February 18, 2011

SPY WEEK Famous Polish Spies - Wladyslaw Bartoszewski

Wladysław Bartoszewski

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski (born February 19, 1922 in Warsaw) is a Polish politician, social activist, journalist, writer, historian, former Auschwitz concentration camp inmate, and soldier of Armia Krajowa, As a Polish underground activist, he participated in the Warsaw Uprising, served twice as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of the White Eagle, and Honorary Citizenship of Israel.

Bartoszewski studied at Saint Stanislaw Kostka Secondary School and graduated in 1939 from The Humanist High School of the Roman Catholic Future Educational Society in Warsaw.

World War II

When World War II broke out on September 1939, Bartoszewski took part in the civil defense of Warsaw as a stretcher-bearer. From May 1940, he worked in the first clinic of the Polish Red Cross in Warsaw. Bartoszewski was arrested on September 1940, and detained in the Warsaw district of Żoliborz after a surprise round-up of Polish citizens (lapanka). From September 22, 1940, he was a concentration camp prisoner - his inmate number was 4427. As a result of interventions taken by the Polish Red Cross, he was released from Auschwitz on April 8, 1941.

Polish Underground

Upon his release from Auschwitz, he contacted the Association of Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej) and by the summer, issued a report of his concentration camp imprisonment to the Information Department of the Information and Propaganda Bureau of the Home Army.In the summer of 1942, he joined the Front for the Rebirth of Poland (Front Odrodzenia Polski) a secret, Catholic, social-educational and charity organization founded by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka. From October 1941 until 1944 Bartoszewski secretly studied Polish Studies in the Humanist Department of Warsaw University. Although German authorities outlawed Polish higher education, there were nevertheless many underground networks continuing to offer classes. To have been caught by the Nazis would have meant certain death.

In August 1942, Bartoszewski became a soldier of the Home Army, working as a reporter in the "P" Subdivision of the Information Department of its Information and Propaganda Bureau. His pseudonym “Teofil” was inspired by Teofil Grodzicki, a fictional character from Jan Parandowski’s novel entitled The Sky in Flames. He cooperated with Kazimierz Moczarski in the two-man P-1 report of the "P" subdivision.

From September 1942, Bartoszewski was an active member of the Front for the Rebirth of Poland in the Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews and its successor organization, the Council for Aid to Jews (codenamed Żegota).

Zegota was a Polish Resistance organization whose mission it was to help Jews during the Holocaust, and operated under the auspices of the Polish Government in Exile through the Delegatura, located in Warsaw. Bartoszewski remained a member of Zegota until the Warsaw Uprising. In 1943, he was replaced by Witold Bieńkowski in the Jewish Department of the Delegatura.

From November 1942 to September 1943, Bartoszewski was an editorial team secretary of the Catholic magazine Prawda (The Truth), the press organ of the Front for the Rebirth of Poland.

He was also the editor-in-chief of the Catholic magazine, Prawda Mlodych (The Youth's Truth) from the fall of 1942 to spring of 1944. The magazine was also connected with the Front for the Rebirth of Poland and was aimed at university and high-school students.

In November 1942: Bartoszewski became a vice-manager of a division created in the Department of Internal Affairs of the Delegatura whose objective was to help prisoners of Pawiak prison.

February 1943: Bartoszewski begame a reporter and vice-manager of the Department's Jewish Report. Among his duties as a member of Zegota and the Jewish Report, Bartoszewski organized assistance for the participants of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April 1943.

On August 1, 1944 marked the start of the Warsaw Uprising. Bartoszewski served as an aide to the commander of the radio post "Asma" and editor-in-chief of the magazine "The News from the City", and "The Radio News".

On the September 20, Bartoszewski was decorated with the Silver Cross of Merit, by the order of the commandant of the Warsaw District of the AK, General Antoni “Monter” Chruściel.(It was recommended by the Chief of the Information and Propaganda Bureau in General Headquarters of the Home Army, Colonel Jan Rzepecki).

On October 1: Bartoszewski was appointed Second Lieutenant by the AK commander general Tadeusz “Bór” Komorowski (also due to a proposal by Rzepecki). He received the Cross of Valor order on October 4.

Communist Poland - Stalinist Period

Bartoszewski left Warsaw on October 7, 1944 and continued his underground activity in the Information and Propaganda Bureau of the Home Army at its General Headquarters in Kraków. From November 1944 to January 1945, he occupied a position as editorial team secretary for Information Bulletin. At the end of February 1945 he returned to Warsaw, where he began his service in the information and propaganda section of NIE resistance movement. From May to August 1945, Bartoszewski was serving in the sixth unit of the Delegatura (he was responsible for information and propaganda) under the supervision of Kazimierz Moczarski). On October 10, 1945, he revealed that he had served in the AK.
In autumn 1945 he started his cooperation with the Institute of National Remembrance at the presidium of the government and the Head Commission of Examination of German Crimes in Poland. The information he gathered concerning Nazi atrocities, the situation in concentration camps and prisons, and his knowledge about the Jewish genocide proved invaluable to the Commission.

