The Ministry of Public Security of Poland
Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego (MBP) was a Polish communist secret police, intelligence and counter-espionage service which gripped Poland in a state of terror from 1945 to 1954. Under the directorship Jakub Berman of the Politburo, the Ministry's objective was to eradicate anti-communist organizations in Poland, the socio-political base of the Polish Secret Underground State, persecute soldiers of Armia Krajowa Home Army, and the Freedom and Independence (WiN) movement which was active during World War II.
The MPB was infamous, and known by its regional offices of Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or UBP (Office of Public Security, official name); and Urząd Bezpieczeństwa or UB (Office, or Department of Security).
In July 1944 the Soviets installed a provisional (puppet) government in Poland called the Polish Committee of National Liberation Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego or PKWN. It was formed in
Chelm by Polish communists with the aim of taking control over Polish territories captured from Nazi Germany.
Stalin proclaimed the PKWN as "the only legitimate Polish government" by which he could wield complete political control over Poland. The PKWN's internal structure was based on thirteen departments called Resorty one of which was the Department of Public Security (Resort Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego) or RBP, headed by Stanislaw Radkiewicz. The RBP was the precursor of the Polish communist secret police.
By December of the same year, the PKWN expanded to include several members of the London-based Polish government in exile, among them Stanisław Mikolajczyk.. He was later driven out of the country. PKWN was then transformed into Provisional Government of Republic of Poland (Polish: Rząd Tymczasowy Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej or RTRP). Hence all departments formerly named the Department of Public Security became the Ministry of Public Security (Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego) or MBP.
From the end of the 1940s to 1954, the MBP was among the largest and most powerful institutions in post-war People's Republic of Poland. It dealt with internal and foreign intelligence, counter intelligence, monitored anti-Soviet activity in Poland and around the world, monitored government and civilian communications, supervised local governments, maintained a militsiya, managed prisons, fire services, rescue service, and border patrol, as well as a number of concentration camps established by the NKVD, such as the Zgoda labour camp.
In July 1947, the MBP absorbed Section II of the General Staff of the Polish People's Army, the Polish Military Intelligence. Military intelligence merged with its civilian counterpart to become Department VII of Ministry of Public Security.
By the 1950s the Ministry of Public Security had approximately 32,000 people working within its departments. The MBP commanded over 41,000 soldiers and officers of the Internal Security Corps (Korpus Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego), 57,000 officers in the Civil Militia (Milicja Obywatelska), 32,000 officers and soldiers in the Border guard (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza), 10,000 prison officers (Straż Więzienna), and 125,000 members of Volunteer Reserves of the Citizens Militia (Ochotnicza Rezerwa Milicji Obywatelskiej ORMO), a paramilitary police used for special actions.
Jakub Berman, from the Politburo of the Polish United Worker's Party, controlled all political and administrative matters of the Ministry. From January 1945, the structure and organization of the Ministry was under constant change to accomodate its bureaucratic expansion. Its departments were divided into several sections each, and appointed with different duties. The largest and most important department in MBP was called Department One, headed by General Roman Romkowski (nee Natan Grinszpan-Kikiel). Its focus was on counter-espionage and the elimination of anti-state activities. Department I was divided into Sections as follows:
Fighting German espionage and Nazi underground remaining in Poland
Fighting reactionary underground
Fighting political banditry
Protection of the national economy
Protection of legal political parties from outside (underground) penetration.
In January 1945, two new departments were added to existing departments created for the Resort Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego organization (RBP). On September 6, 1945, Department II was expanded with additional departments: Department IV commanded by Aleksander Wolski-Dyszko, Department V commanded by Julia Brystygier, and Department VI headed by Teodor Duda. Further changes were implemented in July 1946 where MBP was divided into eight (8) additional departments, as follows:
- Dep 1– Counter-espionage
- Dep 2– Technical operations and technology
- Dep 3– Fighting underground resistance
- Dep 4– Protection of economy
- Dep 5– Counteraction of hostile penetration and church influences
Ministry of Public Security (1951 and 1953)
Minister of Public Security – Gen. Stanislaw Radkiewicz
1st vice-minister– Gen. Roman Romkowski
2nd vice-minister– Mieczysław Mietkowski
3rd vice-minister – Konrad Swietlik
4th vice-minister– Waclaw Lewikowski
Department I– Counter-intelligence – headed by col. Stefan Antosiewicz
Department II– Operative Technology and records – headed by col. Leon Rubinstein
Department III– Fighting bandits – headed by col. Jozef Czaplicki
Department IV– Protection of economy – headed by col. Jozef Kratko
Department V– Religious political and social organizations – headed by col. Julia Brystiger
Department VI– Prisons – headed by col. Władyslaw Pisło
Department VII– Intelligence – headed by col. Witold Sieniewicz
Department of Investigations– headed by col. Jozef Rozanski
Department for Training– headed by mjr. Zdzisław Szymaczak
Department of Staff– headed by col. Mikolaj Orechwa
Department for Government Protection– headed by col. Faustym Grzybowski
Department of Transport– headed by col. Czeslaw Radzicki
Department of Communications– headed by col. Feliks Suczek
Special Bureau– headed by col. Anatol Fejgin
Bureau for control– headed by ?
