February 14, 2011

SPY WEEK Famous Polish Spies Part II: The Rise of Polish Intelligence Services

Polish espionage has had a long and intricate history going as far back as the 17th century, when during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, an elaborate network of informants were sent  to infiltrate neighbouring countries, with the objective of gathering intelligence, a mission also undertaken by ambassadors and envoys.(The Commonwealth was the largest and most populous of states in Europe but weakened after almost fifty years of constant war.)

Jan Andrzej Morsztyn

Most notable of the time was a Polish poet by the name of Jan Andrzej Morsztyn, whose pedigree was of landed gentry, and who served in several Sejm commissions regarding diplomatic, legal and fiscal concerns. In addition he also took part in many diplomatic missions and negotiations in Hungary, Sweden, and Austria. He was Royal Secretary in 1656,  Crown Referendary in 1658,  and Deputy Crown Treasurer in 1668. He negotiated the Treaty of Oliwa in 1660. Eventually he began to promote French political candidates in the free election of 1668 and openly supported French policies in the Commonwealth. That as well as his acceptance of a French pension and citizenship was his undoing.

King Jan III Sobieski

When King Jan III Sobieski distanced himself from France and chose to ally himself instead with Austria, Morsztyn was branded a traitor, and emigrated to France in 1683. The Sejm stripped  Morsztyn of all title and offices and banned him from the Commonwealth. King Sobieski reigned over the Commonwealth for 22 years in a period of stabilisation.

A military genius, he was famous for his victory over the Turks in the 1683 Battle of Vienna  After his illustrious victory, the Turks referred to him as the "Lion of Lechistan" and the Pope regaled him as the Saviour of European Christendom.

During the partitions of Poland, which began in 1772  and lasted until 1918, patriotic Poles mounted heightened intelligence surveillance of their enemies in the territories formerly occupied by Poland.  For 123 years, Poland virtually ceased to exist as a nation-state, though the Poles struggled to regain their independence in numerous wars and uprisings.  Most ended in bloody repression.

In 1914 Jozef Pilsudski founded the Polish Military Organization (PMO), which functioned as a special intelligence and special-operations organization alongside that of the Polish Legions.   Since  the PMO was an institution entirely independent of Austro-Hungary, and loyal to Pilsudski, it held great promise of a future independent Poland.

With the end of World War I, and the restoration of Poland by the Treaty of Versailles, the Second Republic of Poland immediately set to work establishing its armed forces. The Polish General Staff was structured in the following divisions with clearly defined goals for each:

  1. Oddzial I (Division I) – Organization and mobilization;
  2. Oddzial II (Division II) – Intelligence and counterintelligence;
  3. Oddzialu III (Division III) – Training and operations;
  4. Oddzial IV (Division IV) – Quartermaster.
Note: Before Poland had even declared her independence, Division II (colloquially, "Dwojka," "Two") was formed. Initially it was named, "General Staff Information Department,"

Division II was divided into sections (sekcje):
  • Sekcja I – Reconnaissance and close intelligence;
  • Sekcja II
    • IIa (East) – Offensive intelligence for Bolshevik Russia, Lithuania, the Belarusian People's Republic, Ukraine and Galicia;
    • IIb (West) – Offensive intelligence for Austria, Germany, France and the United Kingdom;
  • Sekcja III – General intelligence and surveillance abroad (East and West);
  • Sekcja IV – Preparation of a front-line bulletin;
  • Sekcja V – Contacts with military and civilian authorities;
  • Sekcja VI – Contacts with attachés in Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Moscow and Kiev;
  • Sekcja VII – Ciphers (i.e., cryptology).

A vast network of domestic and foreign informants began to develop very quickly, a response largely the result of Poland's dire economic situation - the result of over a century of foreign occupation and economic exploitation by her enemies. Poland's economic and political climate during the 19th and early 20th centuries were such that hundreds of thousands of Poles emigrated.  With the advent of Polish independence Polish intelligence agencies were flooded with offers of service from many émigrés. Polish citizens who had been living in the former Russian empire were returning home in droves, carrying with them priceless information of intelligence, logistics, order of battle, and status of political parties in war-torn Russia.

The Polish diaspora formed the foundation of heavy industry throughout Western Europe, in particular Germany, France, and Belgium.  At least one million Poles resided n the Ruhr Valley, among whom vast numbers provided intelligence regarding the industrial production and economic conditions.

