Uncovered: KGB Guidelines for Recruiting Spies within Jewish Communities

by Przemysław Gasztold

„Jews consider everything from the point of view of personal benefits. These could be money, financial operations, assistance or their contacts with relatives living in socialist countries. That is why in establishing relations with Jews one should remember it is not enough just to influence their intellectual sphere. Before taking a decision to collaborate, the Jew has to be sure that future clandestine relation with an officer will give him truly tangible benefits. Jews like to obtain gifts and this should be taken advantage of during the recruitment process. Money has, however, the greatest influence over the Jew” –  this is only a scrap from a 16-page guidelines entitled Ориентировка о путях повышения эффективности вербовочной работы в среде евреев с использованием особенностей еврейской этнической психологии [Guidelines for Increasing the Effectiveness of Recruitment among Jews using the Characteristics of Jewish Ethnic Psychology], marked „secret” and prepared by the KGB in 1984. The Soviets shared the document with Polish Civilian Intelligence services and instruction was later distributed among its top brass. A copy was found recently within the records of Archive of Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw.

How many Jews were recruited in Western countries because of the tips included within the instruction? We can safely assume that the evaluation was sent to other communist intelligence agencies and served as a manual for conducting espionage operations. The instruction reflects a very distorted image of Jewish diaspora and promotes a stereotypical perception of Jews. Hostile rhetoric and trite clichés used in guidelines suggest that Jews distinguish themselves from other nations and thus need a special intelligence approach. At the beginning of the Polish summary of the guidelines, an anonymous Polish Intelligence officer underlined that recruitment of Jews poses difficulties and requires not only preparing deep and comprehensive study of potential candidates but also needs to be done very carefully by a competent officer familiar with „Jewish psychology”.

According to the KGB evaluation, the Jews have several features that would be of great use for intelligence operations. First of all, they are attached to „ethnic solidarity” which means financial, political and moral support for Israel, and their cooperation within Zionist and Judaic organizations. „Ethnic solidarity” also causes Jewish cohesion, that they help each other and prefer their own kind over loyalty to the country in which they live. Such a „split of national consciousness” resulted from the age-old necessity to play different roles – one of a Jew in a religious communities, and second of a citizen and member of society. Most Jews are aware that they represent a „foreign body” in local communities. Their approach is enhanced by a Zionist ideology and double loyalty promoted in Israel to state law. Thus, it is no surprise – the guidelines highlight – that a cosmopolitism, which weakens patriotic bonds, is widely popular among Jews.

Conflictuality, as well as permanent, subconscious feeling of fear and danger are among Jewish characteristics. They exemplify a sense of alienation, criticism, caution and suspicion towards people of other nationalities. From the other hand, the KGB manual suggests that people of Jewish origin pose high ability to evaluate people, can think logically, accurately and rationally. They are sociable, communicative and have a sense of humor. In the eyes of Soviet Intelligence, Jewish conception of the “chosen nation” makes them proud and exalts self-esteem. They are pragmatic, prudent, and cunning. In the „Jewish hierarchy of advantages”, as detailed in the KGB instruction, the most important places are occupied by getting rich-attitude, pursuit of material goods and approach guided by egoism.

Developed national consciousness, ethnic solidarity, attachment to the Judaic tradition, nationalism, anti-Sovietism, anti-communism and anti-Arabic chauvinism are the greatest obstacles to recruit Jews as spies, as indicated by the manual. The assessment of potential candidates is difficult, because „the Jew is honest only to the other Jews”. In order to target valuable sources, there is a need to search for people who:

– represent anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist and anti-capitalist beliefs

– sympathize with Socialist countries

– are interested in maintaining economic, cultural, and political relations with Socialist Countries

– suffer from anti-Semitism and discrimination

– are guided mainly by egoistic premises.

The KGB underscores that the best intelligence work with Jews is done by Jews. In reality, however, the preliminary findings about potential sources is commonly conducted by officers of „rezidentura” [spying ring] who usually don’t have Jewish origins. The manual warns that Jews very often have good knowledge about the situation behind the Iron Curtain and frequently perceive communist diplomats as representatives of „anti-Semitic regimes”.


The documet can be downloaded here:

KGB Guidelines for Recruiting Spies within Jewish Communities

Polish summary of the report (in Polish):

Polish Summary of the KGB report