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List of Polish Spies Leaked On The Internet 336

Posted by timothy
from the here-have-some-szarlotka dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A list of 240,000 names of Polish secret agents, informers, secret service employees, and victims of persecution was leaked on the internet in the last days and became an instant hit. The search for "lista Wildsteina" (Wildstein's list) sky-rocketed to 300,000 per day in the second most popular search engine in Poland (onet.pl) outperforming "sex" (former top query) by more than 30 times. The list appeared on many web sites, p2p networks, and was made into a searchable database. There are worries the list might contain names of active security agents, still working abroad. Google news has more coverage."
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List of Polish Spies Leaked On The Internet

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  • Text of An Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Omkar (618823) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @04:55AM (#11588558) Homepage Journal
    A leaked list containing the names of some 240,000 people who allegedly spied for Poland's former communist regime has overtaken sex as the hottest search item on the Internet in Poland, press reports has said. "This thing is huge. We have recorded around 100,000 Internet searches a day for the list, which is 10 times the number looking for sex," Piotr Tchorzewski, who works at Poland's biggest Internet portal Onet, told Rzeczpospolita daily. The list, which contains in alphabetical order the names of alleged agents and collaborators of the communist-ero secret service, mixed together with the names of those who were allegedly spied on, has also been put up for auction on the Internet, but its bid price late yesterday -- 2.99 zlotys (around 75 euro cents) -- was hardly breaking records. On Onet's web portal, it tops the list of search items, and visitors are referred to 650,000 links for the controversial collection of names that has pushed the attorney general to launch legal proceedings and Prime Minister Marek Belka to express concern for the safety of active intelligence agents whose names "might" be on the list. The list, dubbed the Wildstein List after Bronislaw Wildstein, the journalist who secretly copied it around two weeks ago at the national archives, can change from one Internet consultation to the next, as hackers have been adding or taking off names, press reports said. From The Hindustan Times [hindustantimes.com]
  • Not a list of spies (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2005 @04:57AM (#11588567)
    This is not a list of spies but a list of people who were on the records of former communist Polish spies, which includes spies, would-be-spies, people who refused to be spies and victims of spies. Saying that it is a list of spies is harmful for most of the people from that list. Please don't spread outright lies.
    • by Daleks (226923) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:02AM (#11588582)
      Ah. I thought the number of 240,000 seemed high for spycount for a country the size of Poland. The CIA would be jealous if it had the budget for 240,000 actual clandestine agents.
    • Too late, this is slashdot, no one reads the article.

      • this is slashdot, no one reads the article.
        That sounds rather unlikely, considering the slashdot effect.
        • by psi42 (747491) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @01:08PM (#11590264)
          That sounds rather unlikely, considering the slashdot effect.

          Not any more. Thanks to the wonderful tabbed browsing feature of modern web browsers, slashdotters can now open the story in a new tab, make a comment, and then close the tab holding TFA. This saves slashdotters the time of actually reading an article, but preserves their reputation as heralds of server meltdown.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:28AM (#11588651)
      The better word would be "informers" or "snitches". The point is about people who would snitch on their coworkers or neigbours.

      The problem is, the list does not have any real info what the particular person was doing. They infer record type from file id accompanying the name, but it seems not exact. Then when you find someone you know there, you don't know is he was reporting on you, been spied on, employed in ministry of internal affairs or maybe just "checked out".

      According to one version I was secret police officer. They must have wiped my memory as I can't remember working for them...
    • by maxgilead (243900) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @06:58AM (#11588840)

      There are *only* 240 000 names on that list because it's far from being completed. Leon Kieres, head of Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) [ipn.gov.pl] estimates that completed list will count abount 1.5 MILION of names. Of course, names of spies, would-be spies and their victims, not spies alone (source: article from Gazeta Wyborcza [gazeta.pl]).

      Please also note that name 'spy' used in this news is a bit misleading. They were not James Bond-style spies, they were actually called 'secret collaborators' and most of them spied upon their oppositionist friends, family etc. I suppose in any post-communist their numbers were that high if not higher.

