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Communism fell 20 years ago, Poland led the fight since WW2


pawian 161 | 9,971
27 May 2009 #1
After WW2 Poland, contrary to its peoples` will and expectations, fell into Stalin`s hands and became one of satellites in the communist block.
But Poles never gave up hope and many times they tried to throw off the communist yoke.

Some fought against communism when it was being introduced into the country.
These partisans stayed in the forest and continued the fight, attacking communist prisons and freeing fellow underground soldiers, Polish patriots imprisoned by secret police.

Soon stalinist terror suppressed all freedom and the nation seemed subdued. But in 1956 the workers` revolt in Poznań proved that Poles didn`t give up.

We demand bread!

g

The revolt in Poznań was supressed by tanks but Poles didn`t forget

g

and the fight went on.

Later in 1956, when the Hungarian Revolution against communists broke out, Poles wholeheartedly supported Hungarians.

Hands off Hungary!

After a few years of silence, the ferment rose again. In March 1968, two months before similar protests in Western countries, Polish university students and intellectuals decided to openly critisize the communist government. They were tear-gassed, beaten and imprisoned.

tarnow.pl/historia/taka/dane/68_2d.jpg

Even when the Polish army, on Soviet orders, together with other communist countries, invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968, there were Poles who couldn`t accept it.

Ryszard Siwiec, burnt himself (suicide by self-immolation) to protest against the invasion.

h

Workers lost in 1970. But they didn`t forget

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and in 1976 they protested again in a few cities in central Poland. Again party headquarters were in flames. This time communists didn`t shoot, but clubbed and imprisoned people.

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New inventions appeared in 1976

In 1978 Karol Wojtyła was chosen the Pope. He adopted the name of John Paul II. From then on, the Polish fight for freedom gained a powerful supporter. Though communism was still inhumanely strong, it was doomed to collapse......

to be continued...
1jola 14 | 1,879
28 May 2009 #2
These partisans stayed in the forest and continued the fight, attacking communist prisons and freeing fellow underground soldiers,

The Last Partisan killed in 1963:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3zef_Franczak
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
7 Jun 2009 #3
At last workers and the intelligentsia started cooperating after the events of 1976.. They realised that only united they were able to defeat communism. A few anti-communist organizations appeared. They defended human rights, organized patriotic marches, hunger strikes, demonstrations and illegal lectures on Polish history, published books beyond censorship etc.

Patriotic demonstration in 1979.

Hunger strike members

In 1978 Karol Wojtyła was chosen the Pope. He adopted the name of John Paul II. From then on, the Polish fight for freedom gained a powerful supporter. Though communism was still inhumanely strong, it was doomed to collapse......

The Pope came to Poland in 1979. It was an incredible event, Poland witnessed things which couldn`t be seen in other countries of the communist block. Millions of people gathered in cities visited by the Pope. I also saw him, during his visit to Krakow. I was just a boy, but already aware of the importance of the events.

f

John Paul II spoke about the people's right to "have God in their lives," and the "right to freedom." People realized that strength lay in numbers and this broke the barrier of fear. Thus, the Pope's visit in June 1979 was an important prelude to the birth of Solidarity in August 1980.
Eurola 4 | 1,906
7 Jun 2009 #4
Thanks pawian, you really dedicated some time to post all of it.

We celebrated in Chicago with concert in Millennium Park. ABC Channel 7 covered the story.

abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=6839269
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
7 Jun 2009 #5
Thanks pawian, you really dedicated some time to post all of it.

There will be more. :):):)

For the time being:

On 4 June, two days ago, Poles celebrated the 20th anniversary of the collapse of communism in their country. There were concerts, events, festivals. Also, a special golden plane flew to Brussels with an unusual crew. Golden aliens invasion officially started the festival which is called: It all began in Poland.

Poland man

See them in Brussels, at 1.40 min: tvn24.pl/6622,1,szklo_kontaktowe.html
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
7 Jun 2009 #6
Great thread Pawian.
Keep up the good work and thank you.
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893
7 Jun 2009 #7
"Communism fell 20 years ago, Poland led the fight since WW2"

Really? Not what the West sees...Czech Rep were worlds away and living without communism before Poland got out the doldrums....Im not sure what your point is.
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
7 Jun 2009 #8
Really? Not what the West sees...

Really?? Who cares??? :):):):)

Seriously, which West are you talking about? Probably some undereducated masses?

Czech Rep were worlds away and living without communism before Poland got out the doldrums....Im not sure what your point is.

