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List of Polish Spies Leaked On The Internet 336

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:19AM (#11588630)
    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.
  • 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.
  • wow (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Bolshoy Pimpovich ( 846605 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @06:31AM (#11588782)
    being a Russian-speaking American of Polish/Czech descent, and growing up in a Polish naighborhood in a major American city... I can say that some form of every slovak last name I could think of from my neighborhood is on that list... they may have well posted a by-name roster of the population of eastern Europe... wtf...

    nothing to see here, move along

  • 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. "

    "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. "
  • 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.

  • by hughk ( 248126 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:45PM (#11590929) Journal
    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 fabricating the product.
  • 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.

  • 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).

  • by porky_pig_jr ( 129948 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @01:13AM (#11594198)
    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.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.