Ryszard Kuklinski CIA Documents Available in HAPP Digital Archive

Declassified Documents on the Controversial Warsaw Pact Spy

Ryszard Kuklinski was a Polish colonel and Cold War spy who passed top secret Warsaw Pact documents to the United States Central Intelligence Agency between 1972 and 1981.

Kuklinski, a senior officer on the Polish General Staff and aide to Polish prime minister and communist party chief (and later president) Wojciech Jaruzelski, volunteered his services to the United States Army in 1972. For over nine years, Kuklinski provided the CIA with more than 40,000 pages of documents regarding the innermost secrets of the Warsaw Pact, "the secrets of the kitchen" in the words of Jaruzelski. The documents Kuklinski shared included war plans—intelligence that was deemed of "truly great strategic significance" by Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser.

During the 1980-81 Polish Crisis, Kuklinski continued to provide information on Warsaw Pact planning, internal Polish developments and Soviet pressures. In the midst of the crisis in 1981, Kuklinski was in danger of being exposed as a spy. As an article by the CIA explains, "Kuklinski was summoned into a meeting with his superiors who revealed that there was a mole among them who had been leaking information to the Americans. Kuklinski managed to remain calm and joined in with his colleagues denouncing the treasonous act. Soon after, Kuklinski contacted the CIA and asked them to extract him and his family from Poland. They were safely relocated to the United States in December 1981, shortly before martial law was imposed on Poland."

In 2008, the CIA released 82 documents related to Kuklinski. These documents are now available in the HAPP Digital Archive, along with other declassified documents on Kuklinski previously published by the Wilson Center. The documents include a 1977 document outlining governmental tasks in the event of a threat to national security; 18 reports by Kuklinski on information and impressions gained from his close contacts on the Polish General Staff and from contact with Soviet officers; 42 reports relaying Martial Law planning documents; 16 reports based on Kuklinski information disseminated after the declaration of Martial law on 13 December 1981; and one 1983 report prepared by Kuklinski after his (and his family's) extraction to the United States.

Kuklinski, who died in 2004, remains a controversial figure in Poland, where opinion is divided on whether he is a national hero or a traitor

 

Related: "The Kuklinski Files and the Polish Crisis of 1980-1981: An Analysis of the Newly Released CIA Documents on Ryszard Kuklinski" by Mark Kramer [PDF]

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Laura Deal is the Digital Projects Librarian for the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program.
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