Daughters of the KGB

Title:                      Daughters of the KGB

Author:                  Douglas Boyd

Boyd, Douglas (2015). Daughters of the KGB: Moscow’s Secret Spies, Sleepers, and Assassins of the Cold War. Stroud, Gloucestershire : The History Press

OCLC:    893896730

JN6529.I6 B69 2015

Summary:           Everyone has heard of the KGB, but little has been published about its daughter organizations through which Moscow terrorized the satellite states grabbed by Stalin during and after the Second World War. Staffed by Moscow-trained nationals closely monitored by KGB ambassadors, Poland’s UB, the Czech StB, the Hungarian AVH, Romania’s Securitate, Bulgaria’s KDS and the ultra-Stalinist Stasi of the German Democratic Republic, all repressed democratic movements in their respective countries for forty years.


  • Soviet Union. Komitet gosudarstvennoĭ bezopasnosti
  • Germany (East). Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit
  • Intelligence service — Soviet Union
  • Espionage, Soviet — Europe, Eastern
  • Spies — Soviet Union
  • Spies — Europe, Eastern
  • Secret service — Europe, Eastern
  • Europe, Eastern — History — 1945-1989

Date Posted:      September 12, 2016

Caveat. Perpendat itaque lector cavendum (civilis).[1]

Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden[2]


Readers anticipating a book brimming with Jason Matthews-esque tales of espionage adventure will be disappointed in Daughters of the KGB. Historian and linguist David Boyd a tells quite a different story from what the book’s title implies—the word “daughters” doesn’t even appear in the index. These “daughters” are the surrogate intelligence organizations formed by the Soviet Union after WWII in what became the communist Bloc countries.

Boyd begins by establishing his unusual credentials: in 1959, while serving in the Signals Section at RAF Gatow, West Berlin, he was arrested in East Berlin by the Stasi—he never explains why he was there—and spent several weeks as their guest in a Potsdam prison until his exchange. His service career at an end, he entered the international film business and in the succeeding years developed contacts with filmmakers in Soviet Bloc countries. After the Wall came down, he went back to Berlin and read his Stasi file that revealed, among other details, that the working level Stasi officers disliked their Soviet masters and the repressive measures that they institutionalized against East German citizens. He then decided to examine the security services in the other Soviet Bloc countries; Daughters of the KGB is the result,

After a discussion of Stalin’s postwar plans to control the eastern European countries occupied by the Soviets, Boyd deals first with the Stasi. He provides historical background and then discusses how it originated and operated, domestically and against the West—mainly the CIA, MI5, and BND—citing a number of cases, some of which are well known, other less so.

Succeeding chapters follow this pattern as he examines the intelligence services in the other Bloc countries, including Albania. There is a chapter titled “The Horizontal Spy,” but it has no salacious detail and the cases—mainly Polish—of seduction for espionage are well known. One exception concerns Hendryk Bogulak, who Boyd claims defected to the United States and disappeared. (p. 145)

Daughters of the KGB provides interesting detail about the East European security services in the Cold War era.

[1] On occasion, personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance — at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations, the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed. Retain a sense of proportion in all online and in-person discussions. [From The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies.]

[2] Goulden, Joseph C. in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 2, Spring 2016, p. 125). Joseph C. Goulden’s 1982 book, Korea: The Untold Story of the War, was published in a Chinese-language edition in 2014 by Beijing Xiron Books. He is author of 18 nonfiction books. Goulden is a long-time reviewer of espionage and spy books for The Washington Times, for AFIO’s Intelligencer, for law journals, and other publications. Some of the reviews appeared in prior editons of The Washington Times or The Washington Lawyer (DC Bar Association) and are reprinted by permission of the author. Goulden’s most recent book [as of 2016] is Goulden, Joseph C. (2012). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.

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