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Netflix drama tells how Communist secret police rounded up gay men in 1980s Poland 

The shocking story of a secret police operation to track down all gay men in Communist Poland is to be retold in a new Netflix film.

Due for release next month, the Polish-language Operation Hyacinth is based on a plan of the same name (Akcja Hyacint in Polish) which led to information being collected on at least 11,000 gay men in the 1980s.  

Set in the period, the drama itself follows the story of a police officer trying to track down a serial killer targeting the gay community.

But in the sinister real-life events launched on the 15th of November 1985, thousands of men were arrested, files created, fingerprints taken and 'confessions' confirming their homosexuality forcibly signed.

One of the operation's victims, Waldemar Zboralski, had been chairman of the gay rights group the Warsaw Homosexual Movement. He later fled to the UK and became the first gay Polish man to get married. 

Although homosexuality stopped being a criminal offence in Poland in 1932, the Communist authorities put homosexual communities under observation from the mid-1960s believing their sexual orientation to be a social pathology.

But it was not until Operation Hyacinth that personal data and police files started being collated on a nationwide scale, with police using the hunt for the serial killer - as well as the need to combat the newly-emergent AIDS virus - as justification. 

After being arrested, men were forced to sign statements declaring that they were gay and, shockingly, that they were 'not interested' in children.  

The shocking story of a secret police operation to track down all gay men in Communist Poland is to be retold in a new Netflix film. Waldemar Zboralski, chairman of the Warsaw Homosexual Movement, was one of the victims of Operation Hyacinth. He later fled to the UK. He is seen above left when he was still in Poland and right in 2009 

Secret police from the feared SB (Służba Bezpieczeństwa) and their cohorts in an organisation known as the Civil Militia (MO) rounded up and arrested 'suspects' in schools, universities, workplaces, and railway stations all over Poland. 

Those arrested were given folders called 'Gay cards' and the information was stored in secret police files called a 'pink briefcase.'

They were then forced to sign statements saying: 'I hereby declare that I [name and surname] have been homosexual from birth. I have had many partners in my life, all of them adult. I am not interested in minors.'

Detainees were also blackmailed into denouncing other homosexual men, as well as describing the techniques of sexual intercourse.

Initiated by Poland's minister of internal affairs, Czeslaw Kiszczak, the Communist authorities justified the operation by saying they were trying to fight AIDS and combat sex crimes including prostitution.

Due for release next month, the Polish-language Operation Hyacinth is based on the plan of the same name (Akcja Hyacint in Polish) which led to information being collected on at least 11,000 gay men in the 1980s 

Secret police from the feared SB (Służba Bezpieczeństwa) and their cohorts in an organisation known as the Civil Militia (MO) rounded up and arrested 'suspects' in schools, universities, workplaces, and railway stations all over Poland. Above: Secret police arresting a suspect

Another official justification was to protect gay men themselves, following the murder of a homosexual man in the city of Gdansk - the crime that is detailed in the new Netflix drama. 

Operation Hyacinth was launched by Poland's minister of internal affairs, Czeslaw Kiszczak (pictured)

A few months before the operation was launched, police discovered several hundred letters in the man's apartment which he had received in response to an advertisement in a magazine popular within the gay community.

As part of the investigation, all the authors of the letters were immediately summoned for questioning, their personal details were written down, and their fingerprints and photos were stored on file.

But Polish historians have previously said that the real reason was to gather compromising evidence which could later be used for blackmail, because those arrested would be more willing to cooperate with the security services.

It is also believed that the operation was part of a wider campaign aimed at gathering compromising material to use against members of the anti-communist opposition, such as those in Solidarity trade union movement.

It was led by Lech Walesa, who went on to become president of Poland after the Communist regime fell. 

According to LGBT activist Krzysztof Tomasik, some of the 'pink briefcase' folders survived, and the information they contain could still be useful in blackmailing politicians and other high-ranking people.

Those arrested were given folders called 'Gay cards' and the information was stored in secret police files called a 'pink briefcase'. Above: Secret police 'pink briefcase' documents

The men were then forced to sign statements saying: 'I hereby declare that I [name and surname] have been homosexual from birth. I have had many partners in my life, all of them adult. I am not interested in minors'. Above: The name of one suspect is seen in one of the secret files

They were were then forced to sign statements saying: 'I hereby declare that I [name and surname] have been homosexual from birth. I have had many partners in my life, all of them adult. I am not interested in minors'

However, thousands of others were destroyed or went missing, leaving the exact number of those persecuted unclear.

As a result of the Operation, many members of the gay community went 'underground' to hide their sexual orientations even deeper. 

In 1988, a year after the operation finished, a government spokesman denied allegations being made by western media, telling the US newspaper Baltimore Sun that no such operation had ever taken place.

Some of the ID cards of Secret Policemen in the feared SB (Służba Bezpieczeństwa)

Krzysztof Tomasik, LGBT activist and author of the book 'Sexual minorities in the People's Republic of Poland' told Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita: 'It was a nightmare for many; it's not just about the humiliating interrogation and the type of questions asked, including about the names of lovers and their favourite sex positions, they were threatened with the disclosure of their secret to their parents, colleagues, and also wives.'

He added: 'It is likely that these files were dispersed, some could have been destroyed, but there are also hypotheses that the information obtained at that time is still useful in blackmailing high-ranking people, including politicians.

'Generally, nothing can be ruled out, because so little is known about Operation Hyacinth.'   

Detainees were also blackmailed into denouncing other homosexual men, as well as describing the techniques of sexual intercourse. Above: A Secret Police file on a suspect

A Polish newspaper article from the 1980s about the operation

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