People's Republic of Poland

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Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa
People's Republic of Poland
Flag of Poland
Coat of arms of Poland
flag coat of arms
Official language Polish
capital city Warsaw
State and form of government Socialist people 's republic with a one-party system
Head of state President (1944 to 1952)

Chairman of the Council of State (1952 to 1989)
President (1989)

Head of government Prime Minister
surface 312,685 km²
population 23,930,000 (1944)
37,970,155 (1990)
Population density 121 (1989) inhabitants per km²
Population development + 59% between 1944 and 1989
currency Zloty
founding July 22, 1944
(Proclamation of the People's Republic of Poland by the Lublin Committee)
July 22, 1952
(Adoption of the Constitution by the Sejm)
resolution December 29, 1989
National anthem Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
Time zone UTC + 1 CET
License Plate PL
Telephone code +48
Poland 1956-1990.svg
Template: Infobox State / Maintenance / NAME-GERMAN

The People's Republic of Poland ( Polish Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa , PRL , literally Polish People's Republic ) was a real socialist state on the territory of Poland in East Central Europe, which was recognized by international treaties after the Second World War . Under the leadership of the communist Polish United Workers' Party , it existed from 1944 until the revolutions in 1989 . Until 1952 the state was called the Republic of Poland .

The People's Republic has been in accordance with the resolutions of the Tehran Conference in 1943 (down the Soviet-Polish eastern border to the Curzon Line ) and the Yalta Conference east of approved in February 1945 (westward shift of Poland) in the field Oder-Neisse line lying formerly German and the areas of the Second Republic of Poland to the west of the “Curzon Line” . In 1989 the People's Republic of Poland was transferred to the (Third) Republic of Poland with the substantial participation of " Solidarność " .

The period of the People's Republic was characterized by the dependence on the victorious Soviet Union , restrictions of human and civil rights, economic-political problems, deep dissatisfaction of the population and recurring social unrest, although there were improvements in the standard of living and the collectivization of agriculture was no longer promoted after 1956 .

The emergence of People's Poland and Stalinism

Lublin Committee and Frontier Issues

Manifesto of the “Polish National Liberation Committee”, the “birth certificate” of the People's Republic of Poland
"West displacement of Poland" 1945, annexation of the areas east of the Curzon Line by the Soviet Union and assignment of the German eastern areas and the Free City of Danzig to Poland

In July 1944, the communist “Polish Committee of National Liberation” ( Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego ) was established in Moscow , which was to take power as soon as the Red Army crossed the Curzon Line. This happened in Lublin on July 22, 1944 (hence the name Lublin Committee ). The old communist Bolesław Bierut was at the head of the new management team .

There was never a socially accepted communist movement in Poland between the wars - unlike in neighboring Czechoslovakia . The leadership of the old Polish Communist Party had largely fallen victim to the Stalinist purges of the 1930s.

The negotiations between the “ London ” and “Lublin” governments, which took place under pressure from the Allies , did not lead to any result. The prime minister in exile , Stanisław Mikołajczyk , even had to resign due to pressure from those around him, because he appeared too willing to compromise. The decision on Poland's future borders had already been made by the Allies at the Tehran Conference at the end of 1943 . It led to the "westward shift" of the country, whereby the Curzon Line became the eastern border with small changes, and the rivers Oder and Neisse were supposed to form the new western border , subject to a peace settlement .

On January 1, 1945, the Lublin Committee proclaimed itself a provisional government and in the same month moved to the ruins of liberated Warsaw . After the Red Army occupied Poland in the spring of 1945 and abducted the 16 most important leaders of the Polish underground state to Moscow, where they were sentenced to long prison terms and some were murdered, the main resistance to the new occupation and the "sovietization" of Polish society was broken.

Armed resistance and consolidation of the communist regime

At the end of 1944, however, an armed resistance movement formed from parts of the Home Army (see also Expelled Soldiers ). At first she resisted the dissolution of her units and the forced entry into the Polish People's Army . Increasingly, the resistance to the creation of a communist state became the focus of partisan actions. In the forests of eastern Poland in particular, the resistance movement initially provided a serious armed force. The basic anti-Soviet sentiment was due, among other things, to the experiences with the Stalinist terror during the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland.

