Lech Wałęsa: a hero / a lesser hero / a traitor. Choose your title.

[edited June 20th, 3pm]

This is a follow up from Ian’s post just below. Read his post first, and then come back to mine.

Done? Ok. The book in qustion was not published yet. However it has already become the subject of a heated debate. Fragments were published in one of the dailies. Television presenters parade around their studios carrying massive files containing this book photocopied before publication. News channels and front pages are not talking about anything else for at least three days.

The book came as a special gift for the 25th anniversary of Wałęsa’s Nobel Peace Prize and Wałęsa’s nameday – which he is celebrating this Saturday.

Those, who criticise he book, say it is based only on Secret Service paperwork, and not cross-examined with other possible sources (like party files, interviews with communist figures, former oppositionists, diaries, etc…. and impossible sources like the vast archives in Moscow, to which there is no access). They also say that where proves cannot be found, authors make guesses and assumptions that prove their theory.

The book authors are educated historians, however some people claim their clear political agenda allows to call them politicians. They are employees of the IPN, the Institute of National Remembrance. It is an institution that was created to educate about the history of Poland, investigate unknown facts, and prosecute perpetrators of crimes against the Polish nation. Many of its employees have a clear opinion about the recent Polish history, that is corresponding with the ideas of the Kaczynski brothers (see below).

Notice that when talking about Secret Service inkjob, I am deliberately  not using the word “documents”, as in my vocabulary this word only applies to paperwork produced legitimately.

How did the Secret Service work?

Lets try to have a look at how were they getting their their paperwork. They had their own people lets call them secret servicemen. The secret servicemen were trying, among other things, to infiltrate the opposition and do all sorts of things to disturb them. And give information about what is going on to those who were holding political power. What were the ways of disturbing? First that come your mind are probably arrests, beating, threatening, detention – yes that of course was there. But also trying to make some oppositions distrust others (giving for instance false evidence of some of them conspiring with secret services), to make them quarrel, to strengthen personal dislikes among them, to make the opposition look bad in the eyes of the general public (once for instance fake recordings of Lech Wałęsa discussing how to fraud Solidarity money was broadcast in tv). Using various methods they tried to gain their agents (“tajny współpracownik”) among the oppositionists. Agents were (mostly, but not always) those who were aware that they were talking to the Secret Services. Sometimes they were worked on, someties they wanted to co-operate, sometimes they were forced to. They could be threatened, given money in exchange for information or “favour”. Agents had code names, and could also be given tasks – in order for instance to orchestrate some situation, or gain information from someone else. Apart from agents, there were also “sources of information” (who were also given codenames). People labeled in  such way in the papers may or may not have known that they have supplied Secret Services with information. They could be thinking they were talking to a friend or a co-worker. Or someone might have installed a bug in their flat. Etc.
Apart from that Secret Services are known for creating fake “agents” and “sources of information” in their paperwork, to use these papers later somehow. Information for such fake papers could come from person A, while attributed to person B. It could come from recorded telephone calls, from anecdotal knowledge, from serviceman’s imagination etc. etc. Why? For producing good and interesting results, Secret Servicemen were, for instance given more money, or promoted. Alternatively such papers could be shown to one oppositionist to make them think someone else was a traitor. Et caetera.. Secret Services were very creative. For instance special actions could be organized, like kidnapping of agents-oppositionists, just to make them more credible in the eyes of their opposition colleagues.

Apart from that some people could have been registered as candidates for agent (“tajny współpracownik”), there could be their signed pledge for cooperation in files, while they did not take any action whatsoever.

People’s attitudes towards Secret Services were different. Some were afraid and talked “with caution” trying not to spill the beans, some wanted to play their game with them and trick them… Only when in late 1970s an instruction was issued by Komitet Obrony Robotników (Workers’ Defence Commitee – an intelligentsia opposition organization) people became aware they shouldn’t talk with Secret Services at all, and shouldn’t sign anything.

Credibility of Secret Service files is questionable, and it is difficult to say what is fake and what is based on facts. Many files were destroyed or hidden in various moments in time: some most likely during the times of transition in 1989-1990.

Basic claims in the book

The book reportedly claims that Lech Wałęsa was giving information to the Secret Services in the early 1970s, as “tajny współpracownik” – agent. He was not a known figure back then, he was an ordinary person, taking part in opposition demonstration in Gdańsk and engaging in the movement. The Secret serviceman whose report is in the file, writes that he has paid “Bolek” 13000 złotys. However there are no receipts. Nothing signed by Wałęsa, nothing hand-written at all.

And then, when Wałęsa became president he requested to view his file. When the files were reopened during the presidency of Aleksander Kwaśniewski, it turned out several hundred pages were missing.

However the index is still there, it is therefore known what is missing. And these are typed reports of this agent “Bolek” – of being whom Wałęsa is being accused. Among the missing papers there are no signed or handwritten papers or receipts. Therefore the material missing would only be handy for cross-examination with other sources.
It is not certain when the pages were taken away and who did it. Pages were not checked when the file was being delivered to Wałęsa, and Wałęsa reportedly did not check them either.

What does Wałęsa say?

Wałęsa says that if had done what thay say he did, he would have said long time ago. He denies any involvement with Secret Services. He claims he never gave them any information, never gave in his colleagues. He claims he was not important enough then for the Secret Services wanting him for an agent. He is very angry, and thretens to sue the authors of the book. He says he did view his file during his presidency, however he did no remove anything from there. He wanted to check whether the files contain any materials from his and his wives sexual lives.