With the outbreak of the Polish-Soviet War in 1919, intelligence reports from the east were extremely important for Poland's survival against an enemy which was far superior.  In the same year, a separate organization was formed within Polish Intelligence, called Biuro Wywiadowcze (BW) (Intelligence Bureau) whose duties focused on intelligence missions for the duration of the war.  The BW consisted of seven departments:
  1. Organisation;
  2. Offensive Intelligence "A";
  3. Offensive Intelligence "B";
  4. Offensive Intelligence "C";
  5. Defensive Intelligence;
  6. Internal propaganda;
  7. Counterintelligence.
The fourth department called Offensive Intelligence "C", was the most developed of all the categories as it administered all the duties connected with "front-line" espionage, that is, reconnaissance, intelligence, and in particular, surveillance in countries surrounding Bolshevik Russia, Siberia, Turkey, Persia, China, Mongolia and Japan.

The third department, Offensive Intelligence "B," controlled an intelligence network in European Russia, from where additional intelligence was gathered from Russian defectors and prisoners of war who fled to Poland by the thousands - especially after the 1920 Battle of Warsaw.

Following the Polish–Soviet War and the Treaty of Riga, Poland was faced with new challenges that prompted the need to restructure its organization.  Though Poland had won most of her border conflicts (most notably the war with Russia and the Greater Poland Uprising of 1918-19 against Germany), her international situation was unenviable. By mid-1921, Section II was restructured into three main departments, each responsible for a number of offices, as follows:
  • Organization Department:
  1. Organization;
  2. Training;
  3. Personnel;
  4. Finances;
  5. Polish ciphers and codes, communication, and foreign press.
  • Information Department:
  1. East;
  2. West;
  3. North;
  4. South;
  5. Statistics office;
  6. Nationalities and minorities;
  • Intelligence Department:
  1. Intelligence technology;
  2. Central agents' bureau;
  3. Counterintelligence;
  4. Foreign cryptography (Biuro Szyfrow);
  5. Radio intelligence and wire-tapping.
To the end of the 1930s, the Soviet Union was regarded as Poland's main adversary, and most likely aggressor.Section II developed an extensive network of agents working within Poland's eastern neighbor  countries. In the early 1920s Polish intelligence began to develop a network referred to as "offensive intelligence." The Eastern Office (Referat "Wschod") had several dozen bureaus established and mostly attached to Polish consulates in numerous cities, such as Moscow, Kiev, Leningrad, Kharkov and Tbilisi
The Polish Border Defense Corps, created in 1924, dealt with short-range reconnaissance. On numerous occasions, Polish soldiers crossed the border disguised as smugglers, partisans or bandits. and gathered information about Soviet troops as well as spying on the general morale of the Soviet population. Conversely, Soviet forces were carrying out similar activity on Polish soil.  By 1925, the situation stabilized until such missions occurred only sporadically.

Polish Intelligence were extremely effective in producing accurate assessments of the capabilities of their main potential adversaries, Germany and the Soviet Union.  However, the information was useless when war finally came in September 1939.  No amount of good intelligence could offset the unforseen and overwhelming military assault by German and Soviet armed forces.  Poland was defeated in a matter of four weeks - too little time for intelligence services to even attempt to make a contribution.  With the conquest of Poland, her intelligence services, along with armed forces divisions evacuated to Allied French and British territories.

It wasn't until 1939  that Polish intelligence services began to collaborate with its counterparts in other countries though an exception was made with France, with whom Poland's rapport was was at best merely lukewarm with neither side divulging any secrets to each other.  Despite the situation, Poland's Cipher Bureau, headed by Gwido Langer, had a long-term collaboration with France's Gustave Bertrand, a collaboration which intensified once Britain and France entered into formal military alliance with Poland.  It resulted in the sharing of information with France and Britain of the Polish techniques and equipment needed to break the German Enigma cipher machines. It was the Poles who broke the Code, namely Marian Rejewski, who as early as 1932, in collaboration with his colleagues, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy Rozycki, developed elaborate mathematical calculations to decipher Enigma messages on a regular basis, while British and French intellligence were still scratching their heads.

It was after six-and-a-half years later that Poland notified French and British intelligence for the first time concerning the Polish breakthrough.  A trilateral conference was held at the Cipher Bureau in the Kabaty Woods, located just south of Warsaw on July 26, 1939, just weeks before the outbreak of World War II.

