Polish politics seems to be a never-ending battle for the right to be called a “hero” regardless of whether one was a hero or not. The latest instalment in the ongoing saga of “Let’s besmirch each other” comes with former PM Jarosław Kaczyński having a dig at Deputy Speaker Stefan Niesiołowski. Both men are well-known for being outspoken and not mincing words. Both are loathed by members of their opposing parties – Niesiołowski is held in disdain by Law and Justice (PiS), Kaczyński is despised by Civic Platform (PO).
During a debate on a motion whether or not to dismiss the Speaker of the House Bronisław Komorowski (PO), put forward by PiS, Kaczyński began making fun of the fact that Komorowski ‘only’ spent one month in prison for his part in the anti-communist opposition. He went on to add that Niesiołowski (PO) betrayed his opposition colleagues to the communist Security Services (SB). He later stated on Polish Radio that even 13-year-old girls tortured by the Gestapo never fell apart. But according to Kaczyński Niesiołowski did. This perpetual wrangling has been going on for years. Ironic due to the fact that they were once very close political allies in the fight against communism after 1989.
Best Form of Defence…
To be fair, Niesiołowski has not made life easy for himself with his scathing and often very personal attacks on Jarosław Kaczyński, Law and Justice as well as Jarosław’s twin brother President Lech Kaczyński. As shocking as Kaczyński’s comments may have appeared to be, the direction in which they are aimed are not altogether surprising. Niesiołowski has been a poor choice as Deputy Speaker and is often unable to keep a level head in discussions and keep his arguments free of bias.
What is most sad in this re-opening of old war wounds is Kaczyński’s desire to, yet again, play the ‘communist hero’ card. No one can take away from Niesiołowski the fact that he did a great deal in the fight against communism. He spent four years in prison and was under constant surveillance by the communists. Kaczyński has also repeatedly attempted to besmirch another activist, Lech Wałęsa, with little success in reality. Despite his patent zealousness and repeated calls to clean the world of former communists and communist collaborators, Kaczyński’s opposition activities during communism are insignificant at best. As his opponents like to remind him, he never spent a day in prison.