Bureau of foreign passports– headed by lt. col. Wladyslaw (Spychaj) Sobczynski
Bureau of Budget and Finances– headed by lt./lt. col. Szymon Ela Tenenbaum
Bureau A (Observation of suspicious element) [suspect]– headed by ?
Bureau B (Central archives)– headed by col. Zygmunt Okret (Izrael Nachemiasz)
MBP in the field
In addition there were also City Offices of Public Security (Miejski Urząd Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego or MUBP) with 148 MPB officers and employees; District Offices of Public Security (Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczemstwa Publicznego or PUBP), with 51 officers and employees; and finally, the Communal Offices of Public Security (Gminny Urząd Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego, or GUBP), which were located at local militia precincts (MO) each with 3 UBP security officers on staff.
In 1953 there were 17 Voivode Offices of Public Security (WUBP), 2 Regional Offices of Public Security on the order of WUBP, 268 District Offices of Public Security (PUBP),5 City Offices of Public Security (MUBP), which operated as District Offices of Public Security (PUBP). Altogether, they employed 33,200 permanent officers, 7,500 of which were stationed in their Warsaw headquarters.
According to Professor Andrzej Paczkowski there was one MBP (or UB) officer for every 800 Polish citizens. Never again, in the 45-year-old history of the People's Republic of Poland, were its special services' formations so large in numbers.
Soviet control and political repressions
The establishment of Soviet military and civilian bureaucracy, and its perpetual change and expansion guaranteed the Soviets political power and virtual omnipotence over Poland during the Cold War. The structure and command of its institutions was visibly and wholly dependent on the USSR
The MPB was controlled by highly experienced and well-grained officers in intelligence and counter intelligence activity from services such as NKGB, NKVD, GRU and SMERSH. (Subsequently, MGB, MVD and KGB.) The first Soviet chief advisor to the MPB was Major General Ivan Serov. His first posting was in 1939 to the position of deputy commander, then commander of Soviet militsiya of the NKVD. Subsequently he was nominated chief of the Secret Political Department (SPO) of the GUGB/NKVD, then People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. From 1941 to 1945 he was appointed the First Deputy People's Commissar of the State Security and later – Deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR. In March 1945, he became the main advisor to the MBP in
and oversaw the apprehension 16 leaders of the Polish underground resistance. The Ministry of Public Security was infamous for its repression and brutality and played a key role in the Trial of the Sixteen.
During the German occupation of Poland, the NKBG and NKVD agents had infiltrated the ranks of Armia Krajowa, with the assistance of members of the People's Guard (Gwardia Ludowa) - later renamed the People's Army (Armia Ludowa). When the Red Army occupied Polish territory, the new Ministry of Public Security, supported by the Main Directorate of Information of the Polish Army conducted a flurry of arrests of members of the Polish resistance, in short, anybody opposed to Communist ideology. Dissident members of the Armia Krajowa were imprisoned, deported to Soviet gulags, or executed.