In the years after the end of the war, the partisans numbered an estimated 100,000 members. However, their actions remained largely unsuccessful and quickly declined from the end of the 1940s, as the Red Army , NKVD and the emerging organs of the Polish state took massive action against them. The largest action against the partisans took place near Augustów at the end of 1945 . About 500–600 of the 7,000 people arrested at the time were murdered. In 1963 the last partisan leader was killed.

Apart from Stanisław Mikołajczyk, the "Government of National Unity" formed in June 1945 consisted almost entirely of representatives of the Communists. In the period up to 1947 the communists succeeded in consolidating their power. This would not have been possible without the support of the Red Army. Since the communists could only partially rely on their own army, new organizations such as the Internal Security Corps (see Urząd Bezpieczeństwa ) - a kind of barracked police force - or the " citizens' militia " took on the fight against the anti-communist underground and the "remaining Germanness " in the newly won western territories. As the last remaining democratic party, the Polish Peasants' Party of Mikołajczyk was increasingly marginalized by police measures and faked elections. Mikołajczyk himself finally fled into exile in 1947.

The elimination of the political opposition and the seizure of power by the communists was carried out against the overwhelming majority of the Polish population - with terror, waves of arrests, show trials, political intimidation and massive falsification of the election results - with active Soviet help.

"Ethnic Homogenization"

"West shift" of Poland (comparison of pre-war and post-war borders)

By the time they had fled and were expelled at the end of the war, around 9.5 million Germans had lived in the eastern German territories as well as a further 1.3 million Germans in the Free State of Danzig and in pre-war Poland . Around 4.4 million of them had remained on site at the time of the surrender on May 8, 1945 or had been overrun by the Red Army while fleeing. Even before the Potsdam Conference , the Polish People's Army had reduced their number by 500,000 through “wild expulsions”. With this, Poland wanted to anticipate the final drawing of the border and create a fait accompli .

At the Potsdam Conference in July / August 1945, the representatives of the victorious powers of the anti-Hitler coalition - the head of government of the Soviet Union Josef Stalin , the President of the USA Harry S. Truman and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee - agreed the “transfer of the German population ”from Poland to Germany. Between October 1945 and 1949, this affected 3.5 million "evacuated" and 250,000 refugees.

The German eastern territories were to be placed under Polish administration until the final decision was made by a peace conference (which then did not materialize and which was eventually replaced by the two-plus-four treaty in 1990) .

Between 1944 and 1946, around 500,000 Ukrainians were resettled from the eastern and south-eastern parts of Poland to the Ukraine; at the same time, around 1.8 million Poles had to leave their homeland in the east. Between 1945 and 1947 in the wake of were forced resettlement of Poles from the former Polish eastern territories from 1944 to 1946 , about one million Poles from Ukraine, Belarus and 300,000 from 200,000 from Lithuania to Poland " repatriated ". The majority of them were settled in the formerly German areas, which were referred to as " regained areas " ( Polish Ziemie Odzyskane ). About three million new settlers from central Poland and Poles returning from the west also streamed there. In addition, there were 1,947 additional about 150,000 Ukrainians from the southeast of Poland, the designation previously had opposed to the Soviet Union, as part of " Operation Vistula " with the goal of assimilation in the Polish population deported .

Both as a result of this ethnic cleansing and as a result of the Holocaust of the Jewish population during the war, Poland became an ethnically homogeneous state for the first time in its entire history. In May 1945, Władysław Gomułka , General Secretary of the Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza, declared: "States are established on a national basis, not a multinational one".

Stalinist Terror and the Bierut Era

While the Polish communists were initially convinced that they could do without a complete takeover of the Soviet system, after 1947 Stalin's pressure increased. In his opinion, the necessary “revolutionary steps” were carried out too hesitantly. Above all, he demanded a forced build-up of heavy industry , the takeover of the central planning system and rapid collectivization of agriculture. He found himself in contradiction with the more national forces in the Polish party leadership under its General Secretary Władysław Gomułka , who showed more sympathy for the Yugoslav model of Tito .

Soon after the unification of the Communist and Socialist Parties to form the Polish United Workers' Party ( PZPR or German PVAP ) in December 1948, however, the representatives of the Stalinist line prevailed. With the help of the powerful security apparatus ( Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego ), Bolesław Bierut temporarily eliminated his rival Gomułka and later interned him. Purges and restructuring were carried out in the party and in society . In the cultural sphere, the temporary rule of socialist realism began . This phase ended with the death of Stalin (he died on March 5, 1953). Unlike in other countries under Soviet rule, no show trials had previously been carried out against disgraced communist politicians. Relaxation in the cultural sphere followed, and the worst excesses of the State Security Service came to an end.

