'Operation Hyacinth'
Source: Netflix

Is the Netflix Original 'Operation Hyacinth' Based on a True Story?

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Oct. 13 2021, Published 12:46 p.m. ET

Netflix's latest edge-of-your-seat crime drama thriller is Operation Hyacinth, which will keep viewers guessing until the very end. Though the Polish-language film is about a man's quest to identify and capture a serial killer, there's so much more to the plot than that.

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The Netflix movie references the real Operation Hyacinth, a registration program in Poland that specifically targeted members of the LGBTQIA+ community between 1985 and 1987.

Though the database in Operation Hyacinth did exist, many other aspects of the plot are not based on true events or on real people.

'Operation Hyacinth'
Source: Netflix
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What is the Netflix drama 'Operation Hyacinth' about?

The Netflix original takes place in Poland's capital city, Warsaw, in 1985 as the communist police force enforces a registration program known as Operation Hyacinth. The goal of the program is to create a database of people in the nation who identify as gay as a means to "prevent crime."

The thriller film follows a young police officer named Robert (Tomasz Ziętek), who is the son of a high-ranking official in the secret police force. Robert is tasked with looking into the gruesome murder of a gay man. As these slayings continue, Robert determines that there is a serial killer on the loose who is targeting members of the gay community.

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As those above Robert in the force stress the importance of quick convictions, he recognizes that many of the investigations, interrogations, and confessions are both deeply flawed and manipulated.

To aid in his investigation and to get an insider perspective, Robert enlists the help of an informant named Arek (Hubert Milkowski). Along the way, Robert learns a lot about himself, his own sexuality, and the job that he has taken on.

'Operation Hyacinth'
Source: Netflix
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Is 'Operation Hyacinth' based on a true story?

The murder featured in the Netflix film is not inspired off of a real crime, and Robert is not based on an actual figure from the time. However, the Operation Hyacinth registration program did actually exist in Poland between 1985 and 1987.

During this time period, the Milicja Obywatelska (the Citizens' Militia), a national police organization for the Polish People's Republic, secretly worked on creating a database of gay citizens, and those who regularly interacted with them.

More than 11,000 people were included in the registry, and their information was recorded on what became known as "pink files."

Communist authorities claimed at the time that the registry existed to combat prostitution, the spread of HIV, and gangs.

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'Operation Hyacinth'
Source: Netflix

The Operation Hyacinth film concludes with information about the program, which is translated from Polish.

"In 1985-1987, as part of Operation 'HYACINTH,' thousands of LGBT community members were surveilled, detained, and questioned. Over 11,000 'pink files' were created and used to blackmail and pressure homosexuals. To this day, most of the files have not been recovered."

Operation Hyacinth is available to stream on Netflix now.

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