Tag Archives: Grotowski

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.


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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Polish Artists You Hate You Couldn’t Love

Why no one heard about so many Polish artists is — verily, verily — something to make foreigners angry. Every time anyone is satisfied with their English reads, visions, produce of the monolingual civilisation, there could be at least two irritants in the back of their mind:


#1: Hmm, maybe a haiku born somewhere far away is worth more than all Shakespeare – and I can walk no way to find out?

#2: Hmm, maybe that haiku was never written because its author died in poverty, as most funds went to promote Shakespeare?

Release your anger. I’m giving you a short list of ‘why da
heck don’t I know ’em‘ artists:

PAINTING: Andrzej Wróblewski, died 30, when mountaineering. (Admittedly, a James Deany way of dying scores bonus points for the artist.) If you want to get a handful of his pictures on fine paper, buy this thing. Mind, it’s not an album of Wróblewski’s paintwork.

Shot by a Nazi

It is Arw, a script by Stanisław Czycz [a weirdnik in his own right], about Wróblewski’s life. The script was never put in motion – had it been, the movie would have been made by an honorary Oscar awardee, Andrzej Wajda, who commissioned the script-writing. You may want to find out for yourself why.


THEATRE: Jerzy Grotowski. Nuff said. (As you may know him after all.)
Can NoneTheatre come to YouTube? Apocalypsis Cum Figuris, an example.


POETRY: Bolesław Leśmian. This one is tough — to fully appreciate the flavour of the whisky Leśmian (though I think he’d probably think of himself as absinth, fresh meadow fragrant), one needs to know Polish natively, have a knack for words. Appreciation for deathly eroticism is appreciated, too. If your favourite scene of Wuthering Heights was Heathcliff lovingly opening Cathy’s grave, you’ll catch it.

Cathy, you’ll die on 20th March

Leśmian is a good way to find out if your Polish is native enough. If you don’t find anything extraordinary in the guy’s work, you still have much to learn. (It goes for several millions Poles, too, I know. So?)


SCULPTURE: Read here: “This artist / sculptor created and wrote more by age 30 than DaVinci did his whole life.”. The opinion comes from Maynard James Keenan (of Tool, one of so few things why America should be spared, for a time.) Whom does he mean?

Szukalski, Defense

Stanisław Szukalski, his name flowing a bit more vividly in the memesphere recently. I spotted several sources about the artist this year, and if this post could be another straw that breaks the silence’s neck, may it be!
Some intro in Polish here. Some info in English here. Propagate the meme, people. Sons of Yeti, as he would dub you, don’t you love the guy who made this?


POLITICS: The mere alliteration should catch your attention: “poet, private printer, pamphleteer, pagan and pretender to the Polish throne” — Phrone would be as good. — Or Phorn. Well yes, Potocki de Montalk, a Polish New Zealander, authored “Here Lies John Penis“.

Alexandros Pantazopoulos shot it

As well as “Katyn Manifesto“. We can finally talk about it — and not be arrested by British secret agents. (More can be found in the post “The Count” blogged here.)


FILM: I can’t tag Jan Potocki (yes, another by that name) in any Polish category, for his Saragossa Manuscript was written in French. But the book–based movie was all Polish.

The Weird Sisters

“Luis Bunuel (who seldom viewed movies more than once) liked the film so much he watched it three times” — Which makes 9 hours of watching. (I think I already said that.) — Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese financed the restoration of the movie. (Their efforts are the other of so few things why America should be spared, for a time.) [Wait, wait, maybe I must not put Potocki in any human category? For all we know, “we” including Neil Gaiman here, Potocki was a werewolf. He died like one, at least.]


MUSIC: No way. Music speaks One Language. I mean, if I can easily pick up a Polish folk dance in the main Godzilla theme, for instance, why should one translate music? And into what?


I have more. But your suggestions for additions are welcome.

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