In February 1946 he began his work in the editorial section of Gazeta Ludowa (People’s Gazette), the main press organ of the Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL). He soon joined the PSL,which at that time was the only influential party in opposition to the communist regime. In the articles published in Gazeta Ludowa, he mentioned the outstanding figures of the Polish Underground State (the interview with Stefan Korboński, the report from the funeral of Jan Piekalkiewicz), and the events connected with the fight for liberation of the country (a series of sketches presenting the Warsaw Uprising entitled Dzień Walczącej Stolicy).

Consequently, because of his opposition to the PSL, Bartoszewski soon became subject to repressions by the security services. On November 15, 1946, he was arrested and falsely accused of being a spy, and held by the infamous Ministry of Public Security of Poland. In December he was transferred to the Mokotow Prison. Due to the help of Zofia Rudnicka, a former Chief of Zegota, then working in the Ministry of Justice, he was released on the April 10, 1948.

Bartoszewski was again arrested on December 14, 1949  On May 29, 1952, he was charged with spying and sentenced by the Military District Court for eight years imprisonment.. In April 1954, he was moved to the prison in Rawicz and in June transferred  to the prison in Racibórz.  Finally he was released in August 1954 due to deteriorating health. On March 2, 1955, during the wave of de-stalinization, Bartoszewski was informed he was wrongly sentenced.

Literary, academic and journalistic activity

Upon his release from prison, Bartoszewski he returned to his journalistic activity. Since August 1955 he had been the editor-in-chief of specialized publishing houses of the Polish Librarians Association and since July 1956 had been publishing weekly articles in Stolica.  (From January 1957 he had been a member of an editorial section and from summer of 1958 to December 1960 he was holding the position of the secretary of the editorial section). In August 1957, he started launched a cooperation with Tygodnik Powszechny (Universal Weekly). Since July 1982 he had been the member of the editorial section.

Finally, in November 1958, he was again accepted by the Linguistic Department of Warsaw University, in extramural mode. He submitted his Master’s thesis which was written under the supervision of Professor Julian Krzyżanowski, however, due to the decision of the vice-chancellor, he was expelled from the University in October 1962.

On April 18, 1963, he was decorated with the Polonia Restituta medal for his activity in helping the Jews during the war.  His name was recommended by the Jewish Historical Institute.  Between September and November 1963 he visited Israel at the invitation of the Yad Vashem Institute. In the name of the Council for Aid to Jews, he received the diploma of the Righteous Among the Nations (in 1966, he also received the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations).

From November to December 1963, Bartoszewski visited Austria, where he met with members of the  Austrian intellectual and political societies. In November 1963, he started his cooperation with Radio Free Europe. In the following years he was traveled to the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Israel and the United States, where he met many representatives of Polish emigration (among others with Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, Jan Karski, Czeslaw Milosz and Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski.

From 1969 to 1973, he was the chairman of the Warsaw Department of the Society of Book Lovers (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki) and in December 1969 he appointed a member of the board of the Polish PEN. In the years 1972-1983, he was the chief secretary of the Polish PEN. In 1973-1982 and again in 1984-1985 he was a senior lecturer (the counterpart of vice-professor). His lectures concerned modern history with the special emphasis on World War II, and occupation) at the Institute of Modern History on the Humanistic Science Department of KUL (Catholic University of Lublin). In December 1981, he became an active participant in the First Polish Culture Congress,however, its work was interrupted by the enforcement of martial law in Poland.

From 1983-1984 and 1986-1988 he was lectured at the Institute of Political Science Faculty of Social Sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich (as well as the Media Science Institute at the same university in the years 1989-1990). He obtained the visiting Professor’s degree by the Bavarian government. In 1984, and  received an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew College in Baltimore (USA) as well as the diploma of recognition from the American Jewish Committee in New York.

Since May 1984 Bartoszewski has been the full member of the Jozef Pilsudski Institute of America. Since 1986 he has been one of the deputy-chairmen at the Institute of Polish-Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford. In the academic year 1985 he was lecturing at the Faculty of History and Social Sciences at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in the Federal Republic of Germany. From 1988-1989, he was lecturing at the Institute of Political Science in the Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the University of Augsburg. In 1992 he was appointed a member of the Independent Commission of Experts (ICE) 1992-2002 which was set up by the Swiss parliament to examine the refugee policy of the Switzerland during WWII as well as economic and financial relationships between Switzerland and Nazi Germany.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski participated in many international conferences and symposia dedicated to the issues of World War II, the Jewish genocide, Polish-German and Polish-Jewish relationships as well as the role of Polish intelligentsia in politics. He delivered a number of lectures and reports on the various international forums.

