Witch Hunt Polarizes Polish Politics Right-Wingers Accuse Former Solidarity Leaders of Collaboration and of Neo-Communism

By Ruth Gruber, | The Christian Science Monitor, June 23, 1992 | Go to article overview

Witch Hunt Polarizes Polish Politics Right-Wingers Accuse Former Solidarity Leaders of Collaboration and of Neo-Communism


Ruth Gruber,, The Christian Science Monitor


THE grueling process of forming Poland's fourth post-Communist government in three years is being overshadowed by fallout from an anti-communist witch hunt that has reached the highest levels. Right-wing supporters of ousted Prime Minister Jan Olszewski claim President Lech Walesa and other senior officials are part of a neo-communist conspiracy endangering the country.

Waldemar Pawlak, the leader of the Polish Peasants Party, was named by President Lech Walesa June 5 to replace Mr. Olszewski as Prime Minister, but he has not yet been able to put together a governing coalition.

But public debate on street corners, in newspapers, in farmhouse kitchens, and in political circles around the country has centered less on Pawlak's chances than on intense speculation over uncorroborated suspicions, charges, and counter-charges launched by Olszewski's supporters that top officials from Walesa on down may have been secret police informers under the old Communist regime.

"The atmosphere is poisonous," says a Western observer. "...Olszewski believes in de-communization. But I don't think he realizes what he let loose."

The "de-communization" issue boiled over on June 4, when Olszewski's Interior Minister, Antoni Macierewicz presented parliament with a confidential list of 62 current officials alleged to have been secret police collaborators under the former Communist regime. Walesa branded the move as an attempt by Olszewski to use political blackmail to stay in power, and it was the immediate trigger that prompted parliament's dismissal of the Olszewski government that night.

On Saturday, Poland's Roman Catholic Church called for dismissal from public posts of anyone who had "harmed others" or worked "to the detriment of the public good" during Communist rule. The church also emphasized that the search for justice "must not be swayed by hatred, vengeance or slander." Accused rebut

The list of names has not officially been made public, though several people whose names were on it - including both Walesa and Parliament Speaker Wieslaw Chrzanowski - stepped forward to proclaim their innocence, citing inaccuracies in the documentation and stressing the dubious nature of the accusations.

For weeks, though, political debate has been dominated by unsubstantiated insinuations of "red-baiting" and accusations that the opponents of Olszewski and Mr. Macierewicz are trying to bring back communist rule.

"These events revealed we have two political blocs in Poland: one {around Olszewski} that is for independence and patriotism, and one ... aims to halt democratic reforms and consolidate the neo-communist system," said Parliament deputy Andrezej Anusz, a supporter of Olszewski.

Olszewski himself told the right-wing newspaper Nowy Swiat that "it seems like the communists are returning to power. …

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