrote:
30 Jul 2020 21:33
Volyn wrote:
28 Jul 2020 14:20
Really incredible how the Soviets were able to infiltrate almost every aspect of UK and US intelligence.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venona_project
Basically during the Great Depression Communism (and a bit before in the 1920s due to the rise of the USSR and disillusionment over WW1) got pretty popular in the US and UK, especially among the middle and upper clasess, so there was a large pool of willing people who for ideological reasons were very willing to spy on their own society. That largely fell apart after WW2 though given how so many were disillusioned with the USSR over what Stalin did from 1939-53.
What compensation did these spies receive, especially since they were giving away their national security crown jewels? From what I understand most of them were motivated by their philosophies and were not given much in the way of rewards.

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Aug 2020 15:12

stg 44 wrote:
30 Jul 2020 21:33
Volyn wrote:
28 Jul 2020 14:20
Really incredible how the Soviets were able to infiltrate almost every aspect of UK and US intelligence.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venona_project
... That largely fell apart after WW2 though given how so many were disillusioned with the USSR over what Stalin did from 1939-53.
Or earlier. The elder Koch, founder of that family oil fortune, made some money at petroleum engineering services in the 1920s USSR. He ceased his contract circa 1928. Expressing disgust over the internal political stuggles. This was the same general time Stalin was securing his power & purging Trotskies supporters.

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by AllenM » 01 Aug 2020 23:28

Stalin and his purges, that is killing people, occurred often. He hoped to export Communism to as many countries as possible. In the United States, some people became enamored by the idea of Communism. And this romantic view of Communism as the next big social system motivated them to defend it. To overthrow Capitalism which was not compatible. To spy on America for the Soviet Union, compensated or not. During World War II, Stalin spoke with Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek in order to be a part of post-war planning. In August 1949, the Russians detonated their first atomic bomb. Shortly after, the Chinese Civil War ended and the Communists took control. The Bolsheviks are the Reds, and the Chinese Communists would be called the Red Chinese. The Chinese Nationalists fled to Taiwan which is still an area of contention between the US and China today. The Russians would instigate a proxy war in North Korea in 1950 that would include Red Chinese involvement.

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by Art » 02 Aug 2020 08:04

Let's stay on topic.

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Re: Soviet Cryptography 1939-1945

Post by steve248 » 02 Aug 2020 08:53

The MI5 "name files" at UK National Archives (KV 2 series) has hundreds of files of communists and communist agents who were kept tabs. From foreign nationals who sought refuge in the 1930s to homegrown CPGB members and sympathizers. None of whom were ever prosecuted, but they had a file...

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