Ministry of Public Security (Poland)

Ministry of Public Security (Poland)

The Ministry of Public Security of Poland (Polish: Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or MBP) was a Polish communist secret police, intelligence and counter-espionage service operating from 1945 to 1954 under Jakub Berman of the Politburo. Its main goal was the eradication of the anti-communist structures and socio-political base of the underground Polish Secret State as well as the persecution of soldiers of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and Freedom and Independence (WiN) active during World War II. In that capacity, MPB remained known mainly through its own regional offices called Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or UBP (Office of Public Security, official name); and Urząd Bezpieczeństwa or UB (Office, or Department of Security).[1]

Office of Public Security regional location in Szczecin, Poland


Formation of the communist state security

The PKWN Manifesto, issued on July 22, 1944

In July 1944, behind the Soviet front line, a brand new Polish provisional government was formed, called the Polish Committee of National Liberation (Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego) or PKWN.[2] It was established in Chełm on the initiative of Polish communists, in order to assume control over Polish territories re-taken from Nazi Germany by the advancing Red Army. PKWN was proclaimed "the only legitimate Polish government" by Stalin, with full political control and Soviet sponsorship. Within the PKWN's internal structure, there were thirteen departments called Resorty. One of these was the Department of Public Security (Resort Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego) or RBP, headed by Stanisław Radkiewicz. It was a precursor of the Polish communist secret police.

On December 31, 1944, the PKWN was joined by several members of the London-based Polish government in exile, among them Stanisław Mikołajczyk (later chased out of the country). PKWN was then transformed into Provisional Government of Republic of Poland (Polish: Rząd Tymczasowy Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej or RTRP). All departments were renamed: the Department of Public Security became the Ministry of Public Security (Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego) or MBP.

MBP tasks and numbers

From the end of 1940s to 1954, the Ministry of Public Security – operating alongside the Ministry of Defence – was one of the largest and most powerful institutions in post-war People's Republic of Poland. It was responsible for internal and foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, monitoring anti-state activity in Poland and abroad, monitoring government and civilian communications (wiretapping), supervision of the local governments, maintaining a militsiya, maintaining prisons, fire services, rescue services, and border patrol; as well as several concentration camps set up by the NKVD (such as Zgoda labour camp). In July 1947, the MBP absorbed Section II of General Staff of the Polish People's Army (the Polish Military Intelligence). Military and civilian intelligence merged to become Department VII of Ministry of Public Security.

In 1950s Ministry of Public Security employed around 32,000 people. MBP also had control over 41,000 soldiers and officers of the Internal Security Corps (Korpus Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego), 57,000 officers in the Civil Militia (Milicja Obywatelska), 32,000 officers and soldiers in the Border guard (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza), 10,000 prison officers (Straż Więzienna), and 125,000 members of Volunteer Reserves of the Citizens Militia (Ochotnicza Rezerwa Milicji Obywatelskiej ORMO), a paramilitary police used for special actions.


The political and administrative matters of the Ministry came under the authority of Jakub Berman, a hardline Stalinist from the Polish United Workers' Party. The Ministry of Public Security structure was being changed constantly from January 1945 on, as the Ministry expanded. It was divided into departments and each department was subdivided into sections entrusted with different tasks. In January 1945, the largest and the most important department in MBP was Department One, responsible for counter-espionage and anti-state activities. It was headed by General Roman Romkowski born Natan Grinszpan-Kikiel in Moscow. Department I was divided into Sections, each responsible for a different but specific function self-described in the following way:

  1. Fighting German espionage and Nazi underground remaining in Poland
  2. Fighting reactionary underground
  3. Fighting political banditry
  4. Protection of the national economy
  5. Protection of legal political parties from outside (underground) penetration.
  6. Prisons
  7. Observation
  8. Investigations

Two new departments were formed in addition to departments and sections created for the Resort Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego (RBP) forming the core of MBP in January 1945. On September 6, 1945, from the existing structure of Department II emerged three additional departments: Department IV commanded by Aleksander Wolski-Dyszko, Department V commanded by Julia Brystygier, and Department VI headed by Teodor Duda. In July 1946, further changes were enacted. MBP was divided into eight (8) departments, five of which dealt with operational cases, including Counter-espionage (Dep 1), Technical operations and technology (Dep 2), Fighting underground resistance (Dep 3), Protection of economy (Dep 4), and Counteraction of hostile penetration and church influences (Dep 5).

