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Full Version: A Locally Important Inventor Of Communist-Era Deception In Czechoslovakia Dies
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Key StB agent who masterminded 'fake' border posts dies aged 92

06-03-2014 15:33 | Rob Cameron

The death has been announced of the man suspected of being behind one ofthe most perfidious plots hatched by Czechoslovakia's Communist secretpolice, the StB. Shortly after the communist takeover of 1948, the StBcreated fake frontier posts in the west of the country, several kilometresshort of the real border with Germany, in an elaborate operation thatensnared people trying to flee the Stalinist regime.

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[Image: rekonstrukce_podoby_statni_hranice_s_nemeckemx.jpg]Illustrative photo: Jan RosenauerHistorians have known of the existence of Operation Stone, as the plot wascalled, for two decades. Shortly after 1948, the StB created a number offake American military police posts just inside Czechoslovak territory,complete with American flags and StB officers speaking English withAmerican accents. StB agents posing as people smugglers would lead groupsof refugees to the posts, convincing them that they'd crossed theCzechoslovak border and had reached freedom in Allied-occupied, soon-to-beWest Germany.
There they would be debriefed by the fake American military police. Theywould be encouraged to give away valuable information about others backhome' who were also planning to flee. They would be relieved of theirmoney and possessions before being sent further into what they believed wasGerman territory in fact what followed was arrest and a lengthy prisonsentence in Communist Czechoslovakia.
The operation lasted until 1951, when the Communists could no longermaintain the fiction that the western border was still open. Libor Svoboda,a historian at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes,specialises in the anti-Communist resistance.
"I think the StB's primary motivation was extracting property fromthose trying to flee. And of course people would open up about who theywere in contact with back home, who they'd spoken to, who else wasplanning to flee Czechoslovakia. Often they were able to blackmail peopleinto becoming StB informers. So I would say the spectrum of informationgained by the StB was truly very wide."
[Image: svoboda_liborx.jpg]Libor Svoboda, photo: archive of Institute for the Study of Totalitarian RegimesThe operation was the brainchild of an StB officer called EvženAbrahamovič. Criminal charges against him and his fellow agents were filedmore than two years ago by the Czech-American historian Igor Lukeš, whospecialises in Operation Stone so-named for the stones that mark theborder. However Abrahamovič was only formally charged last year, and thecase was soon adjourned by prosecutors on account of his advanced age andill health. This week came news of his death, at the age of 92. Another keyOperation Stone officer, Emil Orovan, is on an Interpol list but he too islikely no longer alive.
Libor Svoboda is a historian not a politician, but he points out thatOperation Stone was illegal even by the laws of Communist Czechoslovakia.It is to the country's great shame, he says, that Abrahamovič was neverbrought to justice for cynically ensnaring people whose only crime was toflee their country.