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What Was Poland like in the year 1988?


edward22 3 | 7
1 Mar 2009  #1
Just wondering what it was like was born that year/ i was adopted so i never really lived there
samsmith 3 | 23
2 Mar 2009  #2
a slave to russia, dominated and oppressed by the Soviet Union I can't imagine it would have been fun times.
WooPee 1 | 124
2 Mar 2009  #3
You needed special permission from the government to buy a food (kartki), not mentioning the fact that there was no food in the shops and if you wanted to buy something you had to spend hours in the queue. Police brutality, no democracy, spies everywhere spying everything you do.

Dark place and unhappy people who fought the dictatorship giant without single weapon a year later.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,449
8 Mar 2009  #4
If you talk to people who were adults at that time --- not commies in privileged positions but ordinary Catholic Poles -- you get a wide spread of views. Although economically things were tough and shortages widespread, many people claim there was a friendlier overall ambience. People really enjoyed themselves at nameday parties, told jokes, and raised successive humorous toasts. And the ham you had to queue for for hours really tasted better and was really appreciated by all (probably also because it wasn't the soy-infused fake food you get nowadays). In fact, one company a few years ago put out a ham called "Szynka jak za Gierka" (ham like in the Gierek era -- 1970s). Back then, people were more family-minded, kids showed more respect for their parents and elders in general, and there was a stronger sense of popular solidarity -- we the people v them, the ruling regime. Togetherness was also reflected by drinking habits. Nowadays everybody clutches onto his own, selfish, little drink – cocktail, Tequila, wine, whisky, vodka, beer, but back then everybody drank the same thing in successive down-the-hatch rounds (ladies were permitted to sip[ a sweet cordial like wiśniówka), bitten down with some zagrycha. Wine, mead, beer, brandy and many other assorted tipples were available back then, but it simply wasn’t the style to cradle one’s own, separate drink.

Of course, the politically minded stressed the negative aspects: the perpetually ruling PZPR (commie) party, secret police surveillance, official censorship, privileges for the regime's supporters, reprisals against its detractors and opponents, etc.

One thing more -- those who were adults back then were 20 years younger and enjoyed life as only the young can and nostalgically recall its fonder moments.
samsmith 3 | 23
17 Mar 2009  #5
but they were held prisoner ................in thier own control (!) Basically you could draw similarities to prison life today. ie you have the basics. Somwhere warm, a bed, food, clothes. If you do not know any other way of life then you would be happy ( because you know nothing else). Surely though it is still a pittyfull and very basic and primitive existance.???
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,449
19 Mar 2009  #6
Czemu płacesz, pyta czyżyk młody?
Masz tu lepsze niż w polu wygody.
Jesteś młody, przeto ci wybaczę.
Byłem wolny, teraz w klatce i dlatego płaczę.

I'm not sure if I have quoted it exactly, but a little cage bird asks the older bird why he is crying when he's got things much better than outdoors.

The older one replies: I was free and now I'm in a cage and that is why I am weeping.
pawian 155 | 8,477
19 Mar 2009  #7
Just wondering what it was like was born that year/ i was adopted so i never really lived there

Those were wonderful times. :):):):):) You sold 400$ at the black market and it was sufficient to cover annual expenses and have good life: house, car, studies, holidays, girlfriends, books. I was a uni student and my mum was in the US.

The basic Polish monthly salary equaled 15-20$ at the time. My mum earned 400$ in 10 days, probably, I never asked her.
Filios1 8 | 1,336
19 Mar 2009  #8
a slave to russia, dominated and oppressed by the Soviet Union I can't imagine it would have been fun times.

What an idiotic post!

A slave to the Soviet Union, 1988??
pawian 155 | 8,477
19 Mar 2009  #9
A slave to the Soviet Union, 1988??

Officially, yes, though slave is a bit too strong here. Don`t forget that in 1984 Polish sportsmen didn`t participate in US held Olympic games because that`s what Soviet authorities demanded.

