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The Ministry of Public Security of Poland (Polish: Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or MBP) was a Polish communist secret police, intelligence and counter-espionage service operating from 1945 to 1954. Its main goal was the erradication of the anti-communist structures and socio-political base of the underground Polish Secret State as well as the persecution of soldiers of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and Freedom and Independence (WiN) active during World War II. In that capcity, MPB remained known mainly through its own regional offices called Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or UBP (Office of Public Security, official name); and Urząd Bezpieczeństwa or UB (Office, or Department of Security).[1]

Office of Public Security regional location in Szczecin, Poland



The PKWN Manifesto, issued on 22 July 1944

In July 1944, behind the Soviet-German front, a Polish provisional government called the Polish Committee of National Liberation (Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego) or PKWN, was established in Chełm with Soviet approval and backing. Within the PKWN's internal structure, there were thirteen departments called Resorty. One of these was the Department of Public Security (Resort Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego) or RBP, headed by Stanisław Radkiewicz.

On 31 December 1944, the PKWN was joined by several members of the Polish government in exile, among them Stanisław Mikołajczyk (later chased out of the country). PKWN was then transformed into Provisional Government of Republic of Poland (Polish: Rząd Tymczasowy Republiki Polskiej or RTRP). All departments were renamed: the Department of Public Security became the Ministry of Public Security (Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego) or MBP.

MBP tasks and numbers

From the end of 1940s to 1954, the Ministry of Public Security, operating alongside the Ministry of Defence, was one of the largest and most powerful institutions in post war People's Republic of Poland.

The Ministry of Public Security was responsible for internal and foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, monitoring anti-state activity in Poland and abroad, monitoring government and civilian communications, supervision of the local governments, maintaining a militsiya, maintaining prisons, fire services, rescue services, and border patrol.

In July 1947, the MBP absorbed 2nd Section of General Staff of the Polish People's Army, Polish Military Intelligence. Military intelligence was joined together with the civilian intelligence to become Department VII of Ministry of Public Security.
In 1950s Ministry of Public Security employed around 32,000 people. MBP also had control over 41,000 soldiers and officers of the Internal Security Corps (Korpus Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego), 57,000 officers in the Civil Militia (Milicja Obywatelska), 32,000 officers and soldiers in the Border guard (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza), 10,000 prison officers (Straż Więzienna), and 125,000 members of Volunteer Reserves of the Citizens Militia (Ochotnicza Rezerwa Milicji Obywatelskiej).


From January 1945 and on, Ministry of Public Security structure organisation was changed constantly as the Ministry expanded. It was divided into departments and each department was divided into sections and entrusted with different tasks.
In January 1945, the largest and the most important department in MBP organisation was Department I, responsible for counter-espionage and anti-state activities, and headed by Roman Romkowski (born Natan Grinszpan-Kikiel).
Department I was divided on Section: each responsible with different tasks -

  1. Fighting German espionage and Nazi underground remaining in Poland
  2. Fighting reactionary underground
  3. Fighting political banditry
  4. Protection of the national economy
  5. Protection of legal political parties from outside (underground) penetration.
  6. Prison
  7. Observation
  8. Investigations

Except for departments and sections which were created for RBP (Resort Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego) organization, then in Junuary 1945 become part of MBP, two new departments were created. September 6, 1945, from existing structure of Department II there additional departments were created, they were - Department IV commanded by Aleksander Wolski-Dyszko, Department V commanded by Julia Brystygier, and Department VI headed by Teodor Duda.
In July 1946, further changes were enacted. MBP was divided into eight (8) departments, five of which dealt with operational cases; they were:

Dep 1 – Counter-espionage
Dep 2 – Technical operations and technology
Dep 3 – Fighting underground resistance
Dep 4 – Protection of economy
Dep 5 – Counteraction of hostile penetration and church influences

In June 1948 the Secret Office was established for internal counter-intelligence. The Special Office conducted surveillance on members of the MPB itself. On 2 March 1949, the Special Bureau was established, renamed in 1951 simply as Department X. Department X conducted surveillance of high ranking members of the Polish United Workers' Party and people associated with them.