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @08:17AM (#11588992)
      Lies or not, this is a wake-up call for any entity that stores personal data within easy reach of the internet. It is an example of how easily personal data can become public knowledge. The next time you get a virus or piece of spyware on your corporate desktop, think how easily this "program" could be used to target other forms of sensitive information and not just your keystrokes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2005 @04:58AM (#11588571)
    240,000 secret agents?!

    If everybody is a secret agent, it doesn't seem that 'secret' anymore...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      the levels of paranoia and spying ran so deep in some Warsaw Pact countries that ratios as high as 1/7th of the population were in some way affiliated with the intelligence agencies. Romania and East Germany were especially bad in this way.

      There is alot of carryon about Soviet Russia, but post-Stalin it was actually one of the better 'communist' countries in live in. But Yugoslavia was probably the best until it blew up.
    • East Germany had something similar; the Stasi had hundreds of thousands of informers, with them literally being everywhere.
      • The thing is that 95% of these people were not "spies" in the way that we think. They were folks who for an extra few marks or rubles would rat on their neighbors. Most of them were probably old age pensioners for whom an extra loaf of bread once a week would make a *BIG* difference. Eastern Europe under Comunsism was a very poor place.

        • Of course, we think "spies" are like James Bond. Lots of American spies are exactly like these Poles: informants paid by our spy agencies to provide info at least once, perhaps the only info ever gathered was on their husband or carpool. Still sleazy, still valuable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:00AM (#11588574)
    The Department of Homeland Security should definitely do something about this Internet thingy.
    • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:10AM (#11588606)
      They will as soon as the guys over at the National Security Agency will tell them how to use it.

      What do you think all this 'information sharing' is about, anyways.

      It's just a secret plot to rope the guys at the NSA into doing tech support for the other departments.

      "URLs? Um... the CIA told me that they were a mountain range in Western Russia.... Yeah, they seemed pretty sure sir, but I keep typing that in the little white box and it doesn't seem to be able to find them... No sir, I don't know why we're looking for them on the computer. Yes sir, It probably would be easier just to use a map."
    • Not to worry, this came from the spies, and is about spies. It's just as accurate as the reports of imminent attack from iraq, with all the stockpiles of nuclear and chemical weapons they have.
    • The Department of Homeland Security should definitely do something about this Internet thingy.

      Don't you mean these Internet thingies? Do we even know how many of these Internets there are?

  • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:01AM (#11588576)
    Who wouldn't want to have sex with a spy?
    You could play some James Bond theme song in the background for added effect, and even wear an eyepatch.
    • Who wouldn't want to have sex with a spy?

      Damn, I wish I was on that list.
    • You obviously do not know, what communist regime spies were acting like.

      They were searching in the country for evidence of any "unlawful thinking" using any means possible. More like Orwell's "1984".

      Main modes of operation included blackmail and intimidation. When it didn't work, then suspects went to prison or "disappeared" (a.k.a. were assassinated) like famous priest [popieluszko.xt.pl] - Popieluszko [nycgovparks.org].

      • In "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" a Communist agent has sex with one of the heroines and takes pictures for the purpose of blackmail.

        Kundera was sufficiently acquainted with communist regeimes to know what he was writing about.

        So nyahh.
    • True story: my roommate and I were talking about the whole 'don't sleep with your friends' exes rule and agreed that, while on principle this was a good idea for the balance of all relationships concerned, there were also a few stereotypical professions that just HAD to be nailed if the opportunity arose, just...well, because it's the kind of thing that only comes around once. Please note that we both go after women here; can't speak on the other side of the fence.