Opposition Activity

In 1970, because of his opposition activity and various relations in Western countries, he was forbidden to publish his works in Poland until autumn 1974.  He was also subjected to many repressions such as searches and denials of passport applications.

In 1974, he was actively committed to obtaining reprieves of convicted members of the Ruch organization among whom were Stefan Niesiolowski and Andrzej Czuma. In January 1976, Bartoszewski was one of the first among Polish intelligentsia to sign a petition of protest against changes to the constitution of the People's Republic of Poland. Since 1978 he has taken part in establishing the Society for Educational Courses and he had been lecturing at the "Flying University".

On August 21, 1980, he signed the intellectuals’ letter to the protesting workers from the Polish coast. During 1989 -1991 he was a member of Solidarity. After the declaration of martial law was announced on  December 13, 1981, he was arrested and detained in Bialoleka prison and later interned at the Center in Jaworze at Drawsko Pomorskie Military Training Area. He was released on April 28, 1982 due to pressure from  Polish and international intellectual communities.

In 1981, Edward Bernard Raczyński, the President of Poland in exile, named Bartoszewski as his successor, but Bartoszewski graciously declined the offer. According to Raczyński,  he wanted someone from Poland with strong patriotism to oppose the communist regime.  Ultimately, Raczynski's successor was Kazimierz Sabbat, who in turn also nominated Bartoszewski for the position, who declined the offer once again. 

Third Republic of Poland - Diplomatic and politic activity

From September 1990 to March 1995, Bartoszewski held the position of Ambassador of the Polish Republic to Austria. In 1995, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Jozef Oleksy’s government. On April 28, 1995, he delivered a speech during the solemn session of Bundestag and Bundesrat on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the ending of World War II as the only foreign speaker. On December 22, 1995, he resigned from his office due to the end of Lech Walesa’s Presidential term.
Once again, he became a chief of Polish Internal Affairs in June 2000 in Jerzy Buzek’s government. From 1997 to 2001, he was the Senator of the fourth term and the chairperson in the Office for International Affairs and European Integration. As a Senior Speaker he chaired the inaugural session of the Senate of the Republic of Poland.

Since November 21, 2007, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has been the Secretary of State in the Office of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister Donald Tusk) and plenipotentiary for international affairs.

Social and academic activity

Since June 1990, he has been chairperson of the International Council of the National Auschwitz Museum. In 1991-1995, he was the member of the National Council for Polish-Jewish Relations on the presidential office. Since March 1995, he has been the deputy chairman of the Polish PEN. In 1996, he received an honorary doctorate of the University of Wrocław.

Since June 2001 Bartoszewski has been the leader of the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom. On 27 January 2005, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, he delivered speeches as the representative of the Polish inmates of concentration camps. For many years he has been a strong supporter of the Polish-Jewish and Polish-German reconciliation. Through his journalistic and academic activity he has contributed to retaining the memory of the Polish Underground State, the Warsaw Uprising and the crimes of totalitarism.

From January 26 to June 29, 2006, he was the leader of the board of LOT Polish Airlines. He is the member of the Polish Writers' Association.

He was also chairperson of the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw, but resigned from the position on August 29, 2006. His reason for doing so was due to lack of reaction from then Minister of Foreign Affairs Anna Fotyga. Moreover, Deputy Minister of Defense, Antoni Macierewicz alleged that most of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Third Republic of Poland were former agents of the Soviet Special Services.

Since July 2010 Bartoszewski is member of the International Council of the Austrian Service Abroad.


Władysław Bartoszewski and his wife Zofia have a son Wladysław T. Bartoszewski, born 1955 who is an academic historian. He has written on Polish Jewish history and is author of the 1991 book The Convent at Auschwitz, George Braziller, ISBN 0-8076-1267-7.


Despite the illustrious credentials held by Wladyslaw Bartoszewski he does not possess formal higher education, that is, has no university degree. This has been the source of considerable controversy in Poland and Germany which has resulted in both countries having deleted title of "Professor" from references to Bartoszewski on their websites. Apparently the same thing occurred with the Director of Bartoszewski's department at the Polish Prime Minister's Office - Mr. Krzysztof Miszczak had his professor's title also thus removed.

Righteous Among Nations

Silver Cross of Merit, Poland

Cross of Valor, Poland

Order of Polonia Restituita

Order of the White Eagle

source: Wikipedia

Editors Note:  FYI:  The images of medals posted here may or may not be the exact version which was awarded to the recipient.  There are several classes for each medal depending on various factors such as type of military (or civilian) service, rank of officer (or soldier), class of award, year in which it was awarded, etc   The lack of sufficient information on the web (or omission) has compounded the difficulty in selecting the correct class of medal. I apologize for any inaccuracies.  

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