What do others say?

Other oppositionsts are divided. Some of them, who believe in the vision 2, believe these accusatins are true. Other’s don’t, and are talking about how the reality of the time is difficult to explain.

What is the political context?

What the book does is to try and put Wałęsa in a certain context, of an alternative interpretation of Polish history and current Polish affairs.

The history most people know looks like this: Solidarność fought our freedom. And thanks to the Round Table Compromise between Solidarność and communist government Poland was able to enter the path to independence and democracy. It also opened the possibility for democratic change in other countries from the Eastern Bloc. And this was one of the greatest moments in Polish history.

The alternative version of history (let’s call it version 2) has it that Wałęsa and Solidarność were orchestrated by the Secret Services, the Round Table Talks were the moment when Polish nation was betrayed. That the elite of Solidarność betrayed the ideals of the workers, and, conspiring with the communists, sold Poland. Sold the companies and factories, the market, the people as work-force. To the foreign capital, to foreign banks… Arranging the new reality in such a way, that post-communists (incl. Secret Servicemen), intelligentsia and elites are well-off, while workers are poor and disrespeted. Elites did not care for them.
Ian in his previous post rightly points that Kaczynski brothers and their party, who also have a deep personal dislike for Wałęsa, strongly believe in the second version (although Lech Kaczynski took part in the Round Table Talks himself).
There is also a claim, that Wałęsa’s policies, which are interpreted as againt lustration, during his presidency, were because of his problems with his own past.

The book is a supporting the version 2, reportedly being such an interpretation of certain facts from Lech Wałęsa’s past (and assumptions of Wałęsas 1970s agentship) to make the version 2 work well together.Some of those who prefer this version believe that Wałęsa is controlled by ex-Secret Servicemen until this day.

What is the general context?

What I would like people to remember from this story is not the fate of Wałęsa, who EVEN IF was broken by the Secret Services was also a victim. A victim of Police state, a victim of Secret Services who imposed themselves on people’s lives, who destroyed people, whowere paid by the state to disorganise, to plant distrust…

Wałęsa is still a great figure in Polish history, he was chosen by workers as their representative. In the 1980s had the strength and courage to stand up. He was a real leader, he had the skills, he had the talk, he had the charisma.

Epilogue

So was Wałęsa or was he not an agent? Did he or did he not remove his papers from the file? That depends on what you want to believe. It can’t be proven that he is guilty. It can’t be proven he is not guilty. Do you prefer to assume innocence or guilt?

—–
See a Polish news report with Lech Wałęsa (youtube).
Have a look at other news from Poland.

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62 thoughts on “Lech Wałęsa: a hero / a lesser hero / a traitor. Choose your title.

  1. me says:

    It can be proven if some new microfilms or documents will be found. Or if the german STASI or the russian archives will be open…

  2. Pawel says:

    maybe then we will find out more indeed

    will we ever have the whole truth? and, a sentence I forgot to put into the post: can we judge people, and whether they were heroic enough?

  3. ge'ez says:

    Documents can be and were falsified by the communist authorities and their weasely functionaires . Therefore, such documents cannot be relied upon. That is unless you trust those communist shits.

    These guys will probably prove to be terribly biased historians with a vicious political agenda who should be ashamed of themselves.

  4. darthsida says:

    Pawel, you lost me there:
    “The book is reportedly based only on Secret Service paperwork”

    1. Because you are not a liar.

    As you used one of those smart words – “reportedly”. Your post is reportedly an encrypted message to Cassiopeian Cthulhu planning its rape attack on Torun.

    Man, who “reported” that, how, when, why? Any people who did read the book? Does any party in this performance care to at least assume their mindset could be changed – in the face of more facts?

    2. And because you are a liar.

    The authors of the book were on public TV yesterevening. They explained how their book is not based on Secret Police stuff only. Lech Walesa was given voice in the same program (“audiatur et altera pars”). What they (the authors) said does not have to be taken right away as true, but until someone proves them wrong, someone’s just harming a crazy little thing called justice.

  5. Pawel says:

    @darthsida

    I am writing about the current state of knowledge. Journalists have the book already and I can’t see their mind changed.

    I watched the coverage on TVN24 (I don’t watch TVP), and among others Andrzej Friszke, a historian, said that he thinks its a pity that this book is based only on Secret Service paperwork and not cross-examined. This is also my understanding generally from those programmes I watched.

    Monika Olejnik had one of the autors as a guest in her programme yesterday, but she did not ask him that question, and he didn’t say anything himself on whether it is based only on Secret Service paperwork or not – in his opinion.

    What did you hear the authors said about the book being based on other things too? On what?

  6. darthsida says:

    Paweł,

    you are not writing about the current state of knowledge. There is no thing like “the current state of knowledge” — not only because time flows on — but mainly because various people own various knowledges. If you wrote about your state of knowledge, I’m asking – who or what made you use the word “reportedly”. I’m not a nitpicker. Memes can be dangerous you know. Poeple may forget the word “reportedly” – instead use the mental simplification:

    – the book is based only on SB materials => SB are damn sobs => the book cannot be reliable

    PS As to the show, if this is true, you can hunt full rerun Monday 14.55 or 21.55 or Tuesday 3.40 (local time).

