Nests of Communist Spies? The Polish Legation in the Hague and the Dutch Embassy in Budapest

Cees Wiebes

In the spring of 2019 the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service declassified hundreds of formerly (top) secret documents (more than 500 pages) dealing with the Polish legation in The Hague, the Netherlands. The documents dealt with the Polish diplomats and intelligence officers stationed in the Netherlands in the period 1945 – 1955 and gave a revealing picture of their overt and covert activities but also the counter-intelligence (CI) and counter-espionage (CE) operations of the Dutch security service (BVD) against the Polish legation which was considered by the service as an important communist target. It turns out that the BVD already penetrated in 1951 the Polish Legation through one of its female employees. In addition, the Polish Legation was under permanent observation, diplomats were followed by close surveillance teams and the BVD intercepted phone calls or messages to Warsaw. The Poles were especially interested in Polish miners in the south of Holland and in former Polish military who choose to stay in Holland after the Second World War. The Poles tried to lure these miners and soldiers back to Poland with all kind of vague promises. The BVD also discovered that the Polish ‘diplomats’ collaborated with communist Chinese in Amsterdam to collect intelligence. All these CI and CE operations were executed in close cooperation with Clipper (CIA), Expresse (French security service), Sardine (MI6) en Spil (Belgian security service). These operations against the Poles continued well into the sixties and seventies. An example was Operation Dixi which ran for many years. It was a BVD-agent who had penetrated the Polish legation.

The second part of this lecture will deal with the Dutch embassy in Budapest, Hungary. Also in the spring of 2019 the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service and the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs declassified hundreds of pages dealing with the Dutch embassy in Budapest, Hungary. These declassified documents show that this embassy was heavily penetrated by the communist Hungarian security service (HVA) which recruited many Dutch and Hungarian employees who worked in the embassy. It did lead to a complex Hungarian operation whereby the vault of the Dutch ambassador was tempered with and accordingly compromised. Nothing was stolen but one can be on the safe side to assume that the Dutch diplomatic codebooks were copied and that accordingly the secret Dutch diplomatic traffic was broken and read. These embassy operations where vaults were clandestinely opened took also place in other communist countries. The BVD started a lengthy investigation into this affair and informed the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs but no diplomatic or judicial steps were taken. The Dutch ambassador who was heavily involved in ‘black market’ activities even received a royal medal from the queen in 1957.

Tina Andersen