Feature

The search for ‘spies’ becomes a witch hunt

Poland’s witch hunt against “communist spies” must stop.

Pawel Lisicki
Rzeczpospolita

Poland’s witch hunt against “communist spies” must stop, said Pawel Lisicki in the Warsaw Rzeczpospolita. Under communist rule, many people were blackmailed into collaborating with the secret police; a large number gave them misleading information or signed “loyalty declarations” simply to get them off their backs. But in recent years, zealots, often from a younger generation blind to the compromises forced on older Poles, have pursued an unrelenting crusade against anyone named as a collaborator in police files. A specially established Institute of National Remembrance is burrowing through archives in search of any juicy tidbit from the past that could destroy someone’s career. One of its recent victims is Bishop Wieslaw Mering of Wloclawek, whom the institute says spied for the regime while studying in France; he’s facing calls to resign. Now the institute has fingered no less a figure than Lech Walesa, the founder of anti-communist movement Solidarity, accusing him of acting as an informer under the code name Bolek in the early 1970s. Walesa has robustly denied it, and says he will reveal the real Bolek if necessary. But that hasn’t stopped many people, including his former friends in the liberation struggle, from rushing to judgment and demanding he be banned from public life. Sadly the communist regime’s legacy lives on among the new elite—so blind to moral complexities, so quick to condemn.

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