Czesław Kiszczak

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Czesław Kiszczak
Czeslaw Kiszczak.jpg
55th Prime Minister of Poland
Prime Minister of the Polish People's Republic
11th and last communist Prime Minister of Poland
In office
2 August 1989 19 August 1989
President Wojciech Jaruzelski
Preceded by Mieczysław Rakowski
Succeeded by Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Minister of Internal Affairs
of the Polish People's Republic
In office
31 July 1981 6 July 1990
President Wojciech Jaruzelski
Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski
Zbigniew Messner
Mieczysław Rakowski
Czesław Kiszczak
Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Preceded by Mirosław Milewski
Succeeded by Krzysztof Kozłowski
Personal details
Born(1925-10-19)19 October 1925
Roczyny, Second Polish Republic
Died5 November 2015(2015-11-05) (aged 90)
Warsaw, Poland
Resting place Orthodox Cemetery (Warsaw)
Political party Polish United Workers' Party
Spouse(s) Maria Teresa Kiszczak
ChildrenEwa Kiszczak
Jarosław Kiszczak
Military service
AllegiancePoland
Branch/service Polish People's Army
Years of service1945–1990
Rank Generał broni

Czesław Jan Kiszczak [ˈt͡ʂɛswaf ˈkiʂt͡ʂak] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) (19 October 1925 – 5 November 2015) was a Polish general, communist-era interior minister (1981–1990) and prime minister (1989). [1]

Ministry of Interior and Administration (Poland)

Ministry of the Interior and Administration is an administration structure controlling main administration and security branches of the Polish government. After Parliamentary Election on 9 October 2011 was transformed for two ministries: Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Administration and Digitization. It was recreated in late 2015. The current Minister of Interior and Administration is Joachim Brudziński.

Prime Minister of Poland Head of Government of Poland

The President of the Council of Ministers, colloquially referred to as the Prime Minister, is the leader of the cabinet and the head of government of Poland. The current responsibilities and traditions of the office stem from the creation of the contemporary Polish state, and the office is defined in the Constitution of 1997. According to the Constitution, the President of Poland nominates and appoints the prime minister, who will then propose the composition of the cabinet. Fourteen days following his or her appointment, the prime minister must submit a programme outlining the government's agenda to the Sejm, requiring a vote of confidence. Conflicts stemming from both interest and powers have arisen between the offices of President and Prime Minister in the past.

Contents

In 1981 he played a key role in imposing martial law and suppression of the Solidarity movement in Poland. [2] But eight years later he presided over the country’s transition to democracy as its last communist prime minister and a co-chairman of the Round Table conference, in which officials of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party faced the democratic opposition leaders. The conference led to the reconciliation with and reinstatement of Solidarity, the 1989 elections, and the formation of Poland’s first non-communist government since 1945. [1] [2]

Martial law in Poland coup détat

Martial law in Poland refers to the period of time from 13 December 1981 to 22 July 1983, when the authoritarian communist government of the Polish People's Republic drastically restricted normal life by introducing martial law in an attempt to crush political opposition. Thousands of opposition activists were jailed without charge and as many as 91 killed. Although martial law was lifted in 1983, many of the political prisoners were not released until a general amnesty in 1986.

Solidarity (Polish trade union) 20th-century Polish trade union federation

Solidarity is a Polish labour union that was founded on 17 September 1980 at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa. It was the first trade union in a Warsaw Pact country that was not controlled by a communist party. Its membership peaked at 10 million members at its September 1981 Congress, which constituted one third of the total working-age population of Poland.

Communism in Poland

Communism in Poland can trace its origins to the late 19th century: the Marxist First Proletariat party was founded in 1882. Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919) of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania party and the publicist Stanisław Brzozowski (1878–1911) were important early Polish Marxists.

Early years

Czesław Kiszczak was born on 19 October 1925, in Roczyny, the son of a struggling farmer who was fired as a steelworker because of his communist affiliation. [1] Due to his father's beliefs, young Czesław was brought up in an anti-clerical, pro-Soviet atmosphere. [2]

Roczyny Village in Lesser Poland, Poland

Roczyny is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Andrychów, within Wadowice County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, in southern Poland. It lies approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) south-west of Andrychów, 14 km (9 mi) west of Wadowice, and 51 km (32 mi) south-west of the regional capital Kraków.

