Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Jaruzelski asked for 1981 Soviet intervention

Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) is to release documents which appear to show that General Jaruzelski did indeed request support from Moscow if Solidarity protests got out of control.

Professor Antoni Dudek at the institute writes on his blog that the documents - to be released in the IPN’s December bulletin - are records of a conversation between Jaruzelski and General Viktor Kulikov, a commander to the Warsaw Pact alliance on December 9, 1981, four days before the planned Martial Law crackdown.

The communists were hoping that the reaction would be workplace sit-in strikes (as in fact happened in the places like the Wujek coalmine) as these would be containable. But what Jaruzelski feared most was that the protests would spread out onto the streets and into party headquarters.

“If [protests] spread across the country, it's you [the Soviet Union] who will have to help us,” Jaruzelski says, when discussing possible reactions by Solidarity to martial law.

Jaruzelski goes on to say that if the Soviets refuse to help then Poland would consider pulling out of the Warsaw Pact.

Jaruzelski’s demand was discussed at a Politburo meeting the day after in Moscow, where it was turned down. “It‘s too risky,” Yuri Andropov, then head of the KGB is meant to have said, according to other, supportive, documents handed over to Poland by Boris Yeltsin 16 years ago.

Mikhail Suslov - who was effectively leading the Soviets at that time, as the health of Leonid Brezhnev failed - is reported to have said: "So I think we are all here agreed that sending troops in is out of the question."

This all rather contradicts Jaruzelski’s line on declaring martial law 28 years ago, which he has always claimed was an attempt to snuff out any temptation by the Soviets to roll tanks into Poland, as they did in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in 1956.


UPDATE - Lech Wałesa reacted to the news today that documents appear to show Jaruzelski called for Soviet assistance in case of uprisings, or whatever, by saying: “If this is how it looks then General Jaruzelski should be charged with treason….”

UPDATE 2 - Jaruzelski denies allegations

Jaruzelski was on the TV last night denying he ever called for Soviet troops to invade Poland if the Solidarity resistance became violent. “If it were not so sad it would be funny,” he said of the allegations. He then suggested that the documents, if that is what they show, were forgeries.

He repeated that martial law was declared to stop a civil war in Poland. He told the Monika Olejnik show on TVN24 that at a meeting of the Polish Episcopate (November 24/25, 1981) bishops agreed that there was a risk of feticide in Poland.

Of Marshal Viktor Kulikov he said. “I knew Kulikov…but I did not ask him for help. ”

He admitted that he had talked about the possibility of Soviet military intervention with Mikhail Suslov, de facto leader of the Soviet Union at that time. However, he claims that Suslov assured him that martial law would be an internal matter for the Polish government. “I had to make sure whether the threat of intervention was real or not,” Jaruzelski said, adding that he was very afraid that the Kremlin might order in troops. “If that happened it would be [international] war.”

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beakerkin said...


Who does this surprise?

A communist telling the truth about anything would be worthy of note.

beatroot said...

Who said I was surprised, Beak-o-Dude. I am just not sure how new this is and what kind of document this is. This is part of the case IPN is building against Jaruzelski. According to the Dudek historian parts of this new document were known about for a while. We just have to wait till they release it to get a proper look.

If it all is true then the reason for introducing martial law becomes, not one of "geo-;olitical reality" as we have always been told but something else more domestic.

ge'ez said...

These were documents produced by the Russians. By Yeltsin. In 1993 if my math is correct.

Yeltsin was a communist. So were the guys who recorded those meetings. So according to the logic of the Limburgers and the like, everything in those documents and the reasons for producing them are all based on lies, lies, lies.

Seriously, the Russians may have been trying to make Jaruzelski look bad and themselves appear as the exemplars of reason and restraint.

My memory sux, but aren't there other documents and more and less reliable recollections out there indicative that the Russians were indeed ready to pounce?

Anonymous said...
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jannowak57 said...

Can’t say I find this surprising, sort of ho-hum. However Jaruzelski. did misrepresent his role in this from the very start and that was inline with what was at the time the official propaganda line. From the very start the party formed an illusion that the Polish Army was something of a patriotic national institution. This was a bit of a stretch as in 1944 many of it officers could hardly speak passable Polish and were somewhat annoyed that Stalin made them change from Russian to Polish overnight.

The myth as the PRL propaganda machine put forward was that a patriotic army would save the nation from a greater evil i.e. foreign intervention because of solidarities irresponsible actions.

