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 Whistleblowers Need Protection




The spring of 1976 was warm and sunny across Eastern Europe. Through the windows of Major Wladyslaw Bielach's office, Paszkowski could see the lilac branches that sweetened the room as an occasional breeze wafted inside. His eyes wandered around the richly-appointed room of an officer in the Polish Intelligence Service (SB) while the other explained the need for Poles to remain alert against threats from the West. The younger man listened politely, trying to conceal boredom. He knew both Bielach - a long-time family friend - and his ideological tirades too well. He also knew where this one was leading. Bielach wanted him to join the SB and become a secret agent.

Ryszard was not unsympathetic to the proposal, which had also been suggested by his father, but he was still reluctant to join. He had just graduated with good marks from the Polish Intelligence School in Krakow and it would be only weeks before his mandatory military service expired. This session in the army headquarters with Bielach and an army Commander-in-Chief was clearly a combined effort by two seasoned soldiers to enlist him.

Paszkowski listened more carefully to Bielach's account of the privileges available for extra courses for work in the SB. In Poland of 1976, few could get by on the meagre earnings in government-owned enterprises. Shortages of food and other necessities were becoming acute. Bielach's inducements included access to special consumer stores where products, usually unavailable, could be bought cheaper and without long, time-consuming line-ups. A high salary, the promise of a car, trips to other Communist country resorts - such perks were appealing to many twenty-one-year-old Poles. He was already excited about the thrills secret service work offered and flattered by the attention from two senior officers to get him to accept their offer to join the service.

He soon signed the prepared documents, which warned him to keep all official secrets. Bielach then shook his hand and congratulated him on his decision. "You have to be prepared for the work, Ryszard", he said. "Our friends in the Soviet Union will train you in their best school. You'll never regret this decision."

Shortly afterwards, Paszkowski was promoted to command a platoon. Just before his military service expired, he was released and sent, all expenses paid, for a month-long vacation at a luxury hotel at Varna in Bulgaria. Officially, he won the trip as a "reward for very good marks received during military training." While friends sweated as they performed a host of military exercises, Paszkowski enjoyed the sun and surf at the expense of Poland's then still hard-line Communist regime. The first perks of the privileged world were good. After his vacation, he returned to his parent's home to await further instructions.

Ryszard was soon told to report to the Intelligence department of the local militia. More was said there about the spy school in the USSR and more documents were signed. He was now officially a security agent in the Polish Intelligence Service. When his working identification, revolver, and a train ticket to Moscow arrived a week later, he left for the Soviet capital and once there reported to a specified hotel.

Paszkowski was met the next morning and driven to one of the Moscow KGB units, a gathering centre for future students of the special intelligence school. An officer completed the formalities for admission. Paszkowski was photographed, finger-printed, measured and weighed. A doctor examined him and noted everything in his personnel file. A new Polish name was issued under which he was to be known during his nine months of training.

"You understand, Comrade Paszkowski, that from now on you must obey our orders to the letter and keep secret anything you see and do. We have many ways of making sure one gets to understand the rules properly in case of problems," the officer added, smiling cooly and nodding meaningfully at two husky guards standing by with stone-like faces. Paszkowski nodded that he understood everything, shuddering inwardly at the thought of the notorious Soviet prison, Lublianka, where untold thousands of "enemies of the State" had been imprisoned, tortured and killed over almost six decades. He banished the thought by resolving that he wasn't going to be frightened by any Soviet apparatchik.

He then entered a huge hall where about fifty other young men were already present. Some were reading and drinking coffee or tea. Others sat silently. Nobody talked to one another, presumably because they were all frightened into silence by KGB officers. Every few minutes, a new candidate entered.

In the late afternoon, they were finally fed. During dinner, some began talking to each other. "Where are you from?" Paszkowski asked his neighbour, a dark haired, muscular and sad-looking man at the next table in Russian. "I'm from Hungary," the other responded. "There are three of us here." Many nationalities were present; recruits from the same homeland soon sought out their own kind. There were four Poles. Other countries represented included East Germany, Cuba, Bulgaria - the largest group, Czechoslovakia - both Czechs and Slovaks, Angola, Nicaragua, Chile, Palestine, Vietnam, North Korea and Libya.

