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Life in communist Poland - personal relations


pawian 151 | 7,977    
5 Jan 2013  #1
I decided to start a thread about our experiences with communism (socialism) in Poland after learning that the leftist party :

Leftist party wants 2013 to be communist leader 'Edward Gierek year'
Gierek replaced Władysław Gomułka as communist party first secretary in Poland in 1970, following rioting and protest over the massive price rises of basic commodities. Gierek developed relations with western leaders, particularly France's Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and West Germany's Helmut Schmidt. Foreign loans from western credit fuelled a short-lived consumer boom in Poland, which petered-out by the middle of the decade. Protests again broke out in 1976, laying the foundations for the growth of the Solidarity movement four years later. Gierek was replaced as party leader in September 1980 by Stanisław Kania and died, in July 2001, a highly controversial figure in Poland.

thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/122957,Leftist-party-wants-2013-to-b e-communist-leader-Edward-Gierek-year

s

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Gierek
Gierek promised economic reform and instituted a program to modernize industry and increase the availability of consumer goods, doing so mostly through foreign loans.[2] His good relations with Western politicians, especially France's Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and West Germany's Helmut Schmidt, were a catalyst for his receiving western aid and loans.

The standard of living increased markedly in the Poland of the 1970s, and for a time he was hailed a miracle-worker. The economy, however, began to falter during the 1973 oil crisis, and by 1976 price increases became necessary. New riots broke out in June 1976, and although they were forcibly suppressed, the planned price increases were canceled


PS. I used relations in the title on purpose, btw. I like it more than storiesor accounts.

PS.2 I lived in communism for about 20 years - during 1970s and 1980s. Enough to start a thread. :):):):):)
Zibi - | 336    
6 Jan 2013  #2
I detest that guy and everyone else who was actively helping him to subdue Poland at the time. I remember.
SeanBM 35 | 5,809    
6 Jan 2013  #3
Pawian, what do you think of communism being used in advertisements?

Lenin

given Poland's history it seems ridiculous to me to use such icons to sell things but perhaps Poles see the irony better than me, of using the symbols of communism to sell products?
kcharlie 2 | 165    
6 Jan 2013  #4
The Great Leader was certainly popular with many people, not least because of a brief period of material well-being and an easing of repressions against relatives of prominent anti-communists and of the Church.

My parents were in their teens and therefore too young to care, but my non-communist grandparents do remember a brief period of relative material well-being around that time. My communist grandparents were first-class citizens and always had it good, having access to material luxuries that were out of reach for the populace at large, so naturally, they're nostalgic about the period of Soviet occupation in its entirety.

While Comrade Gierek does, arguably, deserve some credit for being forward-looking and innovative, even if some of his reforms turned out to be a dud, declaring 2013 the year of Edward Gierek makes the modern post-communists appear backward-looking and stuck in the past. In the whole history of the People's Republic, there was just one person who managed to make Communism reasonably tolerable for a large part of the population for a few short years. What about the rest of the Polish Communist Party, and their successors, the Democratic Left Alliance? What good did they do?

They might as well declare it the year of a more modern prominent figure of the Polish Left. How about Lew Rywin?
1jola 14 | 1,880    
6 Jan 2013  #5
what do you think of communism being used in advertisements?

Propagating totalitarian systems and their heroes is illegal in Poland. Of course, due to a well planned transition, the communists retained control over key sectors of government, one of them being the justice system. So, even though there are laws against carrying around communist flags around, the courts are very unlikely to prosecute the new "progressives." Since there was no decommunisation, the same judges, prosecutors, and often now their children sit at the bar.

See? KPP is quite open about it kompol.org

It is worth mentioning the "useful idiots." Ruch Palikota, SLD, Krytyka Polityczna crowd, Gazeta Wborcza, Antifa, etc., who are continuing the fight against the family, the Church, and Poland as a nation state. Of course, you can join them by concentrating on a struggle against racism, homophobia, antisemitism, and patriotism. You will feel good about yourself for being progressive and modern, a "New Man, " and you will be delighted in your contribution in bringing down Western civilization. In Poland, your main enemy is the Church and PiS. This is not personal to you Sean, but if the glove fits...
enkidu 7 | 623    
6 Jan 2013  #6
Personally? I was a child. An indoctrinated child.
And I did not understood much. For instance - I quite enjoy the tanks and soldiers camping on the main square of my town. I wanted to play with them, but my parents forbade me this joy.