Really? :):):)
BTW, which Czech Rep do you mean? The one in Czechoslovakia??? :):):):)

I am afraid you must go back to serious history studies. First check the chronicle of events.

4 June - semi-free elections in Poland.
24 August - T. Mazowiecki from Solidarity becomes a Prime Minister
17 November - Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia

As you can see, Czechs (and Slovaks) still lived in a stalinist system when Poles already had a new government created by Solidarity opposition.

Im not sure what your point is.

Exactly. But, as I said, who cares?? :):):):)

Stay tuned and have a nice education!! You certainly need it. :):):):)
dnz 17 | 710
7 Jun 2009 #9
Is communism actually over? You wouldn't think that judging by the customer service and the general attitude of some people.
Eurola 4 | 1,906
7 Jun 2009 #10
Is communism actually over?

Nope. There is plenty of it in the West now and it is coming to America. The only difference is that Poland was forced into communism with Russian tanks, the West embraces it little by little without even realizing it.
z_darius 14 | 3,968
7 Jun 2009 #11
Czech Rep were worlds away and living without communism before Poland got out the doldrums

You certainly have pretty scattered ideas what happened in the last 20-30 years in former Soviet block countries.

Czechs were as commie as it gets. In fact it wasn't exactly easy for Poles to even travel to Czechoslovakia after the Poland's Solidarity movement started. Czech commies did not want Poles to infect the country with the silly ideas of freedoms and such. East Germans were even tougher. They offered military help to crash Solidarity and freedom movement in Poland in the 1980's. And then, after the Wall was already down, they suddenly became heroes and started the physical part of demolishing the Wall.

There was a huge difference between Poland and Czechoslovakia during communism. After the Prague Spring Czechs pretty much gave up while Poles were always the "troublemakers".
Bzibzioh
7 Jun 2009 #12
There was a huge difference between Poland and Czechoslovakia during communism.

Yes, and we were always the funniest barrack in that commie' camp ;)
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
7 Jun 2009 #13
Seriously, which West are you talking about? Probably some undereducated masses?

Fortunately, educated Westerners know the truth

Tearing down the Iron Curtain

PRAGUE - A quiz for history buffs. Twenty years ago - on June 4, 1989 - three events shaped a fateful year. Which do you remember most vividly, and which most changed the world?: (a) the bloody denouement of the protests on Tiananmen Square; (b) the death of Iran's revolutionary cleric, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini; and (c) the Polish elections.

Few would answer (c). The victory of the famed opposition trade-union movement, Solidarity, in Eastern Europe's first free election since 1946 was eclipsed by the violent crackdown in Beijing and Khomeini's tumultuous passing.

[....]

SeanBM 35 | 5,808
7 Jun 2009 #14
4 June -semi-free elections in Poland.

I am reading about this now,
35% of the seats in the parliament were up for the real elections after the Sejm agreement.
The rest of the seats went to the commies.
Solidarity got 160 out of 161 available seats.
62.7% of the population voted, the highest number on record.

I thought this was interesting.
"Only a few days before June 4 the party Central Committee was discussing the possible reaction of the Western world should Solidarity not win a single seat. At the same time the Solidarity leaders were trying to prepare some set of rules for the non-party MPs in a Communist-dominated parliament, as it was expected that the Solidarity would win not more than 20 seats."

From Wiki en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contract_Sejm
Boy oh boy, did the people speak.
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
9 Jun 2009 #15
More on Polish defiance:

1980, one year after Pope`s visit to Poland, workers of shipyards went on strike. They decided to lock themselves inside their workplaces as they still remembered the massacre of 1970 when the communist police and army had shot them like ducks in streets.

The biggest Polish shipyard in Gdańsk, at that time called Lenin Shipyard.

Striking workers were led by Lech Walesa.

Workers` families gathered at the fence of the locked shipyard every day. People feared another massacre similar to one in 1970.

What struck foreign journalists and observers was the religiousness of workers.

Workers vowed to stand by each other. The idea of Solidarity was born.

Count on me.

After attempts to break workers`s determination, the communist authorites sent a representative to run negotiations which took place in this room. Lenin bust on the right.

The members of the Strike Comittee. Their main postulate was the right to an independent trade union, not subjected to authorities control.

Negotiations

Triumph. The government gave in, workers were allowed to register their independent trade union called Solidarity and gained the legal right to strike (in communist countries strikes were illegal).

Signing the pact. Walesa is using a giant pen. :):):)

In this way Solidarity became another milestone in Polish history.

