More on background of the PRL (Communist Poland) that influences the current political situation. I don’t know how much of this is shared with other post WWII European communist countries. Comparative info would be appreciated. I should also mention that some of this is not official history but things I’ve noticed and/or intuited from things I’ve observed or read.
So first, in addition to the actual communist party (actually three parties, but the important one was the PZPR – Polish United Workers’ Party) there was a large…. grey area of what might be called party allies or party associates. I’m not talking about people who were trying to join the party but people who remained outside the party officially while working together with the party or party members in various capacities. Some of these allies even served public roles, so the communist spokesperson Jerzy Urban for example was never actually a party member. But there was also a network of people with party…. connections who would receive some of the perks of party membership in exchange for occasional services. It is almost certain that Jarosław Kaczyński’s father had this type of unofficial party connection, as much of his biography simply doesn’t make any sense otherwise (that’s a subject of another post).
This leads to another interesting point, that a surprisingly large number of anti-communist activists in Poland hard party connections. I don’t mean they were government agents but they either like Bronisław Geremek they were affiliated with the party for a time, became disgusted, resigned and started working against it or, like Adam Michnik, they came from families with party members or like Lech Kaczyński came from families with party…. connections (Lech was active in the dissident movement, there’s no real evidence that Jarosław was).
Both of these situations have had an influence on how the country dealt with dissidents during the PRL and how party members were dealt with afterward.