In the field of foreign policy, the nationalist attacks on Germany were replaced by the theories of dialectical materialism, so that now the USA and Great Britain as well as the Federal Republic of Germany and the Vatican became the main opponents, while a rapprochement with the German Democratic Republic was sought, which after some hesitation Moscow pressure in the Görlitz Treaty of July 6, 1950 recognized the Oder-Neisse border as the eastern border early on .

Polish October 1956 and the Gomułka era

Władysław Gomułka , General Secretary of PVAP
Memorial (1981) for the victims of the Poznan Uprising

On February 25, 1956, CPSU boss Nikita Khrushchev expected a secret speech during the XX. Party congress with the crimes of Stalin and the personality cult around Stalin. This triggered a process of de-Stalinization .

Bolesław Bierut , the party leader of the PVAP , suffered a heart attack after the speech (although he had read the speech beforehand).
Bierut stayed in Moscow to convalescence and died there surprisingly on March 12, 1956. The resulting power vacuum favored the de-Stalinization in Poland: Against the wishes of Khrushchev, the divided party leadership of the PVAP agreed on the compromise candidate Edward Ochab as Bierut's successor.

The poor stability of the political system became apparent as early as June 1956, when thousands of workers in the western Polish city of Poznan went on strike (the Poznan Uprising ). This movement, which probably had material triggers, quickly turned into a political uprising; The party leadership had this bloodily suppressed on June 28, 1956. According to official information, 74 people died and over 500 were injured; around 700 were arrested.

The dispute over how to proceed deepened the conflict in the Politburo. The situation was exacerbated by the political developments in Hungary , where profound disputes within society became apparent. While the Stalinist faction in Poland ( also known as the "Natolin Group" after their meeting place in a former Potocki Palace ) pleaded for a continuation of the political course, the Liberals (also known as the "Puławy Group") spoke out in favor of a social reform movement which the “ dictatorship of the proletariat ” did not want to touch. The latter finally prevailed. The Stalinist economic chief Hilary Minc was forced to resign; The rehabilitated former General Secretary Władysław Gomułka returned to power in triumph, although Moscow initially refused to agree, mobilized its troops and the entire CPSU party leadership was on an unannounced lightning visit to Warsaw. Eventually Moscow gave in and the previous Polish Defense Minister Marshal Konstanty Rokossowski - a Soviet citizen, through his father of Polish origin - was recalled to his homeland.

Gomułka was elected First Secretary on October 21, 1956. In his first speech, Gomułka announced far-reaching reforms (see also Gomułka's speech at the mass rally in Warsaw on October 24, 1956 ). In the ecclesiastical and cultural area, greater freedom was granted, the forced collectivization of agriculture was no longer enforced, a reorganization of the entire economic system was promised (→ Polish October ).
After the Hungarian uprising (which ended in November 1956), liberal magazines were again banned and state religious education was abolished. The party leadership began to take massive action against apostates in their own ranks .

In 1965 two students, Jacek Kuroń and Karol Modzelewski , who “finally demanded real communism for Poland”, were sentenced to prison terms. The well-known Marxist philosopher Leszek Kołakowski was expelled from the PVAP in 1966.

In view of the celebrations for the millennium of Christian Poland in 1966, the dispute between the state and the Catholic Church in Poland was heading for a new high point, which also had the monopoly on interpreting the history of Poland as its theme. In addition, there were foreign policy upheavals, especially against the background of the increased anti-West German agitation after 1956 .

Poland, which was a member of the Warsaw Pact and of the Council for Mutual Economic Aid (Comecon) from the beginning , had tried several times at the end of the 1950s to emphasize its independence, for example in connection with a plan for nuclear disarmament in Central Europe (“ Rapacki Plan “October 1957). On the whole, however, they adapted to the Moscow line in order to be able to retain some independence inside. The appeal of the Polish bishops to their German colleagues for reconciliation of November 1965, which contained the well-known phrase "we forgive and ask for forgiveness", was - although it did not find the desired response from the German bishops and the Catholic associations of expellees - as an affront to the communist party leadership and an attack on the state doctrine of the People's Republic of Poland, which after careful attempts to establish diplomatic and economic contacts with the Federal Republic of Germany, had returned to its old position due to a lack of positive reactions in the West. Relations with the GDR were also not particularly positive in those years and were marked by resentment on both sides - partly (but not only) because of the inadequate processing of the expulsion of the Germans after the war.