In June 1948 the Secret Office was established for Internal counter-intelligence. The Special Office conducted surveillance on members of the MPB itself. On March 2, 1949, the Special Bureau was established, renamed in 1951 simply as Department Ten. Department 10 conducted surveillance of high ranking members of the Polish United Workers' Party and people associated with them.

Ministry of Public Security roster (1951 and 1953)

Ministry of Public Security organization for 1953, (Organizacja Ministerstwa Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego na rok 1953, M Malinowski)
Minister of Public Security – Gen. Stanisław Radkiewicz
1st vice-minister – Gen. Roman Romkowski
2nd vice-minister – Mieczysław Mietkowski
3rd vice-minister – Konrad Świetlik
4th vice-minister – Wacław Lewikowski
  • Department ICounter-intelligence – headed by col. Stefan Antosiewicz
  • Department IIOperative Technology and records – headed by col. Leon Rubinstein
  • Department IIIFighting bandits – headed by col. Józef Czaplicki
  • Department IVProtection of economy – headed by col. Józef Kratko
  • Department VReligious political and social organizations – headed by col. Julia Brystiger
  • Department VIPrisons – headed by col. Władysław Pisło
  • Department VIIIntelligence – headed by col. Witold Sieniewicz
  • Department of Investigations – headed by col. Józef Różański (b. Josek Goldberg)
  • Department for Training – headed by mjr. Zdzisław Szymaczak
  • Department of Staff – headed by col. Mikołaj Orechwa
  • Department for Government Protection – headed by col. Faustym Grzybowski
  • Department of Transport – headed by col. Czesław Radzicki
  • Department of Communications – headed by col. Feliks Suczek
  • Special Bureau – headed by col. Anatol Fejgin
  • Bureau for control
  • Bureau of foreign passports – headed by lt. col. Władyslaw (Spychaj) Sobczyński
  • Bureau of Budget and Finances – headed by lt./lt. col. Szymon Ela Tenenbaum
  • Bureau A (Observation of suspicious element)
  • Bureau B (Central archives) – headed by col. Zygmunt Okręt (b. Izrael Nachemiasz)

MBP in the field

Ministry of Public Security field organization, 1953

All over Poland Ministry of Public Security had regional offices. There was one, or more MBP office in each voivodeship, each of them called the Voivode Office of Public Security (Wojewódzki Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, or WUBP). Each WUBP had 308 full-time MBP officers and employees on staff. Beside WUBP, there were also City Offices of Public Security (Miejski Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or MUBP), with 148 MPB officers and employees; as well as District Offices of Public Security (Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or PUBP), with 51 officers and employees; and finally, the Communal Offices of Public Security (Gminny Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, or GUBP), which were stationed at the local militia precincts (MO), with 3 UBP security officers on staff.

In 1953, in the field, there were 17 Voivode Offices of Public Security (WUBP), and 2 Regional Offices of Public Security on the order of WUBP. There were 268 District Offices of Public Security (PUBP) and 5 City Offices of Public Security (MUBP), which operated as District Offices of Public Security (PUBP). Together, they employed 33,200 permanent officers, of which 7,500 were stationed in their Warsaw headquarters. According to professor Andrzej Paczkowski, in 1953, there was one MBP (or UB) officer for every 800 Polish citizens. Never again, in the 45-year-old history of the People's Republic of Poland, were its special services' formations so large in numbers.[3]

Soviet control and political penetration

Political penetration and military control over the country by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was easily visible in the People's Republic of Poland. The Soviet Northern Group of Forces stationed there until 1956. The command and administrative structure of the Polish Armed Forces, Intelligence, Counter-intelligence, special services and Internal security organs both civilian (MBP) and military (Main Directorate of Information of the Polish Army GZI WP) were infiltrated by the Soviet intelligence and counter-intelligence officers, who served as the main guarantee of the pro-Soviet policy of the new Polish socialist state. The Red Army provided assistance to MPB not only in the form of advisors, but also with their own paramilitary units including NKGB, NKVD, GRU, SMERSH; and, in later years MGB, MVD and KGB.

