IPN Launching Hunt for Wałęsa

Lech Wałęsa informed to the SB secret police in the 1970s, and after becoming president destroyed evidence, claim National Remembrance Institute historians. That's a lie, the documents suggesting his collaboration are all fakes, reply former special services and interiors ministry chiefs and the Solidarity legend himself.
The newspapers supporting the IPN historians Sławomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk's debunking campaign ran excerpts yesterday from their book about Mr Wałęsa's alleged collaboration with the Służba Bezpieczeństwa. Rzeczpospolita and the online editions of Wprost and Gazeta Polska published the main theses of the book, which is soon to be published by the IPN.

Yesterday's reports were brought forward by the protest of IPN deputy chief Maria Dmochowska, who wrote in a letter to Mr Wałęsa that she 'did everything she could for the book not to be published by the IPN' because it was 'at variance with the Institute's mission'. The book's theses, Ms Dmochowska wrote, 'made her feel 'sad, ashamed and angry', and its authors viewed Polish history 'through the eyes of the secret police'.

Here are the theses advanced by the two IPN historians:

* Mr Wałęsa was registered in 1970-1976 in the SB files as informer codenamed 'Bolek';

* he informed on his fellow workers at the Gdańsk Shipyard, some of them were persecuted as a result. He received over 13,000 zlotys as remuneration for his services from the SB;

* when he was President in 1990-1995, he was handed over the SB files incriminating him by the State Protection Office (UOP);

* he returned the files incomplete, some of the documents were gone; the following prosecutorial inquiry was discontinued for political reasons.

The same newspapers have announced they will shortly run further fragments of Cenckiewicz and Gontarczyk's book, this time selected by the authors themselves.

We asked former UOP and Interior Ministry heads to comment on yesterday's publications.

Gromosław Czempiński, UOP head (1993-1996), told Gazeta that the documents allegedly identifying Mr Wałęsa as Bolek had been forged. "They're of poor quality. The SB didn't strain itself too much. I haven't found anything here that to my professional eye would be of value'.

Andrzej Milczanowski, UOP deputy head (1990-1992), Interior Minister (1992-1995): 'I had the full legal right to make those documents available to President Wałęsa, and he eventually returned them'.

'No original documents were removed from the file, because it contained no originals. Nor did it contain any document handwritten or signed by Mr Wałęsa. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Wałęsa was an SB agent at any time in his life', said Mr Milczanowski.

Mr Wałęsa, who only a couple of years ago denied having ever seen his SB file, recently changed his mind: 'I did borrow the file, but didn't remove anything from it', he said yesterday, 'I saw there were some documents there about me and that they were clearly forgeries. I told my secretaries to tape up and seal the file. I wrote 'don't open' on it. But someone didn't obey, removed the papers, now casting suspicion on me. I'd have been nadve to remove anything having earlier sealed and signed the file'.

'Now people have to choose whether they want to believe me or the SB', said Mr Wałęsa.

Zbigniew Siemiątkowski, the special services coordinator (1996-1997), told TVN24 yesterday that the UOP didn't investigate whether the documents in the 'Bolek' file were authentic: 'They may have been fakes. They may have been photocopies of photocopies. But they may have been authentic. We only acknowledged the fact: originally there were hundred and a dozen pages and when the file returned from the Belvedere there were only a hundred or so'.

IPN had Janusz Kurtyka praised the book written by his subordinates: 'It is a result of an extensive survey of archival holdings, of credible research, of sound academic methods. I think the times of book banning have passed'.

Mr Kurtyka called Ms Dmochowska's letter a 'sign that we have pluralism of views at the IPN'.

Jan Lityński, former Workers' Defence Committee (KOR) and Solidarity activist, head of the parliament's special services committee in 2000, said on TVN24 yesterday: 'The doctors, as they call themselves, have set out to destroy the Lech Wałęsa legend. They want to prove that independent Poland couldn't be an authentic creation. But they won't succeed in proving to millions of Poles and billions of people in the world that the Polish independence movement wasn't authentic and that the III Republic was created by the SB'.