      One of those stereotypes (apart from the

  • by bbkingadrock (543696) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:01AM (#11588578)
    Hackers are so good with computers, did you read what they can do these days (from an article on google news)

    "hackers have been adding or taking off names"

    that is amazing they have figured out how to compromise the security of a text document and add or delete names from it
    • I'm guessing the Polish ops probably have an interest in compromising various lists and distributing numerous altered copies to do as much as they can to protect their agents.
      • Polish ops now are not similar to PRL's (name of Poland as a communist state) special ops. They don't need that much informers. But rumors are that the list contains the names of active military intelligence officers, also working abroad. If this is true, they're in deep sh..t.
  • Aha! (Score:3, Funny)

    by kaedemichi255 (834073) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:04AM (#11588585)
    At long last I will track down, hunt, and kill my arch nemesis, Polish Sausage!
  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:04AM (#11588587) Homepage
    This is either 1. ironic 2. a Polish strategy for making the list inaccesible
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:05AM (#11588590) Journal
    The search for "lista Wildsteina" (Wildstein's list) sky-rocketed to 300,000 per day in the second most popular search engine in Poland (onet.pl) outperforming "sex" (former top query) by more than 30 times.

    I don't know about you, but I'm going to do my darndest to help make sure this oversight is rectified.
  • OMG (Score:4, Funny)

    by nate nice (672391) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:07AM (#11588597) Journal
    pwned.
  • by ATAMAH (578546) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:07AM (#11588599)
    I can just imagine how it would sound in a movie: My name is Wolschansky, Vojzeh Wolschansky.
  • by splatterboy (815820) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:10AM (#11588605)
    "There are worries the list might contain names of active security agents, still working abroad."

    "There are worries..."?

    There's an understatement.
  • by Cryptnotic (154382) * on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:13AM (#11588614) Homepage
    ...oh wait, nevermind.

  • by flopsy mopsalon (635863) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:18AM (#11588628)
    "If you pick at the scab of history, the blood will flow in the streets. Could there be more appropriate words for this event? I think not.

    Years after the fall of communism, it seems some still bear enough of a grudge at the discredited regime that they will painstakingly assemble and disseminate a long list of names of individuals involved in espionage-related events. That the list was so quickly spread around the net and even turned into a database, together with its phenomenal popularity among internet users, indicated that many in Poland still have axes and possibly even scythes to grind over wrongs perpretrated during the Communist era.

    Doubtless, reputations will be besmirched and careers ruined, some no doubt unjustly. And to what end? The ills of communism were many, but they are in the past. This obssessive assembling of databases serves only to dig up moldering corpses just to piss on their shoes.

    People need to look ahead. Whether it be Poles still smarting over Communist-era misdeeds, Islamic radicals seeking to undo the fall of Muslim civilization, or outraged citizens suing television networks over breasts bared at Superbowl halftime shows, this endless fretting over the past only engenders further dismay. The dead cannot be unkilled, last year's breast cannot be covered today. Let it go.
    • those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it
    • If something like this were released, I suppose the only way to 'hide' it would be to release a bunch of false copies so the information was not reliable.
    • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @06:51AM (#11588826) Journal
      Doubtless, reputations will be besmirched and careers ruined, some no doubt unjustly. And to what end? The ills of communism were many, but they are in the past.

      It's never that simple. The past is always embedded in the present. If you are African-American, you could happily forget the slave past, but you can't escape the question "why my skin color makes it impossible for me to buy a flat in Upper Manhattan?". If you think Central Europe is the only region of the world haunted by ghosts from past crimes... then think again. Or better yet, talk to some Nisei, to some Native Americans or just watch "Graveyard Of The Fireflies" [tcp.com] anime with some Japanese friend. So if you are in Poland, you are more than eager to forget about the communist past. But forget it or not, you will still ask yourself this question: why I am a poor wage-slave or unemploeyd, while my secret service tormentor has now a management position in some state-owned company?
      • But it's not about communist secret service officers. They have good jobs, started their companies or draw good pensions. Except for those which did the most horrendous things, like murder, it's part of the deal we made with the communists in 1989. They gave away the power peacefully, in return they were not harassed or punished for every wrong and immoral thing they did. In this situation, isn't it a bit hypocritical to go after people broken by the secret service and turned into snitches, if we let the ma
      • why I am a poor wage-slave or unemploeyd, while my secret service tormentor has now a management position in some state-owned company?

        You mean why I am black, poor and unemployed while my tormentor, who was one of the most racist politicians in his younger years died as the longest serving US Senator (Strom Thurmond) while a similar one makes a go for it (Robert Byrd)?

