The arrival of John Paul II to Poland can be used to spread “anti-socialist moods” and “clerical backwardness” – Czesław Kiszczak, the then head of the WSW, wrote in an order of May 8, 1979. The Institute of National Remembrance has launched a portal related to the first papal pilgrimage to Poland.
On June 2nd, it will be 40 years since the Pope John Paul II first pilgrimage to Poland. In regard to the anniversary – as previously reported to PAP – the Institute of National Remembrance prepared a new portal with information regarding reactions of the PRL authorities – mainly the Security Service, but also the People’s Polish Army – to the apostolic visit of the Polish Pope. The portal – firstszapielgrzymka.ipn.gov.pl – has already been launched; officially at 10 a.m. it will be presented at the IPN scientific conference in Gniezno.
“Pope John Paul II is one of the most important figures in the history of the twentieth century. His teaching was not only important in the spiritual sphere, but also had a huge impact on the history of our country and socio-political changes. Without any doubts, he was a great treat for the Communist authority, this clearly stems from the documents published by us “- said the Director of the IPN Archive, Marzena Kruk, in an interview with PAP.
Most of the materials on the portal have been created or gathered by the security authorities of the PRL, which carried out a secret operation of the Ministry of the Interior under the code name “Lato ’79”; many of these documents – as Kruk added – related to the so-called securing the Pope’s visit to Poland has not been published before.
Internet users will find dozens of copies of documents on the portal, photographs taken by the SB during pilgrimages, graphics, situational maps and other interesting materials about the apostolic pilgrimage from 40 years ago. Among the published documents are, for example, situational reports of the Security Service from individual cities visited by the Pope, also from Warsaw. The portal reminded that for the operation ‘Summer ’79’, the communist authorities in Poland planned to use over 55 thousand MO officers (policemen) and to include over 60,000 members of the ORMO, or Volunteer Reserve of Citizen Militia (policemen).
The portal published not only documents from the civil security authorities, to which the Security Service belonged, but – as the Director of the IPN Archives stated – also military, including the Military Internal Service (WSW), which in 1957-90 was a military service under special command, responsible for, among others, for counterintelligence. WSW originated from the Main Board of Information of the Polish Army, which tasks included, among others, fighting with “treason”.
The portal have, for example, order No. 037 from May 8, 1979, of gen. Brig. Czesław Kiszczak as the head of the WSW, in which he wrote that “the arrival of the Catholic church head to Poland can be used by reactionary elements as a convenient moment to stir up anti-socialist moods in society, inspire hostile appearances and distribute slogans meant to strengthen clerical backwardness.”
“The People’s Polish Army as a weapon of the party and the socialist state may also become the object of attempts of hostile influence” – emphasized Kiszczak, pointing to the necessary operational activities and the fact that the impact of the papal pilgrimage concerns “especially, but not only, military garrisons deployed in those places where the Pope will be staying during his visit to Poland.”
The Director of the IPN Archives also drew attention to the order of the Head of the Main Political Board of the Polish Army. “This is a very interesting document in which the subordinates are reminded, what are the tasks in terms of indoctrination of soldiers and in what spirit they are to be held with meetings and talks. The basic interpretation for defining church-state relations in the PRL is of course Marxist-Leninist ideology “- reported Kruk.
Internet users can also get acquainted with WSW Headquarters reports on the situation in the Armed Forces of the PRL in connection with the Pope’s visit or military ciphers related to the results of “the implementation of the plans to secure the Pope’s stay in Poland”. The materials also include examples of documents related to the civilian intelligence service of the PRL, i.e. Department I of the SB of the Ministry of the Interior. These are, for example, cryptograms regarding the reaction of some socialist countries to the Pope’s visit to Poland, but also reactions in the US, Great Britain or France. They were pulled out for the needs of the portal by a specialist in this field, Dr. Witold Bagieński from the Institute of National Remembrance.
“The arrival of John Paul II to Poland can be used to spread ‘anti-socialist moods’ and’ clerical backwardness’, ‘wrote Czesław Kiszczak, the then head of the WSW, in an order of May 8, 1979. The Institute of National Remembrance has launched a portal about the first papal pilgrimage to Poland.
On the portal, to which the introduction entitled: “On the 40th anniversary of the June’s + revolution of the spirit +” was written by Prof. Jan Żaryn, also other papers written by the Science and Research Division and Archive division of the IPN are located.
The IPN portal lunched on Friday is not the first one that is related to the John Paul II’s visits to Poland. In 2017 – on the 30th anniversary of the first pilgrimage of the Pope to Poland – archivists presented the action of SB under the code “Aurora II”, also related to John Paul II visit in the country and reaction of the clergy and faithful to this visit. Ultimately, the IPN plans to prepare portals and place there all documents related to the Papal pilgrimages during existence of the PRL.
Documents and photographs of the SB related to the pilgrimage of 1979, in a correspondingly smaller number, will be available from June 2, also at the exhibition in the Royal Castle in Warsaw – “Get up, let’s go … The first pilgrimage of John Paul II to Poland 2-10 June 1979 “. The Institute of National Remembrance announced that it will be possible to see several dozen photographs from the collections of the Primate’s Institute, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, as well as numerous excerpts from articles from the German, Italian, Dutch, French and American press.
The pontificate of John Paul II had of great importance for democratic changes in Poland. In the opinion of the researchers of Polish history, the Pope’s visit in 1979 contributed to strengthening the national identity of Poles and brought them hope for change. It was then, at the Warsaw’s Victory Square (now Piłsudskiego Square) the Pope said:
“And I cry—I who am a Son of the land of Poland and who am also Pope John Paul II—I cry from all the depths of this Millennium, I cry on the vigil of Pentecost: Let your Spirit descend. Let your Spirit descend. And, renew the face of the earth, the face of this land!”