Monday, December 21, 2009

“Work makes you free” sign theft conspiracy theories

The theft of the "Arbeit macht frei" sign from Gate I at the site of the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz showed one politician from the ruling Civic Platform party has delusions of an outside conspiracy, trying to make Poland look bad. (photo: Police image of alleged criminal working for dark international forces?)

The sign disappeared for three days before police, acting on a tip off, arrested five men up near Torun. They are accused of arriving at the Auschwitz museum site at around 03.00 CET Friday morning, unscrewing the five metre sign, hauling what weights anything up to 40 kilograms 400 metres, through a hole in the fence and into a van and then driving it up to northern Poland. There they sawed it into three bits and then hid it in the woods.

In those three days, politicians and others inside and outside Poland expressed how shocked they were, etc, and some pointed to dark motives behind the theft.

Avner Shalev, head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem was reported to have said: " This act constitutes an act of war."

A theory that neo-Nazis had set the whole thing up rapidly did the rounds. Others thought that this was a set up by those who want to do Poland down.

Civic Plarform’s Pawel Gras said the motive behind the Auschwitz sign theft could be to damage Poland’s international reputation ahead of January’s 65th anniversary celebrations of the liberation of the death camp on January 27. The timing of the theft was “no accident,” he told Radio Zet.

“If the case is not solved by [January] all of the attention will be on the theft and not the message that should be coming out of Poland,” Gras said Sunday.

That this was a criminal act, pure and simple, did not come into it in those three days when the sign was a sign of the times - when everyone sees a deep, dark motive of international scope behind everything that happens.

Today, however, everyone is saying that the gang of men, all known criminals, must have been paid by some weirdo collector. They were not neo-nazis. They were not international provocators.

But that’s a bit boring, isn’t it? I prefer what Gras might be implying: It’s the Russians wot did it!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lech Poznan go to Bethlehem

Football club releases excruciating Christmas song. Reindeers weep. So does Cliff Richard.

There have been some great Christmas songs in the past - but not many. There have been a few mediocre Christmas songs in the past - but not that many, either, What there has been, however, is a great deal of utter, utter rubbish Christmas songs. The list is almost endless.

And there have been one or two good songs by, or for, football teams - by New Order for England’s World Cup 1990 bid and, the best, Lightening Seeds for England’s Euro 1996 campaign. But mostly, football songs are just execrable noise pollution, which, cumulatively, are part of the cause, research will reveal one day, of global warming and climate change.

Lech Poznan - first division club; nicknamed the Railwaymen; used to be good until a decade a go, now not so - have gone and done a double-wammy - they have scored a brace - by being a football team which has made a Christmas song! Two crimes in one, just for you this holiday.

It gets worse. The song is a Polish Christmas carol.

The lyrics to Przybieżeli do Betlejem (Shepherds came to Bethlehem) you don’t really need to worry about. It’s the usual stuff. All you need to know to sing along is the chorus, which is “Glory on high, glory on high and peace on earth.” and the repeated phrase by the backing singers “Chwala,” glory!

So, sit back and watch a musical own goal. Merry Christmas Lech!

PS. Correction. I have listened to this a few times now and I am beginning to (cringe) like it! Call a doctor.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Double Life of Senator Piesiewicz

A politician, drugs, prostitutes, blackmail, cross-dressing and video tape. It’s the mix of a tabloid editor’s (wet) dream.

It’s the story of Krzysztof Piesiewicz - screenwriter for Krzysztof Kieslowski, a lawyer who helped in the prosecution of the murderers of Father Popieluszko, and a senator for the Civic Platform party - brought down by his own stupidity and a large dollop of growing media fascination with sleaze in Poland.

Tabloid Super Express published video of Piesiewicz taking a white substance - which appears to be of a recreational nature - in the presence of two prostitutes. Later, a half-conscious, then, even later, unconscious senator, dressed in women’s clothes, is seen having lipstick applied to his face by the gals.

The video results from revenge. Piesiewicz, after meeting one of the girls a couple of times, had promised to find her a job. When he didn’t deliver, a plan to blackmail him emerged. On past occasions, the senator was willing to pay for the women to shut up about the rendezvous, but on the third occasion he refused. So a demand of half a million zloty was made, otherwise they were going to the media.

Piesiewicz, with a late burst of wisdom, decided to go to the police. He now faces drug related charges and the girls face an extortion rap. The women - who police say are part of a gang which tries to blackmail celebrities - are facing blackmail charges.

His party, Civic Platform, has deserted him and suspended his membership. Prime Minister Donald Tusk said today: “It seems his political career is over […] His behaviour is indefensible.”

But wait a minute. The senator is guilty of, essentially, giving way to some basic urges. The fact that he risked so much was probably an added, kinky bonus. But he never gave away state secrets, he never did anything, politically, wrong.

On the other hand, he is the victim of a set up and blackmail. The collusion of this by the media in Poland - a feature of the British media which has become nauseating - is probably the most saddening thing about the whole, sad, story.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

IPN - Polish for 'False Memory Syndrome'?

Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) has accused a diplomat who spent years in a communist prison of being a communist secret agent.

The IPN’s education office released a statement yesterday accusing Maciej Kozlowski - who is currently Deputy Director of the Department of Africa and the Middle East - of being the communist collaborator code-named “Witold”, even though he was arrested for smuggling in copies of the oppositionist Kultura magazine across the Polish-Czechoslovakian border in 1969.

He was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment for spying for the CIA. Koalowski - a former Polish ambassador to Israel (1999-2003) - but was released in 1972.

But the IPN - a body set up in the 1990s to look into Nazi and Communist crimes towards the Polish nation - has forwarded to the prosecutors claims that he falsified a vetting statement - which all public officials must sign - saying he had never collaborated with any communist agents.
The IPN says that Kozlowski worked for the communist Division II Security Service based in Krakow from 1965 to 1969, specialising in counter-British intelligence.

If it is proved that he was, in effect, a double agent, then he would have to leave his post at the Foreign Ministry.

Kozlowski said in a previous case which was dropped in 2000 that if the communist secret services have files on him then it is only because he was an opposition activist, not because he was a spy.

Kaczynski’s historical attack dogs

Since 2005, the IPN has been accused of acting as an organiser and prosecutor of witch hunts against opponents of the Kaczynski twins. The Jaroslaw Kacztynski government (2005-07) widened the institute’s powers and broadened the vetting process against not just public officials but anyone working in the public arena, including journalists (and including the beatroot, even though he is British and was drunk in a university bar in London for most of the 1980s). The Constitutional Tribunal has since ruled that this part of the IPN’s functions was unconstitutional.

But the IPN has continued to spray allegations of communist collaboration around on a daily basis. Earlier this year two historians from the institute released a book, rehashing allegations that Lech Walesa was the 1970s communist collaborator “Bolek”.

Walesa has now taken President Lech Kaczynski to court for slander, after he made the same accusation.

British historian Norman Davies wrote in the Guardian that Poles should find these constant attacks embarrassing. "Those who are once again attacking Lech Walesa's good name must not realise how they are damaging Poland's reputation abroad in doing so. People in the West, in particular, are not aware of the complex nuances of Polish politics. For this reason I hold the view that attacks against Lech Walesa are a deeply unpatriotic act. ... ”

Last week Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced that he wants to de-politicise the work of the IPN. The government has submitted a draft bill which proposes a change in the IPN’s board and a speedier access to files held by them.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party (critics say the IPN is its historical attack dog) has said it will oppose the move.

Ryszard Kalisz from the ex-communist SLD said his party has repeatedly called for abolishment of the IPN. But since that proposal has little support then he would support any legislation which illuminates “pathology” from the work of the institute.

Political sclerosis

The IPN is not just an archive populated by a bunch of dusty historians. It has legal powers to prosecute. As such, it has become the modern day Polish equivalent of Joseph McCarthy. For the current board under its president Janusz Kurtyka, a communist collaborator is someone whose name was held in communist secret service files. For whatever reason. That seems enough to bar them from public service today.

Still, a name is enough for some with an axe to grind. As Salvador Dali said of memory and remembrance: “The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.”

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Jaruzelski asked for 1981 Soviet intervention

Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) is to release documents which appear to show that General Jaruzelski did indeed request support from Moscow if Solidarity protests got out of control.

Professor Antoni Dudek at the institute writes on his blog that the documents - to be released in the IPN’s December bulletin - are records of a conversation between Jaruzelski and General Viktor Kulikov, a commander to the Warsaw Pact alliance on December 9, 1981, four days before the planned Martial Law crackdown.

The communists were hoping that the reaction would be workplace sit-in strikes (as in fact happened in the places like the Wujek coalmine) as these would be containable. But what Jaruzelski feared most was that the protests would spread out onto the streets and into party headquarters.

“If [protests] spread across the country, it's you [the Soviet Union] who will have to help us,” Jaruzelski says, when discussing possible reactions by Solidarity to martial law.

Jaruzelski goes on to say that if the Soviets refuse to help then Poland would consider pulling out of the Warsaw Pact.

Jaruzelski’s demand was discussed at a Politburo meeting the day after in Moscow, where it was turned down. “It‘s too risky,” Yuri Andropov, then head of the KGB is meant to have said, according to other, supportive, documents handed over to Poland by Boris Yeltsin 16 years ago.

Mikhail Suslov - who was effectively leading the Soviets at that time, as the health of Leonid Brezhnev failed - is reported to have said: "So I think we are all here agreed that sending troops in is out of the question."

This all rather contradicts Jaruzelski’s line on declaring martial law 28 years ago, which he has always claimed was an attempt to snuff out any temptation by the Soviets to roll tanks into Poland, as they did in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in 1956.


UPDATE - Lech Wałesa reacted to the news today that documents appear to show Jaruzelski called for Soviet assistance in case of uprisings, or whatever, by saying: “If this is how it looks then General Jaruzelski should be charged with treason….”

