Town target of Cold War mappers

RUSSIAN spies created a detailed map of Ipswich during the Cold War - including potential military targets - as the KGB planned for world domination, The Evening Star can reveal today.

RUSSIAN spies created a detailed map of Ipswich during the Cold War - including potential military targets - as the KGB planned for world domination, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Produced in 1984, the map reveals the exact location and purpose of every structure of possible military importance - and would have provided Russian leaders with the directions of exactly how to get to your house by tank.

Experts believe the map, only recently uncovered, was compiled using aerial photos, satellite images, local knowledge and spies.

It is so detailed that the KGB - the Soviet Union's secret police - knew the width of Ipswich's roads, the height of the town's bridges, the depth of our rivers and the names of our streets.

And it features details which would not have been present on an Ordnance Survey map because of political and military sensitivities at the time.

Clearly identified are the railway station, Churchman's factory, buildings around the docks, council offices, the town hall, the police station and the law courts.

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The Evening Star's offices in Lower Brook Street are even featured.

However, although the KGB claimed the map was accurate up to 1984, there are omissions, including the Wolsey Theatre which was built five years earlier.

Ipswich was one of 103 English towns and cities, covering 16,000sq km of the UK, mapped out between 1950 and 1997.

They formed part of the most comprehensive global survey ever attempted, with the Russian military developing detailed, accurate maps of almost every country in the world.

The Star obtained a copy of the map of Ipswich through mapping and environmental risk report provider Landmark Information Group, which has digitalised the full set.

John Davies, a Russian map expert, said: “Realising the military, economic and political benefits of topographic information, the Soviet military set about mapping the whole world - a mammoth task which took more than 50 years before, during and after the Cold War to complete.

“Today, very little is known about how the organisation was structured and how such incredible results were achieved. Certainly the operation was militarily driven, very well controlled, achieving spectacular results.

“It was ultimately futile if the purpose was world domination of course, but they left a fascinating legacy.”

What do you think about the KGB's map of Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

The political climate in 1984:

WHEN the map of Ipswich was created, the Cold War was still raging and the Iron Curtain remained firmly in place, slicing Europe in two.

Konstantin Chernenko was Soviet leader and his hard line stance on foreign affairs ensured an uneasy relationship with the west.

However, unbeknown to most outside of the USSR, Russia was fast becoming a fading force.

Mike Bowker, senior lecturer in politics at the University of East Anglia, said: “By 1984, the Russian general secretaries were all dying off.

“The leaders were all too old and ill, meaning they weren't very effective and the influence of Russia was waning.

“Despite this, relations between the Soviet Union and the west were not good. Regan was in power in the US and people had been writing about a second Cold War.

“During the Cold War, the Russians made long term plans as to what they would do if they invaded other countries. For example, they created detailed maps of what they would do if they took over West Germany.”

The rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, who succeeded the late Chernenko in 1985, effectively spelt the end of the USSR and eventually broke down the Iron Curtain, finished the Cold War and improved relations with the west.

IT is not the first time Suffolk has been mapped out by an enemy.

During the Second World War, the German Luftwaffe created a pocket guide for pilots as to where they should dump any surplus bombs.

John Blatchly from the Ipswich Historical Society said: “There is an interesting parallel to the maps created by the KGB.

“During the Second World War, the bomber pilots were provided with a map which showed them where to drop their unused bombs.

“They were small enough to fold up in their pockets and featured largely storage locations for oil and petrol.”

What was the KGB?

Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB), or Committee of State Security, was the USSR's secret police.

The organisation was in control of frontier and general security along with the forced labour system.

KGB officers held key appointments in all fields of daily life, reporting to administration offices in every major town.

It had at least 220,000 border guards, with reinforcements of 80,000 volunteer militia members.

Headed by General Vladimir Kryuchkov 1988-91, the KGB coordinated the military crackdown on Azerbaijan 1990 and on the Baltic states in 1991.

On the demise of the USSR in 1991, the KGB was superseded by the Federal Counterintelligence Service, which was renamed the Federal Security Service in April 1995, when its powers were expanded to enable it to combat corruption and organized crime, and to undertake foreign-intelligence gathering.

Its main successor is the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which focuses on 'economic security' and combating foreign espionage.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is a former director of the FSB.

Did you know?

The Cold War brought the world to the brink of actual war in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.