• Last updated: 19 Dec. 2016 14:20

Experts' Corner on Espionage (The Cold War era)

The Experts' Corner provides a deeper look at NATO in history. Here you will find a selection of primary sources related to NATO, espionage and security during the Cold War.

Declassified documents

During his years as a Soviet agent, George Pâques leaked hundreds of French and NATO documents to the Soviet Union. Those documents, once as sensitive as COSMIC TOP SECRET, have since been declassified and publicly disclosed. See for yourself what secrets Pâques shared:

Suggested reading

Cold War Cases

Andrew, Christopher. KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

This book explores the history of the world's largest and most powerful intelligence service, the KGB, from its origin after the Russian revolution to the present day. It provides an overview of its operations against subjects as diverse as the European Economic Community, Margaret Thatcher, Solidarity and Libya. The study also provides insight into Gorbachev's relations with the KGB and examines the disintegration of the Soviet bloc.

Andrew, Christopher and Vasili Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the "most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhage of the KGB’s secrets and reveals for the first time the full extent of its worldwide network. As well as containing many fascinating revelations, this is a major contribution to the secret history of the twentieth century.

Assouline, Pierre. Une question d'orgueil. Paris: Gaillimard, 2014.

Qu'est-ce qui pousse un homme à trahir son pays? Ou, plus précisément : qu'est-ce qui pousse, en pleine guerre froide, un haut fonctionnaire français, Georges Pâques, doté de responsabilités à la Défense et à l'OTAN, à transmettre des documents secrets au KGB pendant près de vingt ans? Ni l'argent ni l'idéologie. Quoi alors? Obsédé par ce cas unique dans les annales de l'espionnage, le narrateur d'une question d'orgueil décide de tout faire pour retrouver cet antihéros de l'Histoire et tenter de déchiffrer ses mobiles. Une longue traque va s'ensuivre, où il reviendra à deux femmes de lui livrer les clés de ce monde opaque.

Broussard, Philippe et Jean-Marie Pontaut. Espionnage, les grandes affaires: KGB, CIA, Stasi, NSA, DGSE, DCRI, de 1945 à nos jours. Paris: Omnibus, 2014.

Les faux-semblants des vrais espions révélés par des journalistes. Ces histoires ne sont pas nées de l'imagination d'un romancier. Elles ont fait l'actualité – mais une actualité très discrète... jusqu'à ce que des journalistes braquent sur elles les projecteurs, révèlent les identités, les rôles, les buts cachés. On s'aperçoit alors que la réalité dépasse de loin la fiction. Depuis Kim Philby, le modèle de La Taupe de John Le Carré jusqu'à Shi Bejou, cet étrange agent chinois travesti en femme, en passant par Farewell et " la reine de Cuba "... une plongée en eau trouble, dans l'univers de faux-semblant des vrais espions.

Hoffman, David. The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal. New York: Doubleday, 2015.

From 1979 to 1985, Adolf Tolkachev, an engineer at a military research center, cracked open the secret Soviet military research establishment. The CIA had long struggled to recruit and run agents in Moscow, and Tolkachev became a singular breakthrough. Drawing on previously secret documents as well as interviews, the author reveals how the depredations of the Soviet state motivated one man to master the craft of spying against his own nation until he was betrayed to the KGB by a disgruntled former CIA trainee.

Huchthausen, Peter and Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix, Miville Boudreault. Guerre froide et espionnage naval. Paris: Nouveau Monde, 2011.

Ignoré par les ouvrages traitant de la guerre froide, l'espionnage naval permit aux deux blocs d'utiliser les océans et les ports pour surveiller et pénétrer le camp adverse. Nourri par des entretiens avec des protagonistes soviétiques et occidentaux, et par l'exploitation d'archives américaines, britanniques et de publications russes, ce récit fourmille d'anecdotes inédites, parfois terrifiantes.

Kostin, Sergei and Eric Raynaud. Farewell: The Greatest Spy Story of the Twentieth Century. Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2011.

Vladimir Ippolitovitch Vetrov, a promising technical student, joins the KGB to work as a spy. Following a couple of murky incidents however, Vetrov is removed from the field, placed at a desk as an analyst and soon turns to alcohol. Desperate and needing redemption, he offers his services to the DST and Agent Farewell is born. He uses his post within the KGB to steal and photocopy files of the USSR’s plans for the West. Probing further into Vetrov’s psychological profile than ever before, Kostin and Raynaud provide groundbreaking insight into the man whose life helped hasten the fall of the Soviet Regime.

Macintyre, Ben. A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain’s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War – while he was secretly working for the enemy! Having befriended important officers in MI6, such as Nicholas Elliot, and in the CIA, James Jesus Angleton, Philby was able to sink almost every important Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years, leading countless operatives to their doom.

