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For other Operations called Neptune, see Operation Neptune (disambiguation)

Černé jezero - eastern bank.

Operation Neptune was a 1964 disinformation operation by the Czechoslovak secret service, the StB, involving Nazi-era documents.

In 1964, the StB publicly claimed to have discovered Nazi-era intelligence files hidden beneath the surface of Černé jezero, a lake in the Šumava, on the border with West Germany. The four chests containing the papers were supposedly discovered during the making of a documentary, in the presence of members of the Western press. In fact the agency itself had placed them there, in collaboration with the KGB.[1][2]

The papers were probably genuine,[3] although former Czechoslovak spy Josef Frolík described them in his 1975 memoirs as forgeries.[4] However, their apparent discovery was a disinformation operation, the largest conducted by the agency; in fact the papers found in the sunken chests, which had been carefully doctored to appear as if they had been submerged since World War II, were not the real documents, which were only later brought from the Soviet Union.[2] The agent who led the divers to make the discovery and who had originally placed them in the lake, Ladislav Bittman, (later known as Lawrence Martin-Bittman)[5] defected to the West in 1968 and published a book on the plot.[6][7][8] The objectives were to discredit Western politicians by revealing the names of former Nazi informants whom they were still using as spies in Eastern Europe,[7][9] and to place pressure on West Germany to extend the statute of limitations on prosecution of war criminals.[2] The operation had some temporary success,[10] including extension of the statute of limitations.[2][6]

The Czech civilian defence agency posted the files on Operation Neptune to their website.[2]


  1. Michael F. Scholz, "Active measures and disinformation as part of East Germany's propaganda war, 1953–1972", in: Kristie Macrakis, Thomas Wegener Friis and Helmut Müller-Enbergs, ed., East German Foreign Intelligence: Myth, Reality and Controversy, Studies in intelligence series, London/New York: Routledge, 2010, ISBN 9780415484428, pp. 113–, p. 116.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Dita Asiedu, "Details of Czechoslovakia's biggest disinformation operation published on web", Radio Prague, 8 June 2007.
  3. Scholz, citing Ladislav Bittman, Geheimwaffe D, Berne: SOI, 1973, ISBN 9783859130715, pp. 59–. (German translation of The Deception Game)
  4. Walter Galton, "Czech spy learnt the Reds' dirty tricks, then exposed them", Review, The Frolik Defection, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August 1975, p. 46.
  5. The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1 (1986) 114.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The Spy Who Came Into the Classroom Teaches at Boston U.", The New York Times, 27 April 1994.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Dinah Cardin, "Nobody Did it Better", Wicked Local: North of Boston, 2 February 2007, p. 5.
  8. Ladislav Bittman, The KGB and Soviet Disinformation: An Insider's View, Washington, DC: Pergamon-Brassey's, 1985, ISBN 9780080315720, p. 8.
  9. Richard H. Shultz and Roy S. Godson, Dezinformatsia: Active Measures in Soviet Strategy, New York: Pergamon, 1984, ISBN 9780080315744, p. 171.
  10. "Case Study: West Germany: A Czech ploy that worked—but only briefly", Christian Science Monitor, 1 March 1985 (pay per view).

Further reading[]

  • Ladislav Bittmann. The Deception Game: Czechoslovak Intelligence in Soviet Political Warfare. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Research Corporation, 1972. ISBN 9780815680789.
  • United States. Congress. House. Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Subcommittee on Oversight. Soviet Covert Action (the Forgery Offensive): Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House of Representatives, Ninety-sixth Congress, Second Session, February 6, 19, 1980. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980. OCLC 7281428.

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