The first Russian chief advisor to the MPB was Major General Ivan Serov, a well-trained Stalinist experienced with Soviet security organs. Serov became commander of the NKVD-run militsiya during World War II. He worked as chief of the NKVD Secret Political Department, before becoming People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1941–1945, he was the First Deputy People's Commissar of the State Security and later – Deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR. Once he became main advisor to the MBP in March 1945, Ivan Serov oversaw the kidnapping of 16 Polish top politicians and underground resistance leaders, secretly transported to Moscow, tortured and thrown into jail after a staged Trial of the Sixteen. None survived.[4][5]

The Stalinist rein of terror

Infiltrated by NKGB and NKVD agents – the Ministry of Public Security was well-known for its criminal nature. From January 1945 (or, July 22nd), the surviving members of the Home Army laid down their arms, granted an official amnesty (lasting till October 15th). Most were arrested by MBP on the spot, tortured and tried for treason.[6] The MBP carried out brutal pacification of civilians, mass arrests (see: Augustów roundup), as well as makeshift executions (see: Mokotów Prison murder, Public execution in Dębica) and secret assassinations.[7] According to deposition by Józef Światło and other communist sources, in 1945 alone the number of members of the Polish Underground State deported to Siberia and various labor camps in the Soviet Union reached 50,000.[8]

Overall, in the years 1944–1956 around 300,000 Polish citizens had been arrested, of whom many thousands were sentenced to long-term imprisonment. There were 6,000 death sentences pronounced, the majority of them carried out "in the majesty of the law". A special disciplinary legislation had been introduced, which allowed for the sentencing of civil persons before military tribunals including young people and children.[9] The courts were concerned with the alleged crimes, not the age and the maturity of its victims. For many years, the public prosecutors and judges as well as functionaries of the Ministry of Public Security, Służba Bezpieczeństwa and Główny Zarząd Informacji Wojska Polskiego engaged in acts recognized by international law as crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. The so called "Cursed soldiers" of the anti-communist resistance, who opposed the new occupiers and attacked the Stalinist strongholds, were eventually hunted down by MBP security services and assassination squads.[6] The underground structures had been destroyed, and most members of the Armia Krajowa and WiN who remained opposed to communism,[7][10] were executed after kangaroo trials (staged by Wolińska-Brus and Zarakowski among others), or deported to the Soviet GULAG system.[11]


Józef Światło

In November 1953, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party, Bolesław Bierut, asked Politburo member Jakub Berman to send MBP Lieutenant Colonel Józef Światło on an important mission to East Berlin. Światło, deputy head of MBP Department 10, together with Colonel Anatol Fejgin, were asked to consult with the East German Ministry for State Security's chief Erich Mielke about eliminating Wanda Brońska.

The two officials traveled to Berlin and spoke with Mielke. On December 5, 1953, the day after meeting Mielke, Światło defected to the United States through their military mission in West Berlin. The next day, American military authorities transported Światło to Frankfurt and by December, Światło had been flown to Washington D.C, where he underwent an extensive debriefing.

Światło's defection was widely publicized in the United States and Europe by the American authorities, as well as in Poland via Radio Free Europe, embarrassing the authorities in Warsaw. Światło had intimate knowledge of the internal politics of the Polish government, especially the activities of the various secret services. Over the course of the following months, American newspapers and Radio Free Europe reported extensively on political repression in Poland based on Światło revelations, including the torture of prisoners under interrogation and politically motivated executions. Światło also detailed struggles inside the Polish United Workers' Party.

Among other activities, Światło had been ordered to falsify evidence that was used to incriminate Władysław Gomułka, who he personally arrested. He had also arrested and falsified evidence against Marian Spychalski, the future Minister of National Defence, who was at the time a leading politician and high ranking military officer.

1954 reorganization

The highly publicized defection of Colonel Światło, not to mention the general hatred of the Ministry of Public Security among Polish public led to changes in late 1954. In December of that year, the Polish Council of State and the Council of Ministers decided to replace the ministry with two separate administrations: the Committee for Public Security (Komitet do Spraw Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or KDSBP), headed by Władysław Dworakowski, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnętrznych or MSW), headed by Władysław Wicha. The number of employees of the Committee for Public Security was cut by 30% in central headquarters and by 40–50% in local structures. The huge network of secret informers was also substantially reduced and the most implicated functionaries of the Ministry of Public Security were arrested. Surveillance and repressive activities were reduced; in the majority of factories, special cells of public security, set up to spy on workers, were secretly closed.

The Committee for Public Security took responsibility for intelligence and counter-espionage, government security and the secret police. From September 3, 1955 to November 28, 1956 it also controlled the Polish Army's Main Directorate of Information (Główny Zarząd Informacji Wojska), which ran the Military Police and counter espionage service. The Ministry of Internal Affairs was responsible for the supervision of local governments, the Milicja Obywatelska police force, correctional facilities, fire and rescue forces, and the border guard. In 1956 the Committee was dissolved, most of its functions merged into Ministry of Internal Affairs; the secret police was renamed to the 'Security Service' (Służba Bezpieczeństwa).

