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Early 80s - Could just anybody come stroling on in?


CuriousBob 2 | 4
22 May 2012  #1
Hi everyone - I'm trying to wrap up a screenplay and I would like to be as accurate as possible; I'd hate to be lucky enough to get it to film and then have Poles say " that's not how it was " . Specifically, under the communist governement at the time; could foreigners just fly in ?; was there a 'permit" required to enter; would Americans have an "escort" or be free to roam during those turbulent Solidarity years? This has a major impact on how i construct the conclusion, so any info is good info at this point !! ...thanks in advance
jon357 63 | 14,122
22 May 2012  #2
You needed a tourist visa which they usually gave and for a while anyway, you needed to change a certain amount of hard currency at the official rate but unlike some of the Eastern Bloc countries tourists were not expected to be in an organised party and informal visitors were not escorted or followed. Nor were people on business trips and there were always (marshal law excepted) foreign people living in and visiting Poland for work, study, sport, culture, family visits, leisure etc.

Having said that, quite a lot of tourism in those days was connected to organised groups and if your screenplay is set during the marshal law period between Dec 81 and July 82 you should take into account that most foreigners who didnt have permanent residence had to leave the country.
pawian 159 | 9,515
22 May 2012  #3
Specifically, under the communist governement at the time; could foreigners just fly in ?; was there a 'permit" required to enter; would Americans have an "escort" or be free to roam during those turbulent Solidarity years?

The first Solidarity times, until martial law, are sometimes called the time of freedom. Censorship was curbed substantially, the party members seemed lost and scared, secret services tried to avoid open confrontation.

So, there was a great chance that an average American visiting Poland at that time was left alone and could do what he/she wanted.
jon357 63 | 14,122
22 May 2012  #4
A typo. June 83, not 82.
wawa_marek 1 | 129
22 May 2012  #5
would Americans have an "escort" or be free to roam during those turbulent Solidarity years?

Foreigners were mostly free to travel in Poland, but some of them had a record at SB (Security Service) files and could be even recorded when talking in a hotel bar. Most of staff in international hotels - Orbis chain was paid by SB. A lot of taxi drivers, money changers, prostitutes contacting with western foreigners could do their illegal job by condition they were colaboratoing with SB.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
23 May 2012  #6
I was a student during those years. I remember when martial law first broke the schools were closed and all the students had to return to their hometowns. The foreigners were allowed to stay and wait-it-out. We students were on a student visa and that was enough. We had no "handlers" nor do I recall anything untoward during those 7 years (in spite of our incessant paranoia).
OP CuriousBob 2 | 4
30 May 2012  #7
Hi and Thanks to you guys for responding. I'm relieved, ...I think my "working draft" version of the conclusion will survive scrutiny based upon your feedback. One more question....Leaving and entering Poland...was the normal customs search in play, or "enhanced" measures???
rybnik 18 | 1,462
31 May 2012  #8
I don't recall any enhanced, as you say, searches. The east germans, on the other hand, were merciless in both directions!
OP CuriousBob 2 | 4
31 May 2012  #9
Ha...those East Germans......guess that's where I must have some 'latent impression' of intrusive searches.....I appreciate the clarification. rybnik. Funny. my first boss was named Howard Ribnik :-) Unrelated question - "post war" - in light of everything that occured....is / was there any pro or con jewish sentiment prevalent in the general populace? Let me guess, .....complicated issue
rybnik 18 | 1,462
31 May 2012  #10
The East Germans would literally take my VW Bug "garbus" apart!

Unrelated question - "post war" - in light of everything that occured....is / was there any pro or con jewish sentiment prevalent in the general populace? Let me guess, .....complicated issue

kinda complicated.....check the threads ;)
wawa_marek 1 | 129
31 May 2012  #11
was there any pro or con jewish sentiment prevalent in the general populace?

People born in Poland in 60's mostly did't hear about Jews. Some matters regarding Jewish , Ukrainian, Czech (Czechoslowak), Lituanian history in 20 century and their relations to Polish people were not presented at history lessons. Nothing about Jews in Poland was presented in public conversations and press articles (same as UPA, Katyn, Polish - Soviet war in 1920 and Polish tanks in Prague in 1968). Most of that generation did't know any Jews and had no any sentiment.


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