During World War II, in 1942, when he was 16, Kiszczak was arrested by the German occupants with his mother, older brother and an aunt and sent for forced labour. [2] At first Czesław was recruited at the German coal mine, but later was sent to Austria. [1] Towards the end of the war he was in Vienna, where he joined a communist-led anti-Nazi resistance group which collaborated with the Red Army. [2]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Austrian Resistance

The Austrian Resistance launched in response to the rise in fascism across Europe and, more specifically, to the Anschluss in 1938 and resulting occupation of Austria by Germany. An estimated 100,000 people were reported to have participated in this resistance with thousands subsequently imprisoned or executed for their anti-Nazi activities. In addition to armed resistance efforts, "silent heroes" helped Jewish men, women and children evade persecution by Nazi authorities by hiding at-risk individuals at their homes or in other safe houses, storing or exchanging their property to raise funds to support them, and/or helping them to flee the country. Each of these resistance members lived dangerously because such assistance to the Jewish community was punishable by imprisonment at concentration camps and, ultimately, by death. Among these "silent heroes" were Rosa Stallbaumer and her husband, Anton. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1942, they were both sent to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Although Anton survived, Rosa Stallbaumer did not; transferred to Auschwitz, she died there a week before her 45th birthday.

Red Army 1917–1946 ground and air warfare branch of the Soviet Unions military

The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991. The former official name Red Army continued to be used as a nickname by both sides throughout the Cold War.

Military career

After the war Kiszczak returned to Poland, joined the communist Polish Workers' Party almost immediately, and was sent to the Central Party School in Łódź, which was training civilian and military Party apparatchiks. [2] Kiszczak entered the Polish Army, where he fought guerrilla groups that were resisting the communist takeover. [1] Guerrillas beat his father and spared his life only after his mother intervened. [1] Kiszczak later explained that those struggles had shaped his response to the pro-democracy upheaval decades later: “Experiences linked with that drama, that fratricidal struggle, are among the major reasons that shaped my role in the complicated years of 1980–82,” he said. “I did not want that tragic history to repeat itself.” [1]

Polish Workers Party political party

The Polish Workers' Party was a communist party in Poland from 1942 to 1948. It was founded as a reconstitution of the Communist Party of Poland (KPP) and merged with the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) in 1948 to form the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR). From the end of World War II the PPR ruled Poland, with the Soviet Union exercising overall control. During the PPR years, the conspiratorial as well as legally permitted centers of opposition activity were largely eliminated, while the communist system was gradually established in the country.

Łódź Place in Poland

Łódź is the third-largest city in Poland and a former industrial hub. Located in the central part of the country, it has a population of 685,285 (2018). It is the capital of Łódź Voivodeship, and is approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) south-west of Warsaw. The city's coat of arms is an example of canting, as it depicts a boat (łódź), which alludes to the city's name.

An apparatchik, was a full-time, professional functionary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or the Soviet government apparat, someone who held any position of bureaucratic or political responsibility, with the exception of the higher ranks of management called nomenklatura. James Billington describes an apparatchik as "a man not of grand plans, but of a hundred carefully executed details." The term is often considered derogatory, with negative connotations in terms of the quality, competence, and attitude of a person thus described.

Later he was commissioned and, considered too young for political work in the army, was assigned to military intelligence, serving there with short breaks until 1981. [2] In 1946 he was sent to the Polish consulate-general in London, where his official task was to help repatriate members of the Polish armed forces who had served in the West during the war. [2] His superiors found him a keen, highly motivated and disciplined young officer. [2] In 1951 he became a chief of the Department of Information in the 18th Infantry Division stationed in the city of Ełk, and in 1952 was transferred to Warsaw where he took over the position of chief of the Department of Information in the Directorate of Information of Military District Number 1. Later Kiszczak was moved to the headquarters of the Ministry of National Defense, and became chief of the General Section in the Department of Finances.

Główny Zarząd Informacji Wojska Polskiego, was a name of a first military Police and counter-espionage organ of the Polish People's Army in communist Poland during and after World War II. It is also well known as Informacja Wojskowa.

Ełk Place in Warmian-Masurian, Poland

Ełk is a town in northeastern Poland with 61,156 inhabitants. It was assigned to Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in 1999, after belonging to Suwałki Voivodeship from 1975 to 1998. Ełk is the capital of Ełk County. It lies on a shore of Ełk Lake, which was formed by a glacier, and is surrounded by forests. It is the largest city, and according to many, the capital of the region of Masuria. One of its principal attractions is hunting, which is carried out in extensive forests.