Reality was very different, as the Russians knew exactly what was happening inside solidarity and were aware that it was going to be a self-limiting opposition movement thus not requiring an invasion, as local resources to suppress solidarity were large enough. Had the locals failed then the game plan may have changed but that’s only speculation.

Jaruzelski had for a moment a golden opportunity that would have resulted in the same ending but one a lot better for Poland by having the courage and imagination to join the forces of change. The duty of the army was not to be the protector of the interests of the occupying power but rather to restore national sovereignty.

Jaruzelski decisions represented treason in real terms if not in the precise legal definition, which is consistent with the pattern of his entire life.

ge'ez said...

57, how could you even entertain the notion that Jaruzelski was ever anything other than a kissass? Was there anything that made him all that different than a Minc or any of the the other Oni from an earlier era?

jannowak57 said...

I would suggest that “kissas” is too mild a description for Jaruzelski, this man by all indications was Poland’s Quisling. He had a brief moment to change his place in history but chose to do otherwise; I think this makes his crime all the more heinous.

If he were prosecuted for treason on the bases of asking for foreign intervention it would only be one faucet of his crime. There is every indication that planning was done to facilitate a foreign invasion. The Polish army was limited to 3 days war fighting ammunition stocks; preparations were put in place for keeping troops in their barracks and locking down the equipment. Also tens of thousands of Polish combat uniforms were shipped to the Soviet Union for the purpose of initially making the crack down look Polish. No attempt what so ever was made for a contingency plan to repel foreign invasion by the officers of the General Staff.

It has become clear Jaruzelski had plan A and plan B, in the first scenario he would deal with things if he couldn’t contain the situation then he would ask for and facilitate a foreign occupation army. It should be noted the Soviets had 60,000 troops already stationed in Poland.

jannowak57 said...

Hilary Minc was a different type of traitor; he had been a politically active Marxist and early member of the communist government starting his duties in 1944. Jaruzelski was from a different background and career progression. There is some documentation indicating he started his stellar rise after turning in his fellow officers to the NKVD and had the status of a high-ranking informant.
Some Polish historians have actually called for doing a DNA test in order to verify his actual identity because of the Soviet practice of creating Polish officers at the end of WW2. Far-fetched idea, who knows?

Looking at his biography, I can’t help saying something doesn’t add up.

ge'ez said...

If Polish uniforms were shipped to the USSR, it seems the USSR ordered them, no?

You make it seem that the General was in charge of the situation. Sorry, I just can't buy into that notion.

And he had many brief moments to change the course of his life, as we all do, but he never really did so. I even doubt if he entertained any notions to that effect. He was too invested in the shit to let go.

ge'ez said...

And what about (from Wiki):

"... there are numerous confirmations from Czech army officers of the time speaking of "Operation Krkonose", plan of armed invasion of Poland, because of which many units of the People's army of the Czechoslovakia were stationed on highest alert, ready for deployment within hours."

Footnoted as per an article in Czech:

jannowak57 said...

Firstly I have to agree with you that in the final analysis Jaruzelski could not bring himself to change his pattern of behaviour and consistently he chose in favour of self-preservation and protecting his privilege and power at the expense of the nation.

With respect to Czechs and uniforms shipped to the Soviets, most militaries prepare for various contingency plans to cover a multitude of scenarios. These are not always the policies at that instant of the government but they are required to be prepared.

The Soviets, Czechs and East Germans all made contingency plans and preparations in event that the Soviets made the decision to invade. But it is rather clear that they had every intention of having their boy Jaruzelski deal with it and all the communications point to that direction. It was clear the Soviets had no stomach for the burden and consequences of invading Poland when they had their hands full with other difficulties. It was interesting to note the East Germans lobbied vigorously for an invasion.

It is also interesting that the contingency plans for an invasion were based on no opposition from the Polish Army but rather full cooperation in the same. In this possible contingency two high-ranking Polish officers were sent to Moscow to work out the details.

This is really about treason at the highest levels of the PRL government whose functionaries were subservient to the Soviets and Polish national interests did not play any role in their actions.

ge'ez said...

I will agree with you that the commies in Poland were subservient to the commies in the USSR. Polish commies were not calling the shots, least of all a career kissass like Jaruzelski. He was in no position to "facilitate" an invasion if he didn't manage to put the lid on things, which I agree with you he wanted to do. He would only ultimately do, however, as told by his masters. It mattered not what was in his heart of hearts because his heart was long ago bartered for something else.

beatroot said...

