This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (March 2012)
The Służba Bezpieczeństwa Ministerstwa Spraw Wewnętrznych (Polish pronunciation: [ˈswuʐba bɛspʲeˈt͡ʂɛɲstfa mʲiɲiˈstɛrstfa ˈspraf veˈvnẽtʂnɨx]; Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs; Polish abbreviations: SB and MSW, respectively), commonly known as Esbecja, was established in the People's Republic of Poland in 1956. The Ministry of Internal Affairs had been established in 1954, but it did not play a significant role until the winding-up of the Committee for Public Safety.
It was the main security organization in Poland from 1956 until the end of the People's Republic in 1989.
The post-World War II Ministry of Public Security (MBP) was responsible for security, intelligence and counterintelligence. It controlled over 41,000 soldiers of the Internal Security Corps, 57,500 members of the citizen militia, 32,000 border troops, 10,000 prison officers and 125,000 members of the Volunteer Reserve Citizen Militia.
After the 1954 defection to the West of Józef Światło (born Izaak Fleischfarb), a high-ranking Ministry of Public Security officer instrumental in arresting Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, this Ministry of Public Security was abolished.
In December 1954, the Communist Party divided the old MBP into two parts: the Committee for Public Security (Komitet do spraw Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, or KDSBP) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MSW). The former was a secret police responsible for internal and external intelligence and counterintelligence to fight underground movements and the influence of the Catholic Church. The MSW was responsible for administrative duties, and eventually controlled the Internal Security Corps, militia, border troops, prison guards and the Volunteer Reserve Citizen Militia.
The year 1956 brought change to Polish politics. Recently released from prison, Władysław Gomułka became the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party. Reforms were made in the structure of state security. The Committee of Public Safety was abolished, and its duties were taken over by the MSW.
The introduction of Security Service to the Interior Ministry (which was already in the Polish public safety system since 1954), came as a result of directive number 00238/56 made by Władysław Wicha on 29 November 1956. Wicha was a Polish communist and politician PZPR member and then the first Minister of Internal Affairs from 1954 to 1964. After that his directive, the MSW was the only security body in Poland.
Officers working in the Security Service were nicknamed "SB-eks" (Służba Bezpieczeństwa agents). SB also contracted individuals as secret collaborators (Tajny Współpracownik or TW), who usually received money for the services rendered.
Tasks and organizational structure
The tasks of the Security Service were identical to that of its predecessors (MBP and Kds.BP): to protect the communist system in the country (and beyond) through control and penetration into all structures of social life in Poland and abroad. The centrally-based MSW was divided into departments, bureaus, sections and directorates. In 1956, the central organization was composed of:
- Units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
- Headquarters of the Citizens' Militia
- Fire Service Headquarters
- Defense Field Headquarters
- Administration of Geodesy and Cartography
- Central Board of Health
- Organizational Units of Internal Forces
- Internal Security Corps Command
- Command of Border Troops
- Information Directorate for Internal Forces (counterintelligence for internal troops)
Associated units were:
- Cabinet minister
- Chief Inspector
- Department I (Intelligence)
- Department II (counter-espionage)
- Department III (anti-state activities)
- Social and Administrative Department
- Military Department
- Office of Oversight (penal-administrative law)
- Office of Foreign Passports
- Bureau of Government Protection
- Bureau Technical Operations
- Bureau of Operations Records
- Bureau "A" (ciphers)
- Bureau "B" (observation)
- Bureau "W" (oversight of correspondence)
- Bureau of Investigation
- Department of Personnel and Training
- Independent Organization Section
- Finance Department
- Investment Department
- Supply Directorate
- Transport Directorate
- Directorate of Communications
- Ordnance Department
- Organizational and Military Directorate
- Directorate of Social Affairs and Culture
- Central Archives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
- Chief Inspectorate for Industry Protection
- Administration and Economic Management
- Office of the Chief, Flood Committee
After it was renamed the SB in 1956, it entered a period of relative inactivity during the era of reform instituted by Władysław Gomułka. However, after 1968 it was revived as a stronger body responsible for political repression (most notably of the Solidarity movement, the leader of which, Lech Wałęsa, was under constant SB surveillance until its replacement by the Urząd Ochrony Państwa in 1990 after the fall of communism).
An infamous case was the torture and execution by the SB of Catholic priest Jerzy Popiełuszko in 1984. Since 1990, several SB operatives have been tried for their crimes. The SB is also suspected of killing Stanisław Pyjas and Catholic priest Stefan Niedzielak. It is reported to have abused priest Roman Kotlarz, who died mysteriously  after a beating.
Heads of Service
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2016)
- Czesław Kiszczak
- Marian Zacharski
- Sławomir Petelicki
- Eastern Bloc politics
- Grzegorz Przemyk
- Instytut Pamięci Narodowej
- Montelupich prison
- Polish United Workers' Party
- Rakowiecka prison
- Telephone tapping in the Eastern Bloc
- In isolation, Spraw is pronounced [ˈspraf].
- KOR, A history of the Worker's Defense Committee in Poland, 1976 - 1981, by Jan Jósef Lipski, Translated by Olga Amsterdamska and Gene M. Moore, University of California Press, 1985, page 36
- Henryk Piecuch, Brudne gry: ostatnie akcje Służb Specjalnych (seria: Tajna Historia Polski) (Dirty Games: the Last Special Services Operations [Secret History of Poland series]). Warsaw: Agencja Wydawnicza CB (1998).