The communist answer was typical: Propaganda
Common road, common aim

In December 1980 Poland avoided the Soviet invasion similar to the one in 1968 in Czechoslovakia. It is said that Soviet leaders were intent on implementing the invasion but eventually changed their mind, apparently after American president and others` warnings.

The next 12 months were very stormy. Poland`s economy ruled by communists was falling apart. The foreign debt amounted to incredible 26 billion $, with crushing interest rates to be paid. The export of goods to earn hard currency deprived Polish internal market of many nessecities. The authorities introduced rationing: meat, sweets, flour, fats, pasta (sugar was already rationed in 1976). Later on vodka, cigarettes, petrol, etc etc.

Meat rationing card

10 million Poles joined Solidarity (even socialist militiamen and other regime services tried to set up Solidarity cells in their work places but to no avail as they were immediately fired). Party members gave up their membership en masse.

People demanded more political freedom but also expected that the government would introduce some sane measures to improve the tragic economic situation. They didn`t realise that the condition of inefficient economy was hopeless.

Inside the butcher`s at the time.

People got tired by shortages and hard conditions. Also they got tired by communists` resistance to give more freedom to people. Concessions that communists had already made (e.g., less strict censorship in the press, journalists could write about many things which had been banned before) were not enough, e.g, T.V. still was controlled by the regime, and spread lies and misinformation, making people really angry.



Solidarity members organized strikes, marches, protests.

Free political prisoners!

Communist regime organised dirty provocations, e.g, Solidarity members were beaten by the police.

But nobody predicted what it was planning to do:

to be cont...
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
10 Jun 2009 #16
Thanks again Pawian.

The authorities introduced rationing: meat, sweets, flour, fats, pasta (sugar was already rationed in 1976). Later on vodka, cigarettes, petrol, etc etc.




sadieann 2 | 205
10 Jun 2009 #17
Thanks, Pawian. Excellent. Not all Westerners are illiterate in historical Communism and the effects it had on Poland.
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
10 Jun 2009 #18
Is communism actually over? You wouldn't think that judging by the customer service and the general attitude of some people.

I saw some nasty treatment of customers or passengers in US stores and buses back in those 90s.
Does it mean that US is/was a communist country? :):):)
Probably it is now wwith Obama spending more billions to support crumbling companies. That is what communists used to do in the past, that is why communist economy sucked. :):):):)

g

When did you collect such nice ration cards?
sadieann 2 | 205
11 Jun 2009 #19
Specially for you, the next part of Polish anti-communist defiance.

sadieann:

Thank you, Pawian for sharing the Polish Anti-Communist Defiance. This is extremely relevant. Let us not forget how hard it is to live under Communism. Great overview. It's unfathomable this only happened two decades ago. My husband, lived in this repressive Poland. Tanks at corners, curfews, secretly listening to news, getting rations before school, grass being painted green when dignitaries were coming, no freedom of speech. A great service and time was generated for this forum. Many Thanks!
WooPee 1 | 124
11 Jun 2009 #20
pawian, I think we may know each other from some other forum... ;)
sjam 2 | 541
11 Jun 2009 #21
shocking brutality of the communist regime who fought against its own peoples and was ready to kill in order to defend socialism.

Was anyone ever tired or prosecuted for the massacre in Wujek mine?

General Jaruzelski, backed by the communist regular police, secret police, the army and party leaders and members,

Did these repressive organisations, especially the the army and secret police of the time, consist of Poles or Soviets?
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
11 Jun 2009 #22
pawian, I think we may know each other from some other forum... ;)

Yes, very probable, I have joined many historical forums and have been putting the same story in them to promote knowledge of the Polish effort.

Was anyone ever tired or prosecuted for the massacre in Wujek mine?

Yes, the main trial of murderers ended just this year, in April. The commander of the shooting unit was sentenced to 11 years, other murderers from 2.5 to 3 years. Because of the amnesty in 1989, the sentences were reduced by half.

There are still trials of the Police Chief and military prosecutors from the time.

Read more about the massacre in the mine
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacification_of_Wujek
The Pacification of Wujek was a strike-breaking action by the communist forces at the Wujek Coal Mine in Katowice, Poland, culminating in the massacre of striking miners on December 16, 1981. It was part of a large-scale action aimed to break the Solidarity trade union after the introduction of the martial law in Poland in 1981. The pacification was technically successful; however, in a longer term, it turned out to be a milestone towards the collapse of the communists system in Poland...