  7. ge'ez says:

    “The authors of the book were on public TV yesterevening. They explained how their book is not based on Secret Police stuff only.”

    The questions that needs to be asked include: How heavily do they weigh the validity of the Secret Service stuff? To what extent do they consider what’s there as the result of authorities and functionaries wanting to discredit and/or compromise Walesa.

    If what is there is horseshit, and my guess is that it is, it needs to be thrown out in any final analysis. Not considered with other other “stuff.”

    There are some simple rules to follow when attempting to produce scholarly history.

    And they need to prove their evidence as truthful if they are accusing somebody of treason. Otherwise, they are just rumor-mongerers, not decent historians.

  8. Pawel says:

    @darthsida?

    what made me use the word reportedly? reports, other people’s accounts – the fact that it is not my own judgement.

    But you are somehow right, I could have written “Those, who criticise the book, say…” to be more clear.

  9. darthsida says:

    => Ge’ez

    “There are some simple rules to follow when attempting to produce scholarly history.”

    Such as “Have Communist files declassified and open to the public as soon as possible”? In one-time act of all-encompassing lustration? That other Soviet-bloc countries could have? And that Mr Donald Tusk said to support, only to change his mind when come into power”? But who is going to select scholars, pray?

    => Pawel,

    You used the word “reportedly”, and alongside we have Ge’ez to discredit Secret Police stuff. Why? Horseshit for rumor-mongerers. Reported by Ge’ez Guesses Inc.

  10. Pawel says:

    @ darthsida

    I don’t get it this time:) Do Ge’ez and I cooperate in a plot to hide the truth?;)))

  11. darthsida says:

    Paweł,
    of course you do not. You say “reportedly” and Ge’ez doesn’t bother even that much :)

  12. Pawel says:

    Changed my “reportedly”.

  13. me says:

    ge’ez

    “Documents can be and were falsified by the communist authorities and their weasely functionaires .”

    ————————————————————————-

    In the 70’s and 80’s they did not falsify anything.

    Douments were falsified in the 90s but not in the deep, deep communist times. These documents (microfilms) were made in a time where everybody believed that communism will last forever for the communist party (Kiszczak ,Gomolka ,Jaruzelski and co.) and for the KGB in Moscow and not for the IPN or other “normal people”.

  14. Pawel says:

    @me

    where did you learn that?? papers were not falsified?? of course they were! communism was not a single omnipresent being! secret services people did all sorts of things to get more money, register fictional agents and paid them “for information” taking the money themselves etc. etc.

    where did you get the information that secret services did not falisfy their own papers???

  15. me says:

    Yes Pawel

    ,and the nazi murderers falsified every day the jewish victim numbers to get more money fom Berlin for Zyklon B,… because they knew that they are gonna lose the war in 1945 and then need some money for their new life in Chile….

    man ,you are so naive.

  16. Jacek Wesołowski says:

    You mean, the opinion that officers of secret police of a totalitarian regime never lie is not naive?

  17. ge'ez says:

    Yea, I’ll take your word, me, that the communists never falsified anything in the 70s and 80s. Proof enough for me… I don’t mean me — Ge’ez… I mean not for me but for you. (Maybe you could add a letter or two or few to your moniker to avoid still more confusion?)

    Microfilms are copies of written or typed documents, no?

    I suppose the communists in the 70s and 80s never falsified production reports either.

    Also, I’m not clear what you are saying about the Nazis above. Are you a Holocaust denier, too?

  18. me says:

    They can lie sometimes ,but they can not falsify a whole archive. It was just too complicated and too dangerous. You need a huge computer to falsify such an (BOLEK ,or whoever) archive without any traces, because there are hundereds of copies and hundereds of documents in hundereds of archives (stasi ,kgb ,warsaw, gdansk and so on..)

    It was an huge and very diverse archive made for a totalitarian regime during the cold war and not some 2 papers for a kindergarden.

  19. me says:

    No ,I am not a holocaust denier.

    I just wanted to show you with this extreme example how ridiculous the “they falsified it” defence tactics is.

  20. ge'ez says:

    darthsida,

    Opening all that “stuff” to the public is not one of the rules. Even the PiSsers had sense enough to vet/lustrate through a commission rather than shooting their wad all at once.

    We’re talking about a Pandora’s box here. There may well be some truth that will be revealed. But more likely, there will be a petard of nonsense into which too many people, who like to believe the worst of people, will eagerly stick their noses and spread it around stinking up the whole country.

    Hey, since the Pope met with the traitor Walesa, was he a traitor, too?

    Sorry, but I see this episode as another very unfortunate Polish joke.

    But yes, there is a problem of choosing the historians to be involved, as you recognize. Extraordinarily bad choice, here. Seems to me they’re thick as two bricks.

  21. me says:

    ge’ez just go to Germany and look how they treated the SS and STASI archives after 45 and 90….

    Then you will realise that the “pandora’s box” “falsified” and so on is pure nonsense. and nothing more than a very cynical defense tactics.

    The Polish society has a right to know the history of the last 50yrs and to live in a state where justice is respected. “Pan Kowalski” has the right to know exactly the same things about Polish history like Adam Michnik or Putin’s KGB.

  22. ge'ez says:

    Comparing Michnik to Putin now, heh? It’s pretty obvious where your political agenda lies.