        Should we have compiled a list of all of those who spoused racist views? Made it available on the Internet? Denied them jobs?
      • Just felt like adding a quick defense of NYC. There is little to no racism in the housing market here. Redlining has been gone for twenty years, and while descrimination certainly occurs on a socio-economic basis, a wealth african american family will find purchasing a condo just as easy as a wealthy white family.

        Of course if your poor in NYC (Earn less then 100k) you can forget about purchasing property anywhere on the island.

      • Er, I agree with you, but your example is bad. "Upper Manhattan" is more accurately named as "Harlem", known for dark-skinned people, from African to Caribbean in ancestry. And even in the "Upper East Side" (billionaire neighborhood actually), it's usually possible to buy an apartment with real money, regardless of one's ancestry. Though it is more difficult for non-WASPs generally, an unacceptable situation. New York City remains one of the most accessible places in the world for people of any ancestry to
    • by Zoop (59907) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @09:38AM (#11589178)
      Now substitute "Nazi" or "Apartheid" or "Abu Ghraib" for "Communist", and see if you believe your own argument.

      The truth commission in South Africa is there for a reason. The "Communist Era" as you call it is not even as far back as World War Two--it only ended in 1989. There were atrocities committed. In much of Eastern Europe there has been insufficient lustration, and at the very least something like the Truth Commission would help deal with the lingering resentments people feel. If someone does something and seems to have gotten away with it, you are much more likely to bear a grudge than if they do something but are forced to come clean about it.

      Let's put it this way--if Guantanamo becomes a camp for political dissenters in the U.S. and you're an American, would you not want to know which of your neighbors were collaborating with the government to send people there? Wouldn't you want the stories out to provide a lesson so history isn't repeated?

      In Lithuania I met a Russian who had been in the KGB prison in Vilnius for 11 years. He took us on a tour of the prison and explained how they would be chained to the ground in unheated rooms (it was -20C outside during the tour), showing us a padded room (with blood-stained burlap still on the walls) where they beat people regularly and fired guns over their heads.

      There's a weird disconnect in the West that says that, because the goal was social justice, we should overlook the "excesses" of Communism and not regard their crimes the way Naziism or Apartheid or the genocide in Rwanda is regarded. I think it's this willing amnesia that is at the heart of the problem--we can avoid the messy questions that someone in South Africa or Rwanda has to live with on a daily basis if we all pretend it was a gigantic comedy of errors or a period of simply unskillful government.

      The same lack of memory, incidentally, can be said for the South's attitude toward the civil rights struggle in the United States, though at least some criminals are being prosecuted--but hardly enough.

      How can we argue that the rest of the world should follow our enlightened example if we're unwilling to look carefully at our own past?
      • I think you're missing the point: it's not about the ideology, it's about the people following it; more specifically, to what level and what degree.

        A bit of perspective here: my father's family are Russian and Lithuanian Jews, and a good 2/3 of them simply vanished in the Holocaust. I'm very glad that the Allies after the war prosecuted the top Nazis, and that later, they and other countries (particularly Israel, for obvious reasons) put a great deal of time and effort into tracking down the ones who esc
    • The Soviet Empire ran, as evidenced by the numbers of people on this list, a large system of snitches.

      We can only benefit from today's snitches considering if they will be on tommorow's list.
    • by abulafia (7826)
      Stab any evil institution in the heart and what spills out? People.

      What better way to make sure evil institutions don't rebuild? Punish the people involved.

    • Everything's in the past, starting from right now.

      Where do you draw the line? If I killed a friend of yours, it's in the past as soon as I've done it. By your advice, shouldn't you just "let it go?"

