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Intelligence Services

Overview of Secret Services from Around the World

Secret services are generally known as a sector of a governmental service operating secretly in nature with the purposes of making a country safer and more prosperous. Secret services are a subset of a nation’s intelligence community. The services work both domestically and internationally to provide national security for their respective countries.

This guide provides a quick overview of collections related to the subject of secret services in operation during times of war beginning with World War I to the Cold War. Although this chronology is not the only timeline found in the Hoover Institution Archives, the featured collection below can offer researchers insights into the historical issues of these major events. 

The secret services research guide is an especially important resource today because of its relevance to modern-day international politics. Many questions people have as to why certain countries act the way they do can be answered through their historical decisions. Students of politics, history of espionage, and international studies might find these collections of particular interest, or anyone with an interest in global history and politics. 



Featured Collections

Viktor Nikolaevich Russian Papers

Viktor Nikolaevich was a Major General of the Russian Imperial Army in the years preceding the 1917 Russian revolution. The papers featured in this collection are related to the structure and operations of the Russian secret service for the Empire.

Price Family papers

In 1943, Arnold Hereward Price, who was working at the Library of Congress specializing in Central European history, began his service with the US Army, in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) which became the first independent US intelligence agency and formed the basis for the modern Central Intelligence Agency. The topic of Allied secret service radio propaganda activity in WWII can also be found in this collection. The Price Family papers document several generations of the Price family. Due to the diverse careers of the family and their residence in different countries, the collection provides an international account of events spanning from Victorian England to the late 20th century United States. The Price Family papers  are comprised of correspondence, writings, diaries, orders, memoranda, genealogical material, printed matter, notes, photographs, and memorabilia.

Sir Paul Dukes Papers

Sir Paul Dukes was a MI6 officer during World War II for the British government. His actions related to Russian area operations before, during, and after World War II were deemed heroic and Dukes was made into a knight. The Sir Paul Dukes Papers relating to British Intelligence Operations range from 1918 to 1969 and contain diaries, writings, lectures, notes, letters, clippings, memorabilia, and photographs. 

George Alexander Hill Papers

George Alexander Hill was known to be a British secret service agent/intelligence officer. He published two memoirs, Go Spy the Land (1933) and The Dreaded Hour (1936). Hill was noted to have worked closely with NKVD, the Soviet secret service organization, to coordinate sabotage and propaganda in occupied Europe. The NKVD functioned to protect the state security of the Soviet Union, which included intelligence and espionage activities. His papers, include his memoirs, entitled “Reminiscences of Four Years with N.K.V.D.”, that relate to Anglo-Soviet secret service relations during World War II. His papers also include radio broadcast transcripts, entitled “Go Spy the Land”, relating to British intelligence activities in Russia, Turkey, and the Balkans, 1917–18.

Erwin Lahousen journals

Erwin Lahousen was an intelligence officer with the Austrian Intelligence Division who was assigned to the High Command of the German Armed Forces after the annexation of the Federal State of Austria into the German Reich. He conducted the same work as a member of the Abwehr Division (German military-intelligence service). His journals are typed transcripts (in part, photocopy) and relate to German secret service operations during World War II.

John O. Koehler Papers

John O. Koehler was a German-born American military intelligence officer. After World War II, he left Germany and joined the U.S. Army as a Germanic-language interpreter and began to specialize in intelligence as it related to East Germany. Koehler later became a journalist for the Associated Press based in Bonn and Berlin during the Cold War. This large collection features Correspondence, news dispatches and news stories, photocopies of East German secret police documents, photocopies of United States government documents, post-reunification German governmental reports, clippings, other printed matter, photographs, sound recordings, and video tapes, relating to political conditions in Germany, the East German secret police, the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, and Soviet espionage within the Catholic Church.

Jurgen Perduss Collection

Jurgen Perduss was a member of the East German secret service. His era of work was during the twilight years of East Germany before its unification with West Germany. The files within this collection include many multi-media materials related to the organizational structure and operations of the East German secret service from 1987 to 1995. The collection also contains investigations into the East German secret service post-unification. Finally, the files also contain lists of secret service agents or informants, with identifying code numbers and payments received. 

R. Harris Smith Papers 

Richard Harris Smith was a former member of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who began writing his book OSS : The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency (Berkeley, 1972) after he retired in 1968. The papers in this collection are related to the forming of the United States Organization of Strategic Services (OSS), the early precursor of the CIA. The OSS was created in the aftermath of World War II and the papers detail its creation and the details of Allen Dulles’s (former head of the CIA’s) role in its beginning. The papers also include research material for Smith’s book and a draft biography of Allen Dulles, entitled "Spy-Master's Odyssey: The Secret Service of Allen Dulles."

Featured Library Holdings

Visit our SearchWorks catalog to explore our holdings of library materials related to secret services.

Revelations from the secret service; the spy on two fronts by Robert Boucard, 1930
This book chronicles the experiences of Robert Boucard during World War I. 

Manual on the German secret services and the British counter-measures, 1944
This book is an official imprint from the United Kingdom published around 1944. The material details the German secret service actions during World War II and what exactly British intelligence did in response. 

The Israeli Secret Service by Richard Deacon, 1977
This book features insights into the newly formed Israeli secret service in the post-World War II era. The author previously worked for British Naval Intelligence during World War II before moving into journalism.

This Secret Services guide was prepared by Hoover Student Fellowship Program participant, Christina Hill ('22) who is a graduate of the master’s program of Stanford’s Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies.