VENONA Historical Monograph #5:

The KGB and GRU in Europe, South America and Australia

The release of VENONA translations involved careful consideration of
the privacy interests of individuals mentioned, referenced, or
identified in the translations. Some names have not been released when
to do so would constitute an invasion of privacy.


In February 1943 the U.S. Army's signal intelligence organi- zation, often
called "Arlington Hall" after the location of its headquarters in Virginia,
began a secret program to examine encrypted Soviet diplomatic telegrams
between Moscow and Soviet missions abroad. Not until 1946, however, after
difficult analytic work, did Arlington Hall begin to recognize that these
so-called diplomatic communications contained thousands of messages of the
KGB (the Soviet espionage agency), GRU (the Red Army's general staff
intelligence directorate), and the Naval GRU. This project was eventually
named "VENONA."

This monograph accompanies the fifth set of VENONA translations being
released to the public. The previous four releases covered these topics:

1. Soviet atomic bomb espionage

2. New York KGB messages of 1942 and 1943

3. New York and Washington KGB messages of 1944-45

4. San Francisco and Mexico City KGB messages; GRU New
York and Washington messages; Washington Naval GRU

The current release contains translations of KGB, GRU, and Naval GRU
messages to and from locations in Europe, Latin America, and Australia, as
well as some messages of nonintelligence organizations: the Soviet Foreign
Ministry and the Trade Ministry. The great majority of messages in this
release involve the Soviet intelligence services. This is the final, and
largest, release of VENONA translations - well over 1,000 messages.

Insight Into Foreign Ministry And Trade Matters

Trade and Foreign Ministry messages were rarely translated. The VENONA
breakthrough was not, generally, achieved until years after the messages had
been sent. Trade and Foreign Ministry messages were not of intelligence
value once they had been broken. The voluminous Trade messages involved
mostly Lend-Lease matters; the Foreign Ministry messages most often dealt
with routine consular affairs. Nevertheless, these messages were important
for two reasons: they helped in the cryptanalysis of KGB and GRU messages
(this was absolutely critical in the case of the Trade material), and they
provided occasional information concerning Soviet security,
counterintelligence, and cryptographic policy. For example, a June 1945
message from the deputy foreign minister to all posts abroad warned that a
"foreign intelligence service" (not further identified) was showing an
interest in the movement of Soviet diplomatic mail and would attempt to
"extract documents" from these courier shipments.1 Another security warning
message of May 1947 ordered ambassadors, consuls, and their subordinates to
immediately discharge from their personal service any foreigners they might
have hired as "cooks, nursemaids, washerwomen, maids, etc."2

Among the few Trade messages translated are discussions of "two cases of
safe cracking" at the Lend-Lease office annex in Washington in December
1942.3 A Moscow to Washington Trade Ministry message of December 1942
mentions "those confidential and secret reports" obtained by "Comrade
SHUMOVSKIJ" during 1938-42 and gives instructions for his continued work.
This is especially interesting because Shumovskij was a lieutenant colonel
in the KGB seen as covername BLERIOT in the KGB VENONA messages.4

Kgb Messages To The London Residency

Only a small set of London KGB messages were available for exploitation -
mostly incoming messages from Moscow Center sent in, September 1945. This
small opening, taken together with the exploitation of certain messages of
KGB New York and Washington (translations previously released), assisted in
the identification of important KGB agents Donald Maclean, Kim Philby, and
Guy Burgess.5 These agents are seen in VENONA under the following

STANLEY: Kim Philby
HICKS: Guy Burgess
GOMER (HOMER): Donald Maclean (who is found in the New
York and Washington traffic, previously released)

Three other KGB messages will be of particular interest to U.S.readers:

* No. 6 from Moscow, 15 September 1945, discusses a U.S.-
connected agent covernamed DAN, who, when contacted by the KGB
in London, was to be greeted at the meeting place by the password
scenario, "Didn't I meet you at VICK's restaurant on Connecticut

* No. 13, also from Moscow, 16 September 1945, concerns
espionage against the atomic bomb by the unidentified agent TINA,
whose information on that target had been for the KGB "of great
interest and represents a valuable contribution to the development
of the work in the field."

* No. 36, from Moscow, 17 September 1945, says that the
unidentified covername EDUARD had served in Washington from
1939 until February 1945 and that the politicians "mentioned in
your letter with whom EDUARD comes in contact are of great interest
to us."

