Transcript of Jan Sejna speech before the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of the House National Security Committee in September 17, 1996.
Chairman Dornan, ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to be here this afternoon.
It is heart-warming for me after so many years to find people who are sincerely interested in events that actually happened in various communist countries that were under the rule of the Soviet Union.
In 1968 1 was forced to choose between following instructions I received from Moscow and doing what I believed to be best for my country, Czechoslovakia. At the time, I was first secretary of the Party at the Ministry of Defense and chief of staff to the Minister of Defense, in addition to numerous other positions. The Soviet Union was preparing to invade Czechoslovakia, and I choose to alert the Czech leadership and refused to follow the Soviet plan as directed.
A week later, I learned that my immunity from arrest as a member of the Parliament had been lifted and I was about to be arrested. I believe my arrest had been directed personally by Soviet General Yepishev. After thirteen years in high-level positions, I knew precisely what that meant, and along with my son and his girl friend, who later became his wife, I fled through Yugoslavia to Trieste, where I went to the U.S. consulate and requested political asylum. In two days I was in the United States.
To understand the events of interest today, it is essential to understand that back then the main mission of all organizations in the Soviet empire was to destroy democracy and bring people everywhere under the yoke of communism.
Two wars dominated our planning. First, there was general nuclear war, which was the responsibility of the military. Even civilian construction projects had to be approved by the Defense Council to make certain they all contributed to the war effort.
Second, there was the political and intelligence wars, the world revolutionary war, as it was originally called. This war was also waged according to a very detailed and complex strategic plan. This war involved infiltration of the government and press, sabotage, subversion, deception, narcotics trafficking, organized crime, terrorism, compromise of political and business leaders, and many other activities, all designed to destroy competing social systems.
The primary targets were all industrialized countries and the most important enemy was the United States. I want to point out that in these and other activities, the Soviets ruled their empire with an iron hand. All directions and controls came from Moscow. People undertook independent actions at their own risk, and the penalties were without any regard for human rights or dignity.
I know, because I was there. In the 1950s and early 1960s I was in charge of the Defense Council secretariat. From 1964 on I was first secretary at the Ministry of Defense. In my various official capacities I was constantly meeting with Soviet officials, receiving instructions, and relaying those instructions to various Czech agencies and departments.
It was in the process of responding to Soviet directions in about 1956 that I first became aware of the use of American and South Korean POWs by Soviet and Czech doctors.
I certainly would not pretend to know what happened to all the missing POWs, but I do know what happened to many of them. In brief, hundreds were used in Korea and in Vietnam as human guinea pigs.
At the beginning of the Korean War, we received directions from Moscow to build a military hospital in North Korea. The advertised purpose of the hospital was to treat military casualties. But this was only a cover, a deception. The Top Secret purpose of the hospital was to experiment on American and South Korean POWs.
The POWs were used as bodies for training military doctors in field medicine -- for example treating serious wounds and conducting amputations.
The POWs were used to test the effects of chemical and biological warfare agents and to test the effects of atomic radiation.
The Soviets also used the American GIs to test the physiological and psychological endurance of American soldiers. They were also used to test various mind control drugs.
Czechoslovakia also built a crematorium in North Korea to disposed of the bodies and parts after the experiments were concluded.
The Americans and South Koreans were not the only humans used as guinea pigs. Thousands of prisoners within the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia too, were also used.
The Americans and South Koreans were very important to the Soviet plans because they believed it was essential to understand the manner in which different drugs, and chemical and biological warfare agents, and radiation affected different races and people who had been brought up differently; for example on better diets.
The Soviets also wanted to know whether there were differences in the abilities of soldiers from different countries to stand up to the stress of nuclear war and keep on fighting.
The Soviets were deadly serious in their preparation for nuclear war and in their development of various drugs and chemicals that were to be used in the revolutionary war, and this included detailed tests on the people from the various countries that were their enemies. Because America was the main enemy, American POWs were the most highly valued experimental subjects.
At the end of the Korean War, there were about 100 POWs who were still considered useful for further experiments. I believe all others had been killed in the process of the experiments because I do not recall ever reading any report that indicated that any of the POW patients at the hospital left the hospital alive -- except the 100 that were still alive at the end of the war. These 100 were flown in four groups first to Czechoslovakia, where they were given physical exams, and then onto the Soviet Union.
I learned about all this from the Czech doctors who ran the hospital, from the Czech military intelligence officer in charge of the Czech operations in Korea, from Soviet advisors, and from official documentation that I reviewed in the process of responding to a Soviet request for Czechoslovakia to send medical doctors to the Soviet Union to participate in various experiments being run on the POWs who had been transferred to the Soviet Union. I also reviewed reports on the results of autopsies of the POWs, and received briefings on various aspects of the experiments.
While what I have just said describes what happened in Korea, I want to point out that the same things happened in Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War. The only difference is the operation in Vietnam was better planned and more Americans POWs were used, both in Vietnam and Laos and in the Soviet Union.
On several occasions my office was responsible for organizing the shipments of POWs and their housing in Prague before they were shipped to the Soviet Union. I personally was present when American POWs were unloaded from planes, put on buses whose windows had been painted black, and then driven to Prague where they were placed in various military intelligence barracks and other secure buildings until they were shipped to the Soviet Union.
Between 1961 and 1968 when I left Czechoslovakia, I would estimate at least 200 American POWs were shipped to the Soviet Union through Czechoslovakia.
I believe there were others who were shipped to the Soviet Union through North Korea and East Germany, although I have no first hand knowledge of those transfers. I know that many were given to the Chinese for experiments during the Korean War, and Czech intelligence reported that the North Vietnamese also provided American POWs to the Chinese.
In closing I want to emphasize that this operation was conducted at the highest level of secrecy. Information on this operation was labeled State Secret, which was higher than Top Secret, and no one who did not have a real need to know was aware of the operation. When I was there, my estimate is that fewer than 15 people in all of Czechoslovakia were aware of the transfer of American POWs to the Soviet Union. I will never forget the written directions on the original Soviet order that started the operation in 1951. It said that the operation was to be conducted in such a way that "no one would ever know about it."
I am only sorry that it has taken so long to find some people here in American who are interested in the Soviet operation designed to use American POWs.
Thank you for the opportunity to tell you those things that I know happened. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.