In the cultural field, the first years of Gomułka's rule were definitely marked by positive developments. During the years of "small stabilization" (named after a play by Tadeusz Konwicki ), a number of important works in literature, art and cinema emerged, such as the first films by Andrzej Wajda , Andrzej Munk and Roman Polański .

In the second half of the 1960s, the internal party conflicts in the PVAP came to a head. A group of communist cadres, who felt particularly connected through their struggle against the German occupiers in World War II, the “partisans” , pushed to power under their leader, Interior Minister General Mieczysław Moczar . Moczar expanded the secret service and the citizens' militia and created a broad following among the population who were dissatisfied with the economic development. The official propaganda against Israel because of the Six Day War in 1967 and the events of March 1968 was the occasion for Moczar to start the first state-tolerated and sponsored anti-Semitic campaign against Jews, which was unprecedented in a European country after 1945 and liberal intellectuals , as well as real and potential oppositionists, and to take power in the Polish state. As a result, around 20,000 Polish Jews were driven to leave Poland in 1968/1969, losing their Polish citizenship. In addition, protests related to the “ Prague Springspilled into the country. On the dismissal of the performance of the play funeral of Adam Mickiewicz in Warsaw following student protests were violently crushed. A wave of purges began in the PVAP. Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki fell victim.

Party leader Gomułka was initially neither willing nor able to stop this development. Only gradually did he carefully distance himself from his interior minister. At the same time he tried to counter the crisis of his rule through foreign policy efforts.

After the social dialogue between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People's Republic of Poland had already got underway at the beginning of the 1960s ( Tübingen Memorandum 1961, EKD Memorandum 1965, etc.), the Kiesinger / Brandt grand coalition prepared the ground for a new Ostpolitik in 1966 , which the new social-liberal coalition Brandt / Scheel continued after 1969. Against this background, Gomułka agreed to official negotiations, which should primarily deal with the question of the western border of the People's Republic of Poland. After Bonn had reached a treaty agreement with Moscow on German-Soviet relations, negotiations with Poland were also concluded at the end of 1970 .

The signing of the treaty in Warsaw, which confirmed the Oder-Neisse border from a West German legal position, as the GDR had already done in the Görlitz Treaty of 1950, and included a mutual renunciation of force and the willingness to continue political cooperation, followed as a symbolic highlight of the legendary kneeling of Willy Brandt in front of the memorial for the victims of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto on December 7, 1970, which was heavily criticized in the Federal Republic of Germany, but for Poland - although it was hardly reported officially - represented a decisive turning point in post-war relations.

This success in foreign policy could no longer save Gomułka's rule. Almost two weeks after the German-Polish treaty was signed, radical increases in food prices suddenly sparked off workers' protests . Starting from the large shipyards in Gdansk and Stettin, riots broke out in the industrial centers, which were accompanied by looting and arson. Only the use of the military was able to stop the riot, which killed 45 people and injured over 1,000. The Politburo then decided to force party leader Gomułka to resign.

The Gierek era 1970–1980

Edward Gierek (center) during a visit to a state farm (PGR)

Gomułka's successor, the Upper Silesian party functionary Edward Gierek , enjoyed great sympathy in large parts of the population. He managed to replace many of the old cadres quickly. His new economic policy was based on the catchphrase of the better satisfaction of the consumer needs of the population. With wages and pensions increases, the general standard of living should be raised. The reforms introduced (greater independence of the government from the communist party , expansion of workers' participation, changes in administrative structures, etc.), in practice, resulted in an increase in the power of the PVAP at all levels.

The approaches to a comprehensive modernization of the economy were mainly in the area of ​​the creation of new structures, the processes and production facilities of which were bought on credit in the West. The repayment should be made by selling the new products produced abroad. Indeed, these efforts brought about positive changes in the psychological field in particular. The larger product range and the increasing purchasing power gave the impression of a rapprochement with the consumer societies of the West, which is why, in retrospect, many Poles have particularly positive memories of the Gierek era. In reality, however, the Central Economic Planning Commission was not able to coordinate the different developments in different branches of the economy.

In foreign policy the relationship with the Federal Republic continued to improve, among other things. because of the "male friendship" between Gierek and the new Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt . However, the opening of the border with the GDR created a series of tensions due to the economic differences between the two countries.

