Burning in Kanice

The department of the Security Services Archive in Kanice by Brno attracted the attention of public as well as media because of the infamous “wild discarding” of State Security documents. The building which the Archive uses now was the seat of the Department of Automation under the Regional SNB Directorate in Brno (then its IT department) and of the 2nd Section of Division VI of the Regional StB Directorate in Brno (correspondence inspection).

On 8th December 1989 the representatives of the Citizens’ Forum and the Students’ Strike Committee received unofficial information (allegedly from a civil employee of the Regional SNB Directorate Brno) that in the forests near the village Kanice, in front of a building of the Ministry of the Interior (the district of Brno-venkov), documents of State Security had been burned. The superintendent of the Regional SNB Directorate Brno, Josef Šobáň, instructed the investigating officer Pavel Babáček to carry out inquiry in this matter. On the same day, in the afternoon, Pavel Babáček together with technicians arrived at the scene. Under the presence of the students and Citizens’ Forum representatives, accompanied by a Czechoslovak Television crew who had documented the relics of the destroyed documents before his arrival, Babáček and his team inspected the area in front of the building and the next day took 9 ash samples to be examined by the Criminology Institute of the Public Security Corps Prague.  The results of the investigation were presented to the public on 12th December 1989 at the meeting of the Regional SNB Directorate in Brno and the representatives of Brno students, Citizens’ Forum and the media.

On 14th December 1989 the Mladá fronta daily published an article entitled The Secrets Disappear by the Campfire. The author connects the “Kanice case” with the tragic traffic accident in Rokytova street, Brno that happened on 8th December 1989. The driver of the SNB car, Miloš V., left his lane for unknown reasons and made a head-on crash with the approaching car, leaving its driver dead and other two passengers (including one child) injured. The SNB office who caused the accident said during the rescue works that he had been transporting some materials to Kanice for the whole day and already got tired. The commandment of the Regional SNB Directorate Brno firmly denied that. According to the official version, the driver was only sent to drive a technician who should have made a documentation of the materials that had been destroyed in front of the Ministerial building in Kanice.

The investigation file that is located in the Security Services Archive shows that between 4th and 8th December:

  • the employees of the Regional department of the State Security burnt materials that were unusable for any further operative work
  • the employees of the Department of Automation of the Regional SNB Directorate in Brno burnt non-classified documents
  • the employees of the 2nd Section of Division VI of the Regional StB Directorate in Brno burnt useless documents of personal nature, auxiliary documents and surveillance cards

The investigation also proved that the same site had been used in the past by other units of the Regional SNB Directorate in Brno and probably also by civilian organisation to discard unnecessary written materials.

The decision of the Inspectorate of the Regional SNB Directorate in Brno dated 29 December 1989 stated that “no trade or service secrets were revealed, but the method of scrapping these materials without preventing the presence of other parties was in conflict with the instructions of the Ministry and the Regional Directorate. For this reason, the Head Commander of the Regional SNB Directorate in Brno dismissed the commander of Division VI pplk. Karel Belatka, and his deputy and other staff of the Division were penalised. As no crime was committed, the investigation was put to a halt as per Sect. 159/1 of the Penal Code.