Satellite instead of slave is much better. Do you agree?
Filios1 8 | 1,336
19 Mar 2009  #10
forget that in 1984

4 years is an awfully long time...
Don't forget that already in 1980, communists accepted Solidarity as a legitimate political agent. This was the first time anything like this happened in any of the communist countries. It was only 1 year away from elections...

A slave? No... I don't think so. Even if Poland would have chosen the violent path in late 80's, Soviet Union would not have intervened... By then, they were too preoccupied with their own issues.

Satellite instead of slave is much better. Do you agree?

Satellite, only on paper. I doubt anyone was stupid enough at that point to think that the Soviet Union would be able to keep a lid on things in Eastern Europe.
Kowalski 7 | 621
19 Mar 2009  #11
1988
Solidarity oposition was already in a sort of defensive mode. Not many believed in Solidarity anymore. Some resistence was shown by new groups notably Freedom and Peace (Wolnosc i Pokoj) or Orange Alternative (Pomaranczowa Alternatywa).

Demonstration that had gathered 10-20 thousand crowd in 1982-86. now were reduced to hundreds only. Many had already immigrated to Austria, Germany, Sweden and so on but government had somhow allowed to obtain passports to young people so more and more were leaving in 1988.

In 1988 I went to Eeast Berlin where I bought some beautifull art books - I sold them all for some 30 USD in West Berlin - it was enough to live for a month! - beer and food that is :)

As economy was gloomy and prospects were doom, the government was looking for a way out. Gorbachov in Russia made communists in Poland thinking they could "negotiatie" with oposition to switch into more capitalism and with a help of oposition pacify possible social unrest. It finalized in 1990/91 with semi-free elections to the parliament and free elections to the Senat. The new goverment was formed by opostion. Comunism was over along with all the regulations holding the market economy.

In 1988 the nomenklatura ruled in all aspects of public life - all imaginable important public seats were party appointed.
Good times over all. One enemy united us all.
pawian 155 | 8,477
19 Mar 2009  #12
Satellite, only on paper. I doubt anyone was stupid enough at that point to think that the Soviet Union would be able to keep a lid on things in Eastern Europe.

You are saying this because after 20 years you know the outcome of things. :):):)

But I assure you, in 1988, nothing was so sure. :):):) I remember labour and student strikes in summer 1988, they were broken by the riot police, especially in steel mills in Nowa Huta where the police was extremely brutal. The situation was tense and only at the end of 1988 the authorities made a few conciliatory gestures to the opposition so that the Round Table talks could start the next year.

Don't forget that already in 1980, communists accepted Solidarity as a legitimate political agent.

:):):) Actually, communist rulers had never accepted Solidarity before 1989. Their forced acceptance ended with smashing it into pieces in 1981. :):):)
Randal 1 | 577
19 Mar 2009  #13
Quite interesting, Polo.
samsmith 3 | 23
25 Mar 2009  #14
I'm not sure if I have quoted it exactly, but a little cage bird asks the older bird why he is crying when he's got things much better than outdoors. The older one replies: I was free and now I'm in a cage and that is why I am weeping.

can you explain this please ? are you ( or the bird) saying that he was happier in the cage ?
Krzysztof 2 | 973
25 Mar 2009  #15
Somwhere warm, a bed, food, clothes. If you do not know any other way of life then you would be happy ( because you know nothing else). Surely though it is still a pittyfull and very basic and primitive existance.???

Well, I don't know the life in a real prison, but you can read or see (in the movies) about people who spent years behind the bars and when they are released they struggle, because they learned how to live with the harsh, but simpler rules during their imprisonment and now the "real world" is too overwhelming, too complicated to start anew.

That's what this short poem (parable) was about. Those who were born in an oppressed country ("in the cage") didn't know any other life, so they tried to rationalize it, to find the positives (the owner supplied food and some basic security), while those who knew the life in a free world (with all its difficulties - like having to take care of themselves) still missed the freedom.

Ptaszki w klatce by Ignacy Krasicki, published 1779, after the first partition of Poland, 1772, before the second (1793) and the third partion (1795), so when only parts of Poland were divided between Russia, Preussia (today's Germany) and Austria)

"Czegoż płaczesz? — staremu mówił czyżyk młody —
Masz teraz lepsze w klatce niż w polu wygody".
"Tyś w niej zrodzon — rzekł stary — przeto ci wybaczę;
Jam był wolny, dziś w klatce — i dlatego płaczę".

