Little Bits of History

July 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 22, 2017

1983:  Martial law is lifted in Poland. General of the Army Wojciech Jaruzelski and the Military Council of National Salvation (WRON) took power illegally, since martial law was only possible during wartime, but it does explain the name of the organization implementing the decree. In March 1981 the Polish government presented plans to the USSR regarding unrest in Poland. Back in October of 1980, Jaruzelski ordered the Polish General Staff to update plans for instituting martial law. This was almost immediately after the Solidarity movement had burst on the scene demanding independent self-government separate from communism and the Soviet Union.

The official decree for martial law came in December 1981. Solidarity was banned and Lech Wałęsa was jailed. The next morning, thousands of soldiers were roaming through the streets in military vehicles. Every major city was affected. A curfew was imposed, national borders were sealed, road access was restricted, phone lines were cut, mail was censored, all classes from grade school through college were suspended, and all independent organizations were criminalized. In the early stages, several dozen people were killed. Officially the number was quite low, later investigations put the number around 90 deaths.

The government imposed a six-day workweek and put all services under government control and ran them as military institutions. If employees misbehaved, they were court-martialed. Eventually, media outlets and schools were “verified” in a process to make sure everyone was member of the political regime. Those who were not able to convince authorities of their subservience were jailed without cause. Martial law induced a nationwide economic crisis. As the government sanctioned price increases, called “economic reforms” even basic goods became scarce.

Although officially ended on this day, government coercion did not simply cease. The economy remained weak. Many of the non-Communist leaders and teachers remained jailed. Hundreds of thousands of Poles fled the country during the 1980s. Between December 1980 and October 1983, 11 flights were hijacked as they left Poland and were forced to land in Berlin. It took until 1986 before the thousands of political prisoners were released and granted a general amnesty. Jaruzelski remained in control of the newly democratized government and was President of the Republic of Poland from July 1989 to December 1990. After communism fell in Poland, Wałęsa was elected as second President and served from 1990 until 1995. Today, Poland is part of the European Union and Andrzej Duda is President, the sixth since the country threw off its Communist rulers.

He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of history will have his fingers crushed.

The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being.

Communism is a monopolistic system, economically and politically. The system suppresses individual initiative, and the 21st century is all about individualism and freedom. The development of technology supported these directions.

As a nation we have the right to decide our own affairs, to mould our own future. This does not pose any danger to anybody. Our nation is fully aware of the responsibility for its own fate in the complicated situation of the contemporary world. – all from Lech Wałęsa

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