Retranslating Venona 1822
An annotated translation of Venona Cable #1822 by Svetlana Chervonnaya
|Verbatim translation of the released Russian text ||Original Venona translation||The Haunted Wood editing (p. 269, note)|
|WASHINGTON to MOSCOW No. 1822, 30 March 1945||From: WASHINGTON
30 March 1945
|In addition to our cable No. 28  as result of the conversation «[p ya]»  with «Ales» it was ascertained:||“Further to our telegram No. 283. As a result of ‘[D% A.’s]’ chat with ‘ALES,’ the following has been ascertained:||“As a result of [unidentified] chat with [Alger Hiss], the following has been ascertained:|
|1. Ales since 1935 has been continuously working with the neighbors||1. ‘ALES’ has been working with the NEIGHBORS continuously since 1935.||1. [Hiss] has been working with the [GRU] continuously since 1935.|
|2. For several years he has been the leader of a small group of neighbors’ probationers, mainly consisting of his relatives ||2. For some years past he has been the leader of a small group of the NEIGHBORS’ probationers, for the most part consisting of his relations.||2. For some years past he has been the leader of a small group of the [GRU’s] probationers, for the most part consisting of his relatives.|
|3. The group and Ales himself work on obtaining only military information [//] materials on the «bank», — are allegedly of very little interest to the neighbors and he does not provide them regularly. ||3. The group and ‘ALES’ himself work on obtaining military information only. Materials on the BANK allegedly interest the NEIGHBORS very little and he does not produce them regularly.||3. The group and [Hiss] himself work on obtaining military information only. Materials on the [State Department] allegedly interest the [GRU] very little and he does not produce them regularly.|
|4. In all the recent years, Ales has been working with «Pol’ repeat Pol’»  who also occasionally meets other members of the group.||4. All the last few years ‘ALES’ has been working with ‘Pol’ who also meets other members of the group occasionally.||4. All the last few years [Hiss] has been working with “Pol” [Paul] who also meets other members of the group occasionally.|
|5. Recently Ales and his whole group were awarded Soviet decorations.  [Orders]||5. Recently ‘ALES’ and his whole group were awarded Soviet decorations.||5. Recently [Hiss] and his whole group were awarded Soviet decorations.|
|6. After the Yalta conference already in Moscow  Ales was allegedly contacted  by a very important  Soviet official. (Ales gave to understand that it was Comrade Vyshinsky) and on instruction of military neighbors passed on to him their gratitude and so on. ||6. After the YALTA Conference, when he had gone to MOSCOW, a Soviet personage in a very responsible position (‘ALES’ gave to understand that it was Comrade Vyshinskij) allegedly got in touch with ‘ALES’ and at the behest of the NEIGHBORS passed on to him their gratitude and so on.||6. After the YALTA Conference, when he had gone to MOSCOW, a Soviet personage in a very responsible position ([Hiss] gave to understand that it was Comrade Vyshinskij) allegedly got in touch with [Hiss] and at the behest of the military [GRU] passed on to him their gratitude and so on.|
|Vadim||VADIM”||Anatolij Borisovich Gromov [aka Anatoly Gorsky]”|
1.The translation in the left column is a verbatim translation of Washington-to-Moscow No. 1822 Russian text, as released on October 27, 2005, with the Russian word order preserved as much as possible for authenticity.
Russian translator’s note: There are some strange punctuation marks in the released Russian text that don’t fit Russian norms.
2. The reference to “cable No. 28” does not appear in the English language text of cable No. 1822 originally released by the NSA, which refers instead to “cable No. 283.” There is no “cable No. 28” among the released, decrypted 1945 Venona cables. Russian cable numbering for correspondence from each of its U.S.-based stations (Washington, New York, and San Francisco) began with “No. 1” at the beginning of each year. The released 1945 Washington-to-Moscow cable No. 1793, for example, was sent March 29, 1945, only a day earlier than cable no. 1822. Note: In this translation, any words or phrases not included in, or differing from, the original Venona release of cable No. 1822, have been set off in bold face.
