Get Wałęsa

Get WałęsaThe political climate in Poland is abubbling, afrothing and afoaming due to the imminent publication of SB a Lech Wałęsa (the Secret Police and Lech Wałęsa) by Sławomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk. The authors of the book, two historians who work for the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), claim that the former President of Poland and legendary leader of Solidarity Lech Wałęsa was in fact a communist agent (Polish TW = tajny współpracownik = secret agent) with the pseudonym “Bolek”. A double agent, no less. This has sent shock waves across the Polish political landscape causing an incredible polarisation of an already divided political scene.

Bolek or Not
WałęsaThere are in effect two camps. Those who believe Wałęsa is the now mythical “Bolek” and those who believe there is no way on God’s Earth that the leader of Solidarity, the man who defeated communism and a devout Catholic could have played for both sides. The “Bolek” camp is headed by the terrible twins, wannabe Machiavellis, Lech and Jarosław Kaczyński who very early on in their political careers made it clear that they thought Wałęsa was “Bolek”. Interestingly, they only made their opinions known when Wałęsa threw his former aide Lech Kaczyński out of his office and decided he was unfit to work in politics and when Wałęsa decided to put an end to the ill-fated government of Kaczyński buddy Jan Olszewski (as well as Antoni Macierewicz).

Campaign of Dishonour
WałęsaThe truly annoying thing about this campaign to discredit the Nobel Peace Prize winner is that Kaczyński and Kaczyński have quite literally pulled out all the stops to besmirch Wałęsa. The IPN is loaded with Law and Justice (PiS) cronies who have not yet been cleared out by the government of Civic Platform (PO). Several days ago, Polish National Television (TVP) broadcast a so-called documentary which provided ‘hard evidence’ that Wałęsa was “Bolek”. Actually, this ‘papumentary’ was more an advert for the book. TVP is of course headed and managed by a whole slew of PiS sympathisers casting a dark shadow over the journalistic credibility of the programme. What is more, the now infamous book is an alleged history based on IPN documents. It is odd that a history book posits a thesis at the beginning rather than look at the facts and then draw a conclusion.

What if…?
Man of the YearThe question on most people’s lips is what will happen (or become of Wałęsa) if it turns out that he did collaborate with the SB. Those people who survived communism know full well that a large majority of people did collaborate. So what? They did so to survive. I suggest the younger generation go out and watch the poignant Das Leben der Anderen which shows how communism was never truly black and white. We are rarely confronted with true, pure evil in life and people usually come in shades of grey. If Wałęsa did collaborate (which I severely doubt) then I’m sure he did it to protect the fragile, embryonic democracy that he was trying to nurture. If he did collaborate why doesn’t he admit it? Life is never black and white and to point the finger and to name names would do no good now. The facts are that Wałęsa did more for freedom than most men do in their whole lives and that can never be taken away from him.


21 thoughts on “Get Wałęsa

  1. Raf

    If I had started reading your post from the bottom, I would have applauded you — the final sentence would be nothing but the truth.

    (Though it would need some editing – replacing “Walesa” with “pre-1989 Walesa” and elaborating on “most men” (what men?), or explaining how the last sentence can agree with the preceding one — since “Life is never black and white”, Walesa’s life can never be black or white, then Walesa can never be all white, and a blot of black is discussed by the book you oppose. Without reading, I assume. I mean, why read, if you know it’s PiS thing and PiS is Evil.)

    Unfortunately, I started reading the post from the top – and saw:

    — “the terrible twins, wannabe Machiavellis”
    — “Campaign of Dishonour”
    — “campaign to discredit the Nobel Peace Prize winner”
    — “the IPN is loaded with Law and Justice (PiS) cronies”
    — “a so-called documentary…Actually, this ‘papumentary’”
    — “a whole slew of PiS sympathisers casting a dark shadow over the journalistic credibility”
    plus the gem:
    — “a large majority of people did collaborate. So what? They did so to survive.”

    If this is an example of “campaign of honour”, gods please don’t ever make my honour resemble Raf’s.

  2. Darthsida, I never said I was unbiased and I have never pretended to love PiS. I also never said I was campaigning for Wałęsa. I simply like the guy, think he did a splendid job for Poland and dislike the way he is being treated by a small group of people.

