The time is the 1950s, the place is Berlin
Voices Under Berlin
Review of
Experiences with the CIA's 1950's Berlin Spy Tunnel

A Real Espionage "Who Done It?"

The manuscript of Experiences with the CIA's 1950's Berlin Spy Tunnel by Robert T. Browne is an espionage "Who Done it?" in the most literal sense of the phrase. It is a memoir of the Berlin Tunnel and those who worked it, told by four of the actual military participants of PBJointly: Robert T. Browne (Colonel, retired), John E. Quirk, Eugene N. Kovalenko, and Russell Knapp. The approach that the authors take in "Experiences with the CIA's 1950's Berlin Spy Tunnel" complements the existing literature on the Berlin Tunnel by presenting the human face of the project. While Murphy's, Kondrashev's, & Bailey's Battleground Berlin, Stafford's Spies Beneath Berlin, and the declassified official history of the Tunnel provide a host of technical details on PBJointly, Colonel Browne's book focuses on giving credit where credit is due to as many of those members of the uniformed services "as possible who otherwise may have been forgotten by history."

Colonel Browne's portion of the book is the story of the Tape Processing Unit that was housed in Building T-32, a temporary World War II two-story wooden barracks located near the Lincoln Memorial on the banks of the Potomac. John E. Quirk tells the tale of life in the ELINT operation at the "Warehouse" in Rudow that provided cover for the covert collection operation being carried out via the Tunnel. Eugene N. Kovalenko relates what it was like to be a direct-support Russian linguist at the Tunnel. Russell Knapp arrived in April 1956, just before the Tunnel was discovered by the Soviets, and his story is of everyday life at the Rudow compound in the final days of the project. The delivery of the stories is enhanced by a large number of photographs of those involved.

The accent in all these tales is on the military people who worked PBJointly, and the book's goal, says Colonel Browne, is "to gain recognition for the military who worked on the project." The book's documentation of military participation in Operation Gold will be welcomed by members of the 280th Army Security Agency (ASA) Special Operations Unit (SOU), who have long been trying unsuccessfully to prove that the military worked the collection from the Tunnel, as well as dug it.

The manuscript is in search of a publisher. The content is interesting, and certainly deserves to be published, but in terms of the publishing industry categories, it is neither fish nor fowl. It is too long for a journal article but too short for a book.  Potential publishers can contact Colonel Browne at browne. The manuscript has already been through pre-publication review.

Return to the Berlin Tunnel Links page.

copyright bar