Sources of Documents

  1. Characteristics of the IPN documentation

The archives of the Institute collects documents of the state security authorities produced and accumulated in the period from 22 July 1944 to 31 July 1990, as well as by the security bodies of the Third Reich and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) concerning Nazi crimes, Communist crimes, as well as other acts constituting crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed against people of Polish nationality or Polish citizens of other states from 1 September 1939 to 31 July 1990. The two dates mark the beginning of World War II (German invasion of Poland) and the end of the Communist Era in Poland following the Revolution of 1989 (after the second Parliamentary elections, which were fully free and led to removal of the remaining communist personnel from the major state positions).

The IPN files also include copies of relevant documentation obtained through international agreements, including records of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation and the Security Service of Ukraine, French departmental archives, the Polish Underground Movement, the Pomeranian Institute and the General Sikorski Museum in London, the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives in Bucharest, the Security Services Archive in Prague, Yad Vashem – the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Institute in Jerusalem, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, and the National Archive and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland.

The original resources of the IPN Archives can be divided into the following groups according to their source of origin:

  Of German and Soviet origin:

  1. The administrative and repressive bodies of the Third Reich;
  2. The administrative and repressive bodies of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

  Of the Polish People’s Republic:

  1. Civil state security authorities
  2. Military state security authorities
  3. Internal Forces
  4. Military units and administration
  5. Civil justice authorities
  6. Military justice authorities
  7. The prison system
  8. The Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against the Polish Nation
  9. Public administration bodies, offices, institutions, political parties and associations
  10. Personal archives and collections
  11. Other collections

2. The Characteristics of documentation in the North Korean Index

The North Korean Index was compiled using only documents of the IPN that mentioned North Korea. Out of the thirteen groups mentioned earlier that are classified as documentation related to the Polish security apparatus, the records in the North Korean Index come mostly from two major groups of the Polish security structures: the Civil State Security authorities and the Military State Security authorities. While very rare, files from other groups are occasionally included, such as Internal Forces.

Each of the main categories appearing in the North Korean Index as a “Unit” include numerous subcategories of specific institutions that operated under the civil or military secret police. Below is further classification on how these authorities were divided and their historical background. They underwent significant changes in terms of their names and structures over the relevant period, so a simplified list is provided.

2.1 The civil State Security authorities consisted of:

The Department of Public Security within the Polish Committee of National Liberation, Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego (PKWN) in Lublin, the Ministry of Public Security in Lublin (from March 1945 in Warsaw), province public security offices, general public security offices, delegacies of public security offices, municipal public security offices, district public security offices, district delegacies of public security offices, the Committee for Public Security in Warsaw, province offices for public security, delegacies of province offices for public security, municipal offices for public security, district delegacies for public security, the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Warsaw, province internal affairs offices, regional internal affairs offices, municipal internal affairs offices, district internal affairs offices, the central Citizens’ Militia Headquarters in Warsaw (MO), the MO Capital Headquarters in Warsaw, MO province headquarters, MO district headquarters, MO municipal headquarters, MO municipal and district headquarters, MO regional headquarters, MO district headquarters, MO commissariats, MO independent commissariats, MO railway commissariats, MO river commissariats, MO stations, the Motorized Reserves of the Citizens’ Militia (ZOMO), the Spare Reserves of the Citizens’ Militia (ROMO), the Volunteer Reserves of the Citizens’ Militia (ORMO), the Supernumerary Reserves of the Citizens’ Militia (NOMO).

2.1.1 Historical explanation

After the Invasion of Poland by Germany and Soviet Union in September 1939, the Polish Government created an independent administration abroad known as the Polish Government-in-Exile. It dissolved only in 1990 when the first democratically elected government in Poland was formed after the collapse of communism. This Government never recognized the Soviet-backed administration installed in Poland during World War II, and itself had to remain symbolic after 1945 when major Western powers, including USA, Great Britain and France, recognised a communist-led Polish government based on agreements made with Joseph Stalin in Yalta.

The Stalin-backed communist executive authority PKWN was established in Poland with the retrospective Act of the State National Council of 21 July 1944. The first structures of the security authorities were formed then and their tasks (including counter-intelligence, protection of government, censorship, prisons and camps, records, telecommunication, legal affairs) were overtaken by the Ministry of Public Security (MBP, Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Państwa), established on 1 January 1945. The new departments that were formed included: Department I (counter-intelligence composed of five divisions), Department IV (economic department composed of eight divisions), Department V (social and political department composed of five divisions), the Independent External Observation Department (later Department III), the Independent Investigation Division (later Investigation Department). In January 1946 a Department VII was formed to fight the underground resistance.