Each man wondered where they would go next; no-one thought they would be trained in Moscow. They remained in the hall until late that night, chattering about possible destinations.

At 10:00 p.m., several KGB types abruptly entered the hall and told everyone to move in the direction of a large square within the compound. Two medium-size transport helicopters awaited. They boarded and took off for an unknown destination. Another Polish recruit joked that they were being sent for hard labour in Siberia. Despite the oppressive atmosphere of secrecy, several were in high spirits in part because of the quantity of Polish vodka consumed. A Pole had hidden a bottle in his jacket and shared it secretly with the others in the shaking helicopter. Finally, after two or three hours in the air, they landed. It was pitch dark outside. They were taken to a well-equipped barracks and, being dead-tired, soon fell asleep in their assigned beds.

The next morning, each recruit had his first good look at the facility deep in the Ural Mountains not too far from Kirov where they would spend the next nine months. Oddly, the wake up call came from a Russian lieutenant with a squeaky voice who tried to enhance his authority by shouting. He was also short and his problem was clearly a `Napoleonic complex'. Most of the recruits were tall, well-built and physically-fit men. Their Russian master shouted continuously at the top of his lungs, swearing at them for not getting out of bed fast enough.

The lieutenant was good, however, at jogging; when he finally got his recruits out of the barracks and ordered them to follow, they could hardly keep up to him as he sprinted ahead. This became their daily "morning discipline". As they followed the tiny lieutenant along forest paths, many swore silently at his inferiority complex and the entire Soviet Union itself. There was no option. They had to obey all commands precisely.

The camp and barracks were well-hidden in the forest and very comfortable by Russian standards. There was a training facility, sports playgrounds - both indoor and outdoor, a movie theatre, swimming pool, and even a coffee shop in which they spent their free time. The camp was fenced by steel wire mesh and tightly guarded by KGB soldiers. Recruits had no contact with them because guards were forbidden to mingle with recruits. When Paszkowski and colleagues tried to talk to the guards, they were both shy and respectful. Like the lieutenant, they suffered from a distinct inferiority complex, presumably because they could only dream about becoming full agents.

After the first morning's exercise, the recruits went to a warehouse where they were each assigned two battle dress uniforms, underwear, shaving kits and personal hygiene items. At the parade ground, they formed themselves into platoons. Colonel Aleksander Potapow, the commander of the camp, delivered an egregiously boring welcoming speech. He spoke as someone completely out of touch with the modern world. He was an apparatchik, pure and simple, whose speech had been written for him and he was only repeating it once again. Having greeted them, however, Potapow's tone changed abruptly. He warned gravely about any insubordination in the group, mentioning penalties, which ranged from house arrest in the camp to a spell in a Siberian gulag. They varied from the point of view of both severity and duration. House arrest would last from 7- to 21-days. No limit was put on the gulag, and presumably could be a life sentence. There was also the matter of location. House arrest at the camp at Lesnoj in the Urals was very different from the legendarily cold Siberia.

Potapow also outlined the most severe punishment: capital punishment by shooting for treason, adding that the death penalty would be carried out no matter where on earth the person condemned to die might find himself. He stressed that finding anyone would pose little difficulty for the KGB world service. The recruits felt at that moment that they had become enmeshed in something from which there was no return.

The next speaker was a captain. In marked contrast to Potapow, who was an older, fat man with a red nose, and probably recalled fondly the days of World War II, the Captain was a good-looking, tall, physically fit man of about forty. He told them they would be divided into groups of six, and then proceeded, without calling names, to point at some of them to step out. Paszkowski was directed to one of the groups. A young KGB lieutenant, already waiting, ordered his team to follow him in a row. Paszkowski's companions marched behind him, carrying their bags. They were taken to a barracks, which looked poor from the outside but inside was comfortably furnished. They were assigned beds numbered from one to six. It was one big bedroom for the "Magnificent Six" as they soon came to call themselves only half jokingly. The groups were clearly chosen in a way that ensured that there were no two individuals from the same country in any group.

