Polish ex-leader Walesa denies he was communist spy, calls for debate

Lech WalesaPoland’s first post-communist president, Lech Wałęsa, has denied allegations that he was secretly a communist spy and has called for a public debate so he can respond to his critics. In 1980, when Poland was still under communist rule, Wałęsa was among the founders of Solidarność (Solidarity), the communist bloc’s first independent trade union. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, Wałęsa intensified his criticism of Poland’s communist government. In 1990, following the end of communist rule, Wałęsa, was elected Poland’s president by receiving nearly 75% of the vote in a nationwide election. After stepping down from the presidency, in 1995, Wałęsa officially retired from politics and is today considered a major Polish and Eastern European statesman.

But in 2008, two Polish historians, Sławomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, published a book claiming that, before founding Solidarność, Wałęsa was a paid collaborator of the SB, Poland’s communist-era Security Service. In the book, titled Secret services and Lech Walesa: A Contribution to the Biography, the two historians claim there is “compelling evidence” and “positive proof” that Wałęsa worked as a paid informant for the SB between 1970 and 1976, under the cover name “Bolek”. Wałęsa claimed that the documents unearthed by the two historians had been forged by Poland’s communist government in order to discredit him in the eyes of his fellow-workers during his Solidarność campaign. But the critics insisted, and in 2009 a new book, written by Polish historian Paweł Zyzak, echoed Cenckiewicz and Gontarczyk’s allegations. Citing sources “that prefer to remain anonymous”, the book, titled Lech Walesa: Idea and History, claimed that Wałęsa fathered an illegitimate child and collaborated with the SB in the 1970s. Like Cenckiewicz and Gontarczyk, Zyzak worked at the time for the Warsaw-based Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which also published his book. The IPN is a government-affiliated organization whose main mission is to investigate, expose and indict participants in criminal actions during the Nazi occupation of Poland, as well as during the country’s communist period. It also aims to expose SB clandestine agents and collaborators.

This past Monday, Poland’s former president published an open letter on his personal blog, in which he asked for a “substantive public debate on the Bolek imbroglio”. He said he wanted to end this controversy once and for all, by facing his critics before the public. Wałęsa added he had “had enough” of the “constant stalking” he faced by “both traditional media and Internet publications”. He went on to say that he had already asked the IPN to host a public meeting with authors and historians, including his critics, in which he would participate. Later on Monday, the IPN confirmed it had received a letter from Wałęsa, in which the former president asked for the opportunity to participate in a public meeting about the “Bolek affair”. Cenckiewicz, who co-authored the 2008 book on Wałęsa with Gontarczyk, reportedly wrote on Facebook that he would agree to participate in such a debate. The IPN said it would plan to host the debate in March of this year.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 12 January 2016 | Permalink

8 Responses to Polish ex-leader Walesa denies he was communist spy, calls for debate

  1. Juan F. says:

    In past years, I’ve read the same history from time to time but instead of being in the SB payroll , it was the CIA’s. I’m still waiting for an original writer whose payroll claims direct to the Vatican and John Paul the second.

  2. Kees Jan Dellebeke says:

    The correct name is: Instytut Pamieci Narodowej : IPN. Institute of National Remembrance.

  3. Solo says:

    Well, it would be good to quote a few of proofes. For instance, Walesa claims that he had won a lottery couple of times just when according to files he received money for his cooperation.

  4. Greg says:

    Walesa can claim what he wants to claim. SB and its predecessor UBP had a very intricate record keeping system. Records were split and archived in minimum of three locations, in a way that even if one set was destroyed the information could be reconstructed from the remaining. Cross-referencing of cases relating to “Bolek” goes a long way to fill in the remaining blanks. The “fall of communism” was the biggest hoax of the last centaury. Is it little wonder that a vast majority of current political elite in Poland, on either side of politics, can have their linage directly traced to participation in the events of late 80’s? Let’s not forget that at that time private enterprise was almost non existent in the country. Post “the transition” almost everything was privatised. Examining the manner in which this was performed and the meteoric rise of some key Polish banks that funded the process, as well as the background and heritage of founding fathers of these banks, yields an interesting perspective on the issue.

    After 79 – 81, the communist party in Poland recognised that its position is quickly becoming untenable. They could hold on for dear life and risk annihilation or they could undergo metamorphosis and emerge as business leaders. Walesa was nothing else as a selected figurehead to stage manage Solidarity through this process. He came to prominence very quickly, he disposed of Solidarity founding fathers afterwards the process was easy.

    IPN estimates that at the time of the Marshal Law being declared, in December 1981, SB had around 35,000 registered collaborators. By the time the transition came about eight years latter they had in excess of 125,000 collaborators providing regular intel. That’s over 10,000 individuals recruited every year during the period, nothing if not effective. One could ask why? But most can figure out the answer.

    People imprisoned and or interned during the 80’s, after release were given three options work with us, get out or “the ground will part in front of you”. Towards the end of the 80’s, strict application of this process provided fertile ground to hold a transition, a transition during which stage managing “Bolek” played a key role.

  5. Greg says:

    Juan, a quick search of the Internet will provide you with images of documents showing proof that “bolek” was on the take. Number of research papers / books have been written by reputable historians with reference to source information. The man has been a plant since early seventies.

  6. intelNews says:

    @Kees Jan Dellebeke: Thanks for the catch and the correction. [JF]

  7. Kees Jan Dellebeke says:

    @Juan F. – In past years, I’ve read the same history from time to time but instead of being in the SB payroll , it was the CIA’s. I’m still waiting for an original writer whose payroll claims direct to the Vatican and John Paul the second.

    *Here the comment on website Dutch Intel & Sec Service:* *Soup Cans used for smuggling*

    In the early eighties of the last century countries in western Europe sent food supplies to Poland as support for Solidarnosc. Solidarnosc (not Walesa in person),* probably backed by the Vatican and the CIA*, gradually acquired a network of connections that collected relief supplies and transported these goods to the civilian population and churches in Poland. Underground resistance fighters, members of Solidanosc abroad, sent also soupcans along in which forbidden books and pamphlets.

    For picture: *https://www.aivd.nl/over-aivd/inhoud/het-aivd-museum/soepblikken-gebruikt-voor-smokkel *

    There were some reports that also drugs and cigarettes would be transported. Once the Dutch security service (BVD/AIVD) and the Dutch customs investigated the content of a lorry, it turned out the soupcans contained prohibited reading. The booklets were printed in Italy (Vatican probably) and France where cells of Solidarnosc were located. The transports took place with the help of local support groups of Polish veterans. The Polish service SB has repeatedly attempted to infiltrate these groups abroad, also in the Netherlands: unfortunately without hard evidence.

  8. Pete says:

    Hi Juan F and Kees Jan Dellebeke

    Certainly the CIA’s Covert Action Solidarity Poland (CASP) program was one of many the CIA can be proud of.

    As already made public the Reagan administration tasked the CIA with developing ways to most effectively help Solidarity. This included finance through Catholic priest and other intermediaries to pass on money to key striking trade unionists to feed their families. Printing presses for semi-covert Solidarity pamphlets were smuggled into Poland.

    As indicated in Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidarity_(Polish_trade_union)#CIA_covert_support “Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, a senior officer on the Polish General Staff was secretly sending reports to the CIA. The CIA transferred around $2 million yearly in cash to Solidarity, which suggests that $10 million total is a reasonable estimate for the 5-year total. There were no direct links between the CIA and [Solidarity], and all money was channeled through third parties”.

    As any professional knows, from Western agencies to Putin’s FSB, deniability at the time, and for a respectable time after, is politically important.

    Cheers

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