Most notable MBP personnel

  • Antoni Alster (b. Nachum Alster)
  • Jakub Berman
  • Julia Brystiger (née Prajs)
  • Józef Czaplicki (b. Izydor Kurc)
  • Anatol Fejgin
  • Adam Humer (b. Adam Umer)
  • Julian Kole
  • Julian Konar (b. Jakub Kohn)
  • Grzegorz Korczyński
  • Mieczysław Mietkowski (b. Mojżesz Bobrowicki)
Soviet chief advisors to the Ministry of Public Security [12]
  • Major General Ivan Serov – 1945
  • Major General Nikolai Selivanovsky (Russian: Н.Н. Селивановский) – 1945-1946
  • Colonel Semyon Davydov (Russian: С.П. Давыдов) – 1946-1950
  • Colonel Mikhail Bezborodov – 1950-1953
  • Lieutenant General Nikolai Kovalshuk – 1953
  • Serafim Lialin – 1953-1954

Notable people killed by the MBP

In Warsaw, most of the killings were done at the Mokotów Prison. The victims' dead bodies – often undressed and placed in empty cement bags – were wheeled out at night and buried in unmarked digs in the vicinity of different Warsaw cemeteries and in open fields.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Polish Secret Police, The "Bezpieka": Dossiers of Polish secret police functionaries
  2. ^ Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland. Vol 2. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982 and several reprints. ISBN 0-231-05353-3 and ISBN 0-231-05351-7.
  3. ^ Prof. Andrzej Paczkowski, Institute of National Remembrance (2000). Pół wieku dziejów Polski 1939-1989 (Half a Century of the History of Poland 1939-1989). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. ISBN 9788301144876. 
  4. ^ God's Playground: 1795 to the present By Norman Davies  (English)
  5. ^ Since Stalin, a photo history of our time by Boris Shub and Bernard Quint, Swen Publications, New York, Manila, 1951. Page 121.
  6. ^ a b Tennent H. Bagley (2007). "Spy wars: moles, mysteries, and deadly games". Yale University Press. pp. 120. ISBN 0300121989. Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Civil war in Poland. Europe since 1945: an encyclopedia, Volume 2, Bernard A. Cook  (English)
  8. ^ Poland's holocaust By Tadeusz Piotrowski. Page 131. ISBN 0786429135.
  9. ^ "Otwarcie wystawy „Zbrodnie w majestacie prawa 1944–1956” – Kraków, 2 lutego 2006". Instytut Pamięci Narodowej. Retrieved June 01, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Stalinism in Poland: 1945-1956" by Dr John Bates, 2000, at  (English)
  11. ^ Polish Underground Soldiers 1944–1963 – The Untold Story
  12. ^ Н.В.Петров, Роль МГБ СССР в советизации Польши (Role of the KGB in the Sovietization of Poland)  (Russian)
  13. ^ Płużański, 2010. "Strzał w tył głowy." Available also via the Internet Archive at: Tadeusz M. Płużański, "Strzał w tył głowy," Publicystyka Antysocjalistycznego Mazowsza, 27 May 2004.
  • Leszek Pawlikowicz, Tajny Front Zimnej Wojny: Uciekinierzy z polskich służb specjalnych 1956–1964, Oficyna Wydawnicza RYTM, 2004, 1st edition
  • Henryk Piecuch, Akcje Specjalne: Od Bieruta do Ochaba, (part of a series: Tajna Historia Polski, Agencja Wydawnicza CB, Warszawa, 1996 (English: Special Operations: from Bierut to Ochab, Secret History of Poland series, Warsaw 1996)
  • Nigel West, Trzecia Tajemnica: Kulisy zamachu na Papieża (English: The Third Secret, Behind the Assacination Attempt on the Pope), publ. in Sensacje XX Wieku
  • Metody Pracy Operacyjnej Aparatu Bezpieczństwa wobec kościołów i związków zawodowych 1945–1989, IPN, Warszawa, 2004 (Methods of operative work of Security organs against churches and trade unions 1945–1989, published by Institute of National Remembrance)
  • Normam Polmar, Thomas AllenKsięga Szpiegów (The Book of Spies), Wydawnictwo Magnum, Warszawa, 2000
  • Zbigniew Błażyński, Mówi Józef Światło: Za kulisami bezpieki i partii 1940–1955, Warszawa 2003

External links

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