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Title: Soviet intelligence services in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
Author: Volodarsky, Boris
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 6920
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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Unsurprisingly, one of the important, controversial, much speculated and least known aspects of the Spanish Civil War is the role of Soviet intelligence services. Every scholar who tries to tackle this problem will soon find out how notoriously hard it is to ensure accuracy, truth and objectivity in writing about secret intelligence and counterintelligence. There the whole purpose of governments is not to document but to hide the facts, and there, too, witnesses are unlikely to know the full truth underlying even the events in which they personally participated. As a result, the interpretation of these secret doings can quickly coagulate in false patterns. Writers deprived of access to fresh facts, original documents and ability to professionally assess the information tend to copy what other have written although that may be largely guesswork, misinformation and speculation. Any single surviving fragmentary detail gains value because no other is recorded, even though it may stem from ignorance or partisanship, and by repetition it gains credibility and becomes history. In recent times, there has been a growth of interest to this particular topic due, first of all, to the efforts of the imminent British intelligence historian Professor Christopher Andrew, and because more and more original documents became available to researchers. There are, nonetheless, still major gaps in our knowledge of wartime intelligence in what concerns Soviet operations on the Republican territory and outside it. Who were the people sent by the Soviet government? What was their mission brief and how they carried out orders? What was their influence, if any, on the outcome of the war? How did secret intelligence influence Stalin's decisions in relation to Spain at various periods of the conflict? This work cannot hope to cover the vast programme of research on intelligence and the war history or international relations albeit in a very short period of three years (1936-39), but it seeks to give scholars, researchers and students of intelligence better access to primary sources from many archives, oral histories, memoirs, books and articles in several languages otherwise little known, totally unknown or very hard to acquire. This previously unknown information may help the historian to make different conclusions from what seemed an established fact, was misinterpreted or misunderstood. Intelligence is a fascinating subject but only knowledge gives you power.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available