Did these repressive organisations, especially the the army and secret police of the time, consist of Poles or Soviets?

It is a very painful issue because they were all Polish. And there weren`t any Jews, if you hint at that. These Poles were lackeys of the Soviet empire, the worst scum ever.
Switek - | 59
11 Jun 2009 #23
9. Schools broke up for two months.

IIRC, Schools were closed till the January 2nd... so, it was only three weeks.
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
11 Jun 2009 #24
Hmm... I think I was talking generally about all education places in Poland. Yes, regular schools started back on 2 January, but universities on 8 February, which makes about 2 months, doesn`t it? :):):):)
Switek - | 59
11 Jun 2009 #25
Could be... I do not deny! :)

8. Travels to other cities or countries were halted, all those waiting at Okêcie Airport were turned back. To travel to another city you had to have a pass.

In fact the limits were between provinces. You could relatively free travel inside province. When you need to go further you really had to poses a special pass.

Big cities were, in fact surrounded by military and police troops and main entrances were closed by check points.

One thing more. While the martial law was a really a dark period in our latest history its performance differed in main urban areas and in the country side, where it wasn't such arduous...
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
11 Jun 2009 #26
When did you collect such nice ration cards?

I did not collect them, this is a photo I took when I was on a tour of Nowa Huta. I just thought they would fit this thread and what you are discussing.

There were also some very interesting communist promotional propaganda videos.

Wojciech Jaruzelski declaring martial law

Didn't Wojciech Jaruzelski, send secret letters to the Soviet Union, asking for help, to "control" the Solidarity movement?.
The U.S.S.R. said no and Jaruzelski declared martial law, telling the lie, that he was doing this to "protect" the Polish people against Soviet attack from the U.S.S.R?.

the shocking brutality of the communist regime who fought against its own peoples

It is a very painful issue because they were all Polish.

I have heard that they were all on hard drugs, amphetamine and others kinds of mind altering drugs, is this true?.
Civil war is the worst kind, brother against brother.

IIRC, Schools

What does IIRC mean?.

While the martial law was a really a dark period in our latest history its performance differed in main urban areas and in the country side, where it wasn't such arduous...

Could you explain more, please, as I do not fully understand what you mean.

Thanks again Pawian, keep up the good work.
sjam 2 | 541
11 Jun 2009 #27
It is a very painful issue because they were all Polish.

I asked because if the the Polish secret Police and Polish army (and other organisations of repression in communist Poland) were predominantly, or soley, Polish manned rather than Soviet manned then could this period considered a "civil war" as SeanBM has also just mentioned?

I am newly interested in the relationship of the events of the 1980's "civil war", if it can be described as such, and the "civil war" in Poland as discussed in Anita Prazmowska's impressively researched and reasoned book; Civil War in Poland, 1942-1948 (ISBN-13: 978-0333982129. Palgrave Macmillan—2004) which I have just finished reading.
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
11 Jun 2009 #28
The martial law was implemented by Poles against other Poles. Soviet troops didn`t participate in it. General Jaruzelski had consulted his Soviet military superiors, that`s natural, apart from being the Prime Minister, he was also the head of Polish Armed Forces and as such he stood to attention before Marshall Kulikow, the commander of the Warsaw Pact.

General Jaruzelski and others have always claimed that they had to introduce the martial law because there was an imminent threat of Soviet intervention in Poland. They simply chose the lesser evil - home crackdown instead of foreign invasions and probably war. However, documents available today prove that Soviets didn` t have any intention to invade Poland in Czechoslovakia-1968-style. One Afghanistan was enough for Soviet leaders at the time, they didn`t want to get into another quagmire in Poland. But they took every chance possible to exert pressure on Polish leaders to crack on Solidarity at last. The independent workers` movement and union meant a deadly danger to the communist system whose very nature is to keep everything under the state control. Solidarity couldn`t be controlled, so it had to be destroyed to avoid giving a bad example to other socialist countries.

Soviet and socialist countries` governments welcomed the martial law with enthusiasm and full support. The governments of Western European countries sighed with relief that at last "the crisis" in Poland was settled. Common Westerners showed great sympathy to Poles - Germans, the French, Scandinavians and others sent millions of parcels with food and clothing to Poland during the hardest time.

The US government answered with embargo on trade and loans.

I have heard that they were all on hard drugs, amphetamine and others kinds of mind altering drugs, is this true?.

Not the guys who made arrests. They had to be clear. But the riot police who fought with demonstrators in streets were said to be drugged because they beat people in complete amock. Beating frenzy.