  3. I saw the film Das Leben der Aderen. yet in Germany they made it all public, I mean the files, and now they are done with it. even former agents may now enter public life. I think my generation, born in the 80 wants the political life now to have European standards and stop this harping on the past, the “files” and things like that. actually I think Walesa is and will for ever stay an important figure in the Polish history, on the other hand, it wouldn’t be so bad to know the truth…

  4. Bidzia,
    My thoughts exactly, They should have opened up all the files and made them public. It’s time Poland stopped looking in the past and looking to the future. 🙂

  5. Hi!!! It’s been so nice to meet you in the virtual world to find that you’re still fighting for our sweet Wałek!!! I love him too and will continue to adore him till the end of my days. I’m worrying about his heart 😦
    Life goes on though, the world changes, we all change and you changed too by growing such a wonderful tip on top (of you head I mean)!!!
    Kasia Białek (married and has not only a different name now but also a brand new baby girl) sent me the link to your blog which I’m intending to study, mainly from the point of view of weird English words.
    your old, old, old student :))

  6. It is odd that a history book posits a thesis at the beginning rather than look at the facts and then draw a conclusion.

    There’s nothing odd about that. Every history book states a thesis and then argues it. If you’ve ever written an essay, I’m sure you’re aware that a thesis is stated at the beginning, then argued, and then re-stated in a conclusion.

    If Wałęsa did collaborate (which I severely doubt) then I’m sure he did it to protect the fragile, embryonic democracy that he was trying to nurture.

    What democracy (in the 1970s)? And what nurturing: this was before Wałęsa was important and famous, wasn’t it?

  7. Pacze Moj,
    No, actually. History books provide evidence of what happens and do not present a biased view of an event. By ‘thesis’ I do not mean a thesis statement found in an essay or a statement of intent. These historians knew what they wanted to write before even they collected their evidence.
    Second comment: If Wałęsa did collaborate he was protecting the fledgling democracy of the 90s. He had become such a symbol that to denigrate his achievements with what he might have done in the 70s would have blown the whole thing apart.

  8. Every history book is a view of an event biased by the sources/evidence it uses; and I think you may be mistaken about what a thesis is. But I’m glad you can be rational enough to know what these historians wanted or didn’t want to write — without any of your own evidence. The irony is amazing. AMAZING!

    If Wałęsa did collaborate he was protecting the fledgling democracy of the 90s.
    You could say that’s why he lied about collaborating, but I don’t think you can make the argument he collaborated in the 1970s to protect things that happened in the 1990s. Unless he has a time machine…

    I suppose Poles really are a nation of Catholics. Those who deem themselves “progressive” simply have more faith in political messiahs than religious ones.

  9. Raf,

    a PS to the meme of “protecting the fledgling democracy”, sad one to any faith in Walesa – is the interview with Walesa by Skowronski for Polish Radio 3, which one may read, listen to or download from here.

    Walesa admits he wishes he had burnt down all the secret police files, any documents, all PRL archives when he was in power after 1989. To protect the democracy, of course, and for Poland’s best sake. I wonder whether the man realizes how tyrannical, how antidemocratic he sounds.

    And yes, Walesa says there’s no one who could break him. True. No one could ruin his page in history. Save himself. Sad.

  10. Pacze Moj,
    I am not arguing AT ALL that he collaborated to protect democracy. I said that IF he collaborated (big if) then he didn’t later reveal this fact to protect (of course) himself and therefore Poland’s embryonic democracy. Could you have imagined what would have happened had that kind of news come out at the time? As to political messiahs… hmm… I can only think of one so-called ‘great’ Polish leader so talking of ‘messiahs’ is both misleading and incorrect.

  11. Darthsida,
    I’m not saying he’s a saint or a God. I just don’t see the point of mounting a campaign of destruction against him and the symbolism that goes with him. What really irks is the fact that this has all been insigated at the behest of Kaczyński. Surely, Poland has more important agendas? Euro2012? Infrastructure? Economy? Education?

  12. Oh, Raf, that’s low.

    Every time (and I mean every) I’d say anything against Walesa, my opponent sooner or later would say the magic curse “Kaczynski”. Not everyone against Walesa is pro Kaczynski. Not everyone pro Kaczynski is Radio Maryja listener. Not everyone who voted for Kaczynski (adsum!) even likes the brothers. There are no obvious divides.

    Truly then you follow in the footsteps of Walesa (read or listen to the linked interview again) – bringing up Kaczynski unprovoked. Yes, it’s a maniac behavior, a knee jerk.

