Country Listing

Poland Table of Contents


Security Service

Kiszczak's reforms primarily affected the security service. The SB had been a plainclothes force of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, charged with seeking out subversive elements at home and abroad and investigating sabotage. Established in 1944 and controlled by the Soviet Union through the early 1950s, the SB faded during the Gomulka reform period, then revived as a totally secret force that stood over Polish society throughout the rest of the communist era.

The 1990 reform cut about 70 percent of SB personnel and most of the departments that had been most active in protecting the communist regimes from internal dangers. Department Three, which had monitored the activities of social, cultural, and political organizations and the press, was abolished. So was Department Four, which had monitored religious organizations and was assumed to be responsible for the murder of dissident leader Father Jerzy Popieluszko in 1984. Three new, nominally apolitical departments were established in place of those abolished, and the name was changed from SB to the Office of State Protection (Urzad Ochrony Panstwa--UOP). In mid-1990 an independent screening commission was established for former employees of abolished departments seeking jobs in remaining agencies of the ministry. All applicants over fifty-five years of age were rejected in an attempt to remove as many as possible of the communist-era SB administrators.

In 1992 the reputation of new UOP was clouded by the discovery that many records from the communist era had been destroyed before the reform took place. An air of scandal surrounded the ministry as many top government figures, including Walesa, were implicated as collaborators in SB activities. Some Poles demanded that all SB records be opened to the public. However, the remaining files could not be relied upon to identify accurately the remaining government officials guilty of SB collaboration. In 1992 accusation of SB collaboration was a frequently used weapon in Poland's fractious political system.

Data as of October 1992