KGB officers, secret collaborators and their friends in Poland

    Who was the man who, according to IPN files, registered Jan Wejchert as a secret collaborator with the Security Service (known as SB in Poland) and acted as his officer in charge and supported the establishment of the ITI Group? As ‘Gazeta Polska’ has found out, Waldemar Więckowski graduated from the KGB Higher School in Moscow in the mid-1980s, and later maintained official contacts with KGB officers from the Soviet Army unit in Rembertów.

    In 1983, Grzegorz Żemek – a secret collaborator of the military intelligence service and, since 1989, director general of the FOZZ (English: The Fund of Servicing Foreign Debt) – becomes head of the Credit Department at Bank Handlowy International in Luxembourg. On May 12 of the same year, the founding of ITI Panama takes place in the tax haven, in the future financed by ITI Holdings, established in Luxembourg in 1988. There was Jan Wejchert on the supervisory board and the company’s auditor was Mariusz Walter.

    In 1984 there is the registration in Poland of the – astonishing coincidence of names – Foreign Enterprise ITI (known as ITI Group), which gets a license from the communist authorities to, among other things, import electronic equipment from abroad and distribute films on videotapes. The business is run by recent communist journalist Mariusz Walter and Jan Wejchert. The latter, from late 1975 and early 1976, represented the Frankfurt-based Konsuprod company in the country, which had been operating here as a Polish company for some time. In 1976 – according to IPN materials – there was a registration of Wejchert as a secret collaborator of the Security Service (SB) with the alias ‘W. Konarski.’ According to archival records, the co-founder of ITI, and later TVN, acted as TW (English: Secret Collaborator) until January 1990.

    The case of Jan Wejchert’s registration has already been the subject of more than one article. Despite this, a completely underestimated figure so far remains Lt. Col. Waldemar Więckowski – an officer of the capital’s counterintelligence service and, in time, its chief, a graduate of the KGB course – who dealt with the businessman.

    He wanted to become an actor but ended up in the MO and SB

    After graduating from high school in 1963, Waldemar Więckowski entered the National Theater Academy to study acting. However, he soon gave up such a profession and took up studies in Polish philology at the University of Warsaw. Eventually, due to his life situation, he transferred to a teacher’s college. He learned about the possibility of joining the MO (English: Citizens’ Militia) through an agitation campaign at his place of study. In his submitted curriculum vitae he emphasized:

     

    “I am interested in the human being and to him, I would like to serve. That’s why I think that work in the militia will give me satisfaction.”

    In 1966, Więckowski took a position as an inspector of the crime-fighting department of the Warsaw-Śródmieście District Police Station. While searching for perpetrators of burglaries, he made a name for himself as a disciplined and conscientious officer. Thanks to this, in 1972 he was singled out for transfer to the Security Service division. Finally, after some ups and downs, he ended up in Department II (counterintelligence) of the Metropolitan Citizens’ Militia Headquarters. He quickly proved to be a “dashing officer with initiative in operational work.” Less than six months later, he had to his credit three secret collaborators and two TW candidates. He combated British intelligence activities in the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL). In 1973, he contributed to the acquisition of materials on “the latest computer systems of capitalist countries” and thus significantly deepened “knowledge of the interests and intentions of the concern penetrating the markets of the countries of the socialist camp.”

    Secret Collaborator ‘W. Konarski’

    From 1974, Więckowski held the position of senior inspector. At the beginning of 1976, he began to work out Lothar Grabowski – a businessman from Germany with Polish roots, the owner of Konsuprod, a company based in Frankfurt. By the way, he took up the person of his representative in Poland – Jan Wejchert. According to records already cited more than once, he was to obtain him as a TW with the alias W. Konarski on March 15, 1976, and registered him in that capacity a few days later. It is worth noting that there is a note in Wejchert’s passport records, which can be dated to 1976, that reads: “Department II requests the issuance of a passport for operational reasons.” Więckowski’s name appears several times in these files. The first time is on a passport application submitted on March 1, 1976, and the last in August 1989. On the petitioner’s application delivered to the office in September 1984, there is a comment: “endorsed by Major Więckowski, Head of Department II.”

    In 1978, the officer became head of the section. That year, he was appointed to the rank of captain and received the Silver Cross of Merit (five years later a gold one). In June 1981, he was promoted to deputy chief of the capital’s counterintelligence unit. A 1983 service opinion stated that he “used inventive and effective operational combinations. He also distinguished himself with systematic, solid work with personal sources of information.”

    At a similar time, the regime’s ‘Przegląd Techniczny’ (one of the oldest magazines in Poland; English: Technical Review) wrote about Wejchert: “Now, after six years, [Wejchert] is also the director of an export-import company. He drives a white Peugeot […] The fun of it is great. The company is growing, for four months of this year [1982] the turnover is already that of the whole of last year. Exports from the 250,000 Deutschmarks should reach 2 million.” In the 1980s, the businessman also ran a company in Ireland, operating in a duty-free zone in Dublin’s port.

