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TITLE: Stephanlassic Write-In Case
AUTHOR: A. V. Knohelspiesse
A collection ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol intelligence.
All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of
the authors. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contenls should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.
A couTUennteWgencx objecttoithoutmfeathcr, to kill thehot lags the golden egg.
CAPTAIN STEPHANante Write-in Case
bureaucracy, If he wishes to make contact withIntelligence or security service, can choose from aof different means. He can present himself physicallyalk-In. He can use an Intermediary in order to retain some control, especially with respect to his own identity. He canessenger,hone call, oradio contact. Or he can simplyetter, anonymous or signed.
Cases of this kind are counterintelligence matters from the Inception. The critical problem Is to separate the write-ins. walk-ins. or talk-ins who are acting on their own initiative from those who are seeking contact at tbe instigation of the hostile service. For that reason, until bona fides has been established or can reasonably be presumed, thehandling of the case should follow tbe principles of circumspection and control used In the practice of double agentry. Up to that point, at least, this course Is only aof simple common sense.
But let us examine the theoryrovocation agent, thatalk-in or talk-In acting upon the instruction of the adversary service, must have direct contact with tbe target service at least once in order to effect the provocation. Tbe target service, if the lure has been exciting, should then try to arrange for other meetings In places under Its own jurisdiction: the provoking service, it ti reasoned, fearing some slippage of control during such meetings, traditionally tries to avoid them after the initial contact. This course of action may work very well with most loaik-lns; but counterintelligence thinking has become so colored by walk-in theory that its lines of reasoning tend to be extended rigidly to case work
on anonymous vrUe-lns. The write-in Is thus counted aalthough he never appears and makes the provocation.
The record, however, shows no successful examples ofwrite-ins under adversary control from theexperience suggests that there mayasicpsychologically between the write-in and the walk-inthat the two present different problems tooperative and analyst,fact that they both must be viewed Initially asdouble agents,
Two cases which throw sharp light on this matter havebeen cited ln these pages. The anonymous letterhe British naval attache ln Oslo In 1QSS giving Immensely Important Information on German weapons development'ood exampleona fide write-in whose Identity Is still unresolved- And the write-in from the German Abwehr whom another article callednsightfully handled by the Czech Intelligence service, became and remained until thealuablehird case ts the subject of this paper. Ironically linked with the successful Abwehr write-in L, it shows theeadquarters can do when itroblem blindly and bureaucrattcally. according to thethe agent. Identify htm Don't do clandestine work with unknown parties. Get possession of the body- Ask all the Questions. You order; the agent obeys. By applying these rules, misreading the clear signs of thewrite-in, the Germans deniedource In Stephen Kalman and wrote for him his death warrant.
Frontier Defenserom the middle0 Czech military intelligence had enjoyed the services of tbe agent L, whom It had developed from the initial write-in and whom It numbered AM. Beermanember of Admiral Canaris1 Abwehr. He provided Information of the highest order, delivering to the Czechs material of all kinds that came Into his bands.ontact Ln7 he said Jokingly, "From
InUUlsence Articles VI l.
'-Tbe Shorthand ornUWjero, pp.
ave given, you should know plenty about ourdefenses, our Orenzichutz.m going to show you what we know aboute handed his caseheaf of documents of about fortyuick glance showed It to be exceedingly sensitive material concerning the Czech frontier defense In Northern Bohemia.
L explained: 'This material in Its original Czech version was received by our headquarters In Berlin by mall It had been postederman mail box In Egerfthe Czech'"it^was "absoluUly^anon^oTLi'^The'rr was no accompanying letter and no identification of any sender or his whereabouts, Our bosses In Berlin were all excited about the Importance of the material and waited for moreWhen none came, all of the Abwehr Held posts working againstncluding mine, wereypewritten translation of tbe material and given orders to Identify the knowledgeable unknown collaborator. Up to the present time, our search has been inhen he added, perhaps out of spite.o not think you will have bettern this he was wrong.