With Paszkowski were a Hungarian, Czech, East German, Lithuanian, and Libyan. He soon made friends with the Lithuanian, partly because he spoke a little Polish. His ancestors were from Poland. His name and family name were difficult to pronounce, so when he introduced himself and mentioned he was of Polish background, Paszkowski called him "Jasiek" (Johnny in Polish) to make things easier. He laughed at that and accepted his new name without protest. They became good friends. Jasiek was a well-built, blonde man two or three years older than Paszkowski. He came from Vilnus. He asked Paszkowski to speak Polish to him because he wanted to learn it. When they had free time, Paszkowski taught him to write in Polish; when they parted after nine months, Jasiek spoke Polish well, albeit with an accent.

The commander of the group was Lieutenant Jewgeniy Komarow, about 40-years-old, and very intelligent. His role was that of protector, who monitored everything, including mail. Specialists took care of all theory and practice. Each was an expert in his own field. If there were complaints about their performance from the experts, or even from a cleaning lady about their behaviour, they went to Komarow. He dispensed all minor discipline.

Meals were served in the barracks in which they lived. It contained a dormitory, two classrooms, bathrooms, cafeteria, bar/coffee shop, reading room, arms storage room, and was connected by a special passage with a sports hall and an indoor swimming pool.

Classes began the morning after arrival. After the morning wake up call by Komarow, they jogged in the woods for about 15 minutes, then showered, shaved, and put on their uniforms. The breakfasts were excellent. They were then off to school.

The instructor in Marxism-Leninism was Professor Kulakow. He bored everyone to death, even causing some to doze off completely during his classes. He talked about the need for ideological warfare with the West and about its possibilities. He droned on about the achievements of the socialist countries in the field of espionage and their superiority over Western intelligence. Paszkowski, who had heard such things before in Poland, was doubly bored. When he closed his eyes and dozed off during lectures, Jasiek, equally bored but not yet asleep, rolled paper balls and threw them at his head.

The Lithuanian experienced great joy each time Paszkowski jumped up, unsure what was happening. The other students laughed quietly except for the East German, whom they all disliked because he behaved like a robot. He took everything very seriously, studied diligently, and would report to Komarow everything he saw and heard, convinced that by doing so he served socialism. He had good manners and was always polite, but was not very physically fit. Jasiek and Paszkowski kept a close eye on him and picked on him often for being the group's "pig". Jasiek once completely lost his temper with him. When he later informed on them again, Jasiek wanted to give him a good beating. Paszkowski stopped him from doing it, but it eventually did happen.

On one occasion, Komarow summoned the pair and gave them a warning about pinching a Russian cook and a cleaning woman. Neither woman had seemed to mind. It was clear that the East German had spilled the beans on them. In a washroom, as the German was leaving a toilet, Jasiek pushed him back into the stall and beat him up. Jasiek received seven days house arrest, but at least the other carried a black eye and swollen lip for some time.

The Libyan, no softy himself, declared that if he ever met the German in his own country he would kill him like a fly. Everyone laughed at this, and the Libyan soon joined Paszkowski's inner circle of friends. At first, he kept to himself and the group didn't know how he would react to their jokes, but soon all cultural barriers were overcome. They managed, courtesy of the cook, to smuggle in cigarettes and matches hidden in food. They knew they weren't allowed to smoke there, but Jasiek was a chain smoker. Jasiek got his cigarettes and they were all content except the East German.

Spy training was complex. They were taught first not to trust anyone completely without exception. They were given hundreds of examples of how corruptible human beings could be. You could bribe anyone if the price was right. They were taught how to set the amount of a bribe for a prospect on the West's side and whom they would attempt to turn to work for the East. One had to consider many factors: the standard of living of a potential agent, his interests, sexual preferences, love of money and indebtedness.

The recruits were taught, for example, that it is easiest to recruit someone in deep financial debt who has strong sexual desires, a common enough type in the West. It is also easy to snare someone with a family, who is respected in their community, but who while on business trips has affairs. Even more so, when someone is bisexual and has affairs with persons of the same sex. In such cases, choose the right moment and a woman or man working for the East enters into a relationship with the potential recruit. Taking photographs, or videotaping a compromising situation complete with a sound track is relatively simple. Thereafter, most can blackmail victims easily. Generally, it works because the person is terrified of scandal, or losing family, job, and career hopes.

