Cover image for Stalin's secret war : Soviet counterintelligence against the Nazis, 1941-1945
Stalin's secret war : Soviet counterintelligence against the Nazis, 1941-1945
Stephan, Robert W., 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 349 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D810.S7 S8516 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The Soviet-German War of 1941-1945 was the most extensive intelligence/counterintelligence war in modern history, involving the capture, torture, deportation, execution and doubling of tens of thousands of agents - most of them Soviet citizens. While Russian armies fought furiously to defeat the Wehrmacht, Stalin's security services waged an equally ruthless secret war against Hitler's secret spies, as well as against the Soviet population. and Russian sources, including a top-secret Soviet history of its intelligence and security services, to reveal the magnitude and scope of the brutal but sophisticated Soviet counterintelligence war against Nazi Germany. Soviets neutralized the majority of the more than 40,000 German agents deployed against them. As Stephan shows, their combination of Soviet military deception operations and State Security's defeat of the Abwehr's human intelligence effort had devastating consequences for the German army in every battle against the Red Army, including Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk, the Byelorussian offensive and the Vistula-Oder operation. major intelligence services including those of its allies, terrorize its own citizens to prevent spying, desertion and real or perceived opposition to the regime and run millions of informants, making the USSR a vast prison covering one sixth of the world's surface. including the major Soviet radio games used to mislead the Germans - Operations Monastery, Berezino and those that defeated Himmler's Operation Zeppelin. He also gives a comprehensive account of the Abwehr's infamous agent Max, whose organization allegedly ran an entire network of agents inside the USSR, and reveals the reasons for Germany's catastrophic underestimation of Soviet forces by more than one million men during their 1944 summer offensive in Byelorussia.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Historians trained before the fall of the USSR were weaned on the pervasive antagonisms of the Cold War; anything positive the Soviet Union did during World War II was suspect. Given the closed nature of the former Soviet Union, adequate research has never been done on Soviet counterintelligence until now. Stephen, a CIA specialist in Russian military and intelligence issues, uses the secret files just now beginning to open as well as British and American files and previous sketchy Russian works to triangulate information about the effectiveness of Soviet Counterintelligence during the Soviet-German war of 1941-45. His research indicates that "the scale, scope, and complexity of many of these Soviet operations rivaled or arguably exceeded those of the British Twenty Committee." Stephen's stated goal is to "stimulate further research on combat counterintelligence in general, lay out the current state of the Soviet equivalent of the British Twenty Committee, and induce Russians to publish a declassified credible history of their operations against the Germans that meets Western historiographic standards." Achieving these goals lies mostly in the future, but he has succeeded in pulling together a credible accounting of the accomplishments of Soviet counterintelligence of World War II. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Iola (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Stephan tells the story of the largest and most intense counter-intelligence campaign in history--between the Germans and the Soviets on the Eastern Front during WW II. At the war's outset, the Germans underestimated Soviet military strength and the sophistication of their intelligence operations. German signals intelligence (SIGINT) was poor, and Soviet codes were never broken. The Germans never penetrated key Soviet organizations and were repeatedly deceived by Russian misinformation. In contrast, the Soviets ran effective intelligence operations. They penetrated German organizations, most notably the spy schools, and halted German attempts at infiltration and sabotage with tight, ruthless security. The Soviets developed an extensive informant network and provided a steady stream of misinformation, usually via radio. The author contends that German arrogance and racial prejudice was fundamental to their failure to develop effective programs. He believes that Germany lost to the Russians due to poor counterintelligence. Overall, this is a well-written, lively book, and it features a helpful glossary of Soviet terms and abbreviations. As a former CIA officer, Stephan has clear mastery of intelligence operations and cites archival sources from Germany and the US, but was unable to visit Russian archives. Hopefully, this work will inspire others to continue researching this fascinating subject. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. W. T. Dean III Air Command and Staff College