Books Monographs

Venona: Soviet Espionage and The American Response, 1939–1957—Selected Documents and Messages

A joint NSA-CIA Product (August 1996)

Edited by Robert Louis Benson and Michael Warner

Foreword by William P. Crowell, Deputy Director National Security Agency


In July 1995, in a ceremony at CIA Headquarters, Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch released the first group of NSA’s Venona translations to the public. The DCI announced that a public conference on the Venona story would be held in 1996, as soon as the declassification of the translations had been completed. This conference is now at hand and follows the release of the last set of Venona translations.  Some 2,900 Soviet intelligence messages are now on the Internet and in hard copy at major archives around the country.

While the cryptologic side of the Venona story belongs to NSA and its partners, the overall achievement  is one of Intelligence Community cooperation. NSA and its US Army predecessor worked with FBI, CIA,  the British, and allied services. This conference volume is itself a cooperative effort in keeping with the spirit of the times. It provides the public with information that had been closely held until recently  and which is of extraordinary interest and importance.

It may be some time before historians and the general public sort out the full meaning of Venona. Lou Benson, co-editor of this conference volume, has prepared five historical monographs about the  program. Considerable research, discussion, and writing by journalists and historians is already in  progress, making this volume and the presentations at its accompanying conference potentially all the  more timely and valuable to these scholarly efforts.

There can no longer be any doubt about the widespread and successful Soviet espionage operations  against the United States and Great Britain during the 1940s, and that, aside from their own  professional skill, Soviet intelligence services could count on the aid of the Communist parties of the  target countries.

Earlier in my career I had the opportunity to supervise and participate in the last stages of the Venona  program. From that experience I learned of the incredible determination and great skill of the analysts  who made Venona possible. The result of their work was the body of translated messages, each one  produced with the most painstaking and, I might add, honest effort. This is authentic material deserving  of the most careful study.

—William P. Crowell, Deputy Director

National Security Agency

August 1996

Note to readers:

This collection is available for download through the four links below: one (the last) leads to a PDF of the complete 433-page package of introductory material and collections of documents showing US responses and Soviet messages. Readers preferring to download sections separately may do so as well, with links provided to each of the introductory, US reactions, and Soviet document sections.

Download PDF of introductory material (41 pages).

Download Part I: The American Response to Soviet Espionage—Archival Citations and a Note on the Documents" (176 pages)

Download Part II: Selected Venona Messages—A Note on the Translations and List of Messages" (215 pages)

Download complete Venona collection (433 pages)