    Support for the establishment of ITI Group and the KGB school

    As of June 1, 1983, Waldemar Więckowski took over the function of head of Department II (counterintelligence) of the Metropolitan Citizens’ Militia Headquarters (soon to be known as SUSW – Capital Internal Affairs Office). He replaced Major Kryspin Kulmatycki in this position (who had moved to Department II, so the counterintelligence of the Ministry of the Interior, and, working in a clandestine position, began to play a significant role in the Polish-Polonia Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Inter-Polcom, established by the communist authorities to exercise control over Polish companies). He was promoted to the rank of major.

    In early 1984, he wrote a letter to the head of the Passport Division of the SUSW regarding the efforts being made at the time to establish an ITI (from International Trading and Investments) PPZ in Poland:

    “Department II of the SUSW is in possession of information from which it appears that the permission to conduct a business activity within the framework of the ITI Polonia and Foreign Enterprise has been applied for by a citizen of Ireland Wejchert Andrzej, a citizen of Australia Syriatowicz Henryk, a citizen of Denmark Bailas [Bialas] Ole. Citizen Wejchert Jan […] is to become the company’s proxy. In connection with the operational undertakings planned by the local unit, we are interested in a quick, positive opinion regarding this case.”

    A few months later – at the end of August 1984 – Więckowski was delegated to the Soviet Union, where he stayed until January 1985. In the officer’s file, we can read: “Trained at an SB course in Moscow.” Elsewhere it says that he “graduated from the Higher School of the State Security Committee [i.e., KGB] of the USSR.” This elite institution trained officers of the KGB and other Soviet secret services and the services of “friendly” countries. Thousands of Moscow’s trusted men passed through it. Among them were the long-time commander of the KGB’s Alpha Group, Gennady Zaitsev (formerly head of the personal security of Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB), and Vladimir Putin, who received six months of training there in 1979.

    Contacts with KGB officers

    The capital’s counterintelligence in the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) dealt, among other things, with the external protection of the Soviet 308th Station Communications Battalion in Rembertów. There are authorized testimonies of two SB officers, collected as a result of analytical and research work of the Internal Security Agency, which speak about the relations of representatives of Department II with people from the KGB. Even if they downplay the role of such relationships (which is typical of the narrative of former SS officers), they are worth special attention. The officers with whom Więckowski met were probably part of the KGB’s 20th Government Liaison Brigade, based in Rembertów between 1980 and 1993.

    1. “[…] within the framework of cooperation carried out until 1990 by the SB of the Interior Ministry and the KGB of the USSR, there were – on the instructions of the leadership of both sides – working contacts between officers of the capital’s SB and KGB officers from the Soviet Army unit stationed in Rembertów. By Colonel Waldemar Więckowski’s order, I participated in these meetings.”

    2. “[…] ad hoc contacts with the KGB officer of the USSR in Rembertów could be maintained by the head of Department II of the SUSW [here we are referring to Więckowski], depending on the development of the current socio-political situation in the area protected by the SUSW. In addition, the KGB officer securing the Soviet unit in Rembertów could […] contact the head of Department II of the SUSW directly. […] Major Kovshev come to Department II of the SUSW and ask for intervention in the case of Soviet soldiers trading fuel on a massive scale. The head of Department II – Colonel W Więckowski – telephoned the MO police station in Rembertów with a request to send a patrol […] Major Kovshev sometimes came to Department II of the SUSW and asked for attention to be paid to any diplomats they might meet. […] [In addition,] he come to Department II of the SUSW and say that he was looking for his subordinate. […] He also invited the management to the unit in Rembertów for the celebration of successive anniversaries of the October Revolution. Short visits to A. Kovshev were paid, among others, by Colonel Waldemar Więckowski, whom I also accompanied several times. […] Several times I feasted with him and Colonel Więckowski with alcohol.”

    He agreed to use TW “W. Konarski” nickname

    What was Wejchert’s case in the 1980s in the context of his registration by the SB? Unfortunately, only residual materials have survived indicating the use of TW “W. Konarski.”

    In June 1985, a letter was written to the deputy head of the Capital Internal Affairs Office for SB Affairs, Colonel Tadeusz Szczygiel, “in connection with the operational need for ongoing consultation and coordination of activities,” with a request for “approval for a joint trip of Comrade Major W. Więckowski with an employee of the Department I of the Interior Ministry to Poznań [on 13-14.06.1985].”

    According to the documentation, the idea was to carry out the intentions of the civil intelligence of the People’s Republic of Poland concerning Henryk Syriatowicz through “the use of TW alias ‘Konarski’ remaining in the contact of Department II of the SUSW, which was initially agreed with the head of this department, Comrade Major W. Więckowski, personally maintaining operational communication with the collaborator.” The plan for the probing conversation, prepared in Department I, Division X, assumed that “contact with ‘F[awore]'” [i.e., Syriatowicz] will be established at the [Poznań] fair in a direct manner using TW “Konarski”, who, having current contact with the figure, will provide information regarding the most convenient place and time for carrying out the undertakings. Operational assistance in carrying out the above will be provided by the head of Department II of the SUSW, Comrade Major W. Więckowski, on whose contact TW remains.” The rest of the story regarding the intentions of the “security service” concerning the Australian businessman is unknown. An excerpt from the operational information assigned to TW “Konarski” has been preserved in the files, giving a closer look at Syriatowicz’s background, education, interests, family issues, business and personality.