Such methods were used by the East German intelligence service with spectacular results. Its prey were individuals of widely differing social and professional backgrounds. Employees of Western banks, scientists, university professors, journalists, clergy, engineers, army personnel, employees in factories of strategic importance, technicians, medical doctors, employees of Foreign Affairs departments starting with a cleaning woman and ending with the Minister himself, policemen, employees of passport offices, inspectors at border check-points - these and many other persons needed at particular times were caught in such webs. So, too, were a surprising number of international athletes.

When some employee of a ministry was to be caught, and an older and unattractive woman was the candidate, a handsome, young agent would enter the scene. A staged love affair would take place and then the blackmail. As demonstrated by the case of the secretary of former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, this method was used successfully to the very highest levels of the Federal German Republic.

For people with debts, it was easy to recruit them. An offer to pay off the debt was usually irresistible, but if the debt was paid off entirely the victim might change their minds later on. To keep someone dependent, the class was taught, you pay only one-third of the debt.

They were taught psychology and how to speak to all kinds of people. This included good conversation and table manners. Using a knife, fork and spoon correctly, Paszkowski and his classmates were told, was important in the West. Some of them, such as the Libyan, didn't even know how to use a knife and fork before the finishing school. Everyone's table manners became so good that each felt ready to dine in a four-star Paris restaurant.

How to gamble, how to behave in casinos, and how to dress in all situations were also on the curriculum. Western passports were explained and how to use them. Different countries and their immigration practices were explained: where to cross international borders depending on the documents one had; how to forge passports, driving licences and credit cards (in the 1970s, credit cards were almost unheard of in Eastern Europe, and are still quite rare). The recruits were taught how to open bank accounts using false names, and how to use bank machines (they had a machine to practise on), how to forge airline tickets, and how to steal and to cheat in a wide range of situations.

The difficulties a spy might encounter in different countries were studied very closely. They practised on lie-detectors and learned how to fool them. Their experts said that to cheat a lie-detector, the most important thing is, while being connected to the lie-detector and being questioned, not to worry about it. Add some technical skills and a good spy can answer positively to the question, "Are you George Bush?" and the polygraph will register no negative reaction. In such situations, an operator who administers the test and believes in his lie-detector will either believe the answer or will send the speaker to a mental hospital. A perfect lie-detector has yet to be invented. It is thus surprising that any Western intelligence service still believes in them, presumably knowing full well that it is easy to fool them. Naive people, however, are still intimidated by the term "lie-detector", and are thus so stressed when they take the test that they fail it.

An incident occurring while the class was practising how to beat lie-detectors was particularly interesting. The Libyan was connected to the electrodes; the polygraph was turned on and the others were told to watch. He was asked a few simple questions and the machine reacted normally. Then, unexpectedly, the instructor asked him, "Are you a Jew?", the needle jumped in the opposite direction even though he had truthfully answered, "No." It was clear to all that his blood pressure soared when a query upset him. For an Arab, the class was taught, there was then no greater agitation than to be called a Jew. Nervousness, not truth or lies, is what lie-detectors indicate. After the skilled instructor worked long enough with him, the Libyan was able to say that he was not only a Jew but also a rabbi, and the machine did not detect his lies.

They were taught how to code and decode espionage materials; to organize sabotage; to use microfilm; to smuggle items across borders; to carry out surveillance and avoid being observed; to gather information; set up and use contact points; and to carry out interrogations. Above all, they were taught total obedience and discipline. If headquarters said that black is white, they were to accept it as fact whether they believed it or not. They were taught basic German on the principle it is useful to know "the language of the enemy". This phase of their training was gentle compared to what was coming.

They then began months of a long and exhausting struggle with an invisible enemy. This included indifference to everything and numerous methods of killing human beings. What each had been through during military service in their respective countries was scout training in comparison with what they were now experiencing. It included parachute jumps from planes and helicopters into the thick forests of the Urals during the dead of winter or into icy rivers at night and simulated attacks on villages and killing its residents (called "purification") by different methods. These were only some of the "small things" learned.