In the meantime, the information provided to the British formed the basis of further development of the Enigma decryption by British intelligence at Bletchley Park, located northwest of London. Without the head start provided by Poland, the British would not have been able to progress as they did, and their reading of the Enigma encryptions would most certainly have been delayed for several years more.

On September 17, 1939 when the Soviets were invading Poland from the east,  key members of the Polish Cipher Bureau made a daring escape from Poland and eventually reached France. It was at PC Bruno, a secret locale outside Paris, where they resumed their work, cracking Enigma ciphers throughout the period of the Phony War (October 1939 to May 1940) until the Fall of France. The cipher team, now one of Polish-French-Spanish collaboration continued its work at Cadix, located in Vichy, the Free Zone until ultimately it too was occupied by the Germans in November 1942.

Following the invasion of Poland, the General Staff's Section II (Intelligence) command, managed to make its way to Romania and then to Britain and France, and in the process reactivated agent networks all throughout Europe, in cooperation with French and British intelligence agencies. After the fall of France, Section II relocated to Britain.  The timing could not have been better since Britain was in dire need of intelligence from occupied Europe, but because German advances had disrupted British networks there were few British agents in the field.

With the intervention of Churchill and Sikorski in September 1940,  British and Polish intelligence organizations embarked on a new phase. The Poles placed Section II at the disposal of the British on a quid pro quo basis, and obtained the right to use their own ciphers which they had developed in France, It was a rare concession as the Poles were the only Allies given such a unique status.

Polish secret agents have been on the front lines from the beginning to the end of the war. The Polish network in France alone increased by 1,500 members. For the first half of 1941 Polish agents in France supplied Britain with intelligence reports on U-boat movements from French Atlantic ports.   They also supplied vital information about German military movements before and during Operation Overlord as well as Operation Barbarossa and documented German atrocities perpetrated against Jews and non-Jews at Auschwitz and elsewhere in Poland.  Polish intelligence also gave the British invaluable information about the development of Germany's secret weapons, in particular the V-1 and V-2 Rockets  Immediately following receipt of this report, the British bombed the production factory at Peenemunde in 1943.
V-1 Rocket

Polish Intelligence obtained Germany's Secret Plans for V-1 Rocket

As a matter of fact, much of the intelligence received by Allied Command came from Polish sources.
Of approximately 45,770 reports, almost 22,047 of them came from Polish agents.Every aspect of the German Wermacht was under surveillance and reported to the Allies by Polish agents.

Section II was officially disbanded on March 15, 1946 and its archives were taken over by Britain.  Before its' dissolution, Section II had 170 officers and 3,500 agents, some of whom continued to work for Britain during the Cold War.

It is not surprising that the contributions made by Polish intelligence to the Allied War effort was kept confidential because of Cold War exigencies. In the ensuing years, British documents were released, however, they barely made any mention whatsoever of the role Polish intelligence played throughout World War II and the Cold War.  It became public knowledge only as late as the 1970s when Britain released information about the Engima ciphers and its decryption. Oddly, the early British reports claim  that Polish intelligence stole a German enigma machine  - a flagrant lie that the British perpetuated and continued to promote to the very end of the 20th century.  The truth was finally disclosed in a book written by Bertrand, and later supported by detailed documentation by Marian Rejewski to correct fabricated stories spun by these British and American sources.

Incidentally, Polish efforts at breaking the Enigma Code was much more sophisticated than the British could ever have realized. The solutions relied largely on complicated mathematical analysis for which the Polish cipher team was exceptionally qualified. Unfortunately, efforts to obtain access to this and other information about Polish intelligence operations have often been met in the past with staunch defensiveness and stonewalling by the British.

However, in recent years, British intelligence archives, for the first time, have given access to their records to leading historians and experts. The British and Polish governments have finally begun working together with the objective of assembling an accurate historical account of Poland's Intelligence contribution to the Allied War effort.  A report addressing the topic was published by the Anglo-Polish Historical Committee in July 2005. It concluded that 43 % of all intelligence reports received by the British secret service during World War II came from Polish sources.

