People's Republic, 1948-1969 Military Dictatorship, 1981-1990

People's Republic, 1948-1969

In Poland, the communist party was in charge, yet it had a hard time to keep the population under control. Peasant farmers had managed to hold on to their farms, successfully resisting enforced collectivization. The Catholic church only gained strength under state pressure. In 1978 a Pole, KAROL WOYTYLA, was even elected pope (John Paul II.).
After repeated cased of civilian unrest, the Polish government avoided unpopular measures. The OIL CRISIS hit Poland hard; the country tried to reduce oil imports, replacing it by coal where possible. The Polish economy was in worse shape than those of other Eastern European countries; COUPONS had to be reintroduced.
The communist party enjoyed little popular sympathies, considerably less than the SED enjoyed in Eastern Germany, for example. In 1979 a strike at the Lenin-shipyard in Gdansk started a protest movement, which in 1980 organized itself as the free trade union SOLIDARNOSZ (solidarity), leader LECH WALESA. (The existing trade unions were ineffective, as in a socialist state, where the proletariat owns everything, labour disputes were regarded, by the communists, superfluous). Demonstrations crippled the already troubled economy. In 1981, General JARUZELSKI staged a coup d'etat, establishing a MILITARY DICTATORSHIP.

DOCUMENTS Lists of Presidents, Communist Party chiefs etc., from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Ration Coupons, from Internet Museum of the Polish People's Republic, English comment
Polish banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money, and from Currency Museum
Constitution of 1952 as amended in 1976, from, in German
REFERENCE Article : Poland, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1970 pp.617-618, 1971 pp.593-594, 1972 pp.555-559, 1973 pp.543-544, 1974 pp.550-551, 1975 pp.553-555, 1976 pp.559-560, 1977 pp.560-561, 1978 pp.585-586, 1979 pp.576-577, 1980 pp.575-576, 1981 pp.575-576 [G]
Article : Poland, in : The World in Figures 1st ed. 1976 pp.248-250, 2nd ed. 1978 pp.248-250 [G]
Article : Poland, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1970-1971 pp.1239-1247, 1975-1976 pp.1244-1251, 1976-1977 pp.1241-1249, 1978-1979 pp.989-997, 1979-1980 pp.995-1003, 1980-1981 pp.996-1004, 1981-1982 pp.999-1007 [G]
Article : Poland, in : Americana Annual 1971 p.544, 1972 p.542, 1973 p.545, 1974 pp.473-474, 1976 p.454 [G]
Article : Poland, in : Yearbook on International Communist Affairs 1976 pp.51-58 (Alexander J. Groth), 1980 pp.49-59 (Jan B. de Weydenthal) [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on March 21st 2007

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