What damage had been done to the security of the Czech defense by the Abwebr's unidentified benefactor? The Grenz-schutt planery elaborate blueprint for tbe defense of the border territoryime when intemaUonid political tension threatened to end hi general mobilization of the armed forces or, as Itrmed conflict The plandata concerning partial mobilisation, what units would be used for the defense of border areas, their operational tasks, their command organization, and theirwith higher units which would be mobilized andin operational areas. There were data concerning armaments and supplies of various kinds, and an Intelligence plan for positive and counterintelligence measures to be taken Immediately preceding an outbreak of hostilities. The Grenzschutz plan, an Integral part of the Czech general war plan,hing tbat could not easily and quickly be altered,
' Breslau, Dresden, and Munich.
and ltd betrayal to the country's moat powerful potential enemy was disastrous. By now, inhe Csechs knew perfectly well that time was running out in theirwith the Nazis Czech counterintelligence, therefore, had to apprehend the anonymous traitor as soon as possible. There was not much to go on, but as It turned out there was enough.
The first step was to establish whether the data In L'swere authentic. The papers were checked with Colonel Oleg Prochaika, the head of the 3rdartrnent of the General Staff, whoost upset officer when he had read them: they were genuine. They were not an exact copy of the border defense plan, but excerpts made bywho knew the material well enough to aldp theand concentrate on what was important. They gave in full the plans for the 4th Military Division and in part those of the two divisions scheduled to operate on Its wings,because the 4th Division plan in fact Included partial data on the flanking divisions.
Records Aid the Bunt
Internal evidence thus seemed to steer the investigation lo 4th Division headquarters, but the problem was not so Sim-pie as that Copies of the 4th Division plan were also held by the headquarters of the 2nd Army and In Prague by the bead-quarters of the 1st Army and tbe Operations Department of the General Staff. There were these four different places where the leak could have occurred, and all four bad
What could the mvestlgators look for? Because ofrite-in's scrupulous precautions to protect bis anonymity, it was concluded that he had done tbe mailing personally. He would therefore have had to travel to Eger, where thewere mailed on Sunday,rom his military post. Someone familiar with the plan who could have maderip on that date would be the man. Specialwas required toarrison on Sunday, and there would be records. Saturdayorking day, and all leaves were recorded.
f til persona working on tbe border defense plans at all echelons bad been maintained and were at tbe disposal of tbe Investigating officers. They wereand fully controlledatter of routine. In addition to identifying individuals authorized to work on the plan, they Indicated what element of it each had worked on. at what time, under whose supervision, and if after working hours on whose authorization.
The Investigations at the General Staff and the 1st Army ^rj^uftjjfj? to Prft*uevert^brgf. and conclusive Copies dfthe 4th Division plan had"to 'these head-quarters through the 2nd Army Corps In Hradec Kraloveate well before ISut they were stillin the safes at these headquarters and no one had looked at them since their receipt. These results cut the circle to be Investigated by half. Moreover, there was another rea son to be thankful: Prague was so near Eger tbat tbe trij could have been made from there much more Inhan from Hradec Kralove in the east, where the other twi suspect headquarters were located.
At the headquarters of the 2nd Army Corps, Commandtn( General Turns and Chief of Staff Colonel Cingros were no happy when informed about the investigation. Counterin tclligence officers from Prague were commonly referredtheven among friends they always brough bad news. But this time they caused no great trouble.
In peacetime, the 2nd Army Corps was purely an open; tional command having some administrative functionsmall number of personnel. Its job with regard to the bordt defense plan was limited to commenting on the work of sut ordinate divisions and ordering the proper corrections an readjustments. It was found that only four people had en gaged In thiscommanding general, tbetaff, tbe head of the operations section,unior offlc* who had typed the orders issued to subordinate units. Ah for were eliminated after careful examination of the records: c
'lists of those having access lo seoslUve tnion&aUon. Tha tar has been moat widely need tn connection with Operation Overlo: the Plan for the 1M4 butdings on tbe French coast.
tbe critical daysS, aridctober none of triers bad been absent from tbe command.
It was now clear that the Investigation mustthe headquarters of the 4th Division Itself.General Kutlvaser and bis chief of staff. Lt.refused to believe thatorriblehare been committed ln their headquarters, butcooperated zealously,ist of all staff membersworked on the plan. It was very quicklythese, Sta^Captaia. stephan
leave of absence fromoctober and spent It Ln tbe small village of Nyrany, near PUsen, ln Western Bohemia. Pllsen is about half way from Prague to Eger, three hours short by train.