Polish Intelligence Agencies continued after the end of World War II. Soviet special services began the process of training Polish officers as early as 1943. About 120 Poles were being trained at an NKVD school at Kuybyshev (now Samara). Simultaneously, there were NKVD-NKGB schools throughout Russia.  Hundreds of Germans, Romanians, Czechoslovaks, and Bulgarians were also being groomed to work in future special services in each of their respective nations.

In July 1944  a temporary Polish puppet government was formed, called the Polish Committee of National Liberation (Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego), or PKWN.   Of the thirteen departments, one was the largest and most important - the Department of Public Security (Resort Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego), or RBP, headed by long-time Polish communist Stanislaw Radkiewicz, that is, Department 1. It  was responsible for counter-espionage and headed by Roman Romkowski.  Department 1 had become so large that by September 1945 three additional departments had to be created, as well as two separate Sections. By the end of 1944 the ranks of Department of Public Security employees swelled to 3000.
Several members of the Polish government in exile also joined its ranks on December 31, 1944 most notably, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk.  The Department was transformed into the Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland (Rzad Tymczasowy Republiki Polskiej, or RTRP), and the departments were renamed as ministries.

The Ministry of Public Security took responsibility for the surveillance of its citizens and suppression of dissent, as well as conducting intelligence and counter-espionage activities. The structure and functioning of the Ministry was markedly different from that of pre-war Polish intelligence services - recruits were judged on the basis of their "political reliability" and trained by Soviet NKVD experts.  Often Soviet officers garbed in Polish uniforms would oversee operations. After Stalin's death in 1953, the Ministry was replaced by two separate administrations; the Committee for Public the Committee for Public Security (Komitet do Spraw Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego, or Kds.BP) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnetrznych or MSW).

The Kds.BP was responsible for intelligence and government protection and also controlled the Main Directorate of Information of the Polish Army, (Główny Zarzad Informacji Wojska Polskiego) which was responsible for the military police and counter-espionage agency.  The MSW was responsible for the supervision of local governments, Militsiya, correctional facilities, fire rescue and the border and internal guards.

In 1956, major changes were made: the Committee for Public Security was canceled and the Ministry of Internal Affairs took over their responsibilities. The MSW took of the political police, under the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa.

From 1956 until the fall of communism in Poland the MSW was one of the largest and most powerful of administrations. It handled a gamut of responsibilities - intelligence, counter-espionage, anti-state activity (SB), government protection, confidential communications, supervision of the local governments, militsiya, correctional facilities, and fire rescue.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs was divided into several departments, the most important among them were the first, second and third departments; the first department handled foreign operations and intelligence gathering; the second with spy activities both by Poland and other countries and the third dealt with anti-state activities and the protection of national secrets.

In addition to its own departments and sections, the MSW also had control over the Militsiya (Komenda Główna Milicji Obywatelskiej or KG/MO), fire rescue (Komenda Glowna Straży Pozarnych or KG/SP), territorial anti-aircraft defense, (Komenda Glowna Terenowej Obrony Przeciwlotniczej KG/TOP), management of geodesy and cartography, (Glowny Zarzad Geodezji i Kartografii) and health services (Centralny Zarzad Sluzby Zdrowia). Ministry of Internal Affairs also had control over the command of the Internal Security Corp. (Dowództwo Korpusu Bezpieczeństwa Wewnetrznego or KBW), command of the Border Guard (Dowodztwo Wojsk Ochrony Pogranicza or KOP), and management of Information of Internal Troops (Zarzad Informacji Wojsk Wewnetrznych). Through the 1980s the MSW had 24,390 staff in Security Services, 62,276 in the Citizen's Militsiya, 12,566 in Motorized Reserves of the Citizens Militia (Zmotoryzowane Odwody Milicji Obywatelskiej, or ZOMO), 20,673 in Administratively-Economic Units (Jednostki administracyjno-gospodarcze) and 4,594 in ministry schools, not including students.

Military Special Services

In 1943, the Soviet Union created the first military special services in Poland. The first organ that dealt with military counterespionage was named the Directorate of Information by the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army (Zarzad Informacji Naczelnego Dowódcy Wojska Polskiego, or ZI NDWP).

On November 30, 1944, the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army, General Michal Rola-Żymierski, transformed the ZI NDWP into the Main Directorate of Information of the Polish Army (Glowny Zarzad Informacji Wojska Polskiego, or GZI WP) in his 95th order.

