As a former Chairman of the Polish Solidarity Campaign in this country in the early 1980s I was shocked by the peremptory haste with which the Polish Institure of National Remembrance recently revealed and verified evidence of collaboration with the police in the early 1970s by Polish national hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa
Lech Walesa, as chairman of the of the first independent trade union in Soviet dominated Eastern Europe, was a charismatic leader of the peaceful workers revolt that shattered the very foundations of Soviet power not only in Poland but ultimately in its neighbouring countries. There would have been no collapse of the Berlin Wall without the Solidarity saga a decade earlier. Obviously we knew that Mr Walesa had his personal faults but that did not undermine in any way his courage, his gut instinct about his Communist opponents and his extrarrdonary sense of responsibility for the country that he was suddenly entrusted, without any preparation, to lead. His picture, like that of Nelson Mandela, was automatically recognized around the world as the inspiration for peaceful revolution and for the eventual transition from tyranny to fredom and democracy.
With time we learned that earlier, as a simple electrician and participant in the 1970 strikes, he had believed the promises of the Gierek government to set up a fairer society and appeared even to have retained contact with the security forces following his arrest and interrogation. We realized that every great man may have his faults and felt that this in no way diminished what he achieved in the years that followed. We knew that the Communist authorities did everything possible to besmirch his name with falsified testimonies and forgeries when he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
That is why we are concerned at the unseemly haste with which the current Polish Institute is drawing conclusions from the latest documents of Lech Walesa's apparent cooperation with the police. We deplore the attempt by some in the new Polish government to denigrate him as a result of his earlier criticism of their government. In seeking to blacken his name abroad they are seeking to undermine not only Lech Walesa's international prestige but the prestige of their own country as well. For this they may have to answer to Mr Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the all powerful chairman of the curret ruling party, who was responsible for launching and master-minding Lech Walesa's succesful presidential campaign in 1990.
Shame on them!