How to Request Archival Materials
A. Are you interested in a specific historical topic?
We recommend that visiting researchers first familiarize themselves with the guide to archival collections maintained by the Security Services Archive. These collections are organized according to their origin and subject and categorized into fourteen basic sections. The guide offers a brief description of the collections, including the types of documents contained therein; in many cases you can also directly view the preliminary inventory books. The search aids also include name, subject and location indexes to facilitate orientation. The guide also indicates the Archive’s departments where the given collection is physically located. If you are interested in studying a specific archive signature, contact the following departments directly:
- Operative Files and Investigation Files (Oddělení archivních fondů operativních svazků a vyšetřovacích spisů): Praha 4 – Braník, Branické nám. 777/2;
- Archival Collections of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Oddělení archivních fondů Federálního ministerstva vnitra): Praha 1, Na Struze 3;
- Archival Collections of the Armed Forces of the MoI CSR, State Security and Federal MoI (Oddělení archivních fondů vojsk MV ČSR, StB a vojsk MV): Kanice u Brna, P.O. BOX 29, Vlkova 2481/4, 628 00 Brno;
Please indicate in your request where you would like to view the materials: in the reading room at Na Struze in Prague or in Kanice near Brno. It is generally the case that you can study materials from all departments of the Archive of the Security Services in both reading rooms, in Prague and in Brno. If need be or if you do not find anything appropriate on your topic, discuss your requests directly with the relevant department head of the Archive of the Security Services.
We recommend that you book in advance during the holidays.
B. Are you interested in a particular individual or in the operative files of the communist security services?
First look for the information you need, based on the data at your disposal, in the search engines located in the Search by Name section of this website. Then request access to them, via e-mail or otherwise (see below). However, the results of this search are merely indicative and are not necessarily precise.
If you do not find any results, or do not wish to search for the required information yourself, please ask the relevant department of the Archive to find out whether a file on the requested subject (subject of interest or person) is available, stating the basic identification data (name of the subject of interest, the file, or in the case of persons, their given name, surname, and date of birth), and you may then:
- Send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send the information by ordinary mail to: ABS – Security Services Archive, P.O. BOX 1430, 111 21, Prague 1
- Visit the reading room at Na Struze (Prague) or in Kanice (Brno) where you can submit the information in person
- Visit the official entry point (“podatelna”) of the Security Services Archive at Na Struze 3, Praha 1, where your request will be accepted in writing.
Requests for personal or subject files are processed in our registry systems and other search aids acquired by the ABS from the previous holders of these files (Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice), to determine whether there are records produced by the former security services (State Security Service, Intelligence Service of the General Staff of the Czechoslovak People’s Army, Internal Defence Section of the Prison Corps under the Ministry of Justice, Foreign Intelligence) on operative files, including investigation files, personal files or other materials. You will receive a reply to your request and the archival materials will be prepared for viewing in the Na Struze or Kanice reading rooms.
We emphasize that the aforementioned registries do not contain references to all materials lodged with the Security Services Archive, but primarily to operative files.
The investigation files of the former Public Security Service (Veřejná bezpečnost – VB) are not included in these record systems. If you are interested in these, it is necessary to contact directly the department of Archival Collections of the Armed Forces of the MoI CSR, State Security and Federal MoI (No. 3), where they are deposited. It is also important to mention that information on specific individuals does not appear solely in operative files. Valuable information can also be found in the so-called administrative agenda of the individual state security units (work plans, evaluations of activities, reports on proceedings with various issues, summary reports, etc.; “spisový materiál” in Czech). These materials cannot be retrieved through the Archive’s registries, but are available through the general search aids. To view them, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with Guide to the collections the Archive’s collections and then contact the appropriate Archive department directly. Please bear in mind that in this case, the name and date of birth of a given individual will not suffice. Staff will need to know as much additional data as possible.
Legal note: Most of the Archive’s materials are accessible pursuant to Act No. 499/2004 Coll. on Archival Science and Administrative Records. Before this law came into effect (that is, before 1 January 2005), the informer, operative and personnel files (specifically the personal files of MoI staff) were accessible pursuant to Act No. 140/1996 Coll., amended by Act No. 107/2002 Coll., on the Disclosure of Documents Produced by the State Security Service. Materials accessible before 1 January 2005 pursuant to these laws can be made available to researchers only in digital form (on a computer), with the understanding that some of the data they contain will be anonymous. However, even among these materials, documents that are older than 30 years can be viewed in full.
We assume that many of your research queries will be combined – concerning both themes and particular individuals. In this case the Security Services Archive staff will gladly advise you on how to proceed.