  23. scatts says:

    I’m avoiding the political landmines here but:

    “The Polish society has a right to know the history of the last 50yrs and to live in a state where justice is respected. “Pan Kowalski” has the right to know exactly the same things about Polish history like Adam Michnik or Putin’s KGB.”

    Amen to that!

  24. me says:

    ge’ez

    I did NOT COMPARE Michnik to Putin. I think it is pretty clear.

  25. ge'ez says:

    Looks above like you posited Pan Kowalski on one hand as kept in the dark and then linked Micknik and Putin as in-the-know.

  26. ge'ez says:

    So scatts, if the “historians” cannot conclusively prove that Walesa was a traitor they should be prosecuted for slander/libel/whatever and subjected to justice? Cheese and crackers, man, take a stand!

  27. me says:

    off topic…. ;)

    WIANKI nad Wisłą – program

    21 czerwca 2008
    początek o godz.: 13.00
    Podzamcze, Warszawa

    godz. 13.00 – 19.00
    Festyn Świętojański /Podzamcze/

    godz. 20.00 – 23.30
    Koncert Galowy WIANKI 2008 /Podzamcze/

    Godz. 20.00 – 21.30 Zespół T.LOVE
    Godz. 21.30 – 22.15 KAYAH z zespołem
    Godz. 22.20 – 23.30 Zespół LEVEL 42

    godz. 23.30 – 23.45
    Koncert ROCK LOVES CHOPIN /Bulwary nad Wisłą/

    Janusz Olejniczak – fortepian
    Jan Borysewicz – gitara
    Anna Serafińska – wokal
    Radek Chwieralski – gitara,
    Wojciech Pilichowski – gitara basowa,
    Tim Flavio – instrumenty klawiszowe,
    Szczepan Walczak – gitara rytmiczna
    Tomasz Mądzielewski – perkusja

    godz. 23.45 – 24.00
    Widowisko pirotechniczne /Barki na Wiśle/

  28. scatts says:

    A ticket on my wall – Wembley Arena – Outlaw in association with Asgard presents – Level 42 – Monday 30th March 1987 – West Terrace, Row J, seat 74 – price 7.50 GBP. Good band, in 1987.

    ge’ez – I’m not sure I understand. Is that really aimed at me, and if so, why??

  29. darthsida says:

    Ge’ez,
    strange, I would not guess where political agenda lies, of a person comparing Michnik to Putin. Have they had (quasi-)monopolist say on what’s politically correct and economically advisable in their countries? Michnik losing there presently, but generally: Yes, there’s a similarity. But was Michnik elected to hold that kind of power like Putin was elected by the Russian voter to hold his? So we have a difference. Can’t say the types are dead ringers.

    – – –

    Scatts,
    did you notice? We stopped writing about Walesa but managed to mention Pope, various countries, Nazis, and an artefact from the Greek mythology. Quite often this kind of discussion is to obfuscate the main issue. So, here are my guesses:

    1.
    Walesa in Communist Poland did sign documents to / from SB (Secret Police) and – probably briefly – cooperated with the service.
    2.
    Walesa as the Polish President did have access to his personal files, which he returned [or had returned – or through negligence allowed being returned] — with several documents missing.
    3.
    Walesa of today tries to put hold on freedom of speech.

    Now:

    Point 1 does not change a damn thing about me thinking of Walesa being a national hero and patriot who wanted to liberate Poland from under the Communist yoke. This regardless of his possible reasons (fear or greed, stupidity or curiosity, or Wallenrodism. (I can’t figure out why he won’t admit his act of straying – like Michał Boni did. Maybe it’s Walesa’s ego, too proud to admit a flaw.)

    Point 2 is a corollary of Walesa’s choice of “what shall we do with Poland after it’s free from the Soviet system”. To use a simplification: whether to go ecopolitically with Gazeta Wyborcza (halt on lustracja, Communists unharmed and wealthy) or whether to go hang-all-the-Communists in the name of God and Honor and Country way. Both approaches had pros and cons. Walesa chose the first way. (With 20-20 hindsight, I’d like some third way, a mix of the two — but definitely with German-style lustration).

    Point 3 is an outrage. I would be happier if this should only be about Walesa’s Sacred Cowness. Bolek-Gate could have been resolved with PiS in power a year or two ago — so since this is heated up today — it is not about the Kaczynskis. And certainly not about Walesa. (So my hint “cui bono” was not aimed at Walesa, no.)

    – – – –
    The more general issues are:

    1.
    When you have a path of Gods Rangers (let’s imprison all the Commies, let’s hunt every thief of our Nation’s property, let’s build more monuments) against a path of Get-a-Lifers (let’s share power with the Commies; even wild Russian-style privatisation is better than none, let pay with bribes and posts and power to whoever will build some bridges, roads and houses) – there is no easy choice of route.

    2.
    What is the limitation period? How long should the nation care about lustracja, for instance? (This is a question akin to “How long should Poland be financially responsible for any harm to its citizens, if you recall my post on Jews, and some comments below it.) Obviously, for the Pandora-box anti-vetting people — the longer after 1989 the better — at some point lustracja won’t be feasible simply because new generation(s) won’t give a dying fluck about who was a Commie and who was not.