Ministry of Public Security structure (1951 and 1953)

Ministry of Public Security organization for 1953, (Organizacja Ministerstwa Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego na rok 1953, M Malinowski)
Minister of Public Security - Stanisław Radkiewicz
1st vice-minister – Roman Romkowski
2nd vice-minister – Mieczysław Mietkowski
3rd vice-minister  – Konrad Świetlik
4th vice-minister – Wacław Lewikowski
  • Department I – Counter-intelligence - headed by col. Stefan Antosiewicz
  • Department II – Operative Technology and records - headed by col. Leon Rubinstein
  • Department III – Fighting bandits - headed by col. Józef Czaplicki
  • Department IV – Protection of economy - headed by col. Józef Kratko
  • Department V – Religious political and social organizations - headed by col. Julia Brystiger
  • Department VI – Prisons - headed by col. Władysław Pisło
  • Department VII – Intelligence - headed by col. Witold Sieniewicz
  • Department of Investigations – headed by col. Józef Różański
  • Department for Training – headed by mjr. Zdzisław Szymaczak
  • Department of Staff – headed by col. Mikołaj Orechwa
  • Department for Government Protection – headed by col. Faustym Grzybowski
  • Department of Transport – headed by col. Czesław Radzicki
  • Department of Communications – headed by col. Feliks Suczek
  • Special Bureau – headed by col. Anatol Fejgin
  • Bureau for control – headed by ?
  • Bureau of foreign passports – headed by lt. col. Władyslaw (Spychaj) Sobczyński
  • Bureau of Budget and Finances – headed by lt./lt. col. Szymon Ela Tenenbaum
  • Bureau A (Observation of suspicious element) [suspect] – headed by ?
  • Bureau B (Central archives) – headed by col. Zygmunt Okręt (Izrael Nachemiasz)

MBP in field

Ministry of Public Security field organization, 1953

All over Poland Ministry of Public Security had offices. There was one or more MBP office in each voivodeship) each called Voivode Office of Public Security (Wojewódzki Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, or WUBP). Each WUBP had 308 MBP officers and employees. Beside WUBP there were City Offices of Public Security (Miejski Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, or MUBP), it had 148 MPB officers and employees, District Office of Public Security (Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or PUBP), witch 51 officers and employees, and Communal Office of Public Security (Gminny Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, or GUBP), it was stationed in local militsiya precincts (MO), and it had 3 security (UBP) officers.

In 1953, in the field there were 17 Voivode Offices of Public Security (WUBP), 2 City Offices of Public Security on law of WUBP. There were 268 District Offices of Public Security (PUBP) and 5 City Offices of Public Security (MUBP), which operated as District Office of Public Security (PUBP). All employed 33,200 permanent officers, of which 7,500 were in Warsaw headquarters. According to professor Andrzej Paczkowski in 1953, there was one MBP (or-UB) officer to 800 citizens. Never in the 45 year old history, of People's Republic of Poland, were its civil special services formations so large in numbers.

Soviet control and political repressions

Ivan Serov, first main Soviet advisor to MBP

Political and military dependence of the People's Republic of Poland on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was easily visible in post-war Poland. It was particularly visible in the command and administrative structure of the armed forces and special services organs, Intelligence Counter-intelligence and Internal security, civilian - Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego (Ministry of Public Security (MBP) and military - Główny Zarząd Informacji Wojska Polskiego (Main Directorate of Information of the Polish Army). The work of these special organs was the main guarantee of political control the new Polish socialist state after the Second World War.

The Soviet Union provided plenty of assistance to the MPB in the form of advisors. These advisors were well trained and highly experienced intelligence and counter-intelligence officers, from services such as NKGB, NKVD, GRU and SMERSH, and in later years MGB, MVD and KGB. The first Soviet chief advisor to the MPB was Major General Ivan Serov, an experienced officer familiar with Soviet security organs. In 1939 Serov was appointed to the position of deputy commander, later commander of Soviet militsiya within the structure of the NKVD. Later he was nominated chief of the Secret Political Department (SPO) of the GUGB/NKVD, before becoming People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1941-1945, he was the First Deputy People's Commissar of the State Security and later - Deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR. When he become main advisor to the MBP in March 1945, as a general, Ivanov oversaw the apprehension 16 polish underground resistance leaders. The Ministry of Public Security was very famous for its repressive nature. It played an important role in the so called Trial of the Sixteen.

