Archiv bezpečnostních složek
The Security Services Archive (Archiv bezpečnostních složek, ABS) is one of the newest archives in the Czech Republic. It was founded together with the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes following the adoption of Act No. 181/2007 Coll. on 1 August 2007, although they both started operation on 1 February 2008. The foundation of both institutions was accompanied by lengthy disputes, as several academics and politicians disapproved of them. Compared to other post-communist states, the two institutions were established relatively late on and they are still part of media disputes to this day.
The bases of the archive collections which are administrated by the ABS are archive materials stored to date in the Archive of the Ministry of the Interior. Almost 20 kilometres of archive materials were created between 1939 and 1989 by the Nazi and Communist security forces, organised in almost 750 fonds and collections. The public mainly associates the ABS with the opportunity to study materials from the State Security (Státní bezpečnost; StB) that were kept by the Communist regime’s secret police force on both its collaborators and opponents. There are, however, more sources related to the recent past in the fonds – for example, materials related to the resistance in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the search for war criminals, testimonies of Gestapo employees, the investigative files of Communist security forces, surveillance files from the National Security Corps (Sbor národní bezpečnosti; SNB) and the personal files of employees from the Ministry of the Interior. Materials have also been archived from civilian and military intelligence and counter-intelligence, personal files of employees from the Ministry of the Interior, materials of the Border Guard (Pohraniční stráž) and Public Security (Veřejná bezpečnost). The archive materials are deposited in two buildings in Prague (on Branické Square and Na Struze Street) and one building in Brno-Kanice. The operational time limit of the ABS as an independent institution has been restricted – according to the Act, it should become a part of the National Archive on 1 January 2030.
The most important goals of the ABS are to safeguard the archive materials under its administration, process the fonds and collections, create archival aids and make them accessible to the public. The ABS also fulfils tasks for other Czech institutions and offices – e.g. by providing materials for the Department of Personal Security and Lustration of the Ministry of Interior which issues a lustration certificate (based on Act No. 451/1991 Coll.), collaboration with the National Security Authority (Národní bezpečnostní úřad), the secret services of the Czech Republic and Czech Republic police force. The archive also works extensively within the agenda of Act No. 262/2011 Sb concerning those who participated in resistance and opposed Communism, which came into force on 17 November 2011. It gathers materials for preparing statements for particular applications, and presents official statements for the Ministry of Defence.
The first declassification of the StB files was permitted in 1996 (by the Act No. 140/1996 Coll.), albeit in a very restricted form. A few years later, an exception in § 37 of Act No. 499/2004 Coll., on archival science and file services and on amendments to some acts, made possible the almost unlimited access to archive materials relating to the activities of the Communist regime’s security forces. These remarkably liberal conditions are exceptional in comparison with other post-communist countries, and still receive occasional criticism. However, thanks to this liberal legislation the ABS is one of the most widely used archives by researchers. It is visited by more than 2,000 researchers every year, who carry out almost 4,500 study visits, during which more than 40,000 items are presented. The research rooms are located on Na Struze Street in Prague and in Brno–Kanice. The research room on Siwiecova Street has been closed since 2017 due to reconstruction. The work of digitilization departments and IT specialists guarantees better protection for the original materials and a more comfortable research environment. Thanks to these professionals, registered users have been able to study sections of the archives at the website eBadatelna.cz since 2017.
The easiest way to look up the archive materials is to use the entries in extant or newly created name records. Older records from the Study Department of the Ministry of the Interior (Studijní ústav ministerstva vnitra) contain archive materials created shortly after the Second World War. Newer records were created by the StB and some of them are accessible online (https://www.abscr.cz/jmenne-evidence/). Thematic searches for archive materials can often be complicated.
The administration and accessibility of archive materials is not the only objective of the archive, and the employees of a modern restoration department look after the archive materials. The archive also has a specialized library and publishes the Collection of the Archive of Security Forces (Sborník Archivu bezpečnostních složek) which follows the Collection of the Archive of the Ministry of Interior (Sborník Archivu ministerstva vnitra).
The ABS often takes part in organising exhibitions related to the period 1938–1989 which are organised by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, as well as other memory institutions. The employees of the ABS also try to expand their educational activities, including excursions for people interested in sources from our recent past, special educational programmes for schools, open days, and participating in geocaching – a popular game worldwide (route Za historií s ABS).
Siwiecova 2, 130 00 Praha 3, Czech Republic
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Date of founding
Acronym (if any)
Type of organisation
- Government/State organisation
Author(s) of this page
- Bílková, Jitka