    I am trying to think of an ad-hoc UK situation from one alternative world, a hero and some shocking news after decades….maybe, what if a xerocopy came up in UK today that Margaret Thatcher had most secretly ordered Hancock and Shankland to throw a slab on some taxi driver? Would anyone care too much today?

  30. scatts says:

    I suspect this is the comment you thought had disappeared? :)

    Putin was not elected by the people. The people don’t know who they would vote for, if they ever got a free vote. Might be Putin, might not.

    So – Putin, not elected but powerful – Michnik, not elected but powerful. Seems pretty similar to me. :)

    I keep bumping into Michnik on flights and stuff. I really must have a chat with him next time that happens.

    I’m happiest believing that nobody gives a flying duck about Thatcher these days. Certainly I don’t. Anyway, if you asked a slice of UK citizens if they think MI5, MI6, or whichever other 007 type gang, was likely to be involved in throwing slabs at people, the answer would be YES. So, any such revelation would not be much of a revelation. Defence of the Realm sometimes means that taxi drivers need slabbing.

  31. ge'ez says:

    Is slander, libel and scurillous gossip really just a matter of freedom of speech, Darthsida? Can you at least consider that might be the case?

    My guess is that we all will have to because this stuff will go to court and Walesa will be compelled to state who he thinks/knows Bolek to be… He’s either very stupid and has backed himself into a corner (yea, I know, I am for and I am against…) or he’s going to get a settlement of some sort resulting in a modicum of justice. You want total, absolute justice, then it’s high time to consider the afterlife because it ain’t ever going to be happening on this earth (unless, of course, ilyich ulyanov comes to total world power).

    If Michnik had/has monopolist power, why were the K-twins ever holding high political office — with one still in office? Why hasn’t he been able to out hegemonize Radio Maryja? And, no, he hasn’t been elected. He didn’t run. BTW, I think you are completely mischaracterizing and/or oversimplifying GW’s positions. And I don’t even think all PiSsers want to hang commies, just discredit them and economically penalize them. Not an altogether bad idea in my book; it’s just that it creeps me out with all this talk about who was/is a commie or commie spy, especially when it’s focussed on people I remember and recall as heroes who really walked the walk to the point of very real suffering and very possible execution.

    I notice you are comparing Michnik and Putin, too, albeit with some more probing discernment than “me” — even though I don’t agree with your direction or conclusion.

    And I am not anti-vetting. I just don’t want it to turn into an orgy of false recriminations and suffering based on motives of personal vengeance — that not only impacts on the individuals accused and their families but the entire nation. And that’s what seems to be happening right now. How does justice ever prevail in a context like that? The harm has already been done. Absence of Malice — Paul Newman.

    And , yea, scatts, what is your opinion of the accusations against Walesa and the resultant circus or whatever you want to call it — based on what you have read and considered and also based on your daily contemporary personal experience in Warsaw?

  32. ge'ez says:

    BTW, is any of this remembered?

    http://edition.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/europe/08/11/poland.walesa.03/

    “A special vetting court (in 2000) ruled that Walesa … had not lied in his declaration that he was not an agent for the feared communist-era security forces.”

    “Prosecutor Krzysztof Kauba asked that Walesa’s trial be stopped after newly disclosed documents read in court indicated that the secret police formed a special team to discredit Walesa in the 1980s.”

    “A May 1985 Interior Ministry report detailed the use of professional forgers to fabricate documents to make it appear that Walesa was a paid agent.”

    “It said some forged papers were sent to Nobel committee members in 1982 in an attempt to prevent Walesa from winning the peace prize. He won it in 1983.”

    “In a closed session, the court heard from two former secret police officers in Gdansk, Walesa’s home base, and two former intelligence chiefs: Piotr Naimski, a political opponent of Walesa who held the job in 1992; and Gromoslaw Czempinski, a Walesa backer who held the post from 1993 to 1996.”

    “Naimski refused to reveal his testimony afterwards, but repeated to reporters his belief that agent Bolek was Walesa. Czempinski emerged later and said he did not believe Walesa could have been Bolek, and that he found it deplorable that the “symbol of Solidarity” had to undergo such treatment. ”

    >>>>>>>>>>> So this evidence presented in a court of law of forgeries shouldn’t be considered because it never happened, right “me”?

  33. Raf Uzar says:

    Makes me sick to think that the Kaczyńskis could actually ruin this man.
    Raf
    http://uzar.wordpress.com/

  34. scatts says:

    And , yea, scatts, what is your opinion of the accusations against Walesa and the resultant circus or whatever you want to call it — based on what you have read and considered and also based on your daily contemporary personal experience in Warsaw?

    I’m sure you’ll appreciate that daily Warsaw life doesn’t really help in cases like this. Most people I talk to see Wałęsa as a relatively simple but harmless man who was and is overall a good thing for the country. It is his simplistic, or perhaps straight forward or down-to-earth, nature that makes them suspicious of these accusations that are seen as being generated by people with considerably more devious political skills.

    In some ways, Wałęsa is suffering more than he otherwise might because there are so few (none?) other people in positions of power able to command great respect from the people. What happens to him therefore becomes more significant.

    Speaking as an angol, it would be a shame to see someone who in the world’s eyes is a modern day icon for the struggle of freedom against repression to be character-assassinated for the sake of a little political in-fighting with what looks like nothing much to gain. So, if he is guilty of anything, better make it something REALLY big and nasty. Like being a total fraud, or something. Stealing and destroying his section of the SB files might also be considered a bit out of order and would certainly suggest he has something to hide.