I liked the 1st May parade. With the flags, music, sweets.
I remember that during the working hours the streets were empty. Everybody worked. Unemployment was something unheard of. There was no one homeless.
"Avoiding of the duty of work" was an criminal offence. lol
The streets were clean. There was no advertisements or flashing neons. There was no rubbish because everything was obligatory recycled. And the plastic was rare.

In the shops - there was a simplicity. There was no thousands brands of everything. Milk was simply a milk. Butter was simply butter. (I think there was two kinds of butter - the fresh one, and the frozen one). In every shop there was exactly the same stuff at exactly the same price (no special offers or "buy one get one free"). I remember when they "free the prices" - that is that every shopkeeper gain the right to set his own prices (I think that was about 1991). People were outraged and called a "thief" a shopkeeper who demand the price higher than the other one.

Unification was total. In every house you would find exactly the same set of furniture. Not "similar" - exactly the same. . There was a few kinds of cars (I believe about 4 different models) in a few colours (black, white, red and blue - and that's it). The clothes were produced in the central factories. Of course - there was some choice of clothes and shoes and you could compose them in a different way but overall: The people on the streets wear the same stuff. Like in uniforms.

Money did not matter much. I know that is hard to believe but really - everybody got the money. And the money was mostly useless. There was no way to be rich even with the fat valet. For money you could buy simple stuff like clothing or food or train ticket but the more expensive stuff (like cars, houses, washing machines, TV's etc) were not to be bought by money. For instance - flats were given not bought. If you wanted to live in your own flat - you should find a job and make yourself useful.

Let's say that you are a young man who want to start your independent life. If you are bright enough, you may want to study at the University (for free of course). Or you can find the factory that needs you. Sometimes in your home town. But sometimes you would need to move to the other regions. A lot of adventurous young men travelled to Śląsk (a mining and metallurgy centre that was always in need of helping hands). At first you lived in the Worker's Hotel - a kind of dormitory owned and paid by the factory. Then you meet a nice girl and decided to start a family. You get married and applied for a flat. In time - it was given to you. If a car was needed for you to be more efficient - you would get it. But you don't buy it.

There was a chain of shops for Newly Married couples where they can get necessary home appliances.
If you were blessed with the child - the nursery was for free. And the school, books etc. And the summer camps. You were entitled to spend your Annual leave almost for free in the "rest house" somewhere in the mountains or on the seashore.

The deal was simple - work your 8 hours per day, make yourself useful and don't worry about the rest.

You may ask "Why such a beautiful system collapsed?"
Because this system was AGAINST HUMAN NATURE. There was no poor, homeless, starving people. But there was no rich neither. No chance for luxury. No matter how bright you are, no matter how hard you worked - you would never be better than you neighbour. The university professor and the simple plumber lived in the same block of flats. Owning the same set of riches. Driving the same cars. Eating the same food. In this system you would never taste a sweet success.
SeanBM 35 | 5,809    
6 Jan 2013  #7
Very interesting post enkidu, thanks.UT
zetigrek    
6 Jan 2013  #8
For instance - flats were given not bought

They were bought as far as I know. There was something called książeczka mieszkaniowa, where you put the saving. When you raised all needed money you waited on a list for a flat.

Building society book

One way to obtain a flat housing was setting the books. This form of saving was mainly targeted at young people (books was set even for a few years old children). It also allowed to collect overhang of inflation from the market.