Gru Messages Between London And Moscow

The translations of messages between the GRU's London Residency and
headquarters in Moscow are a particularly interesting and perhaps unexpected
addition to the public's knowledge of Soviet espionage. The exploitable
messages, about 260 overall, date from 1940-41 and then from 1945-47, and
they cover a wide range of topics, techniques, and espionage personalities.
Here is dramatic, professional intelligence reporting about the Battle of
Britain, the Blitz, the expected German invasion, the preparations of the
British forces, and the emergency procedures of the GRU, including their
establishment of at least three clandestine radio stations. The espionage
reporting is substantial. Referred to are a GRU spy group called the "X
Network," the unidentified agent BARON, who apparently reported information
obtained from U.K. decryption of German Enigma messages, clandestine radio
operators STANLEY, MUSE, and the famous SONIA (Ursula Buerton).

In a London GRU message of 10 August 1941 is a reference to the GRU's
reestablishing contact in the U.K. with Klaus Fuchs and from him learning
about early efforts to develop the atomic bomb. Fuchs later went under KGB
control in the U.S. as the covername REST and CHARL'Z of KGB New York VENONA
messages. The GRU Resident (chief) in London was probably Simon Kremer, who
had the cover assignment of private secretary to the military attache. Note
that several messages deal with cipher matters - in 1940-41, the London GRU
used a so-called Emergency System, a variation of the basic VENONA
cryptosystems. London GRU messages merit very close attention. Examples of
GRU messages:

* Air Raids, Invasion Preparations in U.K.: London No. 800,
23 July 1940; 922, 22 August 1940; 1009, 13 September 1940 (all
London to Moscow)

* GRU agents in DeGaulle's government: London No. 776,
17 July 1940

* GRU clandestine radios: London No. 798, 22 July 1940

* Moscow's Instructions for agent networks in U.K.: Moscow
No. 450,7 September 1940

* First mention of SONIA (Ursula Buerton): London No. 2043,
31 July 1941

* Agent BARON reports on U.K. Enigma decrypts: London
No. 649, 3 April 1941

* Klaus Fuchs and the GRU/the A-Bomb: London 2227, 10
August 1941

* The X Group espionage net in U.K. forces: London to
Moscow, No. 1188,18 October 1940

The Arthur Case: The Kgb In Latin America

The VENONA translations show the establishment of regular KGB Residencies
(offices) in Bogota and Montevideo during World War II. Taken together with
previously released Mexico City messages, we see attention to subversion and
the establishment of agent networks - as always drawing upon the Communist
Party for clandestine assets. Covername ARTHUR, seen in New York,
Montevideo, and other KGB communications, has never been identified. He, and
his associate who used the covername ALEKSANDR, was a very busy if judging
from VENONA) somewhat unfocused operative. According to one message, he had
begun his South American operations in Argentina in 1940, after which he
operated in Chile and moved on. ALEKSANDR was probably a Chilean national;
ARTHUR may have been a KGB officer working as an Illegal (using a "Legend" -
false identity and background) or an agent recruited from the European
Communist Party milieu. There are about 150 Montevideo and Bogota KGB
translations in this release.

Some examples of KGB messages:

* Moscow's Numbers 61 and 154-55 to Montevideo, 23 June
1944 and 8 September 1944, contain information on ARTHUR's
background and instructions for him.

* Moscow No. 164, 23 May 1945, to Montevideo discusses the
use of covername JAN and that the Center would especially "like him
to help us in getting our bearings in the situation in the Latin
American countries."

An interesting exchange between Bogota KGB and the Center involves the
recruitment of the head of the Venezuelan Communist Party. The Center
approves but notes, in a typical agent assessment and recruiting formula,
that before recruiting him "you should thoroughly check his sincere devotion
to the Soviet Union."6

The Kgb In Australia

Unlike any other group of VENONA messages, some KGB messages on the
Canberra-Moscow communications link were decrypted in near real-time, that
is, close to the date of transmission. Further, the Canberra material,
though of modest volume, is readable (if intermittently) for the longest
period of time, 1943- 1948. More than 200 messages were decrypted and
translated, these representing a fraction of the messages sent and received
by the Canberra KGB Residency. In this body of translations, we see typical
KGB coverage: their agents inside government departments and interesting
places in the private sector; those agents were drawn from the Communist
Party. Some examples of what is contained in the Canberra KGB material:

* Communist Party member/KGB agent in the Australian
government: Canberra No. 130, 25 April 1945

* Payment to a KGB agent inside the Australian
government: Canberra No. 141, 5 May 1945

* KGB agent reports about the Australian Security Service:
Canberra No. 324-25, 1 September 1945

* A Communist Party member who is a KGB agent well
placed in the Australian Department of External Affairs: Canberra
No. 3 61-62, 29 September 1945

* Instructions for handling important agents: Moscow No.7-
8, 9 January 1947

* Instructions for developing agent networks: Moscow No.
34, 8 March 1948

The Stockholm Messages

The translations of messages of Soviet intelligence in Stockholm are
particularly rich for their variety and volume: more than 450 messages of
the three Soviet services, KGB, GRU, and Naval GRU. Sweden, neutral during
World War 11, gave the Soviets a valuable listening post concerning German
military activities in Norway, Denmark, Finland, and the Baltic. Note the
great attention to transborder operations: debriefing refugees from Norway
and sending Norwegians back into Norway.