English translation by Christopher Kasparek (from Wikipedia).

Birds in a Cage
"Why do you weep?" inquired the young siskin of the old,
"You're more comfortable in this cage than out in the cold."
"You were born caged," said the elder, "this was your morrow;
"I was free, now I'm caged—hence the cause of my sorrow."

Written in the 18th century, it pretty much reflects what was happening under the communist rule in the years 1945-89. And what is happening today - many of the people born in the cage can't adapt to a new reality, where they are no longer given, what they need, but have to fight for it (like wild, free animals).

Poland, after so many years, or even centuries, under foreign rules, isn't as strong as it should be, so we won't have soon the western European standards of living. The price for the political freedom is a lower social security (lower wages, pensions, more unemployment), and loosened social/familiar relations (along with other cultural changes mentioned by Polonius3), hence many people (especially older ones) are unhappy with all what happened after 1989, because they had adapted well to their lives in the cage and then they had to adapt to a new situation, and quite often they failed. I think, we can't really blame them for it, still it pisses me off sometimes, and I wished they could all travel back in time to their idealized cages.

Those sentiments are strengthened especially when people see how the long-time oppressors were able to arrange their lives: most state-owned companies were privatized and the ex-communist prominents, including the cruel secret police members, got the lion shares in those companies, thus gaining the economical power, or rather keeping it, which gave them of course strong influences in politics as well.

So I can risk a statement that the transition to an indipendent Polish state in 1918 (after the WWI), after over 100 years of occupation by Russians, Germans and Austrian, was still easier than what Poland had to face in 1989, because the commies left for the next genarations only bare bones of a country.
Randal 1 | 577
25 Mar 2009  #16
Good stuff, Krzysztof.
samsmith 3 | 23
26 Mar 2009  #17
Birds in a Cage

Nice one..................thanks

Meant to add............Can this be justified in any way though ? The removal of passports and the building of walls to restrict travel. It sounds like a social experiment gone wrong. I lived in Berlin during the 80's. To be honest looking accross the Berlin Wall it did not look that pretty. Turrets, machine guns, dogs on extended leads. All these facing inwards by the way, not outwards.
Bzibzioh
4 Dec 2009  #18
Many had already immigrated to Austria, Germany, Sweden and so on but government had somhow allowed to obtain passports to young people so more and more were leaving in 1988.

Main direction of Polish emigrants in 1988 were Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain. There you were waiting for emigration in 3 directions only: USA, Canada and Australia. Austria was a direction in 1978 to about 1985. I never heard of anybody going to Sweden, at least there was no massive emigration there.
mateinone 5 | 58
4 Dec 2009  #19
This is a topic I would love to speak to someone in some depth about. I read a book on Poland written in maybe the 60's/70's by a Brittish author (it is still somewhere deep in my collection, but I am not sure where). It mentioned things such as long queues for bread and all the normal stuff you always heard in the West, but it went on to discuss how Poles still quite frequently openly discussed politics etc, I found this strange because I recall thinking that in the midst of this time the Soviets were extremely strong and that I thought that it would be very easy to be locked up.

It would be wonderful to read the diary/autobiography of someone who lived perhaps as a child through the war and their life through communism and then also the same type of paper from someone that was born in the late 60s and how as a young man/woman (ie college student) they first hand experienced the hopes that communism would falter and what that meant to them. The whole communist break down has long intrigued me, but not from a political sense, that is there for all to view. More from a human perspective and the differences of opinion across the different countries. My friend was around in those days, but his father was quite high up in a company and they had a car and plenty of holidays etc, so to him his childhood was very good. To others life may have been more of a struggle.
Bzibzioh
4 Dec 2009  #20
It would be wonderful to read the diary/autobiography of someone who lived perhaps as a child through the war and their life through communism

There is a plenty of such material but I'm afraid is only available in Polish.

also the same type of paper from someone that was born in the late 60s and how as a young man/woman

:) If I'd ever write my memoir I'll let you know!