Paszkowski had always loved dogs. Once while sitting in the woods around a fire, trying to warm up, after much walking and being half-frozen from cold feet, his instructor asked him if he liked dogs. When he nodded, the officer tossed a knife hilt-first towards him and told him to kill one of the military dogs present with their group. For a moment, Paszkowski thought the other was joking and smiled at him surprised. The other got up and snapped out an order to kill the dog. "He has me", Paszkowski said to himself. "He knows that I like dogs and that was why he ordered me to do it." The purpose was obvious, to eliminate any feelings for animals or otherwise. Thinking very quickly, Paszkowski went on to himself: "If I refuse to kill the dog, he will have me court marshalled for disobeying the order." Realizing he had no way out, Paszkowski reached for the Kalashnikow rifle he carried. He thought shooting the animal would be more humane than killing it savagely with a knife.

The officer immediately intervened, ordering him to use the knife. The thought crossed Paszkowski's mind that he would prefer to kill his ghoulish instructor with the knife instead of the dog but that would only be suicide. What could he do? Finally, as everyone watched, he grabbed the animal - it was a large German Shepherd - sat over him and, with one hand holding his head, slit his throat. The dog yelped and broke loose, blood spraying the snow. His instructor, however, still unsatisfied, told Paszkowski to cut its head off. Paszkowski kept on cutting until the head fell off and he threw it into the bushes. The instructor then told him to throw the corpse of the dog there too. Paszkowski, soaked with the dog's blood, knelt and attempted to wash himself with snow. He felt bile rising in his throat and swallowed convulsively.

The instructor then coolly continued his bloody spectacle, telling the East German to kill the other dog the same way. He did it without any hesitation. Paszkowski was almost carried away by rage and was sorely tempted to shoot both of them, but Jasiek, who was nearby and sensed his state of mind, stopped him. Paszkowski could neither eat nor sleep for the next two days.

The crew was trained to fly helicopters, ride and shoot from tanks, and operate various military vehicles and weapons of both Eastern and Western make. They were taught guerilla war tactics, hand-to-hand combat, and how to survive in the toughest conditions.

Normally, when they were awakened during the night and ordered to board a helicopter with their full military gear their instructor was with them. This time was different. After two hours in the air, the instructor told them to jump from the helicopter. Below them were only a moonless night and the forests of the Urals. They obediently jumped out, one after another. Paszkowski and Jasiek stayed together and both landed in trees. The others were already on the ground and giving signals with torches. The two friends managed to release themselves from the parachutes, but it took another full hour to get them down from the trees. Security required that they always hide their parachutes, so only when they were completely covered in snow could the pair join the rest of the group.

They soon realized that their instructor wasn't present this time. He had stayed in the helicopter. Nobody saw him jump out. Jasiek concluded that if he jumped out last and was hanging somewhere on a tree, "He can go to Hell!" and hang there till spring. The East German, now frightened that he was for once alone with the group without his protector, hoped the instructor might be somewhere nearby. He kept giving signals with his torch and calling out. Jasiek told him to stop making noise on the premise that security practise required him to be quiet. The other was afraid of Jasiek, so he stopped.

The worst part was that they now found themselves in the middle of the forest during a severe winter with neither instructions nor orders. What came next? Apart from their military equipment, they had matches, a few food cans, and a few bars of chocolate. They decided to head west because it would be warmer and they'd be more likely to find a settlement. None had any idea what they were expected to do. When the Hungarian joked that they should go to his mom for goulash, the tension diminished and they started to laugh. After a few hours tramping westward, they started a fire and had their first meal. It was exceedingly cold. They all realized now that their camp commanders had set up a tactical game, but what it was they didn't know.

They continued through the woods for the next three full days, stopping only for rest, meals and a few hours of sleep by a fire. They ran out of food on day four. Sometimes, they spotted a fox or hare but no big game was observed. During the ensuing few days they had nothing to eat but snow. They were becoming weaker and weaker.

The Libyan, becoming very agitated from hunger and the cold, said that if they didn't kill an animal that day he would shoot the German and make "shashilks" out of him. During the next two hours, he and the Hungarian argued over who would prepare shashilks made from the German: the Hungarian la the Hungarian spicy way or the Libyan la the Arab way. Moods improved generally despite the exhaustion; most were laughing. Only the German didn't laugh. He wasn't the least bit certain whether the Libyan and the Hungarian were joking.

