The Definitive Work on the Communist Security Forces (U. B., or Bezpieka) in Soviet-Ruled Poland: Major Jewish Role

THE SECURITY APPARATUS IN POLAND: ITS LEADING CADRES, Volume 1, 1944-1956, is the title of this scholarly Polish-language work. It is published by the IPN (the Polish Institute of National Remembrance).


With the Red Army driving the Nazi German occupiers out of Poland, the USSR, with western acquiescence (Teheran and Yalta), proceeded to forcibly install a Communist puppet government on Poland. The U. B. (Bezpieka), an extension of the dreaded Soviet NKVD, was the secret police created to arrest, torture, and murder Poles known or suspected of being unsupportive of „the new order”. [One of my uncle’s relatives „disappeared”, even though he had never been involved in anything remotely political.] In addition, well over a hundred thousand Poles were imprisoned. (p. 25). The Bezpieka’s reign of terror served to force the remaining population into abject submission.


This volume tells little about the modus operandi of the hated Bezpieka, which is generally euphemized as the Polish Ministry of Public Security, and focuses almost entirely on personages. Szwagrzyk bases his tour de force primarily, but not exclusively, on a scrupulous examination of archival sources, especially the U. B. archives that were declassified in 2002. (p. 49). His profuse index of names consists of a list of over 5,300 Bezpieka officers. Szwagrzyk devotes most of the text of this volume to the tabulated apportionment of these names according to city or town, rank of the officer, and dates of service. Because U. B. officers often served at more than one location before moving to another, some of the same names appear at different locations in different years.


Stalin used so many Jews in the U. B. because so many Jews had been loyal Communists for so long. In addition, Stalin probably reckoned that Polish Jews would have no trace of loyalty to Poland, while Polish gentile Communists may still have some. [The latter was eventually borne out in a sense, for example, by Wladyslaw Gomulka’s „nationalist deviation”.] Szwagrzyk (p. 62) cites Abel Kainer on the following named examples of pre-WWII Jewish Communists who later became part of the Bezpieka’s elite: Leon Andrzejewski, Zygmunt Braude, Mieczyslaw Broniatowski, Julia Brystiger, Jozef Czaplicki, Anatol Fejgin [Feigin], Marek Fink, Leon Gangel, Marian Jurkowski, Edward Kalecki, Julian Konar, Jozef Kratko, Mieczyslaw Mietkowski, Zygmunt Okret, Henryk Piasecki, Ludwik Przysuski, Roman Romkowski, Jozef Rozanski, Leon Rubinsztein, Jozef Swiatlo, and Michal Taboryski.

Of course, many Jewish Communists had changed their names to Polish ones. The best-known Jewish officer in the Bezpieka was Jozef Swiatlo (Izaak Flieschfarb) because of his defection to the west in December 1953. Swiatlo’s embarrassing defection caused a shakeup of the U. B. (p. 24). The book containing the text of his 1950’s broadcasts on Radio Free Europe was not published in Poland until 1990. (p. 8). There were also several less-known defections of U. B. officers. (p. 68). In addition, hundreds of Poles accepted into the Bezpieka ended up deserting, or even having secret ties to the anti-Communist Polish underground. (p. 68).


Many of the Communist concentration camps and prisons were administered by Jews. The best known of the Jewish wardens was Salomon (Shlomo) Morel. He was director of the camps at Swietochlowice-Zgodza (1945) and Jaworzno (1949-1951). He also was the commandant of the prisons, for example, in Opole (1945-1946), Katowice (1946-1948) and Ilawa (1951-1953). In time, he became a symbol of Communist crimes and the Poles’ inability to bring the criminals to justice. [After the fall of Communism in Poland, Morel, reacting to publicity about his crimes, was one of several Jewish functionaries who fled Poland. Israel welcomed him and protected him. (So much for the myth that Jewish Communists are not really Jews.). Despite Polish requests, Israel refused to extradite him, claiming such considerations as his illness and advanced age. However, Israel had no problem supporting the extradition and prosecution of ill and aging Nazis.]

Pointedly, Morel was just the tip of the iceberg. Other examples of high-level Jewish functionaries in charge of Communist prisons and concentration camps, listed by Szwagrzyk (p. 64) along with the locations and durations of their rule, are: Mieczyslaw (Moszek, Moishe) Flaum – leader of the camp at Milecinie near Wloclawek (1945-1946); Beniamin (Benjamin) Glatter – in charge of the prison at Goleniow (1949 r.); Franciszek (Efraim) Klitenik-director of a number of prisons in Wroclaw (1946-1947), Dzierzoniow (1947-1951), and Lodz (1951-1958); Sewer [Sever] Rozen – the head of a number of prisons in Wielun (1947) and Barczew (1947-1951); Oskar Rozenberg – director of the prison at Potulice (1951-1953); Kazimierz Szymanowicz – leader of the prison at Rawicz (1945-1947); and Saul Wajntraub [Weintraub]-director of the prisons at Klodzko (1948-1951) and Warsaw (1951-1954).


Nikolai Selivanovsky [Nikolaj Seliwanowski] should know about the Bezpieka in Poland. He was a high-level NKVD officer, and a leading Soviet counterintelligence officer in SMERSH. He advised Lavrentiy Beria as well as the leadership of Poland’s Bezpieka. Selivanovsky/Seliwanowski gave unstinting credit to the Jews for their leading role in the forced Communization of Poland. (p. 62). He quoted a number of figures for late 1945. At that time, Jews already comprised 18.7% of Bezpieka membership in general, as well as 50% of its leadership positions. (p. 61). To keep these numbers in perspective, less than 1% of Poland’s post-WWII population consisted of Jews at the time.

Nor was the gross Jewish overrepresentation in the Communist security forces some kind of passing fad. Szwagrzyk’s own detailed analysis applies to a longer period, and is telling. He shows that, during 1944-1954, Jews accounted for 37.1% of Bezpieka officers. (p. 59). During 1954-1956, well after Stalin’s death, the figure dropped only slightly–to 34.5%. (p. 59). This means that, all this time, Jews were roughly forty times more common as officers in the hated Communist police than they were in the general Polish population! Szwagrzyk’s scholarship soundly refutes the greatly underestimated figures propounded by the likes of Krystyna Kersten, Andrzej K. Kunert, and others. (p. 62).

Finally, Swagrzyk’s research is limited to the Bezpieka. It does not touch on the very many Jews serving in other branches of the Soviet puppet government, such as in the judiciary (e. g, Stefan Michnik, the half-brother of Adam Michnik vel Szechter), which sentenced innumerable Polish freedom fighters to death.

For more on all this, see BESTIE, by Pluzanski.


Jan Peczkis


Published with the author’s permission.


  • Title image: Part of cover „THE SECURITY APPARATUS IN POLAND: ITS LEADING CADRES, Volume 1, 1944-1956. Published by the IPN (the Polish Institute of National Remembrance) / selected by wg.pco

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