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Lustration Clears Official

By on December 29, 2014

Brooklyn, N.Y. – An attempt to discredit the Downstate New York Division of the Polish American Congress and one of its vice presidents, Szczepan Janeczko, needed Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (Institut Pamieci Narodowej-IPN) to step in and clear him of false accusations. These accusations attributed Communist connections to him during the years he lived in Poland when the country was still ruled by a Communist regime.

The dishonest charges were made in an anonymous letter to the PAC’s National President, Frank Spula, in Chicago. Mr. Spula considered it an awkward attempt to smear the leadership of one of his organization’s most successful divisions and dismissed it entirely.

In photo:  Vice President Szczepan Janeczko (seated left) shows Grazyna Michalski, Treasurer of the Downstate N.Y. Division of the Polish American Congress, a letter from Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance clearing him of false accusations he had Communist connections when he still lived in Communist-controlled Poland. Standing and looking on are Chet Szarejko, Chair of the PAC Political Activities Committee (left) and NY PAC President Frank Milewski. Photo by Polish American Congress

Having known and worked with Mr. Janeczko for many years, the New York Congress urged him to contact the Institute of National Remembrance to check its records and stop the harassment of this anonymous letter writer. “Everyone was sure the Institute would give someone, as patriotic and as dedicated to the Church as Mr. Janeczko, a complete clearance,” said Frank Milewski, president of the Downstate Congress.

“Mr. Janeczko now has proof of his innocence and, as Americans of Polish descent, we all got a taste how this plague of Communism just doesn’t want to go away. So far, we don’t have any proof who wrote that slanderous letter. We can only suspect,” he said.

As one of the Polish American community’s most anti-Communist organizations, he also explained how the PAC had been deeply involved in supporting the Polish trade union, Solidarity, in its successful fight against Poland’s former Communist rulers.

“We organized and led pro-Solidarity demonstrations on the streets of New York from 1980 to 1988,” he said. Other PAC divisions did the same in the other American cities where they were located.

“The Communist regime hated us for it,” and warned the Polish American Congress not to interfere in Communist Poland’s “internal affairs,”

In addition to his position as vice president of the New York PAC, Mr.Janeczko is national president of the Sea League PL (Liga Morska). The Sea League frequently acts as color guard at patriotic and religious events held in New York.

One of these events is the annual outdoor commemoration the Polish American Congress sponsors to the memory of the heroic Polish priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, whom the Communists murdered in 1984.

“This vicious letter was meant to injure Mr.Janeczko and damage his reputation with the Polish clergy in New York’s Catholic parishes. It failed. Mr.Janeczko’s reputation is now stronger than ever,” said Milewski.

Lustration (known in the Polish language as lustracja) is the procedure Mr. Janeczko followed to contact the Institute of National Remembrance and ask this investigative agency to help clear his name.

– Frank Milewski



  • PoloniaSF strona_w_sieci

    Someone from PAC asked me a very specific question about this subject. I would like all interested persons to have the benefit of knowing my thoughts on the subject as I spent several years exploring the issues of lustration, including more than 300 hours (three hundred) spent at IPN archives reading rooms and about 80 hours at the archives of the Polish Foreign Ministry in Warsaw.

    I do not know the essence of accusations against Mr. Szczepan Janeczko nor am I familiar with the content of the IPN letter. I have no idea what the supposed process of lustration in this case consisted of.

    So far, I am familiar with three ways of clearing a person’s name “by the IPN”:


    Certificate from IPN that the given individual’s name is not the name which appears on the so called “Wildstein list”.
    IPN BU 0193/6281JANECZKO ADELA CZECHakta osobowe
    IPN BU PF 1087/32JANECZKO STANISŁAWNJWakta osobowe

    The name “Szczepan Janeczko” is not on the list, so I will not discuss any other pitfalls surrounding that avenue. One major one is removing files by being enlisted again with the Polish secret services and having ALL information purged from IPN. In such case IPN has no other option than say that the person is clear – they do not have the information to state otherwise. Let me add that not being on the Wildstein list is not a clearance by itself. There are many persons working in the past with communist authorities who are not on that list.