Suddenly, the Czech spotted a fox and fired at it. The group ate barbecued fox instead of the German. The meat smelled but everyone had a piece. Paszkowski could not bring himself to swallow his piece. Years later, his wife, Elzbieta, would make a delicious meal from roast rabbit, a Polish delicacy. He was sorry to refuse, but just could not bring himself to taste it. It reminded him of that fox in the Urals. He never told her this, but she did not cook rabbit again even though she loves it herself.

Feeling stronger after a meal of stinking fox, they moved on. When the Czech began to grow weaker, they took turns supporting him. Finally, they located a railway track and followed it in a southwest direction.

It was all clear now. Their bosses wanted to see if the group was able to survive a situation like this and how. If one of them didn't survive, Paszkowski doubted if any of the camp commanders at Lesnoj would shed a single tear over his fate. They simply wanted to select the strongest in purest Darwinian terms.

Exhausted, freezing and starving, the group finally reached a railway signal station. No-one knew anything about railway signals (they weren't part of the curriculum). They broke the signal to see what the train engineer would do when he saw it and waited through a long night for a train to come. Finally, one arrived late the next day. They hid in the forest, camouflaging their footprints in the snow. It was a freight train and it stopped. One by one, they jumped into an empty boxcar. An hour later, the train pulled out with all six aboard. It was extremely cold inside the boxcar, though the exhausted and starving men hardly noticed.

A day and a half later, the train arrived in a small village surrounded by forest. They hid in the trees so that nobody would see them and sent Jasiek to the village to get some food because he spoke perfect Russian. He took the Hungarian to help. Paszkowski was assigned to keep an eye on the German to prevent him from doing something unpredictable. He was already showing signs of a mental breakdown. Three hours later, the two returned carrying a good deal of food. They had broken into a farm house and taken all they could find, including some home-made vodka. They started a fire and began their feast. Paszkowski had never had such good sausage in his life. The salt bacon, cheese, bread and onions were also excellent. Everything tasted wonderful. They washed it all down with the vodka and someone suggested, "Let's go to Moscow!"

The next morning, most of the group felt better, mentally and physically. Only the Czech was coughing and running a temperature. They walked along the edges of the woods along the railway tracks. When they reached another signal, they damaged it and changed its position. In the evening, a train arrived, stopped, and the six boarded.

This time they had the company of cows, which provided both warmth and milk. Jasiek milked one into a mess tin and, starting with the Czech, gave each fresh, warm milk. Later, everyone learned to milk a cow. It was amusing, but not so simple. Pulled the wrong way, a cow would kick.

Two days later, they reached the suburbs of Moscow. The six jumped off the train near what looked like small private gardens. In fact, these small pieces of cultivated land were very popular in Communist countries. After working long hours elsewhere, people grew vegetables, fruit and sometimes raised chickens in small lots. In this case, there were three small wooden shacks to store tools. They broke into one of them and planned what to do next, deciding to send Jasiek to KGB headquarters in Moscow to say where they were. Jasiek, however, could not just march through Moscow in the dirty military fatigues he'd been wearing for more than two weeks, unshaven and armed to the teeth. The first militia member or soldier he encountered would arrest him on the spot. He changed into a dirty working uniform found in the shack and set off for Moscow. He took only a pistol with him.

The next morning at 4:00 a.m., two big black Volgas pulled up. Jasiek got out of one of them, dressed very differently, along with an older man in civilian clothes. They came to the shack and Jasiek introduced him as a KGB major. They all got into the luxury vehicles and were taken to the Moscow unit of the KGB. Doctors were called to take care of the Czech but his unit colleagues never saw him again. He had come down with pneumonia.

They asked Jasiek where he got his new clothes. He said he approached a drunk lying on a street, took him into a dark alley and suggested a trade. The drunkard refused, but when Jasiek aimed his pistol at his nose, he quickly changed his mind. Jasiek then put on his victim's clothes and went on with his mission.

The remaining five men were given three days to recuperate and rest. They were allotted new clothes, given a bath and fed well. Doctors examined each. On the third day again at night, the inevitable order came: "Board the helicopter". Again the unknown. What's next? The German almost cried at the thought that he might be going back to the forest. The Libyan cheered him up, suggesting that as this time they would train in different climatic conditions they would probably be dropped on a desert. The German seemed dismayed and they all laughed. In fact, they returned to the camp at Lesnoj. They rejoined their daily routine as if nothing had happened. The "Magnificent Six" were down to five.