"[...] The interrogations were conducted by two NKVD officers in uniforms, and by [Boleslaw] Halewski. During interrogations he would say that the UB functionaries were learning interrogation methods from the Russians. Halewski tortured me in the presence of the Russians. He was hitting me on the face, and several times kicked me in the groin. After being kicked I felt down from the pain, and the guards had to carry me out of the interrogation room, and then tossed me into the cell. In the cell, I saw from a close distance how Boleslaw Halewski, before the eyes of all prisoners, was kicking one of the prisoners in the groin area. After [the prisoner] fell, he first jumped on his chest, and then he was smashing his face with the heal of his boot. I saw this from the distance of about two meters. I thought then, that this prisoner, whose name I didn't know, died then [...] *
Soviet chief advisors to the Ministry of Public Security from 1945–1954
1945– Ivan Serov (Major General)
1945-1946– Nikolai Selvanovsky (Major General)
1946-1950– Semyon Davydov (Colonel)
1950-1953– Mikhail Bezborodov (Colonel)
1953– Nikolai Kovalshuk (Lieutenant General)
1953-1954– Serafim Lialin
In November 1953, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party Boleslaw Bierut asked Politburo member Jakub Berman to send MBP Lieutenant Colonel Jozef Swiatlo on an important mission to East Berlin. Swiatlo, deputy head of MBP Department 10, accompanied by Colonel Anatol Fejgin, were sent on a mission to consult with the Erich Mielke, from the East German Ministry for State Security's to discuss plans for the elimination of Wanda Bronska.
They traveled to Berlin and spoke with Mielke on December 4, 1953. The next day Swiatlo defected to the United States through their military mission in West Berlin. American military authorities transported Swiatlo to Frankfurt and by December, Swiatlo had been flown to Washington D.C, where he underwent an extensive debriefing.
Swiatlo's defection received wide press coverage in the United States and Europe as well as in Poland via Radio Free Europe. The latter causing much embarassment to communist authorities in Warsaw. Swiatlo had intimate knowledge of the internal politics of the Polish government, in particular that of the activities of the various secret services. In the following months, American newspapers and Radio Free Europe reported extensively on political repression in Poland based on Swiatlo reports, including that of torture of prisoners, and politically motivated executions. Swiatlo also provided details about struggles within the Polish United Workers' Party.
The communist authorities ordered Swiatlo to falsify evidence that was used to incriminate Władysław Gomułka, who he personally arrested. He had also falsified evidence and arrested Marian Spychalski, the future Minister of National Defence, who was at the time a leading politician and high ranking military officer.
Major changes were made in the Ministry of Public Security in late 1954 - the result of the highly publicized defection of Colonel Swiatlo as well as the general general hatred of the Ministry among the Polish public. By December of the same year, the Polish Council of State and the Council of Ministers decided to replace the Ministry with two distinct administrations: the Committee for Public Security (Komitet do Spraw Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego or KDSBP), headed by Wladysław Dworakowski, and (Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnetrznych or MSW), headed by Wladyslaw Wicha. In consequence the number of employees of the headquarters of Committee for Public Security was reduced by 30% and by 40–50% in local offices. The massive network of secret informers was also greatly reduced, followed by the arrest of many functionaries of the Ministry of Public Security. Also severely curtailed were activities in surveillance and repressive measures. In the majority of factories in Poland, the network of agents spying on workers was secretly disbanded.
The Committee for Public Security controlled intelligence and counter-espionage activities, government security and the secret police and from September 3, 1955 to November 28, 1956 it also controlled the Polish Army's Main Directorate of Information (Glowny Zarząd Informacji Wojska) - which ran the Military Police and counter espionage service. The Ministry of Internal Affairs was responsible for the supervision of local governments, the Milicja Obywatelska police force, correctional facilities, fire and rescue forces, and the border guard. In 1956 the Committee was dissolved although many of its functions were merely absorbed into the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The secret police was renamed to the 'Security Service.
The Most Infamous and Hated MBP personnel
Head of Ministry of Public Security of Poland
Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB)
Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB)
Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB)
commander of Zgoda labour camp
War Crimes Criminal
(real name Jozef Goldberg)
(real name Fajga Mindla Danielak)
Infamous Military Prosecutor
(real name Natan Grunspan – Kikiel)
Vice Minister, Security Agent
Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB)
(real name Izak Fleischfarb)
Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB)
"Butcher of Mokotow Prison"
Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB)
|Certificate of Pilecki`s execution order signed by Piotr Smietanski May 25, 1948|
Jozef Czaplicki (real name Izydor Kurc)
Julian Konar (real name Jakub Kohn)
Mieczysław Mietkowski (real name Mojzesz Bobrowicki)
Notable people who were murdered by the MBP
Emil August Fieldorf
*The Doomed Soldiers: Polish Secret Police