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DID THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT OF POLAND CENSOR MAIL IN AND OUT OF POLAND


guzzler 1 | 88
18 May 2010 #1
I seem to remember my friend receiving mail from her brother during the soviet occupation and parts of the letter was blanked out. Has anyone experience of this happening to them also parcels coming from abroad were they interfered with.
z_darius 14 | 3,968
18 May 2010 #2
Yes. Some people on the commie watch list could not get their letter in or out without them being covertly read by "someone". During martial law the censorship was not even covert and letters would arrive with a red stamp "Censured".

Also, for about the first year during martial law inter city travel was restricted within the country. One had to apply for a permit.

Direct employees of the communist puppet government (the military, the police and higher ranking communist officials) were censored too, especially in regards to letters they send to or received from abroad.
plk123 8 | 4,149
18 May 2010 #3
+ parcels could be confiscated.. this could just be because of theft though.
isthatu2 4 | 2,703
18 May 2010 #5
Worked for the royal mail one christmas while a student....all countries censor/interfere with incoming mail,dont make no difference whether "commie" or "democracy"....
OP guzzler 1 | 88
18 May 2010 #6
During martial law the censorship was not even covert and letters would arrive with a red stamp "Censured".

Darius that really makes sence I think when she showed me the latter it had a stamp marked censured. Its over fifty years ago so its looking back through the mists of time and she had been in the AK.

+ parcels could be confiscated.. this could just be because of theft though.

She used to send parcels with medicine and woolen jumpers from Marks and Spencer's but I think they all got there.

You might find this interesting: Communism fell 20 years ago, Poland led the fight since WW2.
I think it is the best thread on these forums.

SeanBM thanks the link it is a fantastic thread and exactly what I wanted to know about Poland in those terrible times the author has done a wonderful job.

Worked for the royal mail one christmas while a student....all countries censor/interfere with incoming mail,dont make no difference whether "commie" or "democracy"....

I never knew that what a bloody liberty!
milky 13 | 1,657
18 May 2010 #7
with this google surveillence thing on the news today and with it been nothing but the tip of the tip if the iceberg i wonder how much of our elecronic mail is read and disected today.Just watched that German movie recently "other peoples lives" it took a lot of manpower for the the stassi to operate. i doubt the Bush patriot act need as much to do their massive job.
Paulina 10 | 1,774
18 May 2010 #8
Has anyone experience of this happening to them also parcels coming from abroad were they interfered with.

My mother when she was a kid was exchanging letters with a Russian girl (it was a "frendship with the USSR" school project or something of this kind). And in one of her letters the Russian girl wrote to my mum that next time she will send her gifts in the envelope: an embroided handkerchief and a golden ring. My mum received the letter but it was torn and glued together, there was a handerchief inside, but no ring LOL
AdamKadmon 2 | 508
18 May 2010 #9
this google surveillence thing

Don't bother yourself. If you are not a bloody terrorist, they won't waist their precious time on you.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
18 May 2010 #10
Some people on the commie watch list could not get their letter in or out without them being covertly read by "someone". During martial law the censorship was not even covert and letters would arrive with a red stamp "Censured".

Only ppl on the commie watch list? We were taught back then that everybody got censured. In fact we censured the East Bloc away: I can remember that in my school a map of Europe hung where everything East from Western Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and Greece was literally made grey with a few red dots and squares to mark the cities. Exceptions were Turkey to the East of Greece, which was coloured like the West and Albania, which like the East was greyed out as well.

>^..^<

M-G (we were also taught that ppl in those "grey areas" were only out to start a war with us and kill us all)
z_darius 14 | 3,968
18 May 2010 #11
Only ppl on the commie watch list? We were taught back then that everybody got censured.

I guess this might be a got point to clarify some things.
One is surveillance - reading of correspondence, mostly without the knowledge of those closely watched. And then there is censorship whereby content of correspondence was in whole or in part removed or altered.

And now, to answer your question:

for periods of time only some person's correspondence was surveyed and/or censored, not everybody's. So they taught you wrong. Everybody's mail was scrutinized only during martial law. Whether in fact all the letters were open and read is another story. Personally I don't believe there was the capacity to ready millions of letters every single day during the martial law in Poland.
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
18 May 2010 #12
The Black Book of Polish Censorship (Czarna ksiega cenzury PRL) consists of approximately 700 pages of classified documents, which the Cracow censor, Tomasz Strzyzewski, smuggled out of People's Poland to Sweden in February 1977.

arts.gla.ac.uk/Slavonic/staff/Blackbook.html

---------------------------------------------------------------

library.cornell.edu/colldev/slav/publishinghistory.html

A Brief History of Polish Underground Publishing During Solidarity

---------------------------------------------------------------

(History of Poland 1914-1939), was printed posthumously. Due to the government crackdown on opposition the book was heavily censored....
the Polish communist censorship completely removed any mention of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (Nazi Germany-Soviet alliance) and the section on the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939 together with the photo of the German-Soviet parade in Brześć was removed and replaced with a general note on changed borders.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Polish cinema got around censorship sometimes and was at it's height, in my opinion, during the communist regime.
It is an amazing ability of man to be so creative when persecuted or the great quote is "After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock"

