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VENONA Chronology

  • 1 February 1943 Gene Grabeel begins VENONA at Arlington Hall.
  • November 1943 Lieutenant Richard Hallock makes first break into Soviet diplomatic cipher; break expanded by Frank Lewis.
  • During 1943 VENONA program expands; Captain F. Coudert and Major William B. S. Smith in charge.
  • November 1944 Break made in KGB cipher by Cecil Phillips, Genevieve Feinstein, Lucille Campbell.
  • 1945 Gouzenko defects; Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers tell FBI about Soviet espionage in U.S.
  • May 1945 Military intelligence teams find Soviet codebooks in Saxony and Schleswig, Germany.
  • July-December 1946 Meredith Gardner begins to analytically reconstruct KGB codebook; translates a few messages including one about the atomic bomb.
  • 30 August 1947 Meredith Gardner's study of KGB covernames in the messages.
  • September 1947 Carter W. Clarke of G-2 advises S. Wesley Reynolds, FBI, of successes at Arlington Hall on KGB espionage messages.
  • 19-20 October 1948 Robert J. Lamphere, FBI HQ, begins liaison with Meredith Gardner and great number of espionage cases opened.
  • 1948-1951 Exploitation of VENONA exposes major KGB espionage agents such as Klaus Fuchs, Harry Gold, David Greenglass, Theodore Hall, William Perl, the Rosenbergs, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby, and Harry D. White.
  • 1952-1953 An earlier KGB cryptosystem exploited; GRU messages attacked. More espionage agents identified over the next two decades.
  • 1953 CIA officially briefed on VENONA and begins to assist in counterintelligence work.
  • 1960 U.K. begins to exploit Naval GRU messages.
  • 1960-1980 Hundreds of first-time translations of messages; many earlier translations reissued.
  • 1 October 1980 VENONA ends.

Date Event
1 February 1943 Gene Grabeel begins VENONA at Arlington Hall.
November 1943 Lieutenant Richard Hallock makes first break into Soviet diplomatic cipher; break expanded by Frank Lewis.
During 1943 VENONA program expands; Captain F. Coudert and Major William B. S. Smith in charge.
November 1944 Break made in KGB cipher by Cecil Phillips, Genevieve Feinstein, Lucille Campbell.
1945 Gouzenko defects; Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers tell FBI about Soviet espionage in U.S.
May 1945 Military intelligence teams find Soviet codebooks in Saxony and Schleswig, Germany.
July-December 1946 Meredith Gardner begins to analytically reconstruct KGB codebook; translates a few messages including one about the atomic bomb.
30 August 1947 Meredith Gardner's study of KGB covernames in the messages.
September 1947 Carter W. Clarke of G-2 advises S. Wesley Reynolds, FBI, of successes at Arlington Hall on KGB espionage messages.
19-20 October 1948 Robert J. Lamphere, FBI HQ, begins liaison with Meredith Gardner and great number of espionage cases opened.
1948-1951 Exploitation of VENONA exposes major KGB espionage agents such as Klaus Fuchs, Harry Gold, David Greenglass, Theodore Hall, William Perl, the Rosenbergs, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby, and Harry D. White.
1952-1953 An earlier KGB cryptosystem exploited; GRU messages attacked. More espionage agents identified over the next two decades.
1953 CIA officially briefed on VENONA and begins to assist in counterintelligence work.
1960 U.K. begins to exploit Naval GRU messages.
1960-1980 Hundreds of first-time translations of messages; many earlier translations reissued.
1 October 1980 VENONA ends.