Poland bows for patriotic informer general

A monument commemorating the late Polish general and a former CIA agent Ryszard Kukliński was unveiled in Kraków. Photo: PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk

For almost a decade, he passed Soviet-led Warsaw Pact military secrets to US intelligence. Under the communist rule in Poland he was sentenced to death. Now, a monument in the honour of one of the heroes of Poland’s independence is unveiled.

“The late general Kukliński was an extraordinary person, a person to whom we owe more than we can possibly imagine” Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said in a written address for the occasion. “A person, who seeing the threat of doom cast its shadow over his homeland and in turn over the entire globe, decided to act and face the Empire of Evil on his own,” Mr Duda added.

Under a codename Gull, Colonel Kuklinski spied for the CIA. from Warsaw for nine years in the 1970's and early 1980's.

He covertly provided the United States with 35,000 pages of mostly Soviet secret documents about Warsaw Pact's strategic plans regarding the use of nuclear weapons, technical data and military equipment, as well as the intelligence methods used by the Soviets.

Colonel Kuklinski is also credited with informing the CIA about plans afoot to impose martial law in in Poland 1981 that cracked down on the Solidarity pro-democratic dissident movement.

In 1981 Colonel Kuklinski and his family left Poland for the United States. Once his activities were revealed, on May 23, 1984 Kukliński was sentenced to death in absentia. After the fall of communism, the sentence was changed to 25 years. and later, in 1995 the court cancelled his sentence and said that Kuklinski was acting under special circumstances that warranted a higher need. Kukliński visited Poland again in April 1998.

The Kraków’s monument is in the shape of an arch that rises above concrete blocks, symbolizing the fall of communism. The writing on the blocks describes Mr Kukliński’s life, as well as informing about the most important events of that era- such as the election of John Paul II to the Papacy in 1978, or the founding of the Solidarity movement in 1980.

Colonel Kukliński died in Florida in 2004, at the age of 74. A 2014 movie entitled “Jack Strong,” starring Patrick Wilson and Marcin Dorociński was based on Colonel’s Kukliński life.