The lessons now varied, a mixture of theory and practice. They studied explosives and their use in intelligence work: how to make a bomb under ordinary conditions and how to use it; how to hijack a plane or kidnap individuals. They were taught to be patient in waiting for orders, even for years. It was stressed never to vary an order without a very good reason.

They learned about poisons and how to use them. Once again, they were back on the subject of killing people in the most primitive conditions. For example, it was explained how to kill someone with an ordinary toothbrush. One drives it, the handle side, into the opponent's nose so deep it reaches the nose bone, up into the brain. A spy can also thrust a toothbrush into an opponent's eye, pushing it to the very end in an upward direction. No normal human being would ever think about such things. There are also many ways of strangling or hanging a person. These were only a few of the lessons from Hell they were taught at Lesnoj.

At the close of their course, the five were taken to Moscow and put up in two apartments. Their assignment was to follow employees of the American Embassy as an exercise. Each spy got a car and a picture of a person they were to follow. Each day after this surveillance, each had to write a detailed report of the activities of the surveyed person. They deposited their reports at and picked up orders from a contact point.

Paszkowski says that a few of the U.S. officials he followed were unfaithful to their wives. When the KGB brass discovered the identities of the women in liaison, they would blackmail them into working for them. Paszkowski wondered how diplomats could be so naive. In romantic and intimate situations, they talked a lot about themselves. It helped the KGB to put together a detailed life picture of the diplomat being watched.

The five were also ordered to kidnap people. At their disposal was a two bedroom apartment, where they stocked up on food and had everything ready. Security precautions had to be very tight because it was an apartment in an ordinary apartment building. The neighbours didn't know what was going on. Any strange noise might alarm the neighbours who in turn would call the militia and the whole mission would be ruined. Failure would reflect poorly on their training.

It was a Saturday afternoon and many Muscovites were leaving for the weekend, often to visit families in the country. The five were ordered on their walkie-talkie to park their two cars along a street some distance from each other.

Paszkowski drove a black Volga with the Libyan. In the other were Jasiek and the German, with the Hungarian behind the wheel. After a period of time, they got their order - "Grey Trabant" (an East German-made car) and the license number. When Paszkowski saw the car passing, his heart sank. There were two adults and two young children in the vehicle. He had no time to think.

He passed the Trabant and cut it off, forcing it to stop. The second car, carrying Jasiek and the others, approached from the opposite side. Jasiek jumped out of the car and started speaking quickly to the driver. "This is a kidnapping. Everything will be fine as long as you cooperate with us. We have guns so do not resist." He showed them the gun he carried inside his jacket. "Now get out of the car. Don't scream! Father with son to this car and the mother with the younger son to the other."

The mother immediately started to cry. The father turned white as a sheet and couldn't say a word. The terrified children sat silently in the back of the car. Jasiek pulled the man out of the Trabant, pushed him into the Volga, and told the older son to follow him in. The mother and the younger boy were taken into the other car. They drove off. The German got into the Trabant and drove off in the opposite direction. The Libyan tried to explain to the man that they were going to be all right and that the family would be together. The family was told to behave normally as they all walked into the apartment or else they would be shot.

Jasiek was already in the apartment with the mother and the younger son. When the second group entered the apartment and the woman saw her husband and son, she embraced them both as if trying to protect them from danger. She was crying constantly. She kept saying it must be a misunderstanding, that they must have been taken for somebody else, that they had neither money nor rich relatives, and that nobody would be able to pay the ransom. Jasiek tried to calm her by saying it wasn't a misunderstanding, that they didn't want any ransom and that they would have to stay for some time (how long he didn't know himself) and that if they did what was asked they would be all right.

Half an hour later, the German arrived with their luggage. The father said he would give them his car because it was the only thing of value he had. He was a 36-year-old worker at a steel factory in Moscow. She was a 32-year-old sales clerk in a furniture store. Their sons were 11 and 7 years old. They were all scared and didn't understand what was going on. They were quiet. Only the mother cried every so often.

