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

Desire of aggression – assessment of female terrorists’ attraction to violence by Aleksandra Gasztold


Appetitive aggression can be explained as the use of violence and/or the desire of harm to a victim for the purpose of experiencing violence-related enjoyment. If it is use as a tool it is: proactive, appetitive, predatory and goal directed (1). The feelings experienced by preparatory most are positive. It is worth underlining that the final goal may not always be a reward but simply the delight of cruelty. Interestingly this kind of aggression is found only in humans and the Hominini species, regardless of sex. This phenomenon very often appears or increases when the victim struggles. Resistance can cause excitement and increase the use of violence. Some scholars look for the roots of appetitive aggression in the development of hunting behaviour. However, this reward-driven mechanism that responds to hunting-related rituals is only to observe in men (2). Another type of cruel behavior is reactive aggression. It features hostility, affectiveness, defensiveness and retaliation.

Appetitive aggression among female combatants has not been studied systematically. However, some analysis proved, that there is no difference between male and female fighters in aggressive behavior in war and post-conflict regions (3). Aggressive behavior during wartime may be a mixture of reactive aggression (impulsive, affective and uncontrolled behavior provoked by a perceived or real threat) and the aforementioned appetitive aggression motivated by intrinsic reward (suppression, emotion unleashing). Violence can be seen as fascinating and exciting or it can be a form of adopting to the battlefield’s environment, or a result of huge psychological oppression.
Nevertheless, it can be problematic to compare the experience of war combatants with criminals and terrorists. Organized crime (terrorism overwhelmingly is a collective action) is subjected to other conditions (internal and external, subjective and objective) and the catalysts of radicalisation to brutal violence may be different than during wartime (4). The combatants are often directly and repeatedly affected by the violence. Conversely, terrorists path to violence can be a phase process – like a metaphor for a staircase (5) – and many of them have had a „normal life” before.

There is a well-established belief that terrorist organizations are hostile environments for women. If women are members they are perceived as enslaved and forced to stay either by the organization (through blackmail, threat, abduction) or the situation (occupation, loss of family member, childlessness, disability, redemption, family honor) and are not seen as rational actors. For example, a well-known American female suicide terrorist researcher Mia Bloom, has identified five factors (motives) of engagement, so called the Four R’s plus One: revenge, redemption, respect, relationship, and rape (which is a tool that can contribute to revenge or shame). All these elements can overlap (6). Moreover, they all underline the traumatic position of a woman who refuses to admit her fate or torment her with emotions (love, hatred, despair), heroically performs self-sacrifice. Who is responsible for her decision? Geopolitical situation, dysfunction of the state, social system, or is she herself responsible? Special type of terrorist attacks, when the perpetrator sacrifices own life is appetitive aggression or reactive one? And why so easy we are searching for the answers in external and oppressive conditions while analysing female terrorists activity? Perhaps accepted is to recognize women as a victim, not as a monster with hunger to kill? Compelling argument is that terrorist are not psychopaths (7).

Searching for answers to the motives leading to terrorist activity expand the studies on terrorism, which will usually be in the perspective of cultural roles and images about ourselves and those that threaten us. It does not improve understanding about how these women build relationships with the outside world and why terrorist organizations recruit girls and women. It may, however, be suggested how organizations search for candidates, among others by manipulating the motives presented by Bloom. However, the reduction of women’s motivation to the five suggested R’s does not always have to apply. The formulation of general categories and assumptions for terrorist activity and motives can not apply to all terrorist forms and trends. The phenomenon of terrorism is not homogeneous, often due to the different social contexts in which the organization operates so the catalysts can be different and often unique (8). It does not matter if we are researching women or men. Challenging topics that remain are: the gender of the subject of analysis, the gender of researcher and his/her perception of gender roles in a given historical time, imprisoned in a given culture.

by @AGasztold

(1) R.G. Fontaine, Disentangling the Psychology and Law of Instrumental and Reactive Subtypes of Aggression, „Psychology, Public Policy, and Law” 2007; Vol.13(2), pp.143–165.
(2) D. Jones, Human behavior: Killer instincts, „Nature” 2008, Vol. 451, pp. 512–515.
(3) R. Weierstall, T. Elbert, The Appetitive Aggression Scale—development of an Instrument for the Assessment of Human’s Attraction to Violence, „European Journal of Psychotraumatology” 2011; Vol. 2.; D. Meyer-Parlapanis, R. Weierstall, C. Nandi, M. Bambonyé, T. Elbert, A. Crombach, Appetitive Aggression in Women: Comparing Male and Female War Combatants, „Frontiers in Psychology” January 2016, Vol. 6, p.1-8.
(4) A. Zięba, D. Szlachter, Countering Radicalisation of Muslim Community Opinions on the EU Level, „International Studies. Interdisciplinary Political and Cultural Journal”, Vol. 17, No. 1/2015, pp.119-144
(5) F. Maghaddam, Staircase to Terrorism. A Psychological Exploration, „American Psychologist” February-March 2005, Vol. 60, No. 2, pp. 161-169.
(6) M. Bloom, Bombshell: the Many Faces of Women Terrorism, C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd: 2011, p. 234-236.
(7) J. Horgan, Psychology of Terrorism, Routledge 2002.
(8) See: A.Zięba, Problem udziału kobiet w organizacjach terrorystycznych, [in:] P.de la Fuente, W. Gzicki, C. Taracha (ed.), Terroryzm wczoraj i dziś: wybrane problemy, Lublin 2015, pp. 49-65.