I suggest watching these but they are all in Polish, they use metaphors for communism or just laugh at it directly: Alternatywy Cztery (in Polish), Kingsajz, Rozmowy kontrolowane, Mis, Seksmisja.
milky 13 | 1,657
18 May 2010 #13
(Adamkamdon...) but what about dissidents and the right to privacy and civil rights etc etc etc....These orwellian soviet style acts(patriot) are an attak on democracy

surveillance and censorship work hand in hand, the distinction is blurred.. In Ireland there was section 31 and RUC /Gardai network surveillance.
I would imagine that the Stassi and co would use surveillence to detect dissidents and then concentrate on their letters and phone calls. Today it is much more advanced. They can listen in to us all.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
18 May 2010 #14
So they taught you wrong.

Well, it was during the Cold War. You guys were the enemy. You can't expect that sth correct or positive is being taught to kids about the enemy. I am sure you guys got quite distorted lessons where the West was concerned.

>^..^<

M-G (but thanks for the clarification)
z_darius 14 | 3,968
18 May 2010 #15
Yes, we were taught wrong on many issues too.

Btw. speaking of cold war, Polish forces, in case of a conflict between the West and the East was supposed to operate on the territories of Holland, Belgium and vicinity.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
18 May 2010 #16
Polish forces, in case of a conflict between the West and the East was supposed to operate on the territories of Holland, Belgium and vicinity.

I knew there was a connection :) We got taught that such a conflict would mainly take place in Germany. There was, as far as I know, not a specific plan in case of conflict. At least not for the Dutch army. They scared us though by telling us that a Eastbloc missile was pointed at each of our cities and the main thread were to come from the former DDR.

That directive is from 1970: forum.fok.nl/topic/900075

It's in Dutch, don't need to read it, it's about the revelations the opening of the Warsaw Pakt archives brought forth, just want you to look at the map that's included. They had plans to atombomb cities like Amsterdam, Apeldoorn, Zwolle and the like. The main battlefield would have been in the area where I grew up :S

>^..^<

M-G (scary idea that the 3rd World War would have been fought in my backyard)
OP guzzler 1 | 88
18 May 2010 #17
we were also taught that ppl in those "grey areas" were only out to start a war with us and kill us all)

M-G How well wired up for a war we all were during the cold war it was almost a case we knew the ICBMs were going to fly so lets get it over with. In 1977 my wife and I went Czechoslovakia it was very repressive the people were very nice but we could feel the underline hopelessness. When we spoke to them for any length of time they would tell us how unhappy they were. The beautiful city of Prague was in a sorry state for the want of maintenance the Soviets did not seem to have a maintenance program. We intended to stay a week after three days we had enough so we left and headed for Germany.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
19 May 2010 #18
I know, we all were. I went to Berlin in 1986 and me and my friends of course wanted to see East Berlin with all the hassle this meant at Checkpoint Charley. To us it was just cool, a part of Europe that has been closed to us our entire life. Just to see it meant a thrill, not the thrill of "look how bad they have it", but more a thrill of sth completely unknown at the time. You were in the East. Where soldiers ruled.

A friend of mine, whose gf and later wife was the daughter of Hungarians who had fled during the 1956 Imre Nagy revolt, told us that he on a trip to his gf's relatives in Hungary also had been to the far East of that country and that he could see the Soviet Union. At the time we thought that was awesome and incredibly cool. Not that we supported the SU, but because it was a strange, closed country. A country that you couldn't enter just like that.

However, if you were willing enough to spend some time waiting, you could indeed visit Czechoslowakia, Romania, Poland and the SU. Hungary and Bulgaria and of course Yugoslavia were always relatively easy to access.

>^..^<

M-G (tiens)
Mr Grunwald 29 | 1,969
19 May 2010 #19
Btw. speaking of cold war, Polish forces, in case of a conflict between the West and the East was supposed to operate on the territories of Holland, Belgium and vicinity.

Ive heard from my family it was very likely that the Polish armed forces would rebel and join the NATO forces. Do you think that would have happened?
plk123 8 | 4,149
19 May 2010 #20
with this google surveillence thing on the news today and with it been nothing but the tip of the tip if the iceberg i wonder how much of our elecronic mail is read and disected today.Just watched that German movie recently "other peoples lives" it took a lot of manpower for the the stassi to operate. i doubt the Bush patriot act need as much to do their massive job.

i'm pretty sure all correspondence between USA and servers outside of the mainland are screened under the unPatriotic Law.

Don't bother yourself. If you are not a bloody terrorist, they won't waist their precious time on you.

let me repeat this: ALL correspondence between USA and outside world is screened.

I am sure you guys got quite distorted lessons where the West was concerned.

the west was never portrayed as the enemy.. never when i was around anyway.

