Polish Cold War hero honoured with monument

A monument honouring Ryszard Kukliński, a Polish army colonel who worked for the CIA during the communist era, has been erected in the southern city of Kraków.

The monument, which comes in the form of a thought-provoking symbolic design, is due to be officially unveiled in a square in the historic Polish city in early June.

The more than nine-metre-tall structure has cost almost PLN 1.5 million (EUR 360,000, USD 440,000) to build, Monika Chylaszek, a spokeswoman for Kraków’s mayor, has told Poland’s PAP news agency.

The square holding the monument is named after Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, a World War II hero who spent his life fighting for an independent Poland and headed the Polish section of Radio Free Europe for two decades during the Cold War era.

Kukliński passed top-secret Warsaw Pact documents to the CIA between 1971 and 1981, including plans for a military onslaught on the West and for the imposition of martial law in Poland to crush the Solidarity movement.

Shortly after the declaration of martial law in December 1981, Kukliński was extracted from Poland by the CIA, along with his family.

In 1984, a military court in Warsaw sentenced him to death in absentia. The sentence was annulled after the fall of communism in Poland in 1989.

Kukliński died in the United States on February 11, 2004 at the age of 73.

He is buried at Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery and was posthumously promoted to general by Polish President Andrzej Duda in 2016.

A former CIA liaison officer has described Kukliński as a “fervent patriot” who decided to work for the CIA because he was convinced that “in the geopolitical situation of the time the United States was the only country which was able to come to Poland’s assistance.”

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