CIA feared 'Czech Atomic Cannon'

Online archives has documents about Cold War-era Czechoslovakia

The US Central Intelligence Agency opened up an online database of 13 million pages of declassified documents, with many of them relating to the Cold War and then-Czechoslovakia. The documents also covered other topics including UFOs, bizarre special projects and psychic experiments, which are sure to keep conspiracy buffs happy for years. Most documents are mundane and routine reports.

The archive was released do to lawsuits over the Freedom of Information Act. Some of the documents were previously available, but only at the National Archives in Maryland. Demand to search the online archives has been so high that the site was crashing to to request volume.

“Access to this historically significant collection is no longer limited by geography,” the CIA's information management director Joseph Lambert said in a news release.

Some of the documents have been slightly modified with areas blanked out to protect the original sources. But the release of the documents was unavoidable under the law.

“None of this is cherry-picked. It's the full history. It's good and bad,” CIA spokeswoman Heather Fritz Horniak said, according to CNN.

Documents about Czechoslovakia largely concerned military capability and Czechoslovak-made armaments around the world. More than 18,000 entries matched the search word “Czech”

A March 18, 1954, report called Czech Atomic Cannon Reported details a supposed atomic cannon, but a note states the information has not been evaluated. “Reports from the Slovak garrison town of Kosice indicate that the Czechoslovak army has now, for a short time only, come into possession of an atomic field gun. The gun is reported to be of medium caliber and smaller than American atomic field pieces now actually in Germany,” the report states. It goes on the say the weapon was tested in narrow passes in the Carpathian mountains in the presence of Soviet experts. “The artillery regiment, specially trained to handle this new weapon, is said to have been stationed in Kosice,” it concludes. So far, the news of the atomic cannon is the big revelation, as far as former Czechoslovakia is concerned.

The uranium mines at Jachymov were a big topic of interest. One report gives a history with some hand-drawn maps. Another report evaluates the quality of the ore, and yet another reports on the difficulties faced by mine workers, who were often forced into labor as there were few volunteers for the work.

The word “Prague” had 16,000 matches, and none as exciting as the atomic cannon. The construction of a MiG factory and a wind tunnel for military planes was reported, as were routine troop movements and the number and locations of warehouses of military clothing. One report gives the location of a radio jamming tower and confirms that Voice of America and Radio Free Europe were both blocked the Bubenec neighborhood due to the iron rods in a guarded building. Another jamming station was in a Vršovice brewery.

The StB secret police also had a school very close to the US ambassador's residence in Dejvice, and the appearance of the people entering and leaving, with distinctive uniforms, was noted.

Other CIA reports had descriptions of what particular towns were like, and even tourist maps of rural areas. While many of the documents are rather bland, from the overall volume one can get a sense of the scale of the CIA's operations in former Czechoslovakia.

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