|Ryszard Jerzy Kukliński|
Colonel Ryszard Kukliński
June 13, 1930|
|Died||February 11, 2004
Ryszard Jerzy Kukliński (June 13, 1930 – February 11, 2004) was a Polish colonel and Cold War spy for the west. He passed top secret Warsaw Pact documents to the CIA between 1971 and 1981. The former United States National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzeziński has described him as "the first Polish officer in NATO."
Kukliński was born in Warsaw into a working-class family with Catholic and socialist traditions. During World War II, his father became a member of the Polish resistance movement however, he was captured by the Gestapo, and subsequently died in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. After the war, Kukliński began a successful career in the Polish People's Army. In 1968, he took part in the preparations for the Warsaw Pact's invasion of Czechoslovakia. Disturbed by the invasion, and by the brutal crushing of the parallel Polish 1970 protests – in 1972, Kukliński sent a letter to the US embassy in Bonn describing himself as a foreign "MAF" from a Communist country, and requested a secret meeting.
In 1994, Kukliński said that his awareness of the "unambiguously offensive" nature of Soviet military plans was an important factor in his decision to communicate the details of those plans to the United States, adding that "Our front could only be a sacrifice of Polish blood at the altar of the Red Empire". Kukliński was also concerned that his homeland would be turned into a nuclear wasteland as the Warsaw Pact's superiority in conventional forces would mean NATO would respond to a military action with tactical nuclear weapons.
Between 1971 and 1981 he passed 35,000 pages of mostly Soviet secret documents to the CIA. The documents described Moscow's strategic plans regarding the use of nuclear weapons, technical data about the T-72 tank and Strela-1 missiles, the whereabouts of Soviet anti-aircraft bases in Poland and East Germany, the methods used by the Soviets to avoid spy satellite detection of their military hardware, plans for the imposition of martial law in Poland, and many other matters.
Escape to the west
Facing imminent danger of discovery, Kukliński was spirited out of Poland by the CIA, along with his wife and two sons, shortly before the imposition of martial law in December 1981. Though Kuklinski and his family managed to successfully defect, his controversial past may have followed him to the United States. In the subsequent years, both of his sons died. The older, Waldemar, was run over by a truck without licence plate in August 1994 on the grounds of an American university. His younger son, Bogdan Kukliński drowned half a year earlier, on January 1st 1994, when his yacht capsized on a silent sea. Ryszard Kukliński did not insist that they were assassinated by KGB, but he never rejected such possibility either.
On May 23, 1984 Kukliński was sentenced to death, in absentia, by a military court in Warsaw. After the fall of communism, the sentence was changed to 25 years. In 1995 the court cancelled the sentence and said that Kuklinski was acting under special circumstances that warranted a higher need. Kukliński visited Poland again in April 1998.
He died from a stroke at the age of 73 in a Tampa, Florida, USA hospital, in 2004. He was buried June 19, 2004 in the row of honour in the Powązki military cemetery in Warsaw, Poland, along with his son Waldemar.
In June 1986, a spokesman for the Soviet-backed Jaruzelski regime, Jerzy Urban, revealed Kukliński's existence to the world in order to make the argument that the Reagan administration had been informed by Kukliński of the plans to install martial law but had betrayed the Solidarity movement by not passing that information on to its "friends" in Solidarity. When the journal Kultura interviewed Kukliński, Kukliński said that planning for martial law had begun in late 1980 and that the Jaruzelski group planned to crush Solidarity regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the trade union and the Polish church. He also rejected the regime's claim that declaring martial law was an internal decision by describing how the Soviets had applied pressure on Polish authorities to impose martial law. When asked whether Jaruzelski was a hero or a traitor, Kukliński replied:
My view has been consistently that in Poland there existed a real chance to avoid both Soviet intervention and martial law. Had he, together with Stanislaw Kania, proved capable of greater dignity and strength, had they honestly adhered to the existing social agreements, instead of knuckling under to Moscow, present-day Poland would undoubtedly look completely different.
Kukliński was the chief of a military strategic command planning division of the Polish army. He was very familiar with the layout of the Polish forces within the Warsaw Pact. While details of the general plans for the Warsaw Pact forces were known only in Moscow, Kukliński could infer much from his contacts at the Moscow high command headquarters.
According to President Carter's NSA, Zbigniew Brzeziński, "Kuklinski’s information permitted us to make counterplans to disrupt command-and-control facilities rather than only relying on a massive counterattack on forward positions, which would have hit Poland."
In January 2013 Władysław Pasikowski begins shooting a movie about Ryszard Kukliński. With Marcin Dorociński in the lead role, the script to Jack Strong (title taken from Kukliński's CIA secret-agent pseudonym), written by director Pasikowski, is based on new material from the Polish Institute of National Remembrance archives, CIA operating documents and statements by eyewitnesses including David Forden, the former CIA operations officer who was the liaison with Colonel Kukliński.
