Most people outside Poland are unaware that the 1956 Hungarian uprising happened five months after similar protests in Poland. Polish commemorations of those demonstrations, and the many lives lost, 50 years ago have been taking place today (banner in photo says 'We demand bread')
On June 28, 1956, workers at the Cegielski factory in Poznan, put down their tools and went out onto the streets to protest against massive tax hikes, which cut real wages and poor working conditions. Soon the protests spread outside the factory and became demonstrations for 'bread and freedom'.
The communist authority’s brutal response ended with over 70, maybe more, protesters dead, killed by Polish guns.
No longer could Poles claim that Poles never kill Poles.
Today, ceremonies have taken place to commemorate the first Polish workers to die in the cause of freeing their country from Soviet communism.
It was these demonstrations that helped give confidence to people in Hungary. And follow them they did, with consequences only the most historically illiterate will be unaware of (which means most western school kids, these days!).
The actions in Poznan ultimately pushed the Stalinist authorities to change leadership and direction, seeking a Polish road to communism - a path that would ultimately turn into a cul-de-sac.
Since Stalin’s death in 1953, the Polish communist authorities iron grip had been weakening, anyway. The secret services became disorganized, censorship haphazard. Periodicals such as Po Prostu (Simply) began to be secretly distributed, encouraging debate and discussion as to the best way forward.
When the news of Nikita Khrushchev’s letter criticizing Stalin emerged in January 1956, confidence began to rise as to the possibility of challenging the communist state for better living standards and more freedoms of speech, assembly, worship.
And then the Cegielski factory went out on strike.
The Polish protests of 1956 were the precursor to the protests of 1970,1976 and the Solidarity strikes of 1980.
All those protests were sparked off by sudden price rises and rapid drops in living conditions. A regime that can't even provide the basics in life won't last very long. Strange the communist authorities never learnt from their mistakes. It was their stupidity that would eventually be the death of them.
See more photos from Poznan, 1956 here.
Also see www.1956.pl
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Posted by beatroot at 6/28/2006