Is Wałęsa Poland’s Hero?

March 9, 2016

On the backdrop of what has been happening recently in relation to Lech Wałęsa, I was reminded of a post I wrote almost eight years ago. I’m re-posting it for your enjoyment…

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.

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Jaruzelski the Traitor?

December 15, 2008
The General

The General

News that Jaruzelski was ready to open Poland’s borders and let in the Soviet army comes as a shock to some but to many more it is not surprising. For them, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, last head (and President) of the (communist) People’s Republic of Poland was a traitor in every sense of the word. News of Jaruzelski’s so-called treachery comes after the CIA decided to release classified cold war documents telling of Jaruzelski’s plans during the 1980-81 period.

Top Secret
The documents totalling over a thousand pages, published by the CIA, are detailed reports prepared by Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, a close aide of Jaruzelski, who clandestinely worked for the CIA between 1971 and 1981 passing important military information over to the Americans. As well as countering the planned Warsaw Pact invasion of western Europe and what would have been the start of World War III by allowing NATO to be one step ahead of the Warsaw Pact, Kukliński also supplied the Americans with a detailed psychological profile of General Wojciech Jaruzelski.

The Generals

The Generals

Power Hungry
In his reports, Kukliński claims that Jaruzelski had impeccable morals, shied away from the luxuries craved by most  communist leaders and was incredibly polite and well-spoken. However, his lust for power and fear/respect for the Soviet Union was inevitably his undoing. The CIA reports claim that Jaruzelski had been preparing to enforce martial law (December 1981) for a long time before it was actually imposed and it was in no way motivated by the threat of a Soviet invasion which Jaruzelski has claimed for years. Moreover, the General had pleaded with the Russians for military assistance which the Soviets rejected.

Soviet Invasion
In fact, what comes as the greatest surprise is the fact that the Soviets were very close to invading Poland not in 1981 but in 1980, a full year before martial law was imposed. The Soviet regime were irked with Solidarity’s growing power and influence. They feared that the Solidarity movement could well sweep through the Polish military, government and, even worse, the Party itself. They had already begun moving heavy arms into Poland. Russian troops stationed within Poland were known to be regularly performing military manoeuvres and several armed divisions had been re-stationed around the vicinities of Warsaw, ready to take the capital.

American Rescue
It seems that Kukliński’s report averted the danger as the American government, knowing the full scale of the imminent invasion which would have de facto reduced Poland to S.S.R. status, put immense pressure on the Soviet regime to not attempt an invasion of Poland as any such invasion would lead to the USA declaring war on the USSR. Kukliński appears to have saved the day. Wojciech Jaruzelski, however, may have ran out of arguments justifying his imposition of martial law. The Russians have stated on numerous occasions that they never had any intention of invading Poland in the winter of 1981 (when martial law was imposed). This CIA report seems to have put yet another nail in his coffin.