I think both of you misrepresent the relationship between the Soviets and their satellites underlings. Warsaw, Prague, Bucharest, East Berlin, Havana etc…were always trying to pursue national agendas while taking the subsidies from Moscow. Tricky! What the Kremlin always had to calculate was: if we go in, then what will be the consequences. With Hungary 1956, Khrushchev initially did not want to send in troops but changes his mind when the Suez crisis broke out, which offered a significant diversion. And western governments were facing internal crisis in 1968.

But by the 1980s, the Kremlin knew they could no longer afford these satellite states. They could not afford the subsidies anymore. So when the Solidarity type protests came, there was no help coming from Russia. Poland had become a burden - not a buffer, as it was supposed to be.

The new documents show that the tide had turned, even before Gorbachov/ This was not 1956, 1068 anymore.

ge'ez said...

What was the national agenda of Jaruzelski in contradistinction to the national agenda of the Soviet rulers?

Anonymous said...
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beatroot said...

For the Soviet Union up till Gorbachov, Poland etc were there as a buffer against the west and NATO in particular. Up until Gorbachov, the Polish communists needed the Soviet union for not just defence but to keep their economy going.

That’s the conventional wisdom. The Brezhniev Doctrine formally gave each of the satellites limited autonomy to run their country’s the way they liked, though communist party must be in total control and of any pluralism starting creeping in then the Soviets would invade. Poland was not allowed to leave the Warsaw Pact. Gobachov realised that the Soviet Union could not afford these policies any longer if it wanted to survive. It couldn’t afford Poland, East Germany etc. This is the Sinatra Doctrine (after the song “My Way”). They would allowed to whatever Their Way.

What these new documents show is that the Kremlin was starting to think Gorbachov’s way earlier than previously thought.

So Jaruzelski’s interests and the Kremlin’s interests were divergent and becoming more so. The Brezhniev Doctrine died before he did.

ge'ez said...

Uh, that sounds insightful on the face of it but again, how did Jaruzelski's vision (no nasty pun intended) differ from that of Poland's Russian rulers?

How much *pluralism* was there really?

What was Jaruzelski's way? Imagining him singing My Way makes me laugh.

beatroot said...

The vision thing is one that has always interested me. How many Sovietists were there as opposed to, say, Marxists? Meaning, was the communist system being run by true, ideologically minded communists or rather a clique, a political class, hanging on to their influence?

I would say by the 1980s you would be pushed to find many marxist-lenninists in either Poland or Russia. And that was a process dating back to 1956 and then 1968 (in Poland and elsewhere like Hungary, Prague, Berlin etc). When people like Kuron and Michnik starting revising their opinions (early 1960s) then the game was up for ideological communism. The ones that were left were just a bunch of gangsters.

But the main difference between jaruzelski and the Kremlin was that Jaruzelski was Polish. And Polish commies and Russian commies always had a different agenda, by nature of their nationality. the Kremlin never really trusted the Polish commies after they put back Gomulka in 56. He was potentially, dangerously independant and a Polish communist-nationalist.

ge'ez said...

I don't think Gomulka was all that independent or all that much a nationalist. ISTM that even if he threatened that the Polish Army would resist Soviet troops, his his "Polish Way" was still the SOS (same old shit)as his supposedly less nationalistic predecessors.

Stealing from Wiki: "In the 1960s he supported persecution of the Roman Catholic Church and intellectuals (notably Leszek Kołakowski who was forced into exile). He participated in the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. At that time he was also responsible for persecuting students as well as toughening censorship of the media. In 1968 he incited an anti-Zionist propaganda campaign, as a result of Soviet bloc opposition to the Six-Day War.This was a thinly veiled anti-semitic campaign designed to keep himself in power by shifting the attention of the populace from stagnating economy and communist mismanagement. Gomułka later claimed that this was not deliberate. In December 1970, a bloody clash with shipyard workers in which several dozen workers were fatally shot forced his resignation (officially for health reasons; though he had in fact suffered a stroke)."

beatroot said...

It was a thinly drawn line that these leaders walked. They had to show some independence from Moscow. They yearned for legitamcy from Poles, czech et al. And sucking up to Moscow was never gonna get that. But they could not go too far, incase they turned into Hungary 1956.

Moscow on the other hand dreaded another Tito - who told them to f off in 1948.

ge'ez said...

I don't think either Jaruzelski and Gomulka were anything like Tito.

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Gladissqtt said...

57, how could you even entertain the notion that Jaruzelski was ever anything other than a kissass? Was there anything that made him all that different than a Minc or any of the the other Oni from an earlier era?

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