The father, realizing they were not to be hurt, tried to comfort his wife. After a few hours they calmed down and accepted tea from their captors. They sat on a couch closely together. The man asked if he could smoke and they allowed it. One of the boys then started to complain, saying he was hungry, and the poor woman looked at her captors pleadingly. Jasiek took her to the kitchen where there was plenty of food. He told her whenever they were hungry or thirsty to come to the kitchen and prepare the meal without asking permission.

Paszkowski says he'll never forget how Jasiek said to the woman in Russian: "You women have to take care of your families." This helped to break the ice between the family and their kidnappers. Thereafter, the family stayed in one room with the T.V. and the five stayed in the other. Only the German, whenever he heard some movement when one of the family was using the bathroom, would follow them with the gun in his hand and ask questions.

In the evening, the hostages appeared tired and were told to go to bed. They had two bedrooms but the mother insisted they would be fine in one. It was clear they did not want to be separated. The German protested, but the Libyan gave him a cuff and he desisted. The Hungarian suggested that a big bed be moved into their room so the family could sleep comfortably and they did so. They all seemed reasonably happy under the circumstances.

All five kept guard the first night. For the next, they left the Libyan with the Hungarian on guard duty and went to bed. After two hours, Jasiek and Paszkowski took over. Each day one of them would drop a report at the contact point for their command headquarters.

Paszkowski doesn't remember now the names of the family members. He recalls playing chess with the older boy, who was a good opponent. Every so often one of them would ask: "How much longer?" Their captors would answer that they didn't know, and in fact simply did not.

The Libyan and the German watched the family the next night. When Jasiek and the Hungarian came in the morning to relieve them, they learned that the Libyan had almost killed the German during the night. In the evenings, the younger boy would run around the apartment. Little wonder. How could any seven-year-old sit still for so long? The German stopped him by grabbing his arm and, threatening him with his gun, pushed him into his parent's room. The Libyan exploded, took out his gun, pointing it at the German, saying that if he touched the child again he would kill him like a dog.

The group wrote about the incident in their daily report and the next day the German was recalled from the group. The order said: "Recalled to perform other duties." Perhaps more sadistic ones, the others thought, because he would be well suited for such duties. A gruesome devil had left their shrinking band.

The family remained in custody for six days and nights before the order came: "Set them free at such and such a time." The Hungarian brought the Trabant from hiding. The family was told to pack up without knowing what was going to happen. It was clear they were nervous, not knowing what to expect. The group packed their things into the car, took it to another section of Moscow and parked in the street. Shortly before the time set for their release, Paszkowski and Jasiek drove them in the Volga to their Trabant. They stopped by their car. Jasiek gave them their car key and told them to go home. They could see the astonishment in their eyes. The woman kissed Jasiek. Paszkowski's young chess partner shook hands with him. The family quickly got out of the car and the agents drove away.

A few days later, the foursome returned to Lesnoj. This was shortly before the end of their course. They continued to jog, swim, shoot and perform various military manoeuvres.

On one unforgettable day near the shooting range, quite out of the blue Paszkowski's instructor shouted an order to shoot the target he was pointing at. At a distance, Paszkowski saw a typical old Russian babushka. Paszkowski caught the machine gun he was thrown in mid-air but hesitated for a second.

The instructor shouted: "Shoot!" Paszkowski pulled the trigger and fired a burst of what turned out to be blank shots in the woman's direction.

She fell down immediately. Paszkowski didn't know what had happened to him. He could neither eat nor sleep afterward. He felt nauseous and thoroughly disgusted with himself. As far as the instructor was concerned, however, he had carried out the order well. A few days later, the instructor showed Paszkowski through a window the same woman he thought he had shot. Paszkowski was convinced he had murdered her.

The nine-month course in Hell was clearly meant to break the will of the students and reduce them to the level of animals. Orders were to be obeyed blindly. This was the ultimate goal of the so-called teaching. Suitable people were needed for espionage work. In Paszkowski's view, after the course nothing would amaze or surprise him.

He returned to Poland where a promotion awaited him: "a record for positive marks/results achieved during the training, we promote you to the rank of Sergeant." Paszkowski's prestige and financial income immediately improved in the pre-martial law Poland of 1976.

Chapter 3

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