A small bit I wrote for a competition on Polish Forum not long ago about Polish vacations. Remember that my English sucks so be forgiving.

It was 1987. We decided to leave Poland but before we left we wanted to see places we always dreamed of seeing but there was no occasion.

It was not easy to organize. First: hotel reservations. Back then no decent hotel in Poland would let you, a Polish citizen, to rent a room. They could not charge you as Westerners, only as a Pole or Demolud so "we are sorry but no room for you, schmuck". So I had to be very creative and I got all the hotel's reservations I wanted. Second problem: gas. Limited on coupons. Luckily my husband had a job which required him to use his own car so they gave him extra coupons. He was saving them for 3 months prior to our trip. Even with that I had to scale down my plan simply because there was not enough gas (we missed Mazury region).

We left Kraków in our mały Fiat - STOP laughing NOW, back then for a newly married young couple it was a big deal to own it. We drove to Kielce, Lublin, Warszawa, Płock, Gdańsk, Hel and then we spent one week in Kaszuby region just fishing and relaxing. And then in one shot back to Kraków. We skipped Poznań and Kurnik.

It was a great trip. We went to Czarnolas and sat under Master Kochanowki's lipa, saw sneaks in Krzemionki Opatowskie, walked all the way to Święty Krzyż to see mummy of Jarema Wiśniowiecki, went to Puławy to check Izabela Czartoryska's romantic park, saw home of Madame Walewska (Napoleon's mistress), checked Fred Chopin's home, bought porcelain set in Ćmielów, had pierniki in Toruń, had dinner in Hotel Grand in Sopot like Edyta Geppert sang in her song, meet with Wojciech Młynarski in Gdańsk.

And the funniest part was that all trip costus $US 100 only. Just because we paid for hotels like Forum in Warsaw and Grand in Sopot only about $7 per night. At least we have no regrets: we saw it all.
mateinone 5 | 58
4 Dec 2009  #21
That sounds like a heck of an adventure Bzibzioh, even in a mały Fiat (which I just seen for the first time now :) ).

That is pretty much exactly what I am talking about, that sort of trip could not be done or really appreciated here in Australia (or now in Poland either of course), because it is too simple to jump in a car and even drive 2,000kms here without any other thought than.. I have a couple of days spare, so why not.

Whereas that sounds like a trip you will remember forever.

:) If I'd ever write my memoir I'll let you know!

If you ever did publish your memoirs I would lap it up :)

btw, your English is very good, it is amazing because by the standards that foreigners judge their English and say it is poor... I will never even be poor in Polish at this rate :P
wawkrak - | 8
4 Dec 2009  #22
A friend of mine said that was cold dark and grey. He was looking out of his panelak window and wanted and atom bomb to go offf he was so bored.

Other things, he used to put water on a can of coke and walk around pretedning he was drinking cola ;0 how sad.

Also he used to drive around on the bus and look for a queue then he would not there was some food there.
Bzibzioh
4 Dec 2009  #23
that sort of trip could not be done or really appreciated here in Australia

You are absolutely right.

And funny you mentioned Australia; when we (me+my husband) left Poland we were going to Australia. To this day I have a letter from your immigration office saying that although we qualify (this whole point qualifying system) - we are lacking AUSTRALIAN job experience so we can't emigrate there :)

If you ever did publish your memoirs I would lap it up :)

I'm not much of the writer but you never know ... :)

he was so bored.

One thing Poland back then was not - was boring. He must have been a bore.

he used to put water on a can of coke and walk around pretedning he was drinking cola

I don't remember can coke back then. We had bottled Pepsi-Cola.
santander 1 | 68
4 Dec 2009  #24
I remember labour and student strikes in summer 1988, they were broken by the riot police, especially in steel mills in Nowa Huta where the police was extremely brutal.