From 30 November, 1950, the GZI WP became the Main Directorate of Information of the Ministry of Defense (Glowny Zarzad Informacji Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, or GZI MON).

In September 1955 GZI MON became part of the Committee for Public Security (Komitet do spraw Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego), which was the successor of Ministerstwo Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego, more commonly known as the Urzad Bezpieczenstwa or UB, and the name was changed to the Main Directorate of Information of the Committee for Public Security, or GZI KdsBP.

In November 1956 the GZI Kds.BP separated from the Committee for Public Security, and returned to its previous role, becoming again the Main Directorate of Information of the Ministry of Defense. After the reform instituted by Wladyslaw Gomulka in 1956, and the role the GZI played in repressions and executions, the Main Directorate of Information of Ministry of Defense was canceled in 1957 and replaced by the Military Internal Service (Wojskowa Sluzba Wewnetrzna, or WSW). The WSW continuously operated as the main military police and counterespionage service until the fall of communism in Poland.

After World War II, the first Polish Military Intelligence was formed - the Second Section of General Staff of the Polish People's Army (Oddzial II Sztabu Generalnego Ludowego Wojska Polskiego, or Odzial II Szt Gen LWP) was establshed which bore the same name as its precursor from before the war.  Odzial II Szt Gen WP was establish on July 18, 1945, but its origins can be traced to May 1943, when the first reconnaissance company was created in Polish Army units in the USSR.

Between July 1947 and June 5, 1950, the Second Section of General Staff of the Polish People's Army operated as Department VII, within the structure of the Ministry of Public Security together with the civilian intelligence branch.

On June 5, 1950, it returned to the Ministry of Defense. The first head of Odzial II Szt Gen WP was Colonel Gieorgij Domeradzki. In November 1945 this position was occupied by General Wacław Komar, and between October 1950 and March 1951 by soviet officer Konstantin Kahnikov. The last commander of the Second Section of General Staff of the Polish People's Army was Igor Suchacki.

On November 15, 1951, Polish Defence Minister Konstantin Rokossovsky (in his 88th order) transformed the Second Section of General Staff of the Polish People's Army to Second Directorate of General Staff of the Polish Army (Zarzad II Sztabu Generalnego Wojska Polskiego). Internal organization was transformed from sections to directorates and intelligence work among the United States, Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria was expanded to countries such as Norway, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Israel.

In 1990 the Second Directorate of General Staff of the Polish Army was joined to the Military Internal Service (Wojskowa Sluzba Wewnetrzna, or WSW), so that intelligence and counter-intelligence activities would be coordinated under one structure as the Second Directorate for Intelligence and Counter-intelligence (Zarzad II Wywiadu i Kontrwywiadu).

In 1991 the Second Directorate for Intelligence and Counter-intelligence was transformed into Military Information Services (Wojskowe Sluzby Informacyjne, or WSI), and continues to function under this name.

The Służba Bezpieczeństwa was disbanded in 1989 by the first free government under the prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki. A new agency was formed, called the State Protection Office (Urzad Ochrony Panstwa, or UOP) was staffed mainly by the former SB officers who had successfully passed a verification procedure. Its objective was primarily general espionage,intelligence gathering and counter-espionage as well as fighting against high ranked organized crime. The Office was under the commandn by a career intelligence officer but was directly supervised by a civilian government official,  a Coordinator for the Special Services.

The agency was able to evade public attention for the most part, except when it was beset with political in-fighting over appointments of its chiefs, lustration and some perceived failures with organized crime cases.

In 2002 the new, post-communist left-wing government reorganized the special services by creating two distinct agencies: the Internal Security Agency (Agencja Bezpieczenstwa Wewnetrznego) and Intelligence Agency (Agencja Wywiadu).  The decision was regarded as a political move to rid the agencies of officers appointed by the previous right-wing governments.

Poland's  military intelligence continues to function under a slightly altered name (Wojskowe Sluzby Informacyjne - Military Information Services) and apparently without much organizational change at least none that are discernable.

In October 2005, the new Polish conservative government declared the dissolution of the WSI and created new services. Throughout the transformation the WSI were allegedly accused of being involved in questionable operations -  arms sales to UN-sanctioned states and corruption scandals. In 2006 the WSI was split into Sluzba Kontrwywiadu Wojskowego and Sluzba Wywiadu Wojskowego.

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