Communication in the underground

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  • KGB covert operation against Jehovah's Witnesses, Ukraine 1951-1954

    This network scheme of the Jehovah’s Witness organization comes from a four-volume top-secret file titled LKB, Legendirovannoe Kraevoe Biuro (Regional Bureau Covert Operation). It was produced by the Ukrainian secret police in 1953 and shows Jehovah’s Witness districts and circuits located in the Soviet Union with the organization’s country committee (called by that time the Regional Bureau) as the governing body of Soviet Jehovah’s Witnesses. The scheme shows the connections of Soviet-based groups of believers with the Jehovah’s Witness organization abroad: the East-European Bureau in Poland,
  • Jehovah's Witness Coded Reports from Ukraine

    Being surveilled and under constant risk of arrest, many clandestine religious communities developed their own coded language to communicate with each other and with their religious centres. This enabled them to avoid the disclosure of sensitive information in case of arrest and confiscation. Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the groups who developed their own coded system of communication, which they used in their missionary materials and finance reports and tallies. The secret police, in turn, made great efforts to intercept clandestine communication channels and to decipher coded messages.
  • Confiscated letter and religious images from Hungary

    The image comes from a documentary file on the former leaders of KLOSZ (National Confederation of Catholic Girls), a Hungarian Catholic youth organisation, which was by that time, like other civil organisations, dissolved by law. It shows an intercepted letter, an envelope and two religious images. The message on the card is rather enigmatic: "I’m writing hastily, my dear Margit, asking Gizi not to write to our brother-in-law – on the contrary, if she happens to come here, she should tell him not to make any inquiries in this matter for now, – and he should also return what he had noted down –
  • Cryphtographic letters written by a Hungarian Baptist minister

    In this image we see cryptographic letters written by agent ‘Géza Szebeni’. This was not his real name but his secret service pseudonym. The first image is of the visible “cover letter” which masks the cryptographic letter shown here in the second image, while the third image is the decoded transcript of the cryptographic letter. The letters were created using a cryptographic technique that allows the writer to hide the important message underneath a decoy message containing inane and useless information. In this case, the cover letter resembles friendly correspondence such as family iss
  • Secret police network scheme of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Romania

    This network scheme comes from a documentary file on Jehovah’s Witnesses in the former administrative region of Cluj. Titled as “Organisation Scheme of the organisation “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in Cluj Region, it shows the structure of the group with names, ranks and connections of each of the functionaries (indicated by circles). The blue box at the top stands for the national leaders, while the rectangular boxes at the bottom represent the six territorial units in the region with the number of their subunits and members. The scheme also informs the viewer of the progress the authorities had ma
  • Jehovah's Witnesses bunker printing press Ukraine

    These images were included in a 14-volume criminal file against seven Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) leaders from western Ukraine (former Drohobych and Stanislav region), 1955-1956. The photographs were produced during a police raid of an underground bunker printing press operated by the Witnesses in a rural location. The photographs were used as incriminating evidence of their clandestine illegal activities. The first image shows a rural private house in Smodne village under which the bunker was constructed. The place was also used as a safe house where several members of the JW organisation were
  • Letter about clandestine catechism classes Budapest

    The image shows the photocopy of a handwritten letter from Budapest, September 1954, recommending a cathecism teacher who gave clandestine classes to children. Written on a piece of checkered paper the letter provides precise information about when and where to contact this person. It also contains instructions on how to get to the location of the meeting, a private flat. The visit of the person addressed in the letter, a doctor’s wife who was looking for a religious teacher for her daughters, was already expected by the catechism teacher, who had been notified of her intentioned visit. Near t
  • Letter about a secret Roman Catholic home christening Budapest

    This word-for-word transcript of a typewritten personal letter tells about a secret home christening held in Budapest in December 1954. Amongst other deeply personal matters, the author, the child’s grandmother, briefly reports about the baptism. From this we learn that the child was baptised by a Piarist monk in the presence of the extended family, altogether 22 people. For the occasion the child’s grandfather erected a makeshift altar. As the letter-writer notes, he "made a beautiful altar. He made it so exceptionally nice that everybody was weeping with emotion. My entire home looked like a