This is an area of Polish history and current affairs that I am by no means qualified to comment upon but the headlines seem pretty straight forward and perhaps those who are more enlightened might be tempted to comment?
The Telegraph article comments on the book planned to be published by IPN (Institute of National Remembrance) that claims Wałęsa was a communist agent of the SB (Secret Service) and given the code name “Bolek”. One question I have is “Who was Lolek?”, because one has to assume there was one.
This is obviously shocking news to anyone not intimate with the rather bitter finger-pointing, outing and in-fighting that has been going on for quite a while now, largely, it seems to me, associated with the IPN. Should they re-name it the Institute for National Disruption, perhaps?
My, extremely simple, understanding is that the IPN exists to try and resolve issues associated with who was and who was not a “bad guy” in the old days. They hold many official records that are not generally available and there have been innumerable “leaks” pointing fingers at various well known figures. The most famous “leak” so far has been the Wildstein List, which names 240,000 people who allegedly worked for the communists in the same way as Wałęsa is now accused.
I’m really not sure what to make of all this but my gut reaction is that this IPN either needs to make everything they know fully public, open and transparent, or, they need to burn the lot and let bygones be bygones. The current status of the information being available to some but not to all is just going to be like rubbing a sore so often that it never heals properly.
Again as far as I can see, the people at the helm of the leak-machine seem to be the Kaczynski twins, President and ex-Prime Minister. It is pretty obvious when you look at the “incident time-line” that the Kaczynskis, or their cohorts, were and still are either on a saintly mission to cleanse the country or were determined to stick the knife into a few people they didn’t like. I’ve never really got good vibrations from either of these guys, a sneakier more underhand pair you’re not likely to find. It started for me when Jarosław, the ex-Prime Minister, (or was it the other one?) started pulling files from under his podium and waving them at his opponent during a public debate. A kind of ner-ner look what I’ve got! It didn’t get any better from there.
It seems that Lech the President and Lech the ex-President are not best friends, so who knows what’s going on backstage. I might be imagining things, but I’m sure I’ve seen pictures of all the main players here – Kaczynskis, Wałęsa, Michnik, et al, hugging each other and generally being the best of buddies back in the Solidarity days. Something here smells like a rotten fish-head and I wish we could just all be told the truth of what exactly went on back then!
Wałęsa has hit back at Kaczynski demanding that he is impeached and removed from office.
As for the whole concept of naming and shaming, I’ve had various conversations with Poles who have the benefit of having lived through it and there are at least three schools of thought. One says that these “communist sympathisers” have it coming to them and deserve everything they get. Another says the information is pretty unreliable anyway and this is just sneaky people trying to settle old scores. The last really doesn’t care about all this and wishes it would all just go away so everyone can concentrate on the future, not the past. The last group, it has to be said, are generally younger people.
As for Wałęsa, he, like all accused before him, vehemently denies the allegations. He’s being supported in this claim by Michnik (one of the Solidarity gang mentioned above) who is the head-honcho at Gazeta Wyborcza, who claim that the SB were used to forging documents.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. The book is apparently to be published on Monday with an initial print run of only 4,000 copies. Wałęsa has said he knows who the real “Bolek” is and will name him if the book is published as planned. Watch this space!
PS – in further google research I’m finding that associations between Wałęsa and agent “Bolek” are nothing new. Also an awful lot of references to Ciesław Kiszczak. I always wondered what a can of worms looked like!