Lech Walesa was a Communist spy, says new book

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Lech Walesa, the Polish shipyard worker with the trademark droopy moustache, is regarded as one of the heroes of modern Europe: the leader of the revolution that brought communist rule crashing down.

Now Poland is in uproar over an intriguing riddle: was communism actually destroyed by a communist agent? If so, why?

Two writers claim that Mr Walesa — the founder of the Solidarity movement, Nobel Peace prizewinner, former President of Poland - was a stooge of the communist secret police.

In The State Security Service and Lech Walesa, Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk make two central claims. The first is that Mr Walesa was an informer for the secret police between 1970 and 1976 under the codename “Bolek”. The second is that as President from 1990 to 1995 he borrowed his police file from the Interior Ministry archives and returned it with key pages missing.

Mr Walesa has already successfully contested in the courts that he was Bolek. His argument, backed by a handwriting expert, is that documents were faked by the secret police to discredit him with the Church hierarchy, to sabotage his relationship with the Polish-born Pope John Paul II and to influence the Nobel Peace Prize committee against making him a laureate.

Most of the documents found by the authors in the Institute for National Remembrance (IPN) are photocopies and many are unclear. It is certainly true that the secret police, the notorious SB, concocted material to compromise Mr Walesa. The short, fast-talking electrician was a profound embarrassment for the regime in the 1980s, largely because he embodied the romantic idea in the West that the Soviet empire could be brought to its knees by a simple worker.

In his autobiography Mr Walesa admits that he may have “signed something” after an interrogation in the early 1970s. There was never any possibility, he says, that he would co-operate with the SB, betraying fellow dissidents. The book tells a different story.

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