      The idea of punishment as a deterrant is founded on the principle of NOT letting it go.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    he completed 52 missions.
  • 1989 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r84x (650348) <r84x@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:44AM (#11588678) Homepage Journal
    It was only 16 years ago that Poland [wikipedia.org] threw off communism with the first free elections in the former Soviet bloc. This list likely contains the names of people that did great harm to others (and also many unrelated people). To simply write offf the list as something that should be forgotten, as some have suggested, would be foolish. We as americans must still atone for injustices done to others during the civil rights era, and many europeans are still dealing with the spectres of war from sixty years ago. To "forget" something that happened as recently as sixteen years is foolish and unreasonable.
    • Re:1989 (Score:3, Informative)

      It was only 16 years ago that Poland threw off communism with the first free elections in the former Soviet bloc. This list likely contains the names of people that did great harm to others (and also many unrelated people). To simply write offf the list as something that should be forgotten, as some have suggested, would be foolish.

      It's not that simple. Surely this list contains the names of people that did great harm - but it also contains the names of people that were harmed. It's just a catalog of eve
  • Thank you Slashdot! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:57AM (#11588708)
    Thank you Slashdot! I'm from Poland and exactly here's the first time I'm reading about this. But I'm a bit worried also. My family name is very popular on the list.
    But seriously, most of you got the wrong idea about this thing. Of course it's not like we had 240,000 Bonds here. Those posts mentioning 'snitchers' ('denunciators' maybe) are closer to the real image.
  • Similar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by simgod (563459) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:58AM (#11588709)
    A similar incident happened in Slovenia a year ago, where an Australian (moved there after WW2) published the list of people who spied and people who were beeing watched by the Yugoslavian secret police UDBA.
    First the government tried to block access to the list's server, but soon all the people who were interested learned how to use a proxy connection. Their server was slashdotted for a month, becuse the idiot put the list in 800K jpg pictures and so the whole thing was something like 40 GB and difficult to search. After the initial "shock" in the media and public, a month after nobody, there was hardly any interest for the list anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For certain people to blame p2p of supporting terrorism...
  • by QuaZar666 (164830) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @06:18AM (#11588758)
    In case anyone wants to read the list you can get the torrent Here. [torrentreactor.net]

    - Qua
  • by Nemesis242 (771336) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @06:45AM (#11588810)
    1 - Try enforcing Patents in EU
    2 - Be blocked by Polish vote
    3 - Pull your strings in the CIA
    4 - Dump Polish spy/snitch/etc names on P2P
    5 - Tell Polish officials next time will be worse
    6 - Try enforcing Patents in EU...again...
    7 - Have the Polish vote in favor
    8 - Profit!
    9 - BTW, accuse P2P of potential danger to US spies also
    10 - Have congress pass laws against anything P2P related
    11 - Profit! Again!

    PS: later on...

    12 - Prove that Windows is P2P because you can share folders and have others search them
    13 - Make Windows illegal
    14 - Prove that all other OS's suffer from the same
    15 - Ban OS's... ban computers... ban technology...
    16 - Go live in a cave
    17 - De-evolve
    18 - Become extinct
    19 - Earth Profits!!! ;-P
  • Some other facts... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @06:48AM (#11588818) Homepage Journal
    1. Mr. Wildstein, the journalist who stole the list, got fired. Now the journalist community boils about this apparent "limiting of free speech". (imo free speech is the right to reveal your own opinions, not stealing others' secrets)

    2. The problem with the list is that it contains hardly more info than just names. It is known to contain names of active agents, names of those who cooperated, and names of people, who were observed and potentially viable for "recruitment" even though the contact between the secret service and them never happened. All mixed together and not distinguished from each other in any readable way (just keycode(hash) used in others, non-leaked documents). So the presence on the list may mean trouble to many innocents, because paranoid employes, friends and such may suspect them even if they are not guilty of anything.
  • by mc6809e (214243) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @07:24AM (#11588891)
    Yeah, they're funny, but try not to take it too far.

    The Polish have really had a hard time. There even was a "Polish holocaust". [holocaustforgotten.com] Seriously.

    Never heard of it?

    That's how successful it was.