    Więckowski had a good position. In 1986, he received the rank of lieutenant colonel. The unit he led achieved results set as a model for others.

    A suicide teenager?

    The officer’s career was not negatively affected by a traffic accident he was involved in as a driver in the village of Rogotwórsk on the route to Toruń in July 1986. The incident resulted in the death of a teenage cyclist. The tragically deceased boy was found to be the perpetrator, and one of the non-excludable motives for his behaviour was considered to have the desire to commit suicide.

    According to the official findings of investigators, “being in close proximity to a Polonez travelling in the opposite direction […] he made a sharp turn with the steering wheel directly under the wheels of the vehicle” and “hit […] the left front side of the Polonez.” As proclaimed in an excerpt from a decision to discontinue the investigation by the Sierpc District Prosecutor’s Office:

    “Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that the behaviour was the result of a decision to commit suicide, just as it also cannot be ruled out that it was the result of a young man’s fantasy, attempting to scare the Polonez driver with his behaviour. In both cases, the perpetrator of the violation of traffic safety rules, and a gross violation at that, was the victim.” 

    Such an attitude evokes practices designed to cover up the circumstances of deaths blamed on members of the government and security apparatus.

    A year later, the lieutenant colonel received compensation for a 10 per cent permanent personal injury suffered as a result of an unspecified incident in connection with his service, which occurred on May 3, 1987.

    He informally met with the head of Branch “Y” 

    Thanks to materials collected by Department VII of Department V of the Ministry of the Interior, it is known that on November 9, 1987, a unique meeting took place in the restaurant of the “Grand” hotel in Warsaw. It was held with the participation of Więckowski, Lt. Col. Zbigniew Worożbit (then head of the elite “Y” Branch of the Second Board of the General Staff, a 1980 graduate of the course at the Diplomatic Academy in the USSR), Major Slawomir Michalski (until recently an officer most likely of the same “Y” Branch) and Lt. Col. Waclaw Czępinski (head of the DUSW Warsaw-Śródmieście, in 1983 delegated for a few days to Hungary at the invitation of the Ministry of Interior there). The broader context suggests that the conversation concerned Jan Załuski – a businessman and secret collaborator of successively different units, then in custody, and after his release used by military intelligence (Załuski’s Polish company “Carpatia” employed Jerzy Owsiak in the 1980s). 

    Soon, Board II of the Border Guard officially asked Więckowski for help in seizing the driver’s license taken from Jan Suwinski for traffic violations (this information – indicative of the influence of the addressee of the request – is also interesting in the context of the prosecutor’s “findings” on the tragic accident involving him, described above). Suwinski is a man emerging from archival materials as a TW with the pseudonym “Sam,” acquired by the aforementioned Maj. Michalski in 1985. Over time, he became extremely useful due to his employment at the Ministry of Foreign Economic Cooperation (since 1990, he was responsible for granting permits for the circulation of special production).

    He had knowledge of “security” agents

    The range of issues of Więckowski in the 1980s were also threats related to the activities of Arab secret services and Arab international terrorism.

    By the end of the decade, he was still personally working with the agents, “achieving significant results in this area.” In addition, he coordinated the efforts of officers using “permanent personal sources of information.” As a result, he had a unique knowledge of issues and figures crucial to the formation of the new political and economic arrangement, one of the main elements of which was the development of private business ventures. Not to mention the possession of TWs capable of creating companies for the use of “security” circles.

    Already in the autumn of 1989, the case of Zdzislaw Hershman came across Więckowski’s desk. The request from Division VII of Department V was to consider the advisability of maintaining a ban on his entry into the country. Once a circus artist who at one point did not return from his stay in the West, he now revealed himself as a businessman intending to invest big money in Poland. In the public space, he will be associated with the activities of people associated with the mafia, including Jeremiah Barański, “Baranina.” In addition, this testifies to the “stature” of the various figures that Więckowski has come to deal with.

    In partnership with Military Information Services (WSI) people

    Little is known about what happened to the lieutenant colonel after 1989. Since 2001, he was co-owner of the Paulanum Investment Realization Company. Although there is no indication that it operated, it turns out to be worth noting. As we checked – the company’s shareholders also included, among others, Marek Wolny – in the People’s Republic of Poland a soldier in the Military Internal Service and a participant in the course for officers of the Military Internal Service at the KGB Higher School in Moscow (1982-1983). In later years, he held the position of Acting Chief of Branch II of Board I of the Head of the Internal Affairs Service (1987-1989) and Chief of Branch III of Board I (1989-1990). In 1990 he became head of Branch II of Board III and remained in the ranks of the WSI until 1996.

    A partner in Paulanum was also Leszek Grosicki, who served, among other things, in the WSW Department of the 11th Armored Division and prepared training materials for the F. Dzerżyński WSW Central Training Center.

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