The increase in the number of applicants for housing was attempted to reduce by introducing in 1965 the institution of "candidate for a cooperative member" (that is waiting to be able to expect an apartment!), But it was only shifting the problem a few years back in time, of the so-called length of membership, and in addition it was fostering corruption.

pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospodarka_mieszkaniowa_w_PRL#Ksi.C4.85.C5.BCeczki_mieszkaniowe

Correct me if I'm worng.
gumishu 11 | 4,902    
6 Jan 2013  #9
They were bought as far as I know. There was something called książeczka mieszkaniowa, where you put the saving. When you raised all needed money you waited on a list for a flat.

enkidu oversimplifies things - and there was free market of used things - we bought an old Fiat 126p for the money we have earned growing strawberries (which is a lot of hard work) - there was a lot of free market in Poland actually for a communist country: like ice cream shops, florists, private bars etc. there were private car mechanics too, lot's of private services.
zetigrek    
6 Jan 2013  #10
gumishu, so how was it with the flats? From my parents I heard something only about książeczki mieszkaniowe.
enkidu 7 | 623    
6 Jan 2013  #11
Correct me if I'm worng.

The money you saved on the książeczka mieszkaniowa entitled you to advance up on the list of the Housing cooperative candidates. In other words - the more money you saved, the sooner would you be entitled to be granted a status of a Housing Cooperative Member. As a Cooperative Member you would get a flat. But you don't own it. The flat was owned by the Cooperative.

In simple words - your money did not bought you a flat. Money bought you a better place on the list of people who are entitled to get a flat.
gumishu 11 | 4,902    
6 Jan 2013  #12
gumishu, so how was it with the flats? From my parents I heard something only about książeczki mieszkaniowe.

yes they were bought,, i don't if there were market prices for flats but you needed to save for a flat which most working couples could afford (waiting for a flat was another thing though and it sometimes laster for a good couple of years - it depended on lots of things - in our case (we got a flat from local Housing Cooperative (Spółdzielnia Mieszkaniowa)) there was no bribery involved - we received a flat in 1981) - lot's of things were better under communism - like safety on the streets (much less crime) - safety of jobs

In simple words - your money did not bought you a flat. Money bought you a better place on the list of people who are entitled to get a flat.

but the housing system worked somehow, new flats were built - I was seeing it with my own eyes
Zibi - | 336    
6 Jan 2013  #13
lot's of things were better under communism

I beg to differ. Nothing was better under communism. I thank God everyday it is gone!
Lenka 2 | 1,063    
6 Jan 2013  #14
Nothing was better under communism.

More kindergardens and nurseries.More FREE after school activities.Corporation's holidays.Material safety.
I'm not saying that socialist times were good but there were good things about it.
gumishu 11 | 4,902    
6 Jan 2013  #15
Nothing was better under communism.

oh, please - can't you remember the atmosphere at school where noone was better than his pals - there was little violence in schools - look what is going on in schools now with violence even against the teachers - look at the situation where some children go hungry to schools and the segregation it produces when giving out meals in school cantines
Lenka 2 | 1,063    
6 Jan 2013  #16
look at the situation where some children go hungry to schools and the segregation it produces when giving out meals in school cantines

Actually that part is the same.There were always children that went hungry to school and meals in school cantines look the same.At least in my town.
enkidu 7 | 623    
6 Jan 2013  #17
Nothing was better under communism.

Obviously - you are a rich man living in Poland. One percenter. I am glad to hear that you are comfortable.
Cali - | 56    
6 Jan 2013  #18
we gotta use quantum physics (theory of diff universes) and send gum back to the past where he again might re-enjoy the old good days under Gierek n other comrades.

seems ridiculous to me to use such icons to sell things

hey sean,

That's a funny ad! it shows what comrade Lenin couldn't accomplish in his workers' paradise. But filthy capitalists let you call for one zloty everywhere! That's what I call a cell paradise. Outta curiosity: who is the promoter?
gumishu 11 | 4,902    
6 Jan 2013  #19
we gotta use quantum physics (theory of diff universes) and send gum back to the past where he again might re-enjoy the old good days under Gierek n other comrades.

travel in time is impossible - and capitalism is not much better than communism - workers share little in the profits of their companies - this system will collapse eventually
kondzior 8 | 940    
6 Jan 2013  #20
I have realized I pity Homo Sapiens because he is born with damaged goods. His brain just don't work correctly. It is defective in the crib and only goes downhill from there.