UPDATE 2 - Jaruzelski denies allegations

Jaruzelski was on the TV last night denying he ever called for Soviet troops to invade Poland if the Solidarity resistance became violent. “If it were not so sad it would be funny,” he said of the allegations. He then suggested that the documents, if that is what they show, were forgeries.

He repeated that martial law was declared to stop a civil war in Poland. He told the Monika Olejnik show on TVN24 that at a meeting of the Polish Episcopate (November 24/25, 1981) bishops agreed that there was a risk of feticide in Poland.

Of Marshal Viktor Kulikov he said. “I knew Kulikov…but I did not ask him for help. ”

He admitted that he had talked about the possibility of Soviet military intervention with Mikhail Suslov, de facto leader of the Soviet Union at that time. However, he claims that Suslov assured him that martial law would be an internal matter for the Polish government. “I had to make sure whether the threat of intervention was real or not,” Jaruzelski said, adding that he was very afraid that the Kremlin might order in troops. “If that happened it would be [international] war.”

Follow the beatroot on Twitter at babybeat09

Sunday, December 06, 2009

No sex please...we’re Danish?

Something is rotten in the capital of Denmark. Prostitutes are offering free sex in protest against a local government campaign urging Copenhagen climate change delegates to steer clear of the city’s brothels.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, 97 other leaders of governments, 30,000 researchers and delegates from NGOs - plus 5,000 accredited journalists - will not be the only ones showing up this week for the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen. They will be joined by scores of human trafficers and their cargo, if the Copenhagen local government is to be believed.

Copenhagen’s “don’t pay for sex” campaign is in the response - or maybe the fantasy - that the inflow of women sex slaves increases at such large events as the UN climate change conference. The brothels have hit back, saying they will offer free sex. Details of the offer are vague. How will it work? Pay for one bonk, get one free?

The fantasy of thousands of women being trafficked to Copenhagen to service a summit full of tree huggers is a strange one, though, and reminds me of a similar protest by Polish nuns on the eve of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. No such tsunami of human trafficking occurred, but what the hell. These climate change summits attract this kind of miserable-ist, misanthropic loathing of large amounts of humans in one place.

And not being content with warning climate change delegates to steer clear of the bulging brothels, the Danish government has ordered the removal of Christmas trees from the vicinity of the conference halls.

‘We have to remember that this is a UN conference and, as the centre then becomes UN territory, there can be no Christmas trees in the decor, because the UN wishes to maintain neutrality,’ said Denmark’s foreign minister Svend Olling.

Sounds like Copenhagen will be full of more hot air in the coming two weeks than a year’s worth of Poland’s carbon emission permits.

Poland’s Environment Minister resigns

Embarrassingly, Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki - who Super Express calls “Poland‘s least known minister” - has handed in his notice. According to Wprost magazine today, Nowicki claims that he actually has less power than his deputy. Unlike his underling, Nowicki is a non-partisan “expert” in the cabinet and not a Civic Platform member. PM Tusk will not announce the resignation till Tuesday at the next full cabinet meeting. Nowicki will still be going to Copenhagen - hopefully to attend the climate summit and not the brothels - on Monday, however.

Greenpeace hang Tusk in airport

Prime Minister Tusk is one of the targets of Greenpeace protestors at Copenhagen. The environmentalists have hung posters at the city airport with grey-headed heads of government apologising at some future date for not doing more to stop the global warming catastrophe. Tusk joins Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown and others as targets of Greenpeace’s ire.

“We're hoping these ads predict the wrong future -- the one where world leaders look back with a "coulda, shoulda, woulda" attitude at a Copenhagen climate summit which failed,” says the Greenpeace web site.

Poland were one of several of the poorer EU states that held out against Brussels presenting too restrictive a position on CO2 targets at a pre-Copenhagen EU summit at the end of October. Warsaw is worried about being dragged into an agreement whereby they would have to help richer EU states to contribute to developing nations to adapt to global warming.

Much to the annoyance of Gordon Brown and leaders of some of the other western European member states, Poland won the argument - getting the size of any contributions to be on a voluntary basis.

Tusk is also eager to hang to the carbon emissions permit sale scam. After Russia and Ukraine, Poland is the holder of the largest carbon emission permits’ surplus in the world, coming in at around 500 million units for the years 2008 to 2012. The country has been negotiating with other countries interested in purchasing the AAU surplus. It has sold permits to Spain and Ireland worth millions of euros which can make contributions to lowering the government budget deficit, which is going up like a hot air balloon at present.

Three out of four Poles believe that global warming is manmade; one in three believe global warming is a threat to Poland and 62 percent think that we should reduce carbon emmissions, even if this means hikes in the cost of electricity.

The survey by PBS-DGA from a sample of 500 (too small a sample of be reliable, but never mind) finds that Poles are more split on whether the government should sacrifice economic growth in the fight against climate change, however, with 53 percent saying that economic growth could be sacrificed to pay for the battle against climate change.

“The survey‘s good news,” said the now former environment minister Maciej Nowicki, pleased with the level of “awareness” of supposed anthropogenic global warming.

Saturday, December 05, 2009