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What was the role of the ŠtB and the VKR?

The communist State Security Police (ŠtB) was created in 1945. In the hands of the Communist Party, the ŠtB became a secret police unit which aimed to strengthen the power of the totalitarian regime.
The ŠtB targeted 'internal enemies' - Czechoslovak citizens which in the eyes of the communists were enemies of the state - such as the church, intellectuals, or anyone else whose ideas conflicted with official state propaganda.

The communist State Security Police (ŠtB) was created in 1945. In the hands of the Communist Party, the ŠtB became a secret police unit which aimed to strengthen the power of the totalitarian regime.

The ŠtB targeted 'internal enemies' - Czechoslovak citizens which in the eyes of the communists were enemies of the state - such as the church, intellectuals, or anyone else whose ideas conflicted with official state propaganda.

Using a wide net of informers, provocateurs and spies, the ŠtB fought these anti-state groups with physical violence (such as beatings, electric shocks, night-time interrogations, mock executions, denial of sleep and food) aimed at forcing suspects to confess their alleged crimes. By doing so, the Communist Party meant to stamp out the will of the country's citizens to protest.

ŠtB members were reliable, obedient and faithful to the Communist Party's aims. They were financially rewarded and promoted for their deeds.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the ŠtB abandoned several of its violent tactics. However, its goal of fighting all "enemies of socialism" remained unchanged.

The ŠtB was abolished on February 15, 1990 through an order of then Interior Minister Richard Sacher. In Slovakia, no one has yet been legally punished for crimes committed while with the ŠtB. In fact, many of the former members of the ŠtB today work in various state administration bodies.

The task of the Military Counterintelligence Unit (VKR) was to protect the army from being infiltrated by foreign secret services; it later evolved into a repressive organisation which sought out communist dissenters. The VKR was known for its cruelty in dealing with opponents. It worked closely with other ŠtB sections, such as the Border Guard Administration and the KGB.

- Peter Dinuš, a historian, is advisor to Slovak Justice Minister Ján Čarnogurský.

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