Project VENONA: Breaking the Unbreakable Code
Dr. Willam Allison
Project VENONA was a top-secret counterintelligence program initiated by the United States Army Signals Intelligence Service during World War II. The purpose of VENONA was to decipher intercepted Soviet communications and break the “unbreakable” Soviet code system. These intercepted communications dealt with both diplomatic and espionage matters transmitted between the various Soviet intelligence agencies during the Second World War and the Cold War. With its successes, VENONA became one of the most significant cryptologic breakthroughs of the Cold War. While the program proved that the Soviet code system could be broken, it is still known to be one of the most complex codes of the 20th century. VENONA had a profound impact on the early Cold War, even though most Americans were blissfully unaware of its existence. Due to its top-secret nature, the success of VENONA was unknown to the public, resulting in an incomplete picture of the Cold War on the American home front. Before VENONA was declassified, the general public knew Soviet spies were caught and tried in America, but not how the spies were caught or where the incriminating evidence came from. Shedding light on Project VENONA and the implications the findings had on the social and political climate in America shaped the present-day perception of the Cold War.
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Hankin, Cassandra, "Project VENONA: Breaking the Unbreakable Code" (2020). Curio Research Symposium. 65.