An interesting Naval GRU message, No. 682, 13 April 1942, Stockholm to
Moscow, describes a German peace initiative to the banker Jakob Wallenberg,
uncle of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat and humanitarian. No
translation in the VENONA material, however, is known to concern the case of
Raoul Wallenberg, who was arrested by SMERSH (Military Counter-
intelligence) in Budapest in 1945 and was reportedly murdered by the KGB in
Moscow. Examples of other Stockholm messages:


* A detailed report of German naval construction, disposition
of ships, movement of men and equipment in and out of occupied
Norway. Stockholm No. 3090, 21 November 1943)

* Discussion of important KGB agent and Swedish
Communist, covername KLARA, "who is completely devoted to us."


* Much GRU discussion about clandestine radio and the
construction and use of agent cipher systems (for
example, Moscow Number 797, 6 September 1941, and Numbers 938
and 939, both dated 13 October 1941)

* A GRU source reports on Swedish signal intelligence work against
Soviet naval communications, No. 1564,12 December 1941

* Finnish Army order of battle reported by GRU in No. 151,
22 January 1942

* GRU to dispatch agents to Norway, No.656, 8 April 1942

* In a message of 19 March 1943, No. 901, Stockholm Naval
GRU reported the results of their search for Leica cameras and
accessories - a worldwide tradecraft matter in the VENONA
messages: obtaining cameras and film for secret document

There is a story connecting the first monograph of this series to this
closing discussion of Soviet intelligence services in Stockholm. In late
1944, General Carter W. Clarke, the assistant G-2 and Arlington Hall's
overlord, called to the Pentagon Lieutenant Paavo Carlson, an Arlington Hall
cryptanalyst. Knowing that Carlson spoke Finnish, Clarke told him to prepare
to leave within days for Stockholm, where he would act as an interpreter for
the U.S. military attache, who would be meeting with representatives of the
Finnish SIGINT service, then evacuating into Sweden. The Stockholm OSS chief
would participate in the meeting. Carlson later recalled that the Finns
handed over a German Enigma machine with the rotors and also described to
the Americans their success in working against Soviet military
communications (and U.S. diplomatic communications). It was this same
Lieutenant Carlson who in mid-December 1942, in Lynchburg, Virginia,
recruited Miss Gene Grabeel for employment at Arlington Hall, where six
weeks later she opened the attack on Soviet diplomatic communications that
became known as the VENONA program.


This completes the series of monographs accompanying the releases of VENONA.
A few closing remarks follow, some in response to questions from the public.

VENONA was the final NSA codeword for this very secret program. Earlier
codewords had been JADE, BRIDE, and DRUG. All these codewords were selected
at random by the U.S./U.K. and are not acronyms or abbreviations.

There was outstanding cooperation between Arlington Hall (later NSA) and its
partners and customers. In 1945-46, Cecil Phillips, an Arlington Hall
cryptanalyst, briefed the U.K. SIGINT service on the program. In 1947
Meredith Gardner, the principal early analyst and translator of the VENONA
messages, explained his progress to his British counterpart. During
September 1947 General Carter W. Clarke of G-2 brought the FBI into the
problem, and, by the end of that year, the Bureau had begun to open
espionage cases based on VENONA. CIA joined the effort in late 1952.

The courage and wisdom of General Carter W. Clarke of G-2 and Robert J.
Lamphere contributed mightily to the VENONA success story as did the
leadership of Frank B. Rowlett and Oliver Kirby at Arlington Hall. But it
all rested on the skills, patience, and determination of the Arlington Hall
analysts who made it all possible.

Scholars, the media, and the public now have all the approximately 3,000
VENONA translations.7 These can be viewed on the Internet
( and at state archives and university libraries
around the country.

by Robert Louis Benson


1. Moscow Foreign Ministry Circular to all posts, 8-13 June 1945.

2. Foreign Ministry, Moscow, to all posts, No. 019,22 May 1947.

3. Trade messages, Washington to Moscow, No. 8166, 29 December 19452 and
8167-68, same date.

4. Stanislau Shumovskij recruited Jones Orin York in approximately 1935 in
California, beginning York's long career in espionage for the KGB. York is
the covername IGLA (NEEDLE) of VENONA.

5. See, for example, the Moscow to London messages of 17 September 1945
about Kim Philby's report on the Gouzenko defection in Ottawa and 21
September 1945 about the handling of key KGB assets in light of the Gouzenko

6. Bogota No. 120,6 July 1944 and Moscow No. 129,13 August 1944.

7. Previous brochures referred to 2,200 messages; however, the original
count overlooked certain non-U.S. message traffic.