Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John Cornell


Operation Gold (1953-56) was a collaborative covert operation between the American CIA and British SIS. The two major objectives: firstly, rebalance the state of affairs in covert activity, which the KGB had been dominating heading into the 1950s. Secondly, gain more detailed, valuable information on the state of Soviet forces throughout Europe and gain prior warning of possible information. The technological nature of the operation marks it as the beginning of a move away from traditional espionage. Understanding the narrative of Operation Gold establishes a firm foundation on which to address the development of covert activity into the modern day. Key elements of the story of the Berlin Tunnel serve to tie this lesser known operation to modern concerns of privacy, personal data, and covert involvement in international affairs. While unravelling the truest narrative of the planning and implementation of the operation, this thesis integrates substantial events, groups and people which shape the role of the Berlin Tunnel in understanding covert conflict. Further consideration is also given to how this operations legacy unfolded and the role of the media in understanding events in this separate sphere. Lessons about the covert sphere not only address a sub-narrative of 1950s Cold War but reach conclusions pertinent to the 21st century.

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