    What I have read is very contradictory and most of it is spun in the way the writer wishes it to come across.

  35. anon says:

    This news isn’t really a new development and it was hardly begun by the Kaczynskis. Gwiazda, Walentynowicz, and other Solidarity leaders have been accusing him for years.

  36. me says:

    It was not Lech Walesa who ended communism in Poland. It was the SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT with about 10.000.000 people…like for example

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers%27_Defence_Committee

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerzy_Popie%C5%82uszko

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Walentynowicz

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Olszewski

    and many many others.

    Lech Walesa was the face of the movement and a face was very important (especially for the western world) ,but we should not overrate his role and him as a person.

    Lech Walesa is not a “saint” who stopped communism with one finger…dear Raf Uzar.

    And the Kaczynskis have of course the right to critisize him. Lech Kaczynski was also in prison in 81 and he was also an important member of the whole movement. Lech Kaczynski is not a 15yo teenager…

  37. zegar says:

    I don’t think they will ruin him. Hopefully they will ruin themselves.

    I personally don’t care whether he was or wasn’t Bolek – it doesn’t change what he did in the 1980s. He might not have been a great President – but that also doesn’t take away anything from his achievements in the 1980s.

    My understanding is that the archives are a) incomplete, b) partly falsified, c) contain lots of things which don’t really matter (e.g. eople who were abroad and were routinely interrogated on their return – even though they were just visting family or on a business trip).

    The biggest fish in the old system probably managed to destroy their files and party members would have had no need to be registered as ‘TW’.

    Next year will be 2009 – thats 20 YEARS since 1989. Why the hell are we still talking about this?

    The IPN people might not be keeping him in a cellar and torturing him but is what they are doing to him really acceptable?

  38. me says:

    “Next year will be 2009 – thats 20 YEARS since 1989. Why the hell are we still talking about this? ”

    —————————————————–

    because 20 years since 1989 former SB agents are still very influential and very active in the Polish public/political life. Former agents are susceptible and very dangerous.

    One of the reasons why western german students stormed universities and courts in 1968 ,were former SS soldiers who then still worked as professors and lawyers…it was 23yrs after the end of WWII..

  39. Pawel says:

    @me

    are you sure you differenciate agents (“tajny współpracownik”) from Secret Service employees (“Esbek”)?

    I think you got these a bit confused.

  40. ge'ez says:

    So you are saying that Walesa is *still* very *dangerous*, me?

    What incredible cheek!

    Because of the incredible courage and sacrifices of Walesa, and yes thousands and thousands of other folks,you are enjoying freedom and opportunity that you would not have otherwise experienced.

    I’m sure in your life, you haven’t sacrificed anything near what was offered up for you by Michnik, Kuron, Walesa and yes, folks like Walentynowicz, Gwiazda, etc. I have my doubts about the K-twins in those days, sorry.
    And Walentynowicz, Gwiazda, et. al. seem way too embittered these days (and probably understandably so in some respects) to be able to interact reasonably and humanely with others.

    I really don’t think you are suffering all that much because of Walesa’s supposed misdeeds. But then again, I guess you are or at least your impression of them. That’s really sad.

  41. ge'ez says:

    scatts, by your response, you seem to be quite politically astute.

    Did I read at some point you are a political advisor or consultant of some sort?

    We know that some sections of the file are missing. We know that Walesa had these sections. But is there any proof that he actually saw these particular sections of the file or pilfered or destroyed them? Unless this can be proven, he is innocent. He is accused by the likes of the two “historians” and “me” but he still has not been charged. In fact, previous such charges have been dismissed against him because evidence was produced in a court of law that demonstrated that there was a communist conspiracy against him to forge documents and make him look bad. What proof have the “historians” or “me” presented that he is guilty of anything? There’s only conjecture as far as I can see at this point. No, not just conjecture but rather something much darker and insidious than that. Way too much accusation based upon speculation, more than a bit of vindictiveness, vengefulness, jealousy, hunger for publicity and recognition and all that..

  42. scatts says:

    ge’ez, I’m a ‘consultant of some sort’ but I’ve never had anything to do with politics. My work is real estate – construction project management to be precise.

  43. JM says:

    If anybody seriously believes, in the deep of his heart, that Walesa was not TW Bolek then he must be either very naive or has some hidden agenda or interests which are clouding his vision.

    People who were not born and raised in communist Poland and do not understand all the nuances of Polish language and Polish psyche are also excused since I can see how they could have been misled by Walesa’s legend and his cunningness and slyness.

    I am not pretending to know exactly what his real activities were behind his public facade. Being a Solidarity symbol he was needed and as a symbol achieved a lot. But the pyramid of lies and deceptions he built trying desperately hide his dark past plus years of his presidency disclose a man of not very huge stature and lacking moral fortitude. To call him an opportunist would be truly kind.

  44. Pawel says:

    @JM

    I deeply believe in my heart that Wałęsa was the fifth Teletubbie. Someone who doesn’t see that must be either naive or has some hidden agenda or interests which are clouding his vision :D

    Well you seem to jump to conclusions very easily, and I am impressed with how easy for you it is to judge other people’s characher and actions.

