Initially, I did not have any intention to write on this subject. The subject of Czeslaw Kiszczak’s private archive is being heavily scrutinized and is pretty much exhausted. However, a few general reflections occurred to me in light of recent events:
- Stanislaw Bareja excellently framed the irrationalism in the PRL (communist Poland) and, with his camera, hunted for existential absurdities of that period. It was his films that widely popularized the idea of the Communist state as a grotesque farce. I have no ill will towards Mr. Bareja and his comedic genius. However, the farce wasn’t the only, but more importantly, most essential face of the PRL. That state, governed by the Communists, resorted to murder in order to preserve and protect its control. The fact that the country was lawless and crime-ridden never became engrained in the prevalent perception of that period.
- For many long years, Poles were regaled and deceived by the fairy tale that the security apparatus in communist Poland were some sort of harmless band of misfits, whose jobs dealt with the creation of literature; and their records about real living and breathing people were falsified. This is supported by a well known judgment by a court in Katowice that reads: “It is a well established fact that the security services falsified documents.” They want us to believe that more than 24,000 officers and 90,000 of their secret collaborators formed only what could be called as the largest club of science fiction writers. Yet, many grown people still believe in those fantasies; it can be called a trademark of the Third Republic.
- In the end, the Third Republic turned out to be a country formed by a deal between so-called constructive, moderate opposition and comrades of the Communist party. The oppositionists were supposed to be twentieth-century Moseses that would lead the communist apparatchiks and murderers along a dry road across the Red Sea, from socialism to capitalism. And, in fact, they were. It worked perfectly. The deal with the Communist comrades was not a necessity, but even if it were for a short period, very soon it was clear that it was not. And yet, it became a matter of honor. A matter of honor unlike any other issue: “Pacta sunt servanda” (“agreements must be kept” in Latin). Contrary to the myth there never were only two roads: either a dirty peace with the Communists or a revolution with rivers of blood.
- What is happening today is punishment for the lack of lustration in the past. The Polish state never dealt with the truth, which may have been difficult for particular individuals but would have been rejuvenating for the society. There was no catharsis, and bad blood continues to circulate throughout our society and its organizations.
- In Poland, under the Communist state as well as the Third Republic, the truth was worse than evil. It was regarded as crime. A great number of arguments were used by the worn out authorities, in order to maintain the lie: “Lustration is unconstitutional”; “Lustration is a witch hunt”; “Lustration is an act of vengeance by secret police from beyond the grave”; “Security agents are actually the victims”; “Records, all of them, or almost all, are falsified”; “Inspecting the past is like digging through graves”.
- Every action has its consequences. For the crimes committed over 45 years of Communist rule not one person was charged in court, and not one person was punished adequately for their sins. The Stalinist judges and prosecutors weren’t punished for committing judicial murder. Even the torturers escaped punishment. All of them escaped. This was the result of the Round Table where the murderers were among us. And, if someone is offended by the word ‘everyone’ (it is a big quantifier) because of their sensitivity, let’s change it to ‘almost everyone’ and to ‘the biggest criminals’.
- Every action has its consequences. In the Third Republic a phrase by Urban (Communist propagandist) made an overwhelming career: all biographies are covered in mud to some degree. It means that “there is no good or bad in any absolute sense”, only in a relativistic sense. This is why the Third Republic leaves behind such a huge moral void, where the fiercest wars were fought for the good name of those, for whom the notion of a good name should be removed once and for all. This is most brilliantly exemplified by the Dictator in the black glasses. The Third Republic leaves a moral void, because for 25 years the good was leveled with the evil. This was a country of objectionable power, paraphrasing a famous poem by Zbigniew Herbert.
- Everything has its logic. The logic of lies is different than the logic of truth. The Third Republic was like a living room where the occupants closed the windows tightly and sprawled on the chairs where they released gas into the soft upholstery. As soon as someone tried to open the windows, they shouted with all their strength: Keep them closed! Keep them closed! The air will kill us, because it’s poisonous!
- The Third Republic effectively spent its time systematically kneading the gray mass and creating from it a new type of citizen. The type of citizens for whom truth is not needed to live and any values stemming from moral norms would not only interfere with building a career, but also with living a normal life. For these types of citizens the present is sufficient. These types of citizens do not have any roots. They do not need and do not know any history and, and if by some off chance they did know something, it would be some flashes, some shadows, some snapshots, all of them terrible things. Like a Pole in charge of a concentration camp; or a Pole murdering millions of Jewish people. This dark mass of citizens – in terms of knowledge and ethical deeds – was persuaded that they were the essence of normality. And yet, it could not be fully implemented. Somewhere, beneath this “cold and hard, dry and filthy” lava, this lava, which seemed to have everything under control there flowed a stream of people for whom Poland is not just a place on the map. It is a place to live, for which our forefathers shed blood. This was a totally unexpected finding for some.
- Finally, such reflection came to my mind: what was the largest and most damning crime in the Third Republic? It was ‘Crimen laesae majestatis’ or the crime of high treason. In reality, those sentenced for this crime of high treason were not summarily executed – they were only removed from public life for a crime against the nobilities like President Lech Wałesa or the dearest to all Bronisław Geremek. The remaining life of such unlucky persons was meant to be spent banished, like a Jew under German occupation, wearing the Star of David – a patch of bewilderment. This high treason crime was mostly undertaken by digging through biographies. I repeat again – digging through biographies was not for satisfaction sake, but for the truth; and the truth – as we know – in the Third Republic was a crime and a disease that did not serve well the health of the false powers that be. These authorities wish that it would be like it was before and that it would be understood like before what could be said in the parlor with the closed windows, and what needed to be discretely kept silent, and who, in the name of a common past and a great future, was to be pursued in a garden in which stands the house with the salon. The barbarians, who are trying to open the windows, must be chased as the bastards do not know that nothing harms us like the truth.
Keep them closed! Keep them closed! The air will kill us, it’s poisonous!
PS. I do not belong to the generation that was emotionally and personally involved in the fight against communism. I do not feel satisfaction that things are the way they are. I would prefer that the truth was different: Lech Wałesa – a great Polish hero, etc. But he is not and, 27 years after 1989, for all those who kept their ability to reason it should be enough to understand that Poland was transformed from communist into a post-communist country with the same ‘wheat-sugar beet’ elites at the helm of power.
I sincerely hope this is finally the end of this.
If things were different – the perpetrators of the judicial murder of General Nil would still be in jail and we would watch movies about people who were undeterred, and gave evidence of this throughout their entire lives.