My polish friends cousin was shot and killed in one of these riots. He was a very young impressionable student.
Bzibzioh
4 Dec 2009  #25
My polish friends cousin was shot and killed in one of these riots.

krakow.travel/przewodnik/zwiedzamy-krakow/nowa-huta/action,get,id,774,t,Kosciol-Arka-Pana.html

Those riots were not in steel mill but around famous Arka church in Nowa Huta. Karol Wojtyła, who was then archbishop of Kraków and later the Pope, did a lot to defend those still workers. This young man must be Bogdan Włosik.
santander 1 | 68
4 Dec 2009  #26
Those riots were not in steel mill but around famous Arka church in Nowa Huta. Karol Wojtyła, who was then archbishop of Kraków and later the Pope, did a lot to defend those still workers. This young man must be Bogdan Włosik

Thank you very much for that. Sorry my polish is not so good, but was this around l981 when it happened. It is a very sensitive subject, and naturally affects that person today, but I know that he was only 18 when he was shot running from the mayhem.
Bzibzioh
5 Dec 2009  #27
During marshal law period (introduced on December 13, 1981) every 13th day of each month in Arka church in Nowa Huta there was a mass celebrated for the country. Afterward there were demonstrations against political repression, jailing "Solidarity" activists and breaking of human rights. Those were always brutally extinguished by ZOMO (riot police). He was killed during one of those demonstrations. May he rest in peace.

After Wikipedia with some additional info from other sources.

Bogdan Włosik, (ur. 6 lipca 1962 - zm. 13 października 1982 w Krakowie) - 20-letni uczeń III klasy technikum, pracujący w Hucie im. Lenina, zastrzelony podczas demonstracji w Nowej Hucie. Bogdana Włosika zabił kapitan SB Andrzej Augustyn, za co został skazany przez sąd na 11 lat więzienia. Na pogrzeb Włosika na Cmentarzu Grębałowskim w Krakowie przyszło 20 tys. ludzi. Uroczystość ta stała się manifestacją przeciwko ustrojowi komunistycznemu. Tydzień później rodzicom Włosika osobiście kondolencje złożył gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski.

Bogdan Włosik (born July 6, 1962 - died October 13, 1982 in Kraków) 20 yo student of technical school (3rd year, evening classes) who also worked in Lenin Steelworks as an electrician, was killed during demonstration in Nowa Huta. He was killed by kaptain of SB (national security) Andrzej Augustyn. He was sentenced to jail for 11 years for that crime (another source said 10 years and he was pardoned after 5 years). The funeral at Grębałów Cemetery was an anti-communist manifestation attended by 20 thousand peoples. A week later general Jaruzelski (the head of the state at the time) personally offered condolences to the parents.

His picture and the picture of his memorial in place where he was shot (in front of the Arka church)
darpoint.pl/pages/Bogdan%20Wlosik/Bogdan%20Wlosik.htm
santander 1 | 68
12 Dec 2009  #28
Thanks very much for that. It was this person, such a dreadful shame for someone so young.
nomaderol 5 | 726
12 Dec 2009  #29
many people (especially older ones) are unhappy with all what happened after 1989

while i was working as a young academican in istanbul universities in 90s many former soviet scientists, mostly professors, moved to work at istanbul universities and i had companied many of them everywhere from accommodations to university facilities to research paperworks, etc etc... they all looked happy for some months. when they became ill, when they started to pay costs of hospitals, etc when they lived individualism (no social interaction of individual capitalism), etc etc 95% of them were very unhappy, became like soulless people, complaining everythings of capitalism, they were very regretful. they were saying such words "yes, communism wasn't good, but was better than capitalism." Cage is cage even if it is golden cage. you think you gained freedom, you understand you dont have freedom when you have to pay hospitals etc etc... Anyway, i guess many people in poland will want to retry the socialism sooner or later, but, with an improved, true version of socialism. As you know, if socialism happens globally, it becomes perfect. and with this global economy crisis, when people lose jobs more and more people will understand the worth of humanistic system, i.e. global true socialism. some countries like poland are experienced in both false systems now and these countries should take leadership in world to transfer world toward this global true socialism. mission of such countries like poland in world is such an important mission.
southern 75 | 7,097
12 Dec 2009  #30
Jaruzelski wakes up.


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