Saturday, February 17, 2007

Former Polish foreign minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski speaks of late “cleanup” of Poland from ex-communist agents

Former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor and a veteran of the Warsaw Uprising, was interviewed by Spiegel Online about the center-right Polish government, dissatisfaction in Poland and its spoiled relations with Germany.
Answering the question whether Poland neglected to clean up the former communist networks in appropriate time, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski said that the claim is true. “A great deal was neglected in the first 15 years after the transition. Poland didn't experience a groundbreaking moment in 1989. We didn't storm the secret police building. The squads of secret police, with all their political baggage, remained unscathed. Incidentally, there were far fewer of these people in our country than in East Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary or Slovakia. But in those places they've managed to address this past. In those countries they've published lists of the names of the members of the secret police,” Bartoszewski said. According to him, Kaczynski brothers are right to demand that Poland finally deal with its old communists. “Interior Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak served in the first government under non-communist Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki - but Kiszczak had been in charge of the communists' intelligence agencies. It's as if (then-president of the German parliament) Rita Süssmuth and (former East German spymaster) Markus Wolf had formed a German government in 1990. Because hundreds of thousands of former Polish secret police employees were never sentenced, they all enjoy all democratic civil rights today, and apparently collect better pensions than teachers or engineers. Many in Poland believe they would have been better off over the last 18 years if there had been a cleanup,” Bartoszewski argued. “The Soviet army was still stationed in East Germany, and it was in Poland until 1993. The USSR wasn't dissolved until 1991, by (former Russian President) Boris Yeltsin, although he was more of an official from the old ranks. Who could have helped us? The Americans? They warned us to move forward carefully. They were afraid”.