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The sophistication and diversity of Hungary’s state security system has started to become apparent to ordinary people only recently. The system involved secret networks, relationships with people outside the official networks, and the secret operative staff of the Interior Ministry’s III/III department – the bureau of the Communist regime’s secret agents.

While ordinary people in Hungary waited decades before they received a telephone line, the Interior Ministry’s III/III department operated an entire telephone network connecting the central offices with local bureaus, border crossing stations and local party offices. Besides operating a telephone network, the III/III department also staffed the system with people who answered the phones day and night.

HVG.hu has obtained a hand-written phone book that was used by the central unit of the III/III department in 1989. The booklet includes the list of “K-lines”, which were direct phone lines to the most important offices of the regime. The list reveals that the phone network of the state security services connected not only the state security offices, but also the offices of state administration, police, Communist Party chapters, and even the legislative bodies.

Most of the phone numbers pertain to official III/III department staff. It is not surprising, however, that numbers of other Interior Ministry departments, National Police, local police precincts, border guard offices, border crossing stations, other Interior Ministry facilities as holiday homes and vehicle garages, and the Police Academy are included in the phone book.

Special state phone lines were connected into the homes of key state security officials, some of whom were allowed to keep the special lines and the six-digit numbers after retirement. Direct phone lines connected the state security services to the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party and the National Command Center of the Workers’ Guard. The III/III department was responsible for the personal security of the Communist leaders, thus it operated direct phone lines to the government alley at Ferihegy Airport and the international boat station at Vigadó tér, downtown Budapest.

Also direct state security phone lines were connected into the Defense Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the National Customs and Excise Office. State security services also maintained close contact with the judiciary branch, consequently the Highest Court, the Military Prosecution and the Central Court were all included in the security office’s central phone book.

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