Martial Law in Poland

Wojciech Jaruzelski announcing martial law in Poland on 13  December 1981.

UK releases classified documents on 1981 martial law in Poland

 Documents on martial law in Poland have been made public (2015.) by the British state archives, with President Reagan describing the crackdown as “a watershed in the political history of mankind.”

 Many of the documents show that while President Ronald Reagan thought that sanctions should be brought against the regime in Moscow and not just Warsaw, Britain was less keen to widen the conflict.

  In a note to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a week after martial law began on 13 December 1981, Reagan, signing his note with an informal “Ron”, writes: “[M]easures must be addressed to the Soviet Union as well as to the Polish regime. There can be no doubt about the ultimate responsibility for the plight in which the Polish people find themselves.”

 Reagan adds that the democratic struggle by the Solidarity trade union and the resulting communist crackdown “may well be a watershed in the political history of mankind.” Another document shows a transcript of a conversation between Thatcher and her foreign secretary at the time, Lord Peter Carrington.

M. Thatcher describes Reagan’s note as “vague” and “not worth reading when it came in about half eleven [at night].” “He says that he’s sending someone over to talk about what we can do between the two of us to tackle the situation. But it’s simply an internal situation,” Prime Minister Thatcher adds.

The diplomatic reports released by the British had been classified as secret for over a thirty year period and released along with documents relating to the reaction of the government led by Margaret Thatcher to the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.

 The files include personal evaluations of the main characters responsible for the clampdown on Solidarity and pro-democratic forces.

 British diplomatic notes from Moscow suggest that though martial law had been actually imposed by the Polish communist regime, it was thought that the Kremlin had been pushing for such force solution already in early autumn of that year.

 A Moscow-based diplomat under the pseudonym of “Keeble” reported that Warsaw Pact communications systems had been used for planning the operation.

 Another report sent from Warsaw 10 days after the imposition of martial law and signed by someone going under the name of “James” includes character sketches of communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski and his closest associates.

 Jaruzelski is described as “an idealistic communist, who had severed all ties with family members that still remembered his father’s death during their exile to Siberia.”

 General Florian Siwicki is portrayed as “a staunch Soviet admirer who joined the Red Army at the age of seventeen and has family ties with Russia,” while another communist leader, General Wlo- dzimierz Oliwa is “Moscow’s man with whom even Jaruzelski must reckon.”

 In successive reports from Warsaw “James” anticipates that after tanks are withdrawn from public places, Poland awaits a long “period of normalization” in the rendition of the Security Service and erstwhile police forces which, apart from the professional party apparatchiks, had been the only groups not to have been infiltrated by revolutionary Solidarity ideals.                  (pg/ss)

A poor memory, or…

How do Poles remember communism and Wojciech Jaruzelski?

A poll taken in 2011 showed that 44% of those surveyed agreed with the imposition of martial law, whereas 34% were against. Another poll, from 2009, found 46% saying Jaruzelski would be remembered negatively and 42% positively.               

A critical opinion about Jaruzelski is 43 percent. Poles, positive – 26 percent – results from a study published on December 10. 2021 on the portal in on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the introduction of martial law.



 „I LOVE HIM !” Anita Gargas investigative magazine ”at 22:35 on TVP1.

„I love him”!!! The broadcast materials show how close and warm relations between Adam Michnik and the communist general, they even hold hands during the meeting. – Without him, nothing would be fine. Without you, there would be nothing, Wojtek, (name of the communist general/a.j.j.) nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. Only you and Wałęsa – these were two people who could change the course of history. You did it. Without him, nothing would exist – Michnik turns to Jaruzelski. – I love him, I love him, I love him – says the editor-in-chief of „Gazeta Wyborcza” in another part of the recording, and then describes the communist general as a „Polish patriot”.

VIDEO] „Generał to jest polski patriota”. Dziennikarze ujawniają szokujący  film ze spotkania Michnik–Jaruzelski


„Byłam tamtej nocy – z 12 na 13 grudnia  pod domem Jaruzelskiego, jak każdego roku. Odmawialiśmy modlitwę nad ułożonymi na chodniku zdjęciami górników z kopalni Wujek. Za zasłoniętymi oknami było widać światło – tam Michnik chlał z Jaruzelskim i wychwalał patriotyzm zbrodniarza” – skomentowała na Twitterze posłanka PiS Joanna Lichocka. (…)



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