Directorate I of the Ministry of the Interior

Directorate I of the Ministry of the Interior, Directorate I of the National Security Corps, Main Intelligence Service Directorate – the main organizational body of the intelligence services of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Foreign-political intelligence service (with the cover name Directorate I of the Ministry of the Interior) was created in October 1953 within the scope of the emergence of the Ministry of the Interior in close cooperation with Soviet advisors. The original apparatus of 180 agents at the headquarters and 18 residenturas at the end of 1955 increased to 327 people. A hundred and twenty-three servicemen worked abroad, of those, 90 were operatives who were legalized in positions as employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign trade or the Czechoslovak Press Agency. In addition to infiltrating central state organs of Western states (→ main enemy), their agent operative activity was aimed against those in exile, the Vatican, and Radio Free Europe, among others. The Intelligence Service was not systematically focused only on the standard acquisition of secret information, but also on the discrediting of exile leaders, disinformation of Western intelligence services, abductions, and in limited cases, even on the physical liquidation of persons.

After February 1948, the Intelligence Service became an important part of the communist state apparatus. The existing intelligence missions at embassies crippled by mass desertion virtually collapsed. The first residenturas began to be established at embassies, which in addition to gathering political intelligence were tasked with defence (especially to prevent desertions). The servicemen also relied on communists – embassy personnel who were secretly recruited. The intelligence apparatus of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia fully and actively supported the Intelligence Services, particularly in the selection of agents.

At the end of 1948, former international brigade member Oskar Valeš, until then the regional organizational secretary of the Communist Party in Ústí nad Labem, was tasked with rebuilding the existing Intelligence Service. The Intelligence Service relocated to the former Chinese embassy and the operational sector was placed in a secret building in the centre of Prague (Danube Palace). Its activities were directed against the Czechoslovak exile and against the Western states. From May 1950, Soviet advisors also worked in the Intelligence Service.

Number of servicemen: in 1950 – about 100 people, in 1953 – 360 people, in 1957 – 520 people, in 1959 – 770 people, in 1961 – 930 people.

In April 1951 there were purges which removed all but a few servicemen from the Intelligence Services. Valeš too was arrested and sentenced. From 1953, thanks to agreements with the KGB, their ranks grew rapidly. At the request of the Soviet intelligence services it was agreed to extend the work of the Czechoslovak Intelligence Service around the world. In 1953, Colonel Jaroslav Miller "Mašek" became the Chief of the Intelligence Services. From 1954, the Intelligence Services functioned as a separate unit of the Ministry of the Interior called Directorate I of the Ministry of the Interior. Miller was recalled in 1961 and replaced with Colonel Josef Houska.

In addition to the Political Intelligence and Foreign Counterintelligence sections, a Scientific-Technical Intelligence Section was created as well as a separate Illegal Intelligence Section, etc. In 1964, the rest of the specialized sections (e.g. the Active and Influential Measures Section) were created and the radio operators of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were taken over (after the cipherers and diplomatic couriers). By 1 January 1968, the Intelligence Service had a staff of 1,236 servicemen (not including cipherers, radio operators, couriers 4,020), of whom 352 were operational and non-operative staff posted abroad.

Houska was dismissed from the post of chief in 1968 and replaced by Major Miloslav Čech "Čada". In August 1968, Houska briefly returned. After him Directorate I was briefly led by Colonel Čestmír Podzemný. From 1971 – 1981 the Intelligence Service was directed by General RSDr. Miloš Hladík and from 1981 – 1989 by General Karel Sochor and then very briefly by Colonel Karel Vodrážka. The last chief was Lieutenant Colonel PhDr. Vilém Václavek "Kainar".

In 1974, members of the Communist Party made up 89.3% of all members of Directorate I, whereas among operatives working in the field this number was 98.3%. Even in 1974, after about 30% of the staff was changed, among 99 leading positions 25 were staffed by people with only primary education.

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