Armia Krajowa structures had been infiltrated by NKGB and NKVD agents, with assistance from members of the People's Guard (Gwardia Ludowa) later renamed the People's Army (Armia Ludowa) during German occupation of Poland. When the Red Army entered Polish territory, the new Ministry of Public Security, coupled with Main Directorate of Information of the Polish Army quickly arrested members of the resistance who were opposed to Communist ideas and ideology. Dissident members of the Armia Krajowa were imprisoned, executed or deported to the Soviet GULAG system.[2]

Soviet chief advisors to the Ministry of Public Security from 1945 - 1954

  • 1945 – Ivan Serov (Major General)
  • 1945-1946 – Nikolai Selvanovsky (Major General)
  • 1946-1950 – Semyon Davydov (Colonel)
  • 1950-1953 – Mikhail Bezborodov (Colonel)
  • 1953 – Nikolai Kovalshuk (Lieutenant General)
  • 1953-1954 – Serafim Lialin


Józef Światło

In November 1953, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party Bolesław Bierut asked Politbiuro member Jakub Berman to send MBP Lieutenant Colonel Józef Światło on an important mission to East Berlin. Światło, deputy head of MBP Department X, together with Colonel Anatol Fejgin, were asked to consult with the East German Ministry for State Security's chief Erich Mielke about eliminating Wanda Brońska.

The two officers traveled to Berlin and spoke with Mielke. On 5 December 1953, the day after meeting Mielke, Światło defected to the United States through their military mission in West Berlin. The next day, American military authorities transported Światło to Frankfurt and by December, Światło had been flown to Washington D.C, where he underwent an extensive debriefing.

Światło's defection was widely publicized in the United States and Europe by the American authorities, as well as in Poland via Radio Free Europe, embarrassing the authorities in Warsaw. Światło had intimate knowledge of the internal politics of the Polish government, especially the activities of the various secret services. Over the course of the following months, American newspapers and Radio Free Europe reported extensively on political repression in Poland based on Światło revelations, including the torture of prisoners under interrogation and politically motivated executions. Światło also detailed struggles inside the Polish United Workers' Party.

Among other activities, Światło had been ordered to falsify evidence that was used to incriminate Władysław Gomułka, who he personally arrested. He had also arrested and falsified evidence against Marian Spychalski, the future Minister of National Defence, who was at the time a leading politician and high ranking military officer.

1954 reorganization

The highly publicized defection of Colonel Światło, not to mention the general hatred of the Ministry of Public Security among Polish public led to changes in late 1954. In December of that year, the Polish Council of State and the Council of Ministers decided to replace the ministry with two separate administrations: the Committee for Public Security (Komitet do Spraw Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego or KDSBP), headed by Władysław Dworakowski, and (Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnętrznych or MSW), headed by Władysław Wicha. The number of employees of the Committee for Public Security was cut by 30% in central headquarters and by 40-50% in local structures. The huge network of secret informers was also substantially reduced and the most implicated functionaries of the Ministry of Public Security were arrested. Surveillance and repressive activities were reduced; in the majority of factories, special cells of public security, set up to spy on workers, were secretly closed.

The Committee for Public Security took responsibility for intelligence and counter-espionage, government security and the secret police. From September 3, 1955 to November 28, 1956 it also controlled the Polish Army's Main Directorate of Information (Główny Zarząd Informacji Wojska), which ran the Military Police and counter espionage service. The Ministry of Internal Affairs was responsible for the supervision of local governments, the Milicja Obywatelska police force, correctional facilities, fire and rescue forces, and the border guard. In 1956 the Committee was dissolved, most of its functions merged into Ministry of Internal Affairs; the secret police was renamed to the 'Security Service' (Służba Bezpieczeństwa).

Most notable MBP personnel

Notable people killed by the MBP

See also


  • Leszek Pawlikowicz, Tajny Front Zimnej Wojny: Uciekinierzy z polskich służb specjalnych 1956-1964, Oficyna Wydawnicza RYTM, 2004, 1st edition
  • Henryk Piecuch, Akcje Specjalne: Od Bieruta do Ochaba, (part of a series: Tajna Historia Polski, Agencja Wydawnicza CB, Warszawa, 1996 (English: Special Operations: from Bierut to Ochab, Secret History of Poland series, Warsaw 1996)
  • Nigel West, Trzecia Tajemnica: Kulisy zamachu na Papieża (English: The Third Secret, Behind the Assacination Attempt on the Pope), publ. in Sensacje XX Wieku
  • Metody Pracy Operacyjnej Aparatu Bezpieczństwa wobec kościołów i związków zawodowych 1945-1989, IPN, Warszawa, 2004 (Methods of operative work of Security organs against churches and trade unions 1945-1989, published by Institute of National Remembrance)
  • Normam Polmar, Thomas Allen - Księga Szpiegów (The Book of Spies), Wydawnictwo Magnum, Warszawa, 2000
  • Zbigniew Błażyński, Mówi Józef Światło: Za kulisami bezpieki i partii 1940-1955, Warszawa 2003

External links


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