3. There is nothing in the released cable indicating who talked to Ales. “[p ya]” stand for two Russian letters: “p,” and the last letter of the Russian alphabet that looks like “R” in reverse and sounds like “ya.” This combination of letters does not support an interpretation that they designate the Russian illegal resident Itshak Abdulovich Akhmerov, since they don’t contain the letter “A.” The original release of 1822 does use “A” in identifying the person Ales spoke with — “[D% A.’s].” “D%,” however, refers to the low level of confidence the agency placed in such an identification, and a footnote attached to the original version states: “‘A.’ seems the most likely garble here, although ‘A.’ has not been confirmed elsewhere in the WASHINGTON traffic.”
5. This sentence has strange punctuation marks – or a lack thereof – that may be misleading for interpretation. I put [//] to indicate the need for a comma or period between “information” and “materials.” There should be no comma and dash after “bank” [United States State Department].
6. The phrase “‘Pol” repeat ‘Pol'” is noteworthy. By giving it this emphasis, Anatoly Gorsky most probably either wanted to attract the Center’s attention to the name, or wanted to warn the Center about possible trouble. The same name appears in Gorsky’s March 5 cable, which was not decoded by Venona decryptors and which turned up among the jury bundle materials in Alexander Vassiliev’s London libel trial . In the March 5 cable, “Pol” is described as someone with whom “Ales” “came in contact” “after the loss of contact with ‘Carl.’” Since “Carl” is a pseudonym that occurs frequently both in CP USA files and as a Soviet intelligence cover name (for instance, during the 1930s some American sources knew the famous Soviet “illegal” Itshak Akhmerov as “Carl”), it would be premature to jump to any early conclusions. However, the March 5 cable has an additional clue for understanding Gorsky’s unusual and emphatic reiteration of “Pol”: it tells us that “Ruble” declined to come in contact with “Pol.” Considering that the Venona decrypts represent only a tiny percentage of the whole cable traffic, we may assume the possible existence of another and still unknown Gorsky cable (or cables) with details of a troubling description of “Pol” that Gorsky had received from “Ruble.”
Additionally, “Pol'” with softened “l” sound indicates the French spelling of the name “Paul.” According to released Venona decryptions, the “military neighbors” did use French-style cryptonyms at that time, including “Pol.'” The Russian writing of the name “Pol'” leaves no grounds for previous allegations that the Russian original “Pol'” might be “Pal,” the English translation of a Russian cryptonym the Venona releases definitely identified as one used for Nathan Gregory Silvermaster until September 2, 1944. Moreover, Silvermaster should be absolutely ruled out for the very simple reason that a cable written on March 30, 1945 would have designated him with the cryptonym – Robert – which the Venona releases definitely identified as having been used for Silvermaster after September 2, 1944.
8. The use of geographic names in the open in Soviet coded cable traffic seems strange. Even in routine Soviet diplomatic correspondence, the Yalta Conference was always referred to by the code name called “Argonaut.” Decoded Venona messages show the use of “Smyrna” instead of Moscow. The same is true for Vyshinsky, who should have had a code name of his own instead of being openly referred to. Another strange feeling conveyed by Venona 1822 comes simply from its being a complete decryption – a very rare occurrence among Venona decrypts, most if not all of which have one or more “groups unrecovered” or “unrecoverable.”
10. Russian “otvetstvennyi” [verbatim: “responsible”] in Soviet phraseology of the period standing for a “person of authority.” Here “otvetstvennyi sovetskii rabotnik” [verbatim: “responsible Soviet/government worker”]; often “otvetstvennyi tovarisch” [verbatim “responsible comrade”], which could refer to any Soviet official.
11. Overall, the Russian text gives no indication of Ales’s identity, aside from the fact that he was one of the Americans who had been at Yalta and then went to Moscow. Neither is the Russian text definitive that it was Vyshinsky himself who passed on gratitude to Ales on behalf of the military “neighbors”: the Russian wording – that “ALES gave to understand, that it was Comrade Vyshinsky” – implies that Ales did not actually name Vyshinsky but that Vadim’s informant understood from Ales’s description that he was talking about Vyshinsky.