    This is a way of clearing a person proposed by Mr. Kurtyka when he visited Chicago several years ago.

    IPN has documents gathered by various communist agencies on its citizens and other persons of interest. To clear the name with IPN the person applies personally to IPN for copies of information (documents) connected to him/her in their archives. Such packet of documents is prepared by IPN and sent/given with a cover letter. That letter states that either the attached documents are COMPLETE copy of the IPN archives on that person or there are certain documents withdrawn. By law, IPN cannot give copies of documents to people who took part in making them. In other words, if someone was an agent and there are documents he/she authored/coauthored, the copies of those documents cannot be supplied to them and IPN is obligated by law to make a note of it. IPN will not specify the reason for withholding certain documents. Also, certain documents will be withdrawn, depending on various circumstances. So, if a person receives COMPLETE set of copies of documents with a cover letter that states that those are all documents found in the archives, that person is “cleared by IPN”. This is the best we can do, but does not have 100% certainty. Many documents were burned and there might be a case where there is no proof at IPN, but the person could have been a communist agent anyway. If the person received a letter with refused copies, then someone else, a researcher or a journalist can go to IPN and decipher what was the reason for the refusal. That way you can “catch” someone IF the documents they produced while being the communist agent are at IPN. Again, many documents were burned before IPN existed and there is no such thing like 100% “clearance”. If you catch someone by finding documents showing they worked for the communist authorities, this is a positive proof. It does not work 100% as far as “clearing” someone.


    There is a lustration process conducted by the IPN. [ The law might be modified now as my knowledge is based on the years up to 2012. It is very unlikely, that the law had changed and I have not heard about it. I think I would be aware of it. ]

    This process is employed to the official lustration declarations of election candidates for political offices. Each candidate to any election in Poland has to file a lustration statement with IPN regarding their involvement or not with the communist party or the communist apparatus. The similar rules apply to persons nominated to various functions at different levels of government. After such person makes the lustration declaration, which is public, that statement might be contested by a single person by way of a note to IPN. Most lustration statements/declarations are not contested, because most people do not lie, they say the truth when in fact they were involved with the communist apparatus. If contested, like I said, even by a single person, the IPN is obligated to open lustration proceedings. A result is an official IPN ruling stating if, based on IPN documents, someone is a “lustration liar” or the person is “cleared”. IPN officials have stated in the past that this process cannot be used by Polonia. It is strictly reserved for candidates for various offices in Poland. I was involved personally in several meetings at the Polish congressional committee where I appealed to add Polonia organizations to that process. Original text of the IPN law included that, but Constitutional Tribunal removed those provisions along with many other “good teeth” of that IPN law.

    I doubt that this proceedings were employed in case of Mr. Szczepan Janeczko.

    Maybe there are some other ways of “clearing someone’s name with IPN” and I am not familiar with them. I would like to learn what procedures are involved in this case and what is the exact IPN wording in Polish on any documents issued.

    As you can see, the subject matter is very complicated. Each case must be looked at very carefully. You can harm a person very easily. On the other hand it is almost impossible to proof someone’s 100% not involvement with the communist authorities. Lack of documents proving the involvement, might be due to several reasons, two most important being: one – documents burned at the time communists were loosing power and second – enlisting the person with present Polish secret services. In the first case, there are no documents because they have been burned. In the second case, there are no documents at IPN because they became secret and had been purged from the IPN files and catalogs.

    So, my best advice is to look at the results of given person actions. If a person is obligated by a meeting resolution to do something and that is being ignored, nothing is done, that person should be held responsible for the non action. If a person is doing things hurting PAC, they should be held responsible for that too. For PAC it should be not important why things are not getting done or being done wrong, what should be important is that something IS wrong within. Someone might be influenced by a communist(s) or by his/her personal problems. That should not matter for the organization. We should help the person responsible to achieve good results and when this does not work, replace them. Everything should be transparent and open.

    Pozdrawiam ciepło i serdecznie,
    Edmund Lewandowski