Warsaw City metropolis in Masovia, Poland

Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula River in east-central Poland and its population is officially estimated at 1.780 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 3.1 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 8th most-populous capital city in the European Union. The city limits cover 516.9 square kilometres (199.6 sq mi), while the metropolitan area covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi). Warsaw is an alpha global city, a major international tourist destination, and a significant cultural, political and economic hub. Its historical Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In 1954–57 Kiszczak studied in the Polish General Staff Academy, and after the graduation was moved to the newly formed counter-intelligence agency, the Internal Military Service (WSW). From 1957 to 1965 he was the head of counter-intelligence for the Navy in the WSW, and in 1967 became deputy head of the WSW.

From the end of the 1960s Kiszczak occupied top positions in the Polish military and military intelligence services. In 1973 he was promoted to the rank of general. [2] In 1972–79 he served as a head of military intelligence (Second Directorate of General Staff of the Polish Army - Zarząd II Sztabu Generalnego Wojska Polskiego ). In 1978 he became deputy head of the Polish General Staff. In June 1979 Kiszczak returned to military counter-intelligence, and until 1981 was the head of the Internal Military Service.

Interior minister

Kiszczak - SED chief Erich Honecker meeting 1988 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1988-0629-035, Berlin, Erich Honecker empfangt Waffengeneral Kiszczak.jpg
Kiszczak - SED chief Erich Honecker meeting 1988

In July 1981 Kiszczak was appointed minister of internal affairs. [3] The Ministry of Internal Affairs, together with the Ministry of National Defense, were among the biggest and most powerful administrations in Poland, responsible for the police force, the secret police, government protection, confidential communications, supervision of local governments, correctional facilities and fire services.

In that position, Kiszczak participated in the preparation and implementation of the martial law that was declared in Poland on 13 December 1981. He became a member of the Military Council of National Salvation, a quasi-government administering Poland during the martial law (1981–83). In 1982 he became a deputy member of the Politburo of the Polish United Workers' Party and a full member in 1986. [4] From December 1981 until June 1989 Kiszczak was the second most important person in Poland, after General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the nation's top leader. [2] [5] Together they orchestrated the crackdown aimed at crushing the Solidarity, the Eastern Bloc’s first non-communist labor union movement. [5] [6] Martial law included the mass roundup and internment of Solidarity activists, curfews and other harsh measures. [7]

Generals Kiszczak and Jaruzelski later insisted that they were imposing martial law to stave off a possible Soviet-led invasion in response to the Solidarity uprising, as it happened after a reform movement in Czechoslovakia in 1968 (the Prague Spring). [1] [5] "I saved the country from terrible troubles", Kiszczak said years later. [8] But critics claimed Jaruzelski and Kiszczak were doing Moscow’s bidding in a brutal crackdown that included the shooting deaths of nine protesting miners by the police during the Pacification of Wujek operation. [1]

As internal affairs minister, Kiszczak was responsible for the coverup of Grzegorz Przemyk's death, after his severe beating by two police officers in 1983. [9] The court files of the case preserved his handwritten note ordering the prosecution to "only stick to one version of the investigation - the paramedics", which resulted in a doctor and a paramedic falsely convicted and imprisoned for over a year as part of the cover-up as part of a show trial. In 1984 Kiszczak granted financial awards to the policemen who coordinated the cover-up. [10] [11] During the trial in postcommunist Poland in 1997, one of the officers, who had participated in the beating, was eventually brought to justice, another acquitted, but Kiszczak was not on trial and avoided any punishment for his role in masterminding the coverup of the crime. [12]

At the end of the 1980s, with the huge geopolitical changes brought by four years of Gorbachev's perestroika in the Soviet Union and with Polish economy deteriorating, Kiszczak negotiated the Polish Round Table Agreement with the opposition that led to the renewed recognition of Solidarity and the terms for the 1989 elections. [1] Solidarity candidates went on to win nearly all the seats in the National Assembly that they were permitted to contest. [1]

Kiszczak was appointed prime minister in 1989, but Solidarity refused to enter a communist-led government. [1] Within a few weeks, to avert further labor unrest ignited by soaring food prices, he resigned and joined a Solidarity-dominated coalition as deputy prime minister and interior minister. [1] He served until mid-1990, when he retired from political life. [1]

