Need to know is a yearly conference on the history of intelligence. It has a standing Organizing Committee of Thomas Wegener Friis, Associate Professor at the Center for Cold War Studies of the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Senior Researchers Wladyslaw Bulhak and Przemyslaw Gasztold at the Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN), Professor Michael Goodman at King’s College London and Curator Karl Lorentz Kleve at Norwegian National Aviation Museum (NL), PhD-student Sylwia Szyc at IPN and Anna Piekarska from the Museum of Polish History.
It was first organized in Brussels in 2011, by the IPN and SDU as an event accompanying the Polish and the following Danish presidency of the European Union. The basis for the conference was the large amount of declassified archival material on intelligence and intelligence operations which in the previous years had become available to scholars in the former communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe. The main aim of the conference was to bring together scholars from these countries, who analysed such material on daily basis, with researchers in Western Europe and North America, to develop a European Platform for Intelligence Studies. The conference was a success, and it was decided to attempt to continue to organize it on a yearly basis in cooperation with changing local hosts.
Since 2011, attendance has varied but grown steadily, and it has become the main meeting place for intelligence researchers from all over Europe, with participation also from scholars from North America and the Middle East. The conference has been organized in such varied places as the South Denmark University (2012) in Odense, University of Gotland in Visby (2013), University of Leuven (2014), the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald (2015), Swedish Naval Museum at Karlskrona (2016), Antall Jozsef Centre of Political and Social Sciences together with the Hungarian Committee of National Remembrance in Budapest (2017), Norwegian National Aviation Museum in Bodø (2018), International Centre for Defence and Security in Tallinn (2019), King’s College London (2021) and the Cold War Museum Langelands Fort in Denmark (2022). The 2020 conference had to be postponed one year, due to the Covid pandemic.