Freedom is a burden to a creature like Gumisiu because he was biologically engineered for slavery. Thousands of years later, you realize you don't feel comfortable with the freedom that people like Walensa gave you. It goes against your nature. You want to be slaves. You welcome death because it will free you from the misery of your consciousness, your puny brains trying to grasp at truths you will never be bright enough to understand.

Of course the search for success only frustrates you. You are incapable of learning. Why wouldn't it frustrate you? You can't remember anything, you don't build associative mental maps ... it can never be anything but an atomic singleton that you rapidly forget.

Your existence is identical to the tragedy of Guy Pierce's character in the movie MEMENTO. Identical.
OP pawian 151 | 7,977    
6 Jan 2013  #21
Pawian, what do you think of communism being used in advertisements?

I have nothing against as long as the ad is a joke.

Such ads are directed at young people who know very little nothing about communism.

given Poland's history it seems ridiculous to me to use such icons to sell things but perhaps Poles see the irony better than me, of using the symbols of communism to sell products?

Lenin in your ad is a caricature, indeed. The ad is meant to be amusing.
Cali - | 56    
6 Jan 2013  #22
Thousands of years later, you realize you don't feel comfortable with the freedom that people like Walensa gave you.

Amen! Good post!
Lenka 2 | 1,063    
6 Jan 2013  #23
I have realized I pity Homo Sapiens because he is born with damaged goods.

May be since we are not just homo sapiens we are homo sapiens sapiens but that concept evidently didn't stick to you in school?Stop insulting other posters and try to discuss.Who knows?Maybe you're going to find something interesting in exercising your brain?

There were good things in socialist Poland and we shouldn't reject everything just because it was created in that period.
Cali - | 56    
6 Jan 2013  #24
travel in time is impossible

hey Gum,

That'ts off the topic but, it's possible (in theory though, nonetheless still) to travel to diff, or say, as they call them, parallel universes; google in...
OP pawian 151 | 7,977    
6 Jan 2013  #25
but my non-communist grandparents do remember a brief period of relative material well-being around that time.

Early 1970s Gierek shops:

s

s

More

fakty.interia.pl/galerie/fakty/1-majowe-pochody/zdjecie/duze,12 53541,22

I detest that guy and everyone else who was actively helping him to subdue Poland at the time.

Yes, but Poles had no choice then. 1 million Soviet troops stationed in Eastern Europe, including Poland. So, wasn`t it better that Poland was ruled by Polish communist swine rather than Soviet swines? :):):):)
rybnik 18 | 1,462    
6 Jan 2013  #26
More kindergardens and nurseries

AND great free pre-natal and post-natal care!
I still remember as if it were yesterday, how surprised I was when a nurse arrived at my wife's door 2 days after deleivering our baby.

She came to see if both baby and mommy were fine; to scope out the surroundings and to instruct everyone on newborn baby care.
This American was very impressed.
kondzior 8 | 940    
6 Jan 2013  #27
Sure. Gierek have borrowed lots of money from USA. Great success of socialism.

Ordinary people have enormously complex sophistry systems to conceal from themselves the fact they can't learn, can't reason and can't comprehend anything. They're constantly sneering and arching their eyebrows and pretending that "of course well and furthermore it's all part of the edjumifacation process." They don't know sh*t about anything and don't even know enough to know they don't know sh*t about anything.

The truth is they are always wrong, all the time, about everything. They literally embrace the opposite of truth whatever the subject matter because that's the only thing their character and native intelligence permit them to do - form a group consensus that is unfailingly incorrect, all the days of their lives.

Socialist health care? How many times has that failed over the past couple of centuries? Obama and his idiot crew of camp followers are convinced they can smelt gold from lead this time around though, you see, because heretofore and whatnot.

Here's the only explanation you ever need to hear for everything having to do with human beings:

They can't learn, can't reason, can't comprehend anything and are always wrong about anything they collectively agree on.

Nature's cruel. Sorry that 99.99999999999999999% of you got shafted genetically. Bummer, for you. You'll never really understand anything and you'll never even understand somebody who does. Pity to be you.

Obviously it wasn't always like this or we'd have never gotten this far to begin with so all of you could tear it all down.

You're not edjumafacated. You're not much of anything. You will never even know this much about yourself. Any kind of self awareness at all will always elude you, all the days of your sad lives. Pity about that.