Kalman. atUched to the operations section, bad had tbe Grenxschutz plan as his main assignment for nearly two years; be was familiar with all Itsachelor ofears, beraduate of the War College in Prague. By familyround be was Hungarian, and he spoke Czech. Slovak and Hungarian fluently. His fatherrosperous merchant living ln Levmall town In Eastern Slovakia.
A check into every other lead at 4th Army left Kalman the only suspect. It was decided that he should be taken to Prague, ostensibly for Important consultation. The Czech officer conducting the investigation found him to be ayoung man of medium height, muscular,ark complexion and bright black eyes, immaculately dressed and self-possessed. When told to come along to Praguewithout taking time to go either home or to his office, he was absolutely unmoved. He gave tbe Impression that be wouldifficult man to break. In Prague, the chief of the Czech General Staff, General ! Krejcl, gave orders torompt confession andof the criminal and his accomplices, if there were any, j but be forbade the counterintelligence officers to use anycoercion to elicit the confession. He himself set about attempting to discover who in the Oeneral Staff or at the I aCLnistry of Defense bad been responsible for letting Kalman Into the War College; lt had been customary, though there | was nothing in writing, not to admitwith German
and Hungarian backgrounds Into the highest military school He found that all departments of the General Staff had been against Rahman's nomination but that the Office of theof Defense had made the decision to admit him after strong Intervention on the young man's behalf by adenominational political party.
The Quarry at Bay
The Interrogation concentrated, naturally, onduring bis8 leave and especiallyallbirfor 15
thing about the suspicion he was under, and he did not ask. Hisifferent acceptance of interrogation and confinement tended to strengthen tbe presumption of his guilt
He maintained steadfastly that be had spent the whole time at Nyrany, leaving for Hradec Kralove via Prague on the morning ofctober. This statement was easily checkable at the Nyrany garrison, because regulations required every military man away on leave to report to the nearest garrison headquarters on the first and last days of his absence. Kalman had duly reported his arrival onctober, but he hadfor departure not onh but onh. When faced with the discrepancy he said that since the ISth was Sunday and he Intended to leave early Monday morning, be had no alternative, with tbe offices closed on Sunday, but to report departure on Saturdayh. This explanation was air-tight; if tbe timingart of the original scheme it had been well thought through.
Where did he stay in Nyrany and with whom? At these questions Kalman became stubborn. He said he bad beenirl friend with whom he hadong-time affair, that she was married, and that thereforeentleman he could not give her name or address. For four days heIn this position. Be finally had to be told that he was suspected of high treason of which he could clear himself only by cooperating and that bis desperate situationtbe luxury of acting thehis matter. He then yielded and the young married woman be Identified was brought to Prague.elatively brief interrogation aba admitted having been Kalman's mistress and confirmed his
except In one particular: he had left Nyrany Sunday morning, saying be bad to be at his post the next day.
Confronted with this significant contradiction,even embarrassed. With composure and nonchalancethat he had Indeed left Nyrany on Sunday.gone to Prague, be said, toay bachelor'sbe obviously could not tell tbe Lady. He thenlengthy detail about restaurants where be bada soccer game he had attended, and his evening of dubbing. .He was.unabie.fhowgTer.ho
could back up his statements. The remainder of the night he i said he had spentoman he had picked up at abe did not know her name or address. It was clear that he was lying, but lt would be very difficult to prove it
Kalman. an intelligent man who by this time knew be was fighting for his life, managed to keep his composure withncredible setf-rxxtsesston and Impertinence. There was no trick of the Interrogator's art that could put him off bis guard. He played the innocent man under horrible suspicion because of cl'cumstances purely coincidental He repeatedly cited in his own defense the excellent ratings he bad received from all his superiors during his military career. The only , thing he did notthis kept his interrogators keen on theirtoatural complaint about what was being done to him. He knew that he was being held inlong beyond tbe period prescribed by law. He was being denied any distractions such as reading, radio, and exercise; he had been hermetically separated from the outside world. Yet he accepted all this as matter of course,ery calm man without worries or disturbances.
