Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
On the occasion of the 74th anniversary of NATO’s establishment, learn more about the Polish brigadier general, and spy for NATO during Cold War times – Colonel Ryszard Jerzy Kukliński.
The President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, by decision of September 2, 2016, posthumously appointed Ryszard Kukliński to the rank of brigadier general
Ryszard Jerzy Kukliński was a Polish brigadier general who served as a spy for NATO during the Cold War. Born on June 13, 1930, in Warsaw, Poland, Kukliński joined the Polish People’s Army in 1947 and rose through the ranks to become a high-ranking military officer.
In the early 1970s, Kukliński became disillusioned with the Soviet-dominated government in Poland and began secretly passing classified military documents to the CIA. He provided critical information on Soviet military strategy, including their plans for a potential attack on NATO forces in Europe.
Kukliński’s espionage activities continued for over a decade until he was finally caught by the Polish authorities in 1981. Fearing for his life and the safety of his family, Kukliński fled to the United States, where he was granted political asylum.
Kukliński’s actions are widely regarded as having significantly contributed to the West’s understanding of Soviet military capabilities during the Cold War. He was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 for his bravery and dedication to the cause of freedom.
In addition, he is the main character of the 2014 film Jack Strong, which stars Marcin Dorociński as Kukliński and Maja Ostaszewska as his wife, Zofia.
The film chronicles Kukliński’s career as a double agent and his decision to risk his life to expose the threat of the Soviet Union. It also examines the difficult choices he and his family faced as they tried to keep their identities secret and their lives safe. Jack Strong is a gripping drama that highlights the courage of Kukliński and his family and the dangers of the Cold War.
Kukliński died in Tampa, Florida, on February 11, 2004, at the age of 73. His legacy as a patriot who risked everything to protect his country and the values of democracy and freedom continues to inspire people around the world.