Domestic political repression was gradually increased again in the mid-1970s, which was clearly demonstrated by the suppression of votes against the new, socialist constitution. When the prices for staple foods were drastically increased in June 1976, the Polish people's uprising broke out, with riots especially in the industrial centers of Radom , Ursus near Warsaw and Płock . The price increases were then withdrawn, but at the same time large numbers of workers were sacked, arrested and even sentenced to long prison terms.

While there were no clear dividing lines within Polish society until then and the reform discussions continued well into the PVAP, now for the first time clearly opposition groups developed in Poland itself. On September 23, 1976, leading intellectuals founded the “ Committee for the Defense of Workers “( Komitet Obrony Robotników , KOR). The increasing pressure of public opinion prevented repressive measures by the party leadership in the period that followed. In the next few years, other civil rights organizations were founded. At the same time, the Catholic Church became increasingly involved under its Primate Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński . Her special position was underpinned by the enthusiastic election of Krakow Archbishop Karol Wojtyła as Pope on October 16, 1978 and his triumphant first trip to Poland half a year later.

At the beginning of the new decade, in view of the increasing economic problems, it became clear that the time of the once acclaimed Edward Gierek was over.

From Solidarność to the turn of 1980–1989

Opposition and strike movement

In 1977 and 1978, cells of independent trade unions were established in Radom and Katowice, respectively . On April 29, 1978, the “Founding Committee of Free Trade Unions for the Coastal Region” was set up in Gdansk, most of which had been on strike as early as 1970. The young electrician from the “Lenin Shipyard” Lech Wałęsa soon joined them . In September 1979 the “Charter of Workers' Rights” was published in the underground magazine “Robotnik” ( The Worker ). It took into account previous experiences with strikes, made demands for the future and defined general positions.

The second oil crisis began in 1979 . At the beginning of 1980 the macroeconomic situation had deteriorated dramatically: the subsidies for staple foods consumed around 40% of state revenues, the excess purchasing power increased steadily, the debts borrowed in the West could no longer be serviced. The government again chose the path of price increases and began without public notice on July 1, the national start of the summer vacation. Nevertheless, strikes broke out immediately in many factories, first in the Ursus tractor factory in Warsaw, then in eastern Poland and in mid-August in Gdansk. Although the party leadership was now ready to give in again and approved the wage demands, they could no longer contain the movement. When the workforce of the Gdańsk “ Lenin Shipyard ” went on strike on August 14, as in 1970, and occupied the factory premises, the new strike committee also made political demands for the first time, such as the reinstatement of the dismissed strike leaders and the erection of a memorial for the 1970 victim .

The Warsaw government soon recognized the danger posed by the spreading wave of strikes and cut all connections to Gdansk and the surrounding area. Some of the striking shipyard workers accepted the compromise offer made by the plant management, others pleaded for an extension of the industrial action, which also took place with the establishment of an inter-company strike committee (MKS) on August 16. The list of demands presented by its chairman Lech Wałęsa contained, among other things, the desire to allow free trade unions, freedom of expression and the right to strike.

The reform forces prevailed within the PVAP and government representatives accepted most of the demands in negotiations in Szczecin and Danzig on August 30 and 31. On the afternoon of August 31st, the Gdańsk Agreement was signed, which politically codified the results of the negotiations. However, the union forces were no longer willing to limit their activities to the Gdańsk area and decided to expand to the whole country. With a warning strike, the new organization, which gave itself the name " Solidarność " ( Solidarity ), forced its judicial registration on October 3rd. In the following weeks there was a huge onslaught on it, so that by November it had around 10 million citizens, including over 1 million members of the PVAP.

Logo of the independent trade union "Solidarność"

The domestic political situation now seemed to be gradually easing after party leader Gierek had been replaced by the moderate Stanisław Kania in September and most of the hardliners had been removed from the Politburo. The proposal of several party leaders, including Erich Honecker , to march in with the Warsaw Pact troops failed because of Moscow's veto, which feared a further deterioration in the global political climate after the experience of the occupation of Afghanistan .

The Soviet Union (then under Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev ) increased the pressure on the PVAP to fight the " counterrevolution " and repeatedly organized maneuvers near the Polish borders. In the spring of 1981 there were repeated violent clashes between state organs and trade union activists. Because of the worsening economic situation, wildcat strikes increased and the impression of chaos spread in view of the "dual power". In this decisive phase, the tried and tested mediation options of the Catholic Church were also limited, because in May both the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II and the death of Primate Stefan Wyszyński had been carried out.