Parker, Philip. The Cold War Spy Pocket Manual: The Official Field-manuals for Espionage, Spycraft and Counter-intelligence. London: The Pool of London Press, 2015.

A meticulously compiled selection of recently unclassified documents, field-manuals, briefing directives and intelligence primers uncover the training and techniques required to function as a spy in the darkest periods of modern history. Material has been researched from the CIA, MI5 and MI6, the KGB, the STASI as well as from the Middle East security services and China. Complete with a catalogue of, and often instructions for, genuine espionage devices including lock decoders, bugging equipment, a 4.5mm single-shot lipstick gun, microfilm concealing coins and cameras mounted in clothing or pens and shoe-concealed tracking devices.

Roberts, Alasdair. “NATO, Secrecy, and the Right to Information.” East European Constitutional Review 11.4/12.1 (Fall 2002/Winter 2003).

In Central and Eastern Europe, the rapid diffusion of right-to-information laws has been matched by an equally quick spread of state secrets laws. Countries are adopting these laws to meet requirements for accession to NATO. Such agreements impose significant constraints on the domestic transparency policies of many governments, and pose substantial challenges for advocates of increased transparency. Archival records show that many NATO members were concerned about the impact that NATO requirements would have on domestic policy.

Rossiter, Mike. The Spy Who Changed the World. London: Headline Publishing Group, 2014.

A refugee from Nazi Germany, entrusted with crucial work at the very heart of the British and American nuclear weapons project, Dr. Klaus Fuchs gave every piece of information he had to the KGB, the Russian intelligence agency. Then in 1950, his spy mission complete, he made an unprompted confession to MI6. His espionage accelerated the start of the Cold War between Russia and the West, and caused a split between the US and British governments that forced Britain to build its own atomic weapons.

Vassall, John. Vassall: The Autobiography of a Spy. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1975.

In 1954, Vassall was an assistant to an attaché in the British Embassy in Moscow. He was blackmailed by Soviet agents into providing thousands of classified documents until his eventual arrest in 1962. Vassall described his autobiography as “a kind of self-justification, not as regards my espionage activities, but as regards my position as a human being, and, perhaps, my ability to make and keep friends in all walks of life.”

Whittell, Giles. Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War. London: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Who were the three men the Soviet and American superpowers exchanged on Berlin's Glienicke Bridge on February 10, 1962, in the most legendary prisoner exchange between East and West? Bridge of Spies vividly traces the journeys of these men, whose fate defines the complex conflicts that characterized the most dangerous years of the Cold War.

Wolf, Markus. Man Without A Face: The Autobiography of Communism’s Greatest Spymaster. New York: Times Books, 1997.

For decades, Markus Wolf was known to Western intelligence officers only as "the man without a face." Now the spymaster has emerged from the shadows to reveal his life of secrets, lies, and betrayals as head of the world's most formidable and effective foreign service. A shadowy Cold War spy who kept his own past locked up as tightly as the state secrets with which he was entrusted, Wolf finally broke his silence in 1997.

Post-Cold War Cases

Grey, Stephen. The New Spymasters: Inside Espionage from the Cold War to Global Terror. St. London: Viking, 2015.

The old world of spying that emphasized the human factor – dead letter boxes, microfilm cameras, and an enemy reporting to the Moscow Center – is history. Or is it? In recent times, the spymaster's technique has changed with the enemy. He or she now frequently comes from a culture far removed from Western understanding and is part of a less well-organized group. The new enemy is constantly evolving and prepared to kill the innocent. In the face of this new threat, the spymasters of the world replaced human intelligence with a focus on the technical methods of spying, ranging from the use of high-definition satellite photography to the global interception of communications.

Heisbourg, François. Espionnage et renseignement: le vrai dossier. Paris: Odile Jacob, 2012.

L'espionnage fascine; le renseignement inquiète. L'espionnage 'classique' a joué un rôle majeur dans les conflits entre Etats jusqu'à la fin de la guerre froide. Aujourd'hui, les enjeux, les méthodes, les moyens, à l’âge d'Internet, ont profondément change. Le renseignement est désormais à la portée d'acteurs multiples, collectifs ou individuels, et pas simplement des grandes puissances de naguère. En la matière, quelle est la stratégie française ? Qu'est-ce qui est secret et qu'est-ce qui ne peut plus l'être ? Comment concilier objectifs politiques et respect des droits ?

Tucker, David. The End of Intelligence: Espionage and State Power in the Information Age. Stanford: Stanford Security Studies, 2014.

Using espionage as a test case, this book criticizes claims that the recent information revolution has weakened the state, revolutionized warfare, and changed the balance of power between states and non-state actors – and it assesses the potential for realizing any hopes we might have for reforming intelligence and espionage. Examining espionage, counter-intelligence, and covert action, the book argues that, contrary to prevailing views, the information revolution is increasing the power of states relative to non-state actors and threatening privacy more than secrecy.