    Do you have the KNOWLEDGE of what happend or a DEEP BELIEF? With religious beliefs I’m helpless.

    I just wonder where were you in the 1970s and 1980s? Did you risk your life and your everything like Wałęsa? Where is your legend then?

  45. JM says:

    Pawel;

    Thank you for your comments and questions. Unfortunately there is not much I could answer to since, after filtering out personal insinuations and an attempt at irony, almost nothing is left.

    I will try to answer your third paragraph though. It seems that whatever I believe, deeply or not, you believe the opposite.
    My belief is based on the documents I read, statements I heard, videos I watched and my personal contacts with Walesa himself, his friends and contemporaries.
    Other then denials uttered by the subject himself plus media noise what your believes are based on?
    Should mine or your views rather be called religious?

  46. darthsida says:

    Ge’ez,

    1.
    You seem way too smart to parrot Walesa’s silly argument about court rulings. [Even Scots, although equipped with the third verdict could not solve the problem of people let go free though believed to be guilty.] Refer to and quote any pro-Walesa (or just pro-anyone, pro-Kaczynski included) court ruling , but please keep these two things stressed:

    (a) SPECIFICALLY: Lech Walesa as the president of Poland had access to his personal files, the privilege he abused. This is a documented fact and one that Lech Walesa admitted to have happened. No one can be sure how removal of some documents influenced court rulings about Walesa.

    (b) GENERALLY: “Legal / formal truth” does not have to coincide with “actual / factual truth”. If you should believe they are one, you’re likely to say the greatest crime of Al Capone was evading taxes.

    2.
    You are also way too intelligent to ask about legal ABC: “Is slander, libel and scurillous gossip really just a matter of freedom of speech, Darthsida”

    Freedom of speech has its limitations. Possible clashes of major freedoms are either stipulated in acts of law or resolved case-wise by courts (with no case-law in Poland). There is no law and no court ruling that books, tv programmes or words concerning Walesa can’t be given out. Furthermore, a book is never “likely to incite imminent lawless action”. It takes time to read a book, even Mein Kampf.

    Expressions of the freedom of speech may include “slander, libel” and scurrilous “gossip”. Gossip aside, the first two are usually penal acts — but not before being expressed, yet after. So, what will you suggest as your counter-proposal? Pre-emptive censorship?

    – – – –

    Scatts,

    one of my guesses [“cui bono”] is that some people of the establishment would like to impose preemptive cennsorship. There would be subjects that can’t be discussed. And not only those of yore:
    = can we discuss the Round Table of 1989,
    = whether the privatisation had to go the way it took,
    = why lustration did not follow the German course, or
    = can we shed more light on 1992
    but also with things closer to here and now:
    = can we discuss restitution of property
    = can we discuss EU presence
    = can we discuss Euro as Polish currency
    = what shall we do against Russian pipe for Germany
    = what shall we do about pension / retirement system in Poland

    IMO, Walesa is a pawn here, and his Bolek-Gate is to be the first step to institute (informal but working) limitations of “freedom of speech” and, concurrently, freedom to discuss economy.

  47. me says:

    So you are saying that Walesa is *still* very *dangerous*, me?

    What incredible cheek!

    ————————————————————————————-

    Ge’ez

    Walesa was very dangerous as a president.

    It is always not good for a country if for example the russian KGB, the german STASI institute or some former Polish SB agents know more about our president than the Polish society. Because in such cases they can blackmail him for example ,to do things which are good for them but not for Poland.

    Now he is of course not an active politician anymore ,but still very influential (so called moral authority) in the public debate…

  48. ge'ez says:

    Yea, me, Walesa has been and is one of the great evils of our time. Hey, and not only in Poland but the world over. A truly insidious character. He overturned all the advances of communist rule and Soviet domination in a wink of the eye!

    A fifth teletubbie! That’s a hoot, Pawel. What color? Leading the fifth column, no doubt.

    Darthsida, thanks ever so much for all the backsided compliments about my intelligence but where did Walesa admit he removed some documents before returning the file? If he did, what documents? Did they have something to do about his wife that weren’t at all political? Or were they the smoking gun you’re looking for? Can you prove they constituted that smoking gun? Until you present such evidence in a court of law, he is innocent of absconding with those files. And if you want to take it a step further to demonstrate that he was a spy and traitor, you have to prove as well that the files conclusively show that he was Bolek and that Bolek did in fact to the things that are claimed. I’m sure you are smarter than to try to do any of that. Ahh, but go ahead. Try. Make a name for yourself.

    I also recall that Walesa published about 500 pages of the documents on the internet or was supposed to at any rate.

    Why are you so intent on being accusatory and prosecutorial towards Walesa? Aren’t there any other folks who are a greater danger than him? Or do you, too, believe him to be the fifth teletubby and the moral equivalent of Darth Vader?

    But if you truly believe that freedom of speech should include libel, slander and malicious and scurrilous gossip, I’d hate to live in whatever galaxy it is that you rule.

    BTW, I have no problem discussing the round table or the more recent matters you list. Indeed, that would be far more productive than the witch hunt against Walesa.

  49. me says:

    It is not a witch hunt ar an indictment, it is just an historic book, nothing more nothing less.

    Do not be hysteric. (less gazeta wyborcza in the morning should help too keep composure…)

  50. darthsida says:

    Ge’ez
    I have no problems of seeing intelligence in you but may refrain from doing that. You keep silent about what invention replaces freedom of speech in your galaxy.