After the first state congress of Solidarność in September 1981 decided on an even stronger political commitment and sent a message to all workers in the other socialist countries, the PVAP leadership finally decided on the confrontation course.

Jaruzelski's rule and martial law

At the 4th Central Committee Plenum from October 16 to 18, party leader Stanisław Kania was replaced by Defense Minister General Wojciech Jaruzelski (1923-2014), who was considered a hardliner . The preparations for a decisive blow against the opposition had already been completed by then.

Despite Solidarność's willingness to compromise, the night of December 12th and 13th, 1981, the military and security forces took power in Poland. General Jaruzelski announced the imposition of martial law in a televised address . The union's top management was arrested in Gdansk. Regional leaders, heads of the works committees and opposition intellectuals, a total of several thousand people, were taken to internment camps. Jaruzelski justified this step after 1990 with the danger of the Red Army marching in, similar to that in the PR Hungary , Czechoslovakia or the GDR.

The Communist Party, whose activity had also been suspended for a short time, had no concept for the internal regeneration of the country. Rather, they were looking for ways of understanding with those social forces that did not belong to "Solidarność", especially with the Catholic Church. In the economic field, tentative reforms began, the successes of which, however, left much to be desired. They were accompanied by internal power struggles between "hawks" and "doves" in the PVAP, the climax of which was the murder of the opposition priest Jerzy Popiełuszko by members of the security apparatus in October 1984.

In parallel to developments in the Soviet Union after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power , the Jaruzelski leadership has been declaring a policy of dialogue and understanding since the mid-1980s, which is aimed primarily at the Catholic Church and politically uninvolved personalities and which excludes the political opposition. As part of an amnesty, all political prisoners were released in July 1986. In December 1986 Jaruzelski convened a “Consultative Council with the President of the State Council” (Polish Rada Konsultacyjna przy Przewodniczącym Rady Państwa ). In 1987 the office of the Ombudsman was introduced.

In order to gain popular support for further economic reforms in view of the poor supply situation, the first referendum in over 40 years was held in November 1987; it ended in clear defeat for the government. Two waves of strikes in April, May and August 1988 brought the reformers to the realization that the permanent crisis could not be overcome without further concessions.

Agony and end of the People's Republic

Solidarność had continued to work underground all along. Numerous magazines and books were published in connection with the Soviet samizdat tradition in the "second round" ( drugi obieg ). The system-loyal trade unions were largely boycotted.

The growing strike movement was viewed with concern by the PVAP, especially as it turned out that it was mainly younger workers of the post-“Solidarność” generation who were involved. Jaruzelski's policy, which was based on the principles of consultation and co-optation , had failed. With the mediation of leading intellectuals and the Catholic Church , the first meeting between Interior Minister Czesław Kiszczak and Lech Wałęsa "among equals" took place on August 31, 1988 . The negotiations initially went on the spot, especially when the new Prime Minister Mieczysław Rakowski wanted to concentrate on pure economic reforms. Only after a televised discussion between Wałęsa and the head of the official trade union ( OPZZ ) Alfred Miodowicz , who, in the opinion of the majority of viewers, clearly won the former, did the party leadership realize that without the participation of "Solidarność" new reforms could not be implemented in the population would be.

From February 6 to April 5, 1989, representatives of the party and the social opposition gathered in Warsaw for round table talks . The actual work in different negotiating groups led to radical changes in all areas of public life. In the political sector, the gradual introduction of full popular sovereignty with the associated pluralism was agreed . As an immediate measure, Solidarność was re-approved on April 17th . The recognition of a multi-party system , the principle of free elections and independent courts were further important stages of this "revolution" ( Timothy Garton Ash ).

The first parliamentary elections that were halfway free after the Second World War in June 1989 accelerated the change in the system. The seats in the Sejm were allocated according to the key 65 percent for the PVAP and its allies, 35 percent for the opposition, while the elections to the Senate were unlimited. Of the 262 previously determined candidates of "Solidarność" only one was not elected, while the PVAP only got its candidates through with the help of a short-term amendment to the electoral law.