Opinions in Poland
During his term as Poland's first freely elected president, Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa refused to pardon Kukliński and a poll taken in 1998 found that more Poles (34%) considered Kukliński a traitor than a hero (29%), with many undecided.[verification needed] The administration of US President Clinton nonetheless took the stance that it would oppose Polish membership in NATO unless Kukliński were exonerated.
When all charges were dropped against Kukliński in 1997, the left leaning Trybuna lamented that "Colonel Ryszard Kukliński — a spy, deserter, and traitor — has been turned into a model of virtue and a national hero of the rightists." In a 1997 survey conducted by the CBOS, 27 percent of Poles considered Kukliński a hero and 24 percent a traitor (compared to 12 and 24 percent, respectively, in 1992).
According to some historians, it can not be excluded, that Kukliński was in fact a double spy, of the Soviet intelligence GRU, used in an operational game with the CIA. Polish Minister of Internal Affairs of the communist times, Czesław Kiszczak, indicated such possibility in later interviews, while a former Soviet military attaché Yuriy Rylyov claimed so directly in an interview. Historians, like Paweł Wieczorkiewicz and Franciszek Puchała (a general in the Polish Army during the communist times) suggest, that a knowledge of Kukliński is exaggerated, and while he had rich information about Polish Army and organization of Warsaw Pact in general, he could not have detailed information on Soviet plans, since no one in Poland had it. Informing on plans of the martial law in Poland, which would postpone a danger of a Soviet invasion, could be profitable for the Soviet side, ensuring, that the USA will not be surprised and will not undertake unpredictable actions against the Soviets. It is noteworthy, that the USA did not warn Solidarity against martial law. Besides, the Soviets took the escape of such important spy nonchalantly and did not demand any consequences of the Polish politicians responsible for intelligence, namely Czesław Kiszczak.
Kukliński is buried in the row of honour in the Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw, and has been given honorary citizenship of several Polish cities, among which the most notable are Kraków and Gdańsk. The Polish political group Centrum (at the time headed by Zbigniew Religa) requested in 2004 that the President of Poland posthumously promote Kukliński to the rank of general.
His monument in Kraków was vandalized twice. First on December 13, 2011 (on anniversary of the martial law in Poland) and then on February 11, 2012 (anniversary of Kukliński's death). In both cases, Polish nationalist symbols together with the terms such as: "Traitor", crossed CIA name and "Death to the USA" were also sprayed.
- Benjamin B. Fischer (April 14, 2007). "The First Polish Officer in NATO". The Vilification and Vindication of Colonel Kuklinski. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved October 16, 2012. "Notes: Warsaw PAP in English, 2148 GMT, 27 September 1992"
- Rupert Cornwell, Ryszard Kuklinski: Cold War spy for the West The Independent 13 February 2004. Cached by info-poland.buffalo.edu.
- Marat Miklszewski, "Colonel Kuklinski Speaks!", Tygodnik Solidarność, 9 December 1994, p. 12
- Dr Jerzy Bukowski (20.05.2009). "Niestosowne sugestie "Wprost"o synu śp.płk. Kuklińskiego (Rumours about Kukliński's son)". Sowiniec (in Polish). Salon24. Niezależne forum publicystów. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
- Ryszard Kuklinski, "The Crushing of Solidarity," Orbis 32:1 (Winter 1988), p. 31
- Andrew Nagorski, "All Is Forgiven, or Is It?," Newsweek, 27 October 1997, p. 40
- "Władysław Pasikowski - Jack Strong". culture.pl. Retrieved 14.05.2013.
- Jane Perlez, "Spy Recounts Passing Data to CIA," The New York Times, 30 April 1998
- Benjamin Weiser, A Secret Life: The Polish Officer, His Covert Mission, and the Price He Paid to Save His Country (PublicAffairs, 2005).
- Mieczyclaw Wodzicki, "Treason Rewarded; ‘Learn from This, Poles,’" Trybuna, 25 September 1997, p. 5
- "Jeszcze raz o pułkowniku Kuklińskim | Komunikat z badań" (PDF) (in Polish). Warszawa, Listopad. 1997.
- Paweł Wieczorkiewicz, Justyna Błażejowska: Przez Polskę Ludową na przełaj i na przekór ("Cross-country and oppositely through the People's Poland"). Poznań: Zysk i S-ka, 2011. ISBN 978-83-7506-651-7, pp.30–34 (in Polish)
- Franciszek Puchała: Pułkownika Kuklińskiego udział w grze wywiadów wielkich mocarstw ("Colonel Kukliński's part in powers' game of intellingce"), "Przegląd Historyczno-Wojskowy" nr. 4(242), 2012, pp.164–184 (in Polish)
- "Kukliński's monument devastated once again. Prosecutors are helpless". Wprost.pl. 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "Kukliński's monument in Krakow devastated once again!". Rmf24.pl. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
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