The Ministry of Public Security supervised provincial and district public security offices and branches which structure corresponded to that of the Ministry. Because the Ministry operated through these local offices to supervise each aspect of life in the country, the secret police apparatus was commonly known to population as Bezpieka, or UB/SB (Security Office – Urząd Bezpieczeństwa, and after 1956 reforms, Security Service – Służba Bezpieczeństwa).

The Ministry of Public Security also supervised the Citizens’ Militia (police) along with their field units, the MO Volunteer Reserve, formations of the Corps of Internal Security, the Border Troops and prisons. Together with all these structures, the civil security apparatus amounted to over 321,000 personnel in 1953.

Further reforms led finally to a creation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MSW, Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnętrznych) on 7 December 1954, and its reorganization in 1956. The Ministry was divided into the following units: Headquarters of the Citizens’ Militia, Fire Service Headquarters, Field Air-Defence Headquarters, the Chief Administration of Geodesy and Cartography, and the Central Board of Healthcare. Also, the MSW supervised the organizational units of the Internal Troops (the Command of the Internal Security Corps, the Border Protection Force Command and the Management of Internal Troops Information. The communist secret police structures within the Ministry were organized into: Department I (for intelligence), Department II (for counter-intelligence), Department III (for anti-state activities in the country), Department IIIA (a reorganised Department I), Department IV (for the Church), Department V (for the protection of industry), Department VI (for the protection of agriculture and food industries), the Government Protection Bureau, the Office of the Operations Register (later Office C), office of the Central Archives (later another Office C), the Office A (ciphers), Office B (observation), Office T (operational techniques), the Department of Technology, Office W (mail checking), the Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Studies, the Administration of Officers Protection, the Chief Inspectorate of Industry Protection, National ID Number (PESEL) Department, the Administration of Communications and others.

As 1989 elections in Poland were based on the Roundtable Agreement with the Communist side of the government, the communist security structures were dissolved only after the first fully free and democratic elections in 1990. The Security Service SB was dissolved on 10 May 1990 under the Act on the State Security Office adopted on 6 April 1990. The MO Citizens’ Militia was dissolved on 10 May 1990 under the Police Act of 6 April 1990.

3.1 The military State Security authorities consisted of:  

Information on the Polish Army, county boards, branches, sections and departments of the Military Information of Internal Forces, the Military Internal Service and its organizational units according to the types of weapons, military districts and tactical unions, the Military Internal Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MSW) Military Units, the Management II of the Polish Army General Headquarters, and the Reconnaissance Units of Border Troops.

3.1.1 Historical explanation

Polish Armed Forces during World War II were divided into Polish Armed Forces in the West, loyal to the Polish Government-in-Exile (which operated in London from 1940 until democratic elections in Poland in 1990), and Polish Armed Forces in the East (formed on the territory of the Soviet Union and divided into two formations: one, commonly referred to as Anders’ Army, loyal to the Polish Government-in-Exile, and one Stalin-backed, under the structures of the Soviet Union’s Red Army). The first communist military security structure, the Information Bodies of Polish Army, was created together with the First Infantry Division in 1943, which was the Army Forces formation backed by Stalin.

In 1944, the Main Directorate (initially known as the Management of Information of Polish Army General Headquarters) of the Polish Army was formed based on the decree of the Chief Commander of the Polish Army, but without any legal basis. The Board of Information of the Headquarters included Branch I (secret service and operation work), Branch II (fighting the enemy secret service, interrogating prisoners of war), Branch III (control of the work of subordinate bodies of information), Branch IV (investigation), Branch V (searches, arrests, external observation), Branch VI (preparation of personnel), Branch VII (operational records and statistics), Branch VIII (ciphers and communications), the administration, economic and material security unit, the Secretariat, and the Supreme Command.

After several reorganizations of the Military Information bodies, the Internal Military Service (WSW, Wojskowa Slużba Wewnętrzna) was formed in 1957 by the decree of the Minister of National Defence. Contrary to its name, it was not a military structure of the Army, but its secret political police formation. Together with the Internal Military Service Command, its Branches were formed in the Navy, Air Force, Anti-aircraft Defence and Land Area Forces, as well as departments in the garrisons. From 1965, the Internal Military Service of Internal Security Corps (KBW) and the Border Protection Forces (WOP) became subordinate to the Minister of National Defence. Earlier these forces were in the structure of the Ministry of Public Security/Ministry of Internal Affairs; the Border Protection Forces returned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1971, while the Internal Security Corps were eventually disbanded.

In 1966, the Ministry of Internal Affairs created its own structure, the Internal Military Service Department of Military Units, along with its regional departments.

Another intelligence structure classified as military secret police was operating in the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, established on 18 July 1945. Directorate II of the General Staff of the Polish Army (which before 1951 was known as Division II) had in its responsibilities military reconnaissance, surveillance of the military attaché of the People’s Republic of Poland, monitoring of NATO military units in Europe, preparations of sabotage, and operation and gathering of information in the countries of interest.