By the tenth day the frustrating Interrogation wasto wear down tbe accusers, and the Chief of Staff was becoming Impatient with their progress.evice for psychological pressure. Salman's guards were therefor*ered to handcuff him for tbe night Tbe next day betired, depressed, and nervous; possibly he badfrom the handcuff treatment that more wasbout him than had been revealed. In order to exploit this psychological break everyone was sent out of the room and the Interrogator began to talk to himentimental.
llturgic tone. He spoke about Kidman's father, his mother, his youth, about the country that had given himoung man could expect. He drew quotations fromand classic writers to add weight to this thrust at the emotional target
Kalman listened, be did not interrupt, and at the conclusion he was obviously moved. When he was asked If be badto say. thereong silence. Asked again, be said after some hesitation. "Nothe Interrogator left himihethat ha should.csulJanyre.was.an7-
thing ne leii ne couiu huh myv,
duty officer. Kalman asked to see the Interrogator alone. "Allide began, andull confession.
When queried about his motives, heong,account of unsatisfactory relations with his military ebw* It was pointed out to him that no one would betray bis country for mere personal vengeance, but the subject of motivation was not pressed.
The Crime Reenacted
Kalman described bis act of treason In great detail As tbe general staff officer In charge of work on tbe defense plan he had plenty of opportunities to make the excerpts. When they were complete he decided to hand them over to the Oermans. To tbe question, why to tbe Germans rather than thebe replied that be considered the Oermans morethan the Hungarians, and moreover the trip to Western Bohemia was shorter and more hi conspicuous than one down through Moravia and Slovakia. He had left Nyrany early In the morning onh and gone to PUsen. from where he caught the afternoon train for Eger and arrived'clock.
He knew that half of the railway station was underjurisdiction. Border controls were superficial andon those traveling on by train. He crossed theline between the two parts of the station withoutand mailed the envelope in the first post box he saw. He bad addressed It to lhe Chief of the Abwebr, Berlin,ith no return address. He had been doubtful about how much postage to put on the envelope because It was quite heavy; be hadtamp of three times the
value requiredorma] letter, hoping tola would beHe then took the next train to Prague, sure that no one had seen him who could Identify him. He reached Prague in the early hours ofctober and at'clock went on to Hradec Kralove.
He had been completely satisfied with hit performance; he could not find any weak point In the whole scheme. He was con vineed that nobody would ever discover how the mailing was done or who had done It. He began workew assignment
lt aaa sxanea, nan oeenonologue. He wu now asked why he had delayed lt so long and why he had chosen midnight to make It He answered that his behavior during interrogation was the result of his instinct of self-preservation and the conviction that be had not made any mistake in planning and executing the deed. He acknowledged that be bad been astonished when he was picked up and taken to Prague. But he was unable to figure out how be could have been traced, and be hoped that by denying everything be could save himself. Later, when be was held In custody against regulations, be had becomeand began to suspect that the authorities knew more than he had been told. The handcuffs had broken bisThe timing of the confessionentimental matter: be did not want to spoil his mother's birthday, which happened to fall on that day, by the admission of his crime.
Kaimnn now became cooperative, though notopy of the defense plan was brought In. and be pointed out the Items he had copied literally and those be hadxtracts. What be acknowledged having sent to theappeared to amount to more material than L's report contained, but the basic Items were Identical. Denying that he had had any accomplices or assistants, he argued the point withrimary guarantee of his own safety, as be had planned It. wu tbe absence of anyone else In the know.
Although cooperating otherwise. Kalman stuck to bisclearly false statement about tbe motive for bispersonal hatred for his superiors. He answered all questions regarding the betrayal of other materialsategoric negative, maintaining steadfastly that he bad mailed only
this one letter and that he had no Intention of doingsimilar In the future. He stressed again the importance of his security In this connection.
"Long Ltpe Hungary"
The interrogation had lasted about fourteen dayi, the whole investigation about three weeks. Kalman was remanded to the Judicial authorities for trial Counterintelligence officers would not be able to present information in court or supply as evidence the material be had delivered to tbe Oermans, tbe
had Ho beit^ialrnost^Ur^ Would he decide at tbe trial to retract It. del forced from him by Illegal means? If he did, there wouldonly circumstantial evidence
In court Kalman refused to procure counsel, saying he would defend himself; but In accordance with Csech law an ex officio counsel was appointed, an elderly attorney ofmediocre ability who seemed to have little Interest in the case. The presiding Judge, on the other hand, had little understanding or sympathy for tbe security needs of anservice; Kalman was his first espionage case. The trial was held fn camera, however, the standard practice when secret matters of national defense were Involved, and the court agreed toecorded confession In Kalman's own words and voice. Military experts from tbe operations andsections were present to Inform the tribunal what secret Information had been betrayed and to what extent theof tbe nation bad been put In Jeopardy.