Later years

General Kiszczak's grave (November 2015) Czeslaw Kiszczak (grob) 01.jpg
General Kiszczak's grave (November 2015)

Kiszczak (as well as Jaruzelski) remains one of the most controversial figures in contemporary Polish history, with fierce debates taking place about whether he was a patriot or a traitor. [2] His critics hate him for the communist-era repressions that caused the suffering of many Poles and have accused him of acting in the interests of Moscow. [5] But other Poles praise Kiszczak for relinquishing power without violence and point out that he deserves credit for eventually opening a dialogue with Solidarity and its leader Lech Wałęsa in the Round Table talks that led to partially free elections in 1989 and the end of communism in Poland. [5] [13] To some critics, Kiszczak redeemed himself already in 1984 when, as minister of internal affairs, he oversaw the prosecution and conviction of secret police officers who had abducted and murdered a pro-Solidarity priest, Jerzy Popiełuszko. [1]

Still, some Poles find it infuriating that Kiszczak never faced punishment for martial law and other repressive measures, while some lower level police officers have faced convictions. [5] In the quarter-century of democratic Poland, Kiszczak was tried in court a number of times for his role in imposing martial law, but he never served prison time. [5] One of the most serious accusations against him was connected to the martial law killings of nine miners during the pacification of Wujek coalmine. [5] [14] Kiszczak was acquitted in these killings and was handed only a two-year suspended sentence for his role in imposing martial law. [15] [13]

Kiszczak died in Warsaw on 5 November 2015 at the age 90, due to heart problems. [16] The Polish Ministry of Defence refused to allot a burial plot for him at the Powązki Military Cemetery or provide military funeral honors. [16] The general was buried at the Orthodox Cemetery in Warsaw in the presence of his family members and friends. There was no government or military official participation in the ceremony. [16]

Kiszczak was survived by his wife Maria, economist and university professor, and children Ewa and Jarosław. [17]

Honours

Bibliography

See also

Kiszczak archives - a batch of historical documents, including the SB file on secret informant Bolek, which was discovered in Kiszczak's house after his death

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Roberts, Sam (5 November 2015). "Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak, Poland's Last Communist Prime Minister, Dies at 90". The New York Times . Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Ciechanowski, Jan (7 November 2015). "Czeslaw Kiszczak: Soldier who joined Poland's martial-law triumvirate but later helped the transition to democracy". The Independent . London. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  3. Markham, James M. (1 August 1981). "Polish Chief Puts 2 More Generals in Cabinet". The New York Times . Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  4. "Personality Spotlight. Czeszlaw Kiszczak: New prime minister". United Press International. 2 August 1989. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Gera, Vanessa (5 November 2015). "Czeslaw Kiszczak dies at 90; Polish leader thwarted, then accepted democracy". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  6. Darnton, John (26 August 1982). "Polish Police Chief Cautions on Marches". The New York Times . Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  7. "Czeslaw Kiszczak, Polish interior minister who helped impose martial law in 1981, dies at 90". Fox News . Associated Press. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  8. "Czeslaw Kiszczak, Polish general and communist-era leader, dies at 90". The Washington Post . Associated Press. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  9. Cezary Łazarewicz. Żeby nie było śladów. Sprawa Grzegorza Przemyka. ISBN   978-83-8049-234-9.
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  12. 1 2 Goettig, Marcin (5 November 2015). "Poland's communist-era interior minister Kiszczak dead at 90". Reuters . Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  13. "Polish ex-minister tried for miners' deaths". BBC World Service . 16 May 2001. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  14. "Poland finds ex-general guilty over 1981 martial law". BBC World Service . 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  15. 1 2 3 "Controversial Polish communist Kiszczak to be buried without honours". Radio Poland . 6 November 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  16. Tagliabue, John (2 September 1988). "Man in the News; Tough Polish Negotiator: Czeslaw Kiszczak". The New York Times . Retrieved 13 March 2016.
Government offices
Preceded by
Mirosław Milewski
Minister of Internal Affairs
1981–1990
Succeeded by
Krzysztof Kozłowski
Preceded by
Mieczysław Rakowski
Prime Minister of Poland
1989
Succeeded by
Tadeusz Mazowiecki