Poland, Intelligence and Security
Germany's invasion of Poland was the catalyst for World War II. During the Nazi occupation, Polish citizens were subject to interrogation and torture at the hands of officers of the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police. Holocaust death camps were located in occupied Poland. After the war, Poland became a Soviet satellite nation. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 opened Poland to the west. The following year, elections swept the labor union based Solidarity party into power. Poland then began the long process of democratizing the government and reforming the economy.
Before World War II, Poland had one of the strongest intelligence forces in Europe. The work of Polish spies and cryptographers broke several key German codes before the outbreak of the war. Fleeing Poland during the invasion, Polish agents successfully smuggled code breaking information and a German Enigma cipher machine to British Military Intelligence. Polish intelligence information directly aided British cryptography efforts at Bletchley Park.
Poland's Ministry of Internal Affairs governs domestic intelligence and security operations that relate to national security issues. In June 2002, the government dissolved the Office of State Protection (UOP). Though the organization was created after the fall of the communist regime, it failed to overcome public fears about its close association with former communist intelligence services and secret police forces. Two new agencies were established, the Domestic Security Office and the Intelligence Service. The Domestic Security Office works with law enforcement to protect diplomats, government officials, and national assets. The Intelligence Service directs most civilian intelligence operations, including counter-intelligence and counter-espionage.
Poland maintains an army, navy, and air defense force. Each military branch of service employs its own specially trained intelligence units. Operations that utilize military forces and government intelligence personnel, however, are supervised by the National Security Council (RBN) or a joint intelligence council. The Ministry of National Defense governs the Military Information Service, the electronic, signals, and communications intelligence agency.
While most of Eastern and Central Europe is still struggling with economic reform, Poland's government-driven rapid revitalization program has yielded the most robust economy in the region. Poland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999, and is currently pursuing membership in the European Union (EU).
█ FURTHER READING:
Snyder, Timothy. The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.