Kalman pleaded guilty. The opening speeches of tbeand tbe defense counsel followed, the first vigorous and almost passionate, the other weak and unmoring. Thereewgirl friend and his superior, Colonel Chleboun, whooor showing. Finallyhimself testified. He admitted everything as charged He answered all prosecution questions promptly and without hesitation except those concerning his motivation; heto elaborate bis brief statement that this was amatter. After closing speeches by tbe two counselshort deliberation of the court, he was sentenced to death by hanging. Be took It very calmly. He made an unsuccessful appeal only upon the insistence of bis family. His request to
be shot rather than to be hanged was denied. Also denied was an appeal to the presidenteduction of sentence.
On the day preceding his execution Kalman wrote three letters. Two of them, one to his lady and one to his parents, were what could be expected; but tbe third, addressed to his Interrogator, was of quite different character and content. In it be complimented the Interrogator for tbe skill andwith which he had conducted the investigation. The let-
concluded; 'This Urn* you and your side won. But tbe
' living in lt wulee at last ."
thus revealed.ew hours before his execu-
the real motive for his anonymous service to the Abwehr. He went up to the gallows with swift steps, as If he wereennis court. He was Inattentive and impassive during the un-
| necessarily king reading of tbe sentence and Its rationale,several soldiers of the assisting company fainted from the tension of this ritual. As the executioner put the noose
' on his neck, the prisoner criedungarian,Long live the Fatherland I"
Moral of the Story
What conclusions can be drawn fromrnTt case? His betrayal Inflicted practically irreparable damage on the defense of the country. The controlling bases of any defenseand strategic and tacticalnot alter, and plans resulting from study and analysiseriod of years cannot be changed unless the whole strategic Idea fcs changed. That is practically impossible unless tbe basic moti-vants are altered by shifts In alliances, radically differentor otber changesajor order.
One conclusion derives from positive and negative aspects of the Czech performance with respect to security. Securityon every echelon of command. There is no place for laxness, even if It may seem overbureaucratic and ridiculous. The application of security measures bas to be executed
I precisely In every detail. Then Is no place for overconfldence in friends and old acquaintance* Thatwith his
! alien loyalties, came to be trusted with sensitive materials is evidence of such overconfldence. That he was able to make
excerpts from the secret plan and smuggle them out of the office may show negligence in theration ofBut on the other hand tbe scrupulous maintenance of records regarding access to the plan and tbe whereabouts of personnel made an effective counterintelligence Investigation possible.
Another conclusion affirms the considerations concerning write-ins with which this essay began. Kalman had been able to carry outerfect write-in operation. From bis
the methods he used and tbe decisions he made. Thewas not with Kalman but with tbe recipient of hisThe Abwebr, experienced anderious error, or rather two errors, except for which the betrayal would never have been discovered.
Its first error was not to be content with what It got.as It was. It wanted mora and quickly, and It wanted to know the Identity of tbe Informant. Its seaiousness labut tbe main point in this whole case history, to be noted by Intelligence and counterintelligence officers alike. Is that such teal can lead to the destruction of the source Itself. The anonymous Informant, the write-in, is not an unusual Interpersonal or social manifestation Hishas to be checked, normally with double thoroughness; but tbe reason for his anonymity Isatterrude attempt to identify him may be the first step toward disaster.
In tbe Kalman case tbe Abwebr compounded Its mistake by inordinately widening the circle of people who knew of the source's existence. Its distribution of copies of the windfall to three field posts increased tbe knowledgeable number at least by eight, at echelons where security is never absolutely tight. The place for any Inquiry Into the source of tbe letter should have been Berlin, when It arrived. An exanunanon of tbe contents there, done by one or two competent officers, would hare shown it to have originated In the 4th Division at Hradec Kralove. This achieved. It might have been possible, with skill and patience, not only to identify Kalman but to persuade him to continue his collaboration.Original document.