Do you think that would have happened?

if not the forces, the people would have.
z_darius 14 | 3,968
19 May 2010 #21
Ive heard from my family it was very likely that the Polish armed forces would rebel and join the NATO forces. Do you think that would have happened?

There was a joke circulating among Poles - to get rid of the Soviets, let's declare war on the US, let them attack us and then surrender.

There was a degree of sympathy towards the West during communist times so there would be likely defections but that would depend on the circumstances. Although very, very few knew about it, the Soviet plan, in case the West was prevailing, was to nuke central Poland at the cost of roughly 10 to 12 million Polish lives. The nuclear wasteland thus created would have been, according to the Soviet strategists, an effective barrier preventing NATO from penetrating too close to the paradise, i.e the USSR.
Mr Grunwald 29 | 1,969
26 May 2010 #22
There was a degree of sympathy towards the West during communist times so there would be likely defections but that would depend on the circumstances.

Yeah, like if the Americans behaved like Iraq style or liberating France style?
1jola 14 | 1,879
27 May 2010 #23
There was a degree of sympathy towards the West during communist times so there would be likely defections but that would depend on the circumstances.

Defections would have been massive, or rather desertions. That is what was expected in the 80s, but for US Europe was just a buffer zone anyway. The Soviets would have reached England within a week to find blown up bases since all able aircraft would have been launched for a one way trip.

As to the mail, the biggest concern SB had was to steal dollars, marks, and pounds sent to families from the West. They censored that mail well.

Telephone calls were listened in on just like they are in prisons now. The censor could cut the call.
southern 75 | 7,096
27 May 2010 #24
I remember our school books of the 80's written by commie sympathizers described the communist system as extremely successful.They also included statistics s which showed spectacular performance in countries like Albania while they showed slow down in Italy and Spain.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,475
27 May 2010 #25
The Soviets would have reached England within a week to find blown up bases since all able aircraft would have been launched for a one way trip.

It's impossible to say - if NATO looked like losing in Germany, then nuclear weapons would have been brought into the game as the Soviets always had the manpower advantage.

Certainly, it depends on the timeframe - the Soviets would had the advantage between the early 1950's and 1970's, but after 1970 - I'm not so sure. The Soviet Union had made enemies out of China by that point, the Warsaw Pact nations were ready to rebel and Soviet supply chains would have had to rely on countries like Poland and the Baltic States - none of whom were going to be particularly helpful. Don't forget that many countries were firmly non-aligned and were prepared to fight anyone to enforce that - Finland and Yugoslavia come to mind.

I imagine that the most likely scenario would be the Soviets initially overrunning Germany and the Low Countries, only to see civil war simultaneously break out in places like Hungary and Poland - which would end up causing all sorts of problems for them. Compare this to Western Europe, where NATO would have ensured that everyone was on the same page.

But really, I'm not convinced that the Soviet Union post-1945 had much interest in invading Western Europe anyway - they finally had their breathing space, and no-one was inclined to take it from them.
convex 20 | 3,978
27 May 2010 #26
I imagine that the most likely scenario would be the Soviets initially overrunning Germany and the Low Countries

Armor was always the worry in Germany. Had Soviet armor moved across the border, the plan was to use Lance to deliver tactical nuclear weapons and take them out at the Fulda Gap. The loss of Germany was completely unacceptable to NATO.
Ozi Dan 26 | 569
1 Jun 2010 #27
Correct me if I'm wrong, but my limited knowledge on this was that the A10 Warthog was specifically produced to counter the threat of Soviet armour?
wildrover 98 | 4,451
1 Jun 2010 #28
Yes it was built specifically to destroy armour...but not to counter the Soviet threat , it was not around in those days...It would have been a case of Nato troops and tanks trying to stop them , and when we failed , due to sheer weight of numbers tactical nuclear weapons would have been used...We were sure we were better trained and equipped than the Russians , but we just didn,t have the numbers...We would have been in the same position as the German elite tank units in the second war...we could destroy five of their tanks for every one of ours , but there would always be six...!

Related: A documentary about censorship In PRL (Poland before 1989)



A fascinating read about communist censorship in Poland: arts.gla.ac.uk/Slavonic/staff/Blackbook.html

The Black Book of Polish Censorship (Czarna ksiega cenzury PRL) consists of approximately 700 pages of classified documents, which the Cracow censor, Tomasz Strzyzewski, smuggled out of People's Poland to Sweden in February 1977. Strzyzewski had collected, copied and removed these materials from his office between the summer of 1975 and his departure. The London emigre publisher Aneks published them first in two volumes in 1977. Subsequently, extracts were published in Poland, appearing in the bulletin of the oppositionist Workers' Defence Committee as well as in other underground journals such as Zapis (The Record). The "second circulation" publisher NOWA issued selections from the materials in book form in 1977 in a run of some 1500 copies, making it one of the biggest underground publications in the pre-Solidarity era .[...]

Things like that were little stones which gradually made an avalanche which toppled communism.
aliciamn - | 1
13 Nov 2017 #29
Hello! I would like to contact those people who has censored letters, could you maybe one of you send me your mails? It's for an interesting project!


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