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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Ann Livschiz

Sponsor Department/Program

Department of History

Student Department/Program

Department of English and Linguistics


In its early years, Russian espionage had a primarily internal focus. The creation and evolution of intelligence organizations within the country show the changing Russian (and later, Soviet) attitude towards intelligence and counter-intelligence. Leading up to the Great Patriotic War, Soviet espionage began to shift its focus externally, forming large spy networks. Despite this changed focus, in WWII the Soviet Union faced issues such as lack of preparedness in equipment, technology, and personnel, especially at the beginning of the war. In addition, much of the intelligence received from the various networks and informants was disregarded as untrustworthy. The United States created the Venona program in response to the presence of Soviet espionage within the United States. This program aimed to intercept, analyze, and eventually break KGB communications. However, only a fraction of the intercepted communications were successfully broken. Venona also identified a number of mysteries that live on to this day, years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


History | Linguistics

Soviet Espionage Before and During the Great Patriotic War