    • by mc6809e (214243) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @07:28AM (#11588902)
      Some more facts [holocaustforgotten.com] about the Polish Holocaust":

      "During the period of the Holocaust of World War II, Poland lost:

      45% of her doctors,
      57% of her attorneys
      40% of her professors,
      30% of her technicians,
      more than 18% of her clergy
      most of her journalists. "

      [snip]
      "Non-Jews of Polish descent suffered over 100,000 deaths at Auschwitz. The Germans forcibly deported approximately 2,000,000 Polish Gentiles into slave labor for the Third Reich. The Russians deported almost 1,700,000 Polish non-Jews to Siberia. Men, women and children were forced from their homes with no warning. Transferred in cattle cars in freezing weather, many died on the way. Polish children who possessed Aryan-looking characteristics were wrenched from their mother's arms and placed in German homes to be raised as Germans. "
      • by MSBob (307239) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @06:36PM (#11592423)
        Thank you. It is such a forgotten issue in the whole discussion about holocaust. While it's true that most of the Poles who died from German and Soviet hands weren't actually gassed doesn't mean they had it any better than the Jews. Most were actually starved to death while in forced labour. Hardly a better alternative to a gas chamber.

        There is no international medial voice equivalent to Steven Spielberg to highlight the horrors of holocaust. Conversely, the recent holocaust movie by Polanski ("The Pianist") skewed the picture of life outside the Warsaw ghetto. Watching that movie one may infer that life in nazi occupied Poland continued pretty much as before the war. That is blatently untrue. Listening to the accounts of old Warsovians, life in Warsaw was incredibly tough (food shortages, no heating fuel) coupled with constant persecution by Gestapo and of course snatching people from streets to send them to forced labour camps.

        Poland needs its own Steven Spielberg.

        • Anyone familiar with the history of the second world war should be aware that one of the goals of germans was the systematic extermination of polish intelligentsia. which they've done with a great zeal. the modern-days revisionists (those denying the holocaust alltogether) refer to this fact as 'some misunderstanding between the Germany and Poland'. unfortunately, not many people today are familiar with the history, in general.
  • This wouldn't have happened had the software patents been legal in EU:

    EP5506624: System and method for publishing information about a plurality of secret agents on an Internet compatible system

  • by Eminence (225397) <akbrandt.gmail@com> on Sunday February 06, 2005 @09:22AM (#11589124) Homepage
    Now that's a surprise that this has made its way to Slashdot. The problem is that unless you are from one of the former soviet bloc countries you won't get it.

    Of course there are English native speakers who do get it - people like Norman Davies [wikipedia.org] or Timothy Garton Ash [wikipedia.org], who studied the subject at length. Actually, if you want to understand just a bit of what it is all about read Timothy's book, The File [amazon.com]. In that he describes how it all looked like in former East Germany, the only place where they have dealt with communist secret police and its informers in the proper way. Just one piece of information - one third of the population there was informing on the remaining two thirds. Let me repeat that again - out of three East-Germans one was an informer. Do you, dear Americans or British, can imagine at all what it was to live in a society like this? No? Just what I thought.

    And we have no real reason to believe that the proportions were significantly different in other soviet bloc countries. After all secret police in each of those countries was organized along the same good soviet guidelines and under careful, loving supervision by soviet KGB personnel. The only problem is that while in Germany and the Czech Republic they have got rid of the former informers and officers of these secret police organizations from the public life and allowed former victims to learn the (sometimes painful) truth about who informed on them - not in Poland. In Poland former communist officials run the government now and the former secret police officers and informers do very well, many of them forming now the business elite of the now supposedly free and democratic country. For years they have done an excellent job at preventing any attempts to actually reveal who was the scum and snitcher and who wasn't.

    But finally some of the data has spilled, the amount of interest shows clearly that people do care who was who and thanks to Internet, p2p networks and stuff no one can prevent this. And that's the point of having it up on Slashdot I guess.

    Which, BTW, shows that unless you start shooting people in the head with actual, real lead bullets (like in China) they will share whatever files they like and find worth it. Sorry MPAA, RIAA and any other AA out there. No matter how many lawsuits you will create you can't win. Unless you'll start shooting people. But that works only in China for now, and they don't care about copyrights anyway, sorry.