The choice of General Jaruzelski as president on July 19 was carried out only by a narrow majority, a run from the PUWP Cabinet under General Kiszczak was no longer about. Instead, Solidarność, in cooperation with two previous bloc parties, succeeded in forming a government on September 13 under the Catholic publicist Tadeusz Mazowiecki . On December 29, 1989, the House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment, which was confirmed by the Senate the following day . It resolved to rename the People's Republic of Poland to the Republic of Poland on January 1, 1990, as well as the designation of Poland as a “socialist state” in favor of the designation “democratic constitutional state”. The Communist Party's claim to leadership was also deleted and the coat of arms changed.

These events in Poland contributed significantly to the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany and to the decline of state socialism in the states of Central and Eastern Europe.

For the history of Poland since 1989 see Third Polish Republic

See also

Portal: Poland  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Poland


  • Grzegorz Ekiert: Rebellious Poles: Political Crises and Popular Protest Under State Socialism, 1945–1989. East European Politics and Societies 1997, pp. 299–338.
  • Jacek Kuroń , Jacek Żakowski: PRL dla początkujących. Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, Wrocław 1995, ISBN 83-7023-461-5 .
  • Janusz Żarnowski: Worker in People's Poland . In: Yearbook for Research on the History of the Labor Movement , Volume II / 2005.
  • Kamil Majchrzak and Sarah Graber Majchrzak: Workers' self-management and industrial democracy in the People's Republic of Poland - Claims and contradictions , in: Axel Weipert (Ed.): Democratization of Economy and State - Studies on the Relationship between Economy, State and Democracy from the 19th Century to Today , NoRa Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86557-331-5 , pp. 141-169.
  • Robert Zurek: The Catholic Church of Poland and the «Recovered Territories» 1945–1948 . Peter Lang Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-631-64622-9
  • Eva Kreis: The westward shift of Poland. In: Riccardo Altieri, Frank Jacob (Hrsg.): Spielball der Mächte. Contributions to Polish history. minifanal, Bonn 2014, pp. 300-314, ISBN 978-3-95421-050-3 .

Web links

Commons : People's Republic of Poland  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Constitution of the People's Republic of Poland (Konstytucja Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej), adopted by the constituent Sejm on July 22, 1952. Retrieved on December 16, 2012 .
  2. Polski dziki zachód ( pl ) In: Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, No. 9-10 (56-57) . Instytut Pamięci Narodowej . Pp. 4-27. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  3. a b Dieter Bingen : Poland: 1000 years of eventful history . In: Information on Political Education No. 311/2011 . P. 12. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  4. Jan Jerzy Milewski: Obława augustowska - niewyjaśniona zbrodnia z lipca 1945 roku . Instytut Pamięci Narodowej . Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  5. ^ The new communist government . Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ( Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  6. Isabel Röskau-Rydel : Germans from today's Polish territory . In: Detlef Brandes , Holm Sundhaussen and Stefan Troebst (eds.): Lexicon of expulsions. Deportation, Forced Resettlement, and Ethnic Cleansing in 20th Century Europe . Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-205-78407-4 , pp. 144–149
  7. ^ Stanisław Ciesielski, Włodzimierz Borodziej: Przesiedlenie ludności polskiej z kresów wschodnich do Polski 1944–1947 . Wydawnictwo Neriton, Warsaw 2000, ISBN 978-83-8684256-8 .
  8. Timothy Snyder : Bloodlands. Europe between Hitler and Stalin. CH Beck, Munich 2011, p. 320.
  9. Der Spiegel 4/1957 of January 23, 1957: I AM A LUMP, MR PROSECUTOR! - The hanged make a revolution / On the fate of Laszlo Rajk, Traitscho Kastoff, Rudolf Slansky and other honored dead
  10. Edward Gierek , the First Secretary of the PVAP at the time, named this one of the causes: DER SPIEGEL 34/1980 (cover story): Strikes in Poland - against the party . Possibly the Soviet Union raised oil prices to Poles, similar to what it did in the case of the GDR ( bpb )
  11. Dieter Bingen : Poland: 1000 years of eventful history . In: Information on Political Education No. 311/2011 . P. 17. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  12. Poland: "Round Table or Tiananmen" , Handelsblatt , July 21, 2009.
  13. ^ Timothy Garton Ash: We the people. The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague. London 1999, p. 14.
  14. a b c December 30, 1989. Tagesschau (ARD) , December 30, 1989, accessed on December 29, 2016 .
  15. Round Table in Poland: The Beginning of the End of the Eastern Bloc ,, April 2, 2009.