StB

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State Security
Státní bezpečnost
Štátna bezpečnosť
Agency overview
Formed 30 June 1945
Dissolved 1 February 1990
Superseding agency
Type Secret police
Jurisdiction Czechoslovakia
Headquarters Prague, Czechoslovakia
Parent agency National Security Corps

State Security (Czech: Státní bezpečnost, Slovak: Štátna bezpečnosť) or StB / ŠtB, was a plainclothes communist secret police force in former Czechoslovakia from 1945 to its dissolution in 1990. Serving as an intelligence and counter-intelligence agency, it dealt with any activity that could possibly be considered anti-state or western influence.

History[edit]

Letter opener used by StB

From its establishment on June 30, 1945, the StB was bound to and controlled by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The Party used the StB as an instrument of power and repression; State Security spied on and intimidated political opponents of the Party and forged false criminal evidence against them, facilitating the Communists' rise to power in 1948. Even before Czechoslovakia became a Communist state, the StB forced confessions by means of torture, including the use of drugs, blackmail and kidnapping. After the coup d'état of 1948, these practices developed under the tutelage of Soviet advisers.[citation needed] Other common practices included telephone tapping, permanent watching of apartments, intercepting private mail, house searches, surveillance, arrests and indictment for so-called "subversion of the republic".[1]

The StB's part in the fall of the regime in 1989 remains uncertain. The reported murder of a student by police during a peaceful demonstration in November 1989 was the catalyst for wider public support and further demonstrations, leading to the overthrow of the Communist regime. The StB were alleged to have used agent Ludvík Zifčák (cs) as the dead student Martin Šmíd. This was based mainly on Zifčák's testimony. However, in 1992, the Czechoslovak parliamentary commission for investigation of events of November 17, 1989 has ruled out this version, stating that "the role of former StB lieutenant L. Zifčák was only marginal, without any connection to critical events and without any active effort to influence these events. Investigation of related circumstances has indisputably proved that L. Zifčák's testimony that attributes a key role in November's events to himself is based on facts, which are either technically impossible and unfeasible, or contradict actions of persons mentioned by him, which aimed to completely different goals."[2]

State Security was dissolved on February 1, 1990. The current intelligence agency of the Czech Republic is the Security Information Service, although it is not a successor to StB. The former employees and associates (informers) of the StB are currently banned from taking certain jobs, such as legislators or police officers.

The Act on Lawlessness of the Communist Regime and on Resistance Against It states that StB, as an organisation based on the ideology of the Communist Party, was "aimed to suppress human rights and democracy through its activities" and thus based on a criminal ideology.[3]

Organization within the Czechoslovak government[edit]

The State Security was a part of the National Security Corps (Czech: Sbor národní bezpečnosti, SNB; Slovak: Zbor národnej bezpečnosti, ZNB) along with Public Security (Czech: Veřejná bezpečnost, VB; Slovak: Verejná bezpečnosť, VB) – a uniformed force that performed standard police duties. Both forces worked at regional and district levels, supervised by the Ministries of the Interior of the Czech and Slovak Socialist Republics, but operationally directed by the federal Ministry of Interior.

List of StB agents and collaborators[edit]

In the early 1990s former dissident and "StB hunter" Petr Cibulka published the names of over 200,000 alleged StB officers and collaborators, who spied and reported on family members, friends, neighbours, and colleagues.[4]

Pavel Bret, a deputy director of the Office for the Documentation and the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism, criticized Cibulka's lists, saying: "It's dangerous to apply sweeping blacklisting. We shouldn't forget who compiled them. If [Cibulka] wants to be objective, he should also inform the public how people had been recruited -- that it was often through compromising documents, extortion, beatings -- or their collaboration was falsified."[5]

In 2003, the Czech Interior Ministry released an official list of 75,000 StB agents and collaborators, including 3,000 names of collaborators from abroad.[4] According to the Radio Prague, "The Ministry says it contains less names than that of Petr Cibulka because it only lists those who collaborated with the StB knowingly, and not people who were considered as potential informants."[4]

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Monster, a manga written by Naoki Urasawa from 1994 to 2001 that later received an anime adaptation, uses the StB as a plot element and involves the idea that they still operated in the shadows after their alleged dissolution. Several former members of the StB are secondary characters in the manga.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Závěrečná zpráva vyšetřovací komise Federálního shromáždění pro objasnění událostí 17. listopadu 1989, část II - Historický přehled (Final report of Investigation commission of the Federal Parliament for clarifying events of November 17, 1989, Part II - Historical Overview), [cit. 2008-11-29]. Available online. (in Czech)
  2. ^ Závěrečná zpráva vyšetřovací komise Federálního shromáždění pro objasnění událostí 17. listopadu 1989, část VI - Závěr (Final report of Investigation commission of the Federal Parliament for clarifying events of November 17, 1989, Part VI - Conclusion), [cit. 2008-11-29]. Available online. (in Czech)
  3. ^ Petr Blažek, "Transitions to Democracy and the 'Lustration' Screening Process", p. 173, Transformation: The Czech Experience, Prague 2006, published by People in Need/Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
  4. ^ a b c "Czechs wait thirteen years for official names of secret police collaborators." Radio Prague. 23 March 2003.
  5. ^ a b "Blowing the Whistle on the Past". TIME. 24 April 2000
  6. ^ "StB incorporated". Prague Tribune. 2003
  7. ^ https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/10/now-the-czechs-have-an-oligarch-problem-too-andrej-babis/
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Důvěrníci a agenti komunistické Státní bezpečnosti ve sdělovacích prostředcích nadále formují české veřejné mínění". Cibulkovy seznamy (in Czech).
  9. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn Was a Communist Spy". Observer. 2018-02-15. Retrieved 2018-02-17. 
  10. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn denies allegation he was a paid Communist informant in the 1980's". Business Insider. 16 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Corbyn nemohl spolupracovat s StB ani kdyby chtěl. Šéf naší rezidentury byl britský agent, říká vědec" (in Czech). Czech Radio. 16 February 2018.