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The Mail from Budapest

This is a story about pre-war espionage and counterespionage. It has all the qualities except one which is that it is nearly unknown. Therefore, it is my duty here to pull it out, with useful lessons it still possess, from the shadows of the past. In this book, Keith says that in the year 1936, the international image of Czechoslovakia was worsening at a steady state. Hostile neighbors were at her borders and about 3 million Sudeten Germans assisted by Germans were preparing for armed revolt. Poland was soft towards the CSR, Austria was weak and Hungary antagonistic. The routine surveillance by the counterintelligence of Czech of all military activities of hostile countries had revealed nothing about Colonel Ujczaszy who served in the Hungarian military for two years while in Prague on attachment (Keith, 1958). The Czechs began investigating this man. An intelligence officer set up an acquaintance with his only staff, Kovacs, in a night club which he likes attending and the officer started the slow work of cultivation. Kovacs had a wife who bored two children and liked spending money. One evening, when Kovacs was drank, the intelligence officer asked him about his daily work. He said his main work is buying stamps for the colonel every other Friday. With this information, Czech intelligence developed curiosity about these stamps. It had knowledge that the diplomatic courier from Budapest reaches Prague every other Friday. It then decided to try the hypothesis that letters brought were mailed to addresses inside Czechoslovakia by the Hungarian attaché most probably to agents of Hungarian intelligence. The Czech service decided to start intercepting such letters but through the Director General of the Central Office of Post and Telegraphs. The Postal Director General set up stipulation for intercepting the letters. Meanwhile the chief of Czech counterintelligence was figuring out how many ways Colonel Ujszaszy could be posting his mails. These included dropping them at the embassy, scatter the in boxes all over Prague, mailing them in the countryside, and maybe a mistress could be posting them for him. So to prevent suspicion on the part of addressees the Czech experts were to be available for photographing, opening, re-sealing and testing for secret writing. The following Friday, 12 letters from the Colonel were intercepted and their contents scrutinized. 6 letters were just complain from the public but 8 letters were addressed to a Hungarian agent on Czech territory that even Colonel Ujszaszy had no knowledge of. There was also a letter addressed to Skladal, a Czech captain who has been leaking information to the Hungarians (Central Intelligence Agency, 1993). Czech understood the art of patience in counterintelligence services. So they placed every person mentioned in the letters under surveillance. From this, the Czechs were able to arrest 253 Hungarian agents without tipping their hand. The Czechs also moved in on six secret Hungarian transmitters of the nine on Czech soil.

The Hungarians Intelligence had introduced secret ink in order to protect their major assets. However this ink was always the same and could be readily brought out by an ordinary developer or by using ultra-violet. This process was unsophisticated that the Czechs did not worry about anything. The secret ink and developer facilitated the arrest and search for agent’s quarters.

It is evident from this report that the Hungarian Intelligence Service had lots of weaknesses. For example, it used a secret ink that is the same to protect its agents and the worst of all it could be brought out by an ordinary developer. It was also not able to realize that its intelligence communication could be intercepted by Czech counterintelligence, this lead to the discovery of their secrets by the Czechs.

Czech counterintelligence service showed its strength against the Hungarians. First it established an acquaintance with them to gather information, then using the information received, it was able to intercept the information meant for Hungarian agents in Czech (Richard, 2004). Patiently it put these agents under surveillance and eventually arrested them. To add salt to the injury, Czech counterintelligence discovered their secret transmitters and shut them down. The only weakness Czech counterintelligence showed in its operation, is involving an outsider like the Postal Director and providing him with full information. Such people can be traitors.

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