But they lost. :):):):)

In December 1981 I was young and rather unaware of the situation because politics was boring to me. I prefered my books, for school and not only, I also started to be interested in girls. In 1982 I left primary school and went to a high school and that was connected with passing entrance exams. I studied hard.

But my political education was growing rapidly after December 1981. When in the high school in September 1982, I was fully aware of my strong reluctance to communism and those who implemented it in Poland. I wasn`t alone - during school years most of us were against.

We were children of the martial law. Tough, confirmed anticommunists. No wonder communism was doomed to fall. :):):):)

I am newly interested in the relationship of the events of the 1980's "civil war", if it can be described as such, and the "civil war" in Poland

Years 1981-1989 wasn`t a civil war. Solidarity side didn`t have any weapons and they consciously decided not to use ones. It was a peaceful revolution in a totalitarian country ruled by the regime backed by Soviet bayonettes.

Besides, the martial law, though full of violence and even brutal murders committed by the regime henchmen, was quite mild compared to similar events in other countries. In Tiananmen Square in China a few thousands people were killed during one night alone. In Poland about 100 during the whole martial law.

Yes, 1945-1945 were civil war with victims on both sides.
sjam 2 | 541
12 Jun 2009 #29
The martial law was implemented by Poles against other Poles. Soviet troops didn`t participate in it.

Did any Polish troops mutiny against the regime at this time or did they all just follow orders supporting General Jaruzelski and martial law?
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
12 Jun 2009 #30
The martial law imposed multiple restrictions on freedom but didn`t suppress the aspirations of the nation. From 1981 to 1989 Solidarity led an underground activity and encouraged Poles to resist communism. Resistance, due to the regime`s brutality, was carried out in a peaceful way. E.g, the boycott of state TV.

TV NEWS OBJECTORS

It happened in 1982 in Świdnik, an industrial town in southern Poland, where people found many ways in which they expressed their disagreement with the regime`s policy. The disagreement which in fact, in conditions of totalitarian system, meant protest. Such nonviolent protest was something that communists couldn`t cope with.

""One evening, just as the nightly television news came on, a Pole fed up with the daily dose of government propaganda got out of his chair, turned his TV set toward the window and went out for a stroll. No one in Swidnik, a factory town 100 miles southeast of Warsaw, claims to know just who made that first "news-walk," but within days almost the entire population of 30,000 began to crowd the tree-lined main street for an evening promenade during the 7:30 newscast."

Another way to demonstrate one`s attitude to communism was going to street demonstrations. They always ended in violent riots.
The most massive and biggest demonstrations took place on 31 August, 1982, to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Solidarity. Hundreds of thousands people went out to streets, clashes lasted for many hours till night, several thousand were arrested, cities were totally tear gassed. In one case the police shot at people, killing 3. Such demonstrations, big or small, continued till 1989.

The riot police didn` t pity anyone. They were said to be drunk or sometimes even drugged.

See how the police attacks peaceful elderly people who attended the mass in the Old Town in Warsaw, 1983.
dziennik.pl/foto/article166058/Palowanie_pod_katedra.html?gallerySeq=1#top

Krakow, Nowa Huta. See the gas attack on the crowd of demonstrators.

Blood

Walesa in the picture and V-sign meaning victory over communism.

Lenin desecrated

j

A sudden attack on unsuspecting women who have just put a floral cross on the ground in the site where John Paul II gave a sermon.

In 1982 the police used guns against demonstrators which were going home after a peaceful protest. 3 men were killed on the spot.

On August 31, 1982, the communist regime perpetrated a crime in Lubin that shall forever remain in the hearts and minds of the townsmen as well as all Poles. Due to the actions of Civic Militia 3 people were fatally shot and other tens were wounded. The memory of the victims of the Martial Law is crucial for coming generations. The memory of Michał Adamowicz, Andrzej Trajkowski and Mieczysław Poźniak, all of whom were killed by the 'people's government', should never wane. The names of those whose decisions contributed to the killing of innocent people should also never be forgotten.

j

This is the best known photograph of the event - men are carrying a fatally wounded mate under gun fire. You must admit it is really shocking. It is a symbol of communist rule in Poland.

j

j

Temporary monument on the day after the killing.

j

j

Bullet holes

j

Inhabitants of Lubin were indomitable. On the next day after the massacre they went out to streets again to protest against communist crimes.

j

j

Films from various protests and events of the martial law:

j


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