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King’s College London is pleased to host the 2021 ‘Need to Know’ conference.

About this event

By definition a secret activity, intelligence is still a normal part of public life. Throughout history, governments, political parties, and private interests have sought secret intelligence for advantage.

The ‘Need to Know’ conferences aim to stimulate research and discussions about the history of intelligence, with a special focus on the Cold War and new information from the opening of archives.

This year’s conference explores the intelligence legacy of World War II and the manner in which secret organisations adapted to the tensions of the early Cold War contest between East and West.


25 November

Introduction: (09:00-9:30)

The value of history to intelligence agencies by Sir Alex Younger (former Chief of SIS) and Michael Goodman (King’s College London)

Panel I: Intelligence Power (9.30 -11.00)

  • Chair: Thomas Wegener Friis (University of Southern Denmark):
  • Gill Bennett (King’s College London): Intelligence and Foreign policymaking
  • Władysław Bułhak (Institute of National Remembrance): Socially Assisted Intelligence (SOCINT) as sub-category of HUMINT. The Case of Underground Intelligence in Poland and Denmark
  • Carolina Andrade (Adviser & Researcher at Igarapé Institute): Intelligence Systems in Latin America during the Cold War: A history from declassified archives
  • Aleksandra Gasztold (University of Warsaw), Przemysław Gasztold (Institute of National Remembrance): Women, Femininity and Intelligence

Coffee break (11.00-11.30)

Panel II: British-American intelligence in post–War World (11.30-13.30)

  • Chair: Charlotte Yelamos (King’s College London)
  • Jacek Tebinka (University of Gdańsk): Anglo-Polish cooperation in special operations. From the Second World War to the Cold War
  • Adrian Hänni (Distance Learning University Switzerland & University of Zurich): From Hot War Hub to Postwar Target: The Transition of U.S. Intelligence in Switzerland, 1945–47
  • Dieter Bacher (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the Consequences of War): The most active enemy. The British perspective on Czechoslovakian intelligence activities in early Cold War Austria – new perspectives
  • Rory Cormac (University of Nottingham): UK 'Black' Productions: Forgeries, Fake Groups, and Propaganda, 1951-75

LunchBreak (13.30-14.30)

Panel III: KGB (14.30-16.00)

  • Chair: Anna Piekarska (Museum of Polish History, Warsaw)
  • Ivo Juurvee (International Centre for Defense and Security/Estonian Military Academy): Perception of British HUMINT and Covert Action in KGB textbooks from 1930s to 1970s.
  • Kevin Riehle (National Intelligence University): Post-KGB Lives: Is There Such a Thing as a Former Chekist?
  • Jakub Tyszkiewicz (University of Wroclaw ): Since National Council Intelligence Directives to the “Entgross” plan - the problem of defectors from the Soviet Bloc in the political consideration of the U.S. in the early years of the Cold War
  • Simon Graham (University of Sydney): Foreign Policy by Other Means: The Place of Intelligence Collaboration in Soviet Diplomacy toward Central Europe, 1936–54

26 November

Panel IV: Cold War under the Hot Sky (9.00-10.30)

  • Chair: Sylwia Szyc (Institute of National Remembrance)
  • Danny Pronk (The Netherlands Institute of International Relations): The Fourth Ally. The Intelligence Legacy of World War II in the 1962 West New Guinea Crisis
  • Thijs Zaalberg (Leiden University): Brocades the Most Crucial Issue in our Struggle with the Kremlin’: The Intelligence Dimension of the US involvement in the Dutch-Indonesian Conflict, 1945-1949
  • Evripidis Tantalakis (University of Leicester): Assessing the intelligence capacity of the Greek National Army during the Greek Civil War, 1946-1949
  • Aleksandar Zivotic (University of Belgrade): Soviet Legacy of World War II, Balkan traditions and "international debt". Yugoslav Military Intelligence and the Origins of the Cold War

Coffee Break (10:30-11:00)

Panel V: SIGINT, Code Breaking, Surveillance, Aerial and Space Reconnaissance (11.00-12.30)

  • Chair: Karl Kleve (Norwegian Aviation Museum)
  • Ben Fischer (former CIA Chief historian): Penkovsky, the Spy Who Tried to Destroy the World
  • Ramos Raphaël (University of Montpellier): A Wasted Legacy? The travails of American signals intelligence in the early Cold War
  • Jan Stanisław Ciechanowski (University of Warsaw): The Polish Intelligence and breaking of Soviet Codes during World War Two.
  • Janos Kemeny (Center of Strategic and Defence Studies at the National University of Public Service in Budapest): The early years of the Hungarian Surveillance and Background Department – Case Study Thomas Polgar

Lunch Break (12:30-13:30)

Panel VI: Hidden Hands and Cables: Unacknowledged Interventions and Alliances in the Early Cold War (13.30-15.00)

  • Chair: Magda Long (King’s College London)
  • Shlomo Shapiro (Bar-Ilan University): Keep calm and carry on: The impact of WWII intelligence on Israeli covert action
  • Damien Van Puyvelde (University of Glasgow): State violence and the limits of French paramilitary actions in the post-war era
  • Daniela Richterova (King’s College London): Training Third World Revolutionaries: Czechoslovakia, Covert Assistance and (im) Plausible Deniability, 1958-1969
  • David Schaefer (King’s College London): The Origins of the ‘Five Eyes’ in Cold War Asia

Coffee Break (15:00-15:30)

Panel VII: Biographies and case studies (15.30-17.00)

  • Chair: Michael Goodman (King’s College London)
  • Robin Libert (Royal Union of Intelligence and Action Services), Robin Liefferinckx (Royal Union of Intelligence and Action Services): Albert Van Buylaere. A Belgian Intelligence Agent in Hot and Cold War
  • Sławomir Łukasiewicz (Institute of National Remembrance): Postwar Need for Expertise in Central and Eastern Europe: Emigres, Intelligence and Academia in the USA
  • Katrin Paehler (Illinois State University): Gender Between Hot & Cold War: Hildegard Beetz and the Making and Unmaking of the 'Ideal Spy'
  • Jesper Jørgensen (The Workers Museum and the Labour Movement’s Library and Archives): Norwegian Labour Intelligence and Trade Union Activism in Denmark 1949-1952

Closing Remarks by Sir John Scarlett (former Chief of SIS) and Michael Goodman (King’s College London) (17.00-17.30)

The conference is organised by the King’s Intelligence and Security Group (, Department of War Studies, King’s College London; together with the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation; the Center for Cold War Studies of the University of Southern Denmark; Norwegian Aviation Museum, Estonian International Center for Defence and Security and in partnership with the International Journal of Intelligence, Security, and Public Affairs.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided for conference attendees

Disclaimer: For in-person events we have a policy for overbooking for places given drop out rates on the day, so please ensure you arrive in good time to avoid disappointment.

For in-person attendance, please note that evidence of a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours will be required. Masks are recommended in all communal areas of KCL when moving through the venue, and when travelling to and from campus. Please maintain regular hand washing/sanitising and follow one-way signage in the venue. Do not attend if feeling unwell or if you have a positive COVID test.