    • Many of those working for the Stasi were so-called Inoffiziale Mitarbeiters (unofficial workers). I don't know any IMs in Germany but a friend of mine who is Russian was an interpreter during the Moscow olympics. She was just supposed to look after a bus load of visitors and report on anything interesting to the KGB. She ended up just making up some rubbish which took the heat away from the KGB and wouldn't get anyone into trouble. I guess that when you cooerce people into being informers, many end up fabri
      • by Eminence (225397) <akbrandt.gmail@com> on Sunday February 06, 2005 @07:42PM (#11592767) Homepage

        She ended up just making up some rubbish which took the heat away from the KGB and wouldn't get anyone into trouble. I guess that when you cooerce people into being informers, many end up fabricating the product.

        I guess that if you believe what she said then you really don't get the way it work. You see KGB and their little brothers throughout "satellite countries" were not stupid. Ruthless, devoid of human feelings, totally immoral and sometimes corrupt - yes. Stupid - no. With informer penetration of one third of the society cross-checking the reports sounds like an easy thing to do. And it was frequently done. First, to ensure the system delivered real information. Second, to ensure that the informer would believe his handler (officer who recruited him and was overseeing him, meeting him - or her in the case of your Russian friend) knows everything anyway.

        Now, guess what would happen when someone going on that bus would do something strange, out of ordinary by soviet standards back then - like, say, ask this friend of yours what does she think about Chernenko (or whoever was running that place then) or the communism in general - do you think she would hesitate for a moment in reporting that to her KGB handler? Not one. And not because she is (or was) a particularly bad person, no, because she would be afraid, really scared, of what might happen to her if she didn't report that - but someone else did. Her handler has from day one worked hard on ensuring that this fear would be with her, always. They were very effective at putting fear into people's mind, the whole system was - some people in Poland were afraid to, say, sign a petition against government years after 1989.

        And while dealing with a secret police there is no such thing as an innocent report that for sure won't get anyone in trouble. Something that looks innocent to an informer might be the missing part of a bigger puzzle for an officer.

        The point is - despite all the horrors of the system by seventies and eighties it lost much of its bloodthirsty jaws it had in the Stalin era. And there was a choice, you didn't have to be informant if you didn't want to. You also didn't have to join the communist party. Sure, you had to accept though, that you won't advance in your career, won't get a new car and a flat to live in. And, in some cases, your little sins like cheating on your wife would be exposed. Or you would have to serve that one month prison term for drunk-driving. Or, in the case of your Russian friend, you wouldn't be allowed to do a lucrative and pleasant job of showing foreigners around at the Olympics. But at least you didn't become a part of the system that was destroying your own nation. That wasn't as brave as die on a barricade or something, but nevertheless that was bravery. And many, many people were that brave back then. The fact that those who weren't were not even named... is a shame.

  • by MSBob (307239) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @08:28PM (#11592996)
    One of my uncles is definitely on that list. Now, I know for a fact that it is him because of his pretty uncommon first name and his very uncommon last name. There are very, very few Poles who bear his last name...

    Anyway, my point is, in the '80s he was actually on the other side of the fence, working for the opposition. In 1981 when the communist government introduced the martial law and outlawed Solidarity which was quickly followed by massive detentions he was one of those detained. I remember it well as my mother came home crying that her brother was snatched by WRON (the martial law enforcement agency formed after instituting the martial law) in the middle of the night and detained god knows where. He was released a few weeks later after being forced to sign some shit declaring that he would not work to subvert the communist government ever again. This is most likely why he's on the Wildstein list.

    Of course, right after his release it was business as usual for him: printing Solidarity leaflets, distributing Solidarity news magazines and smuggling letters from the loved ones out of the detention centers.

    I'm quite angry this list has surfaced as it tarnishes my uncle's name who actually fought the regime and risked his safety numerous times in defending the cause (and no he was not an informant or a double agent).

    I just hope this list isn't taken too seriously and does not lead to a witch hunt of sorts because a lot of innocent people will be harmed (though my uncle is "safe" in this respect: he died of a stroke about ten years ago).

What hath Bob wrought?

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