czwartek, 11 grudnia 2008

Looking to the stars, working for the devil

You may have heard of Alexander Wolszczan, professor of Astronomy at the Pennsylvania State University, who collaborated with the SB (Służba Bezpieczeństwa), the communist secret police.

Aleksander Wolszczan, Alexander Wolszczan, TVN24, SB, PRL, UMK, Astronomia

Aleksander Wolszczan, Alexander Wolszczan, TVN24, SB, PRL, UMK, Astronomia

When the news about Wolszczan's collaboration with the SB came out he just happened to be in Poland. How convenient. The timing of Gazeta Polska's publication about Wolszczan was probably not accidental. Wolszczan was immediately available to control the damage. GP released the news when it was already clear that it will come out anyway - the special university commission in Toruń investigating the links of the faculty to the communist secret police already knew the facts.

Here is an interesting piece from the Daily Collegian, the Penn State's campus newspaper (there are quite a few strange pieces in the article written by Matthew Spolar, e.g. the claim that Wolszczan criticized the communist regime on the student radio broadcast and smuggled underground literature; fake excuses I think).
Bernhard said Wolszczan's account of clamming up when talking to the secret police is "certainly believable" and was used by many Poles in his situation.
"Some of [the SB agents] made stuff up to please their superiors," Bernhard said. "In the case of someone like [Wolszczan], with a reputation as a world-class researcher, someone may have made something up as well, as a way to put pressure on him or to ruin his reputation."
Wolszczan said he took presents from the SB to avoid confrontation, but threw them away.
"There was absolutely no way I would accept anything from the SB," he told the university.
Michael Bernhard is a professor of political science at Penn State and a collaborator of Jan Kofman and Henryk Szlajfer. Both Kofman and Szlajfer come from communist families, from the same group of people as Michnik and Kuron. Kofman was the editor-in-chief of PWN (Polskie Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Polish Scientific Publishers) for several years in the 1990s. No doubt communist connections helped. Szlajfer's entire family worked for the communists. His uncle was a communist partisan (probably working for NKVD) in WWII and got killed by the anticommunist underground forces in Poland. Paul Lendvai wrote in his book "Anti-Semitism Without Jews: Communist Eastern Europe" that Szlajfer agreed to work for the communist secret police during an interrogation in 1968. After 1989 Szlajfer was working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and became the head of the American department and the editor-in-chief of the bilingual "Polish Quarterly of International Affairs".

In 2005 Szlajfer was the top candidate for the Ambassador of Poland to the United States. However IPN (Institute of National Remembrance, they hold what was left from the communist secret archives) refused to give clearance to Szlajfer. Only then Szlajfer withdrew his candidacy.

So who is teaching political science in the US? What do the students learn from Michael Bernhard whose Polish friends are so deeply immersed in the communism? That it was ok and normal to work for the communist secret police? That there is nothing wrong with it?

In November 2008 we heard that the director of the Astronomy Center at the Copernicus University in Torun, prof. Kus, was also a communist agent. It is very interesting to read what Kus said about Wolszczan just two months earlier, when we learned about Wolszczan's work for the SB:

- Pisanie historii na podstawie teczek esbeków to błąd. Nie wierzę, że prof. Wolszczan był współpracownikiem SB - deklaruje dyrektor CA UMK prof. Andrzej Kus. - Znam go od lat i wiem, że to porządny człowiek.
In English:

"Writing history based on the communist secret police archives is a mistake. I do not believe that prof. Wolszczan was a collaborator of the SB," declares director of the Astronomy Center of UMK prof. Andrzej Kus. "I know him for many years and I know he is a decent man".

If this were a comedy we would laugh our heads off. But this is a serious problem. It shows you that the communist collaborators praise each other like in a well rehearsed script.

Whenever you scratch the surface somewhere, you immediately get communists, agents of SB and voices of support coming from guys like them. But the general public most often doesn't know that the person expressing support is another communist, their agent or someone from their family. These guys are in top positions today. They basically run the country.