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The Służba Bezpieczeństwa Ministerstwa Spraw Wewnętrznych (Polish pronunciation: [ˈswuʐba ˌbɛspʲeˈtʂɛɲstfa ˌmiɲiˈstɛrstfa ˈspraf veˈvnɛ̃tʂnɨx]) (Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), or SB, was established in the People's Republic of Poland in 1954. It was the main security organization in Poland after 1956.


After the 1954 escape of Józef Światło (born Izaak Fleischfarb, who took orders from politicians including the order to arrest Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński), a high-ranking Ministry of Public Security officer, to the West it was decided to abolish the Ministry of Public Security.

The MBP was responsible for security, intelligence and counterintelligence. It controlled over 41,000 soldiers of the Internal Security Corps, 57,500 members of the citizen militia, 32,000 border troops, 10,000 prison officers and 125,000 members of the Volunteer Reserve Citizen Militia.

The Communist Party divided the MBP into two parts. In December 1954, the Committee for Public Security (Komitet do spraw Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, or Kds. BP) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MSW) were created. The former was a secret police responsible for internal and external intelligence and counterintelligence to fight underground movements and the influence of the Catholic Church. The MSW was responsible for administrative duties, and eventually controlled the Internal Security Corps, militia, border troops, prison guards and the Volunteer Reserve Citizen Militia.

1956 reform

The year 1956 brought change to Polish politics. Recently released from prison, Władysław Gomułka became the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party. Reforms were made in the structure of state security. The Committee of Public Safety was abolished, and its duties were taken over by the MSW. After that, the MSW was the only security body in Poland. Officers working in the Security Service were nicknamed "SB-eks" (Służba Bezpieczeństwa).

Tasks and organizational structure

The tasks of the Security Service were identical to that of its predecessors (MBP and Kds.BP): to protect the communist system in the country (and beyond) through control and penetration into all structures of social life in Poland and abroad. The centrally-based MSW was divided into departments, bureaus, sections and directorates. In 1956, the central organization was:

  • Units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Headquarters of the Citizens' Militia
  • Fire Service Headquarters
  • Defense Field Headquarters
  • Administration of Geodesy and Cartography
  • Central Board of Health
  • Organizational Units of Internal Forces
  • Internal Security Corps Command
  • Command of Border Troops
  • Information Directorate for Internal Forces (counterintelligence for internal troops)

Associated units were:

  • Cabinet minister
  • Chief Inspector
  • Department I (Intelligence)
  • Department II (counter-espionage)
  • Department III (anti-state activities)
  • Social and Administrative Department
  • Military Department
  • Office of Oversight (penal-administrative law)
  • Office of Foreign Passports
  • Bureau of Government Protection
  • Bureau Technical Operations
  • Bureau of Operations Records
  • Bureau "A" (ciphers)
  • Bureau "B" (observation)
  • Bureau "W" (oversight of correspondence)
  • Bureau of Investigation
  • Department of Personnel and Training
  • Independent Organization Section
  • Finance Department
  • Investment Department
  • Supply Directorate
  • Transport Directorate
  • Directorate of Communications
  • Ordnance Department
  • Organizational and Military Directorate
  • Directorate of Social Affairs and Culture
  • Central Archives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Chief Inspectorate for Industry Protection
  • Administration and Economic Management
  • Office of the Chief, Flood Committee


After it was renamed the SB in 1956, it entered a period of relative inactivity during the era of reform instituted by Władysław Gomułka. However, after 1968 it was revived as a stronger body responsible for political repression (most notably of the Solidarity movement, the leader of which, Lech Wałęsa, was under constant SB surveillance until its replacement by the Urząd Ochrony Państwa in 1990 after the fall of communism).


An infamous case was the torture and execution by the SB of Catholic priest Jerzy Popiełuszko in 1984. Since 1990, several SB operatives have been tried for their crimes. The SB is also suspected of killing Stanisław Pyjas and Catholic priest Stefan Niedzielak. It is reported to have abused priest Roman Kotlarz, who died mysteriously [1] after a beating.

See also


  1. KOR, A history of the Worker's Defense Committee in Poland, 1976 - 1981, by Jan Jósef Lipski, Translated by Olga Amsterdamska and Gene M. Moore, University of California Press, 1985, page 36

Further reading

  • Henryk Piecuch, Brudne gry: ostatnie akcje Służb Specjalnych (seria: Tajna Historia Polski) (Dirty Games: the Last Special Services Operations [Secret History of Poland series]). Warsaw: Agencja Wydawnicza CB (1998).

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