You can only post mortem my predictions and you will always rewrite history to claim you knew about all of that. You didn't know jack and never will.
Lenka 2 | 1,063    
6 Jan 2013  #28
I must say I'm really impressed with your arguments.You're close to making me change my mind.
And now for real.
Kondzior if you want ppl to care about ideas and freedom you need to secure they basic needs.Of corse ppl that have problems in life will be more interested in having food and shelter that freedom.You won't feed your children with freedom.

I still remember as if it were yesterday, how surprised I was when a nurse arrived at my wife's door 2 days after deleivering our baby.

They still does that.
OP pawian 151 | 7,977    
6 Jan 2013  #29
I liked the 1st May parade. With the flags, music, sweets.

s

I attended only one as a child. Yes, I got a balloon and a giant red lollipop. A few years later parents told me they had to go. :):):)

There was no one homeless.

The communist police called militia took care of it - the streets had to be clean - communism couldn`t have homeless people, come on. :):):):)

"Avoiding of the duty of work" was an criminal offence. lol

Exactly. those who shun work were called blue birds. :):):)

here was no advertisements or flashing neons.

No. I still remember giant neon ads in Krakow, e.g., one which advertised Soviet railways (with moving wheels, incredible) And Warsaw and other big cities were full of them.

s

More: skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1204331

Milk was simply a milk.

Milk was sold in giant glass bottles - only two kinds - regular (silver cap) and rich fat (golden cap).

s

s

The only communist relict that survived till today is a small bottle of kefir with a green cap:

s
Piorun - | 659    
6 Jan 2013  #30
Money did not matter much.

Don't really know what to quite make of this; are you serious or being sarcastic? While it is true that a few of the high ranking officials do take the advantage of their position to get things for free from the state no matter what system they happen to work for, even if it's capitalist system where their position allows them to live on a taxpayer dime. For the rest of us cash is king, hard work, credit and layaway programs a necessary burden to put up with in order to achieve certain standard of living even during the time of communism. Nothing is free in life, no matter what system you happen to live under, do you honestly think that state give you housing, cars, TV's, appliances for free?

You make it sound surreal and utopian like as if it was seen from the perspective of the privileged elites who believed in the system and were lucky enough to be given all of those things, as if. I'm afraid that the reality was quite different and the money itself meant a great deal back then, without it one would simply stagnate and never be able to batter themselves. For instance even in the 70's (the so called boom) without resorting to bribery and black market for all sorts of consumer goods were only cash is acceptable form of payment, one would never be able to improve his standard of living, build a house, etc. Cash was king, the building materials in short supply, so whatever you bought from private enterprise like bricks, lumber, cinder blocks etc., (I know hard to believe but they did exist) you supplemented the rest through bribes and through the contacts you had at state run supplier where you bought stuff from under the counter so to speak and paid cash, not to mention the bribes you had to pay to bypass government bureaucracy to get the building permit, water, electric gas telephone line on your property. In cities some flats were also bought by people. Often the building project took well over 5 years and one had to borrow heavily to do this, not from the state run banking system mind you but family, friends, neighbors.

The cars, TV's, appliances were not free either, those were out of reach for most people on the salary they had and they bought those items on installments or layaway programs. Cars, if you were lucky enough to work abroad or had family members residing there were often bought for cash in hard currency to be picked up at home skipping the waiting list all together, hard currency costumers had that privilege for a simple reason, hard currency was in short supply and was needed by the state to pay off the interest on the loans Gierek made to achieve this short lived prosperity but it's the easement of restrictions, human inventive nature as well as black market and great deal of corruption in the government circles that allowed for all this prosperity to flourish for a short while. Stores like Pewex flourished paddling their goods for hard currency were dollar was the king. People often crossed the border to buy items not available on domestic market where they were much cheaper too, either for themselves or resale on the black market to pay off the debts they incurred building their house. You did everything you could think of to pay those debts off.

One does wonder indeed how such system could collapse; life is hard enough as it is without government interference in their daily life, imposed restriction and freedom of movement don't help either. Reality of life differed greatly from the utopian picture of life under communism some of you paint here.


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