    I’m afraid you can’t dismiss arguments against Walesa with “nobody is a saint”. Some of the accusations against Walesa are of criminal nature — and it would be penal code we’d be talking, not religion.

    I agree with you: Poland has problems more important than one with Walesa. However, you don’t seem to realize that when people say something against Walesa it’s often they opposes his vision of economy, the arrangement of the Round Table 1989. Economy, international politics, agendas for a decade to come.

    PS Education…? Six teachers in my close family: two most happy on early retirement, one being a university teacher (less stress, more profits), one fled to England, two remaining — cursing Donald Tusk (for his recent ideas) while praising Roman Giertych (for uniforms and for the public functionary status for instance). They curse and praise in secret, of course, it’s not politically correct or socially welcome to speak favourably of anyone Gazeta Wyborcza has not properly annointed.

  13. I am most certainly not grouping people, but the fact is that this whole situation was started by the Kaczyńskis. My reaction may appear to be knee jerk but I firmly believe that the two of them are at the heart of many ills in Polish politics. For example, knowing that Wałęsa was Bolek (both claim to have had access to original SB documents) why on earth did they support him in his (successful) presidential campaign? Why – with Macierewicz et al – were they ready to stage a coup d’etat (they even had the Nadwiślański division waiting) when they knew full well it would put an end to Poland’s standing in the west. I could go on. No, it’s not a knee jerk reaction.

    I do agree with you about my argument of “nobody’s a saint” being a poor one. You’ve got me there fair and square but when we come down to it it’s just a case of Wałęsa’s word against… someone else’s. Shouldn’t we be looking at the ‘real’ aspects of communism, like the machinations of the communist party and communist atrocities? We really do need to place a gauge against all the events of Poland’s history. If Wałęsa lied then is his crime on a comparable scale of the crimes of communists? Because I get the impression that the longer this goes on the blacker Wałęsa becomes and Polish history may soon talk of the ‘great evil of Wałęsa’ and ignore the real crimes of communism. I could, of course, be wrong.

    As to Wałęsa’s policies – Round Table, Economy etc. Despite his egotism, despotism and narcissism, I truly doubt that Wałęsa was solely responsible for all the policies forged in the close post-communist period. Besides, the corruption, scandals and nepotism in the SLD-Miller era must surely irk equally as much. This period would have some economists claiming that this was Poland’s biggest modern ‘missed chance’.

  14. Raf,
    you’ve titled your post “Get Walesa”, and that’s the key reason I mention his so often.

    I do not care at all about Walesa being Bolek or not. I care about Walesa’s possible abuse of his position in the 90s (‘losing’ some files he requested). I wouldn’t contrast his [alleged] offense with any other crimes, communist or not — Penal Code covers a large variety of human misdeeds. I would not think Walesa should go scot-free — as there would be worse villains than him. (It’d be like insisting burglars could be let free because rape is worse, and rapists should go free because murder is yet worse.)

    Like you, I doubt Walesa was (solely) responsible for the Round Table vision — but he gave (franchised?) his name, prestige, blessing etc. to those who were responsible. That’s a major thing.

    You wrote above “I never said I was unbiased”. Have my set of “biases” in return:
    I don’t watch tv, so am not influenced by this media chanel, whosever hands it should be in. I listened to Radio Maryja once, heard a prayer and switched off. I liked Roman Giertych in the previous govt. I was a UPR fan 1989-1999. I was a PiS voter last elections. I don’t like Kaczynskis. I don’t give a duck about them, their cats, bank accounts or mohair fetishes. I don’t like GW more, yet. I am certainly disappointed with Mr Tusk govt. Next elections I will be either PiS or SLD voter (this dependent on which party gets more in the polls).

    PS2. Nadwislanski division waiting could be a fuel for a dispute as fiery as talking the Russian tanks heating up the engines at the Polish state border in Dec 1981. But we digress.

  15. Yes, Raf, it seems so.

    Btw, you do realize your opinion on the Round Table is probably much different from Lech Walesa’s? He has finally recognized the Round Table agreement as rotten and wretched (‘fatalny, zgniły‘). [Spoken like Kaczynski, if you ask me.]

  16. Yes, I do. That doesn’t change the fact that it was the best – I think – that could have happened in the situation. I think many of us fail to remember what a difficult time it was. But as we all know, retrospect is such a wonderful thing… 😉

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