Way back in 2011, I spent a couple of months writing an “extended essay” as part of my International Baccalaureate diploma.
The essay was my first proper piece of independent and original research. I chose to write it on Lech Wałęsa, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who led the Solidarity movement, which contributed to the toppling of the communist regime in Poland in 1989.
In the essay I focused on Walesa’s alleged role as an informant for the communists in the years predating his work in Solidarity. Wałęsa and his supporters have long denied any wrongdoing on his part. However, having looked at the evidence, I concluded that there is reason to suspect that some form of collaboration did take place. The documentation inflicting Wałęsa was limited but apparent. His subsequent lies about the documentation were disappointing; there was clear evidence that he “borrowed” a number of files when he was the president of Poland, and he never returned them. It was impossible to tell whether he was an active informant, and what the duration of his collaboration was. However, there was enough evidence to reach the conclusion that something was not quite right.
I did not and do not think whatever he did in the early 1970s alters his contributions and leadership in the 1980s. Nevertheless, a number of people (including my farther, whose university years were defined by his Solidarity activism) were not happy with my findings. My father and his friends suggested that I fell victim of PiS’ (The Law and Justice party) propaganda. PiS has a long-standing dispute with Wałęsa, even though most of its founders were Solidarity members.
Following the death of Czeslaw Kiszczak, a former Communist leader, a wave of new documents about Walesa’s collaboration was uncovered at Kiszczak’s home. Yesterday the news broke that Wałęsa was a paid informant. The evidence is rather damning, yet details about the scope and scale of the collaboration are still missing. Wałęsa still denies ever having collaborated, but in a statement yesterday he vaguely admitted to making “some mistakes”.
Firstly, I’d just like to say…
More importantly, it is worrying that these findings will only lead to more turmoil in the already turbulent Poland.