    What you say though is that you have no problems discussing the Round Table etc. I find it hard to believe given you do have problems discussing Walesa’s past.

    As to missing documents – ask Mr Kwasniewski for example. Perhaps you hold him in greater esteem and see as more reliable than any PiS or IPN creature. (Btw, is it logical to ask me what’s in the documents that went missing?).

    PS1 The thinking “if there is nothing but innocent contents in a document, one is allowed to steal it” is bizarre.
    PS2 I would never compare Walesa to Darth Vader. The difference of scale is just too obvious :D

  51. ge'ez says:

    I have no problems discussing the round table in terms of strategy and results as long as recrimination against individuals involved in the Solidarnosc leadership is kept out of it.

    There are limits to everything in my galaxy as there were in the “self-limiting revolution.” Absolute freedom gives license to the tyranny of a small vocal minority.

    Actually, I wish folks would piss on Kwasniewski more instead of wasting so much of it wizzing on Walesa. The choice between which of all the Ks (Kwasniewski or the K-twins) to PiSs upon is a bit more difficult to make.

    There has been at least one head honcho woman in the IPN who has taken those “historians” to task.

    The hysterical book will wind up in the dustbin of history soon enuff.

    Hysteria is going after a guy like Walesa when there are so many other real problems in Poland with which to contend..

  52. darthsida says:

    Ge’ez
    “There are limits” is too vague to mean anything. Is the criterion for halting publication of a book calling it “hysterical”? The fact that “folks” don’t piss “more” on Kwasniewski can be owed to Walesa too.

    Anyway, I take it you wouldn’t want to waste money on anything you know a priori is nothing but hysteria. Two pdf fragments of the upcoming (incoming, huh) book are free for download here and there. Suit yourself.

  53. Pawel says:

    @JM

    You are right, there is not much left to answer, after filtering out personal insinuations.
    I used your very method and reversed it, to show you what you are doing yourself.
    “But the pyramid of lies and deceptions he built trying desperately hide his dark past plus years of his presidency disclose a man of not very huge stature and lacking moral fortitude. To call him an opportunist would be truly kind.”
    However you missed that point.
    What is left from that then?

    The bottom line is you can’t make argument of your belief. If your belief is based on some documents, statements etc. – name them. Enumerate them. Enlighten us, and me. If you have more information say it, maybe you will change my opinion.

    If you read carefully what I write here, I admit it is not possible to say 100% whether Wałęsa supplied Secret Services with information or not. I read both Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita, details of what he is “accused of”, arguments of those who support the accusations, and those who criticise them and point their weaknesses. It all depends on how you interpret the circumstancial evidence.

    What I say, is (and here we would probably disagree) that even if Wałęsa was broken during the interrogations, it tells more about the police state system that used to be in Poland then Wałęsa himself. I don’t know what I would do put in circumstances I haven’t lived. And I’m not that quick to judge people. That’s what they did with people.

  54. michael farris says:

    One problem is that people like to think in discrete categories ( informer / collaborator ) with no middle ground. But in reality categorizing people’s interactions with the PRL’s SS was a spectrum of compromise and dueling wits.

    Essentially anyone who wanted/could travel abroad was required to meet with them and anyone with personal (non-political) ambition had to. And people were powerless over what records the SS kept of their meetings. And from everything known about the way the PRL was run there’s no reason to think that their record keeping regarding TW’s was especially reliable. I assume that many recruiters were under a quota system and if they were having trouble meeting the quotas they just made shit up (both regarding individuals’ willingness to work with them and the information they provided).

    And …. I would assume that both Solidarity and the RC church would have some people volunteer to ‘work’ with the SS and feed them misleading or unimportant information with Mission Impossible style disclaimers known ahead of time.

    Finally (saving the most speculative and inflammatory for last) the Oldest Trick in the Book is accusing your enemy of something you yourself have done. It’s simple, crude and usually effective to a lesser or greater degree (why it’s become the Oldest Trick in the Book).

  55. ge'ez says:

    DS, oh, they have a right to publish the book, alright. And Walesa has a right to sue them and their publisher.

    But a sensible person in my far-distant cyber-galaxy would limit him/herself and not attempt to publish such tripe in the first place.

    Finally, I don’t think Walesa really has all that much to do with other peoples’ siu-siu habits (I just realized I don’t know how to spell it).

    BTW, very good points Michael Farris.

  56. […] A debate on Lech Wałęsa continues at Polandian: “a hero / a lesser hero / a traitor. Choose your title.” Raf Uzar posts on the controversy as well. Posted by Veronica Khokhlova Share This […]

  57. gumish says:

    There still seems to be no legal actions against the authors on part of Walesa. Maybe yes or maybe not this can be sort of indicative.

  58. gumish says:

    And btw Pawel’s report is plain biased (backing Walesa’s defenders in this case). There are enough clues collected by Cenckiewicz and Gontarczyk that during the first half of the 70’s Walesa was a SB (Security Service) informer (secret collaborator in SB terms). And later acted so that his past would not be publicly known (removing documents from the Bolek files).

  59. Pawel says:

    gumish – I’m reporting both sides from secnd accounts (from what the media say). I haven’t read the book.

    If you have this evidence, share it here. I’ll be curious to hear it myself.

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