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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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1980-81 Polish Crisis

The Polish Crisis of 1980-1981 began with a wave of strikes across Poland and the formation of the first independent labor union in a Soviet bloc country – Solidarity. The crisis ended with the imposition of martial law in December 1981. Most of these documents are from Russian archives and record the Soviet response to the Polish crisis, including preparations for military intervention. There are also documents from other Eastern European archives which contain the Communist bloc leaders’ discussions and reactions to the events in Poland. See also the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Warsaw Pact. (Image, Strike Coordination Committee in Szczecin, 1980, Archiwum autora, Stefan Cielak)

  • September 17, 1981

    Letter from the HSWP CC [signed by Janos Kadar] to the PUWP CC, attention Stanislaw Kania

  • October 01, 1981

    Information on the Position of the CPSU Regarding the Polish Situation

    ND -- Information on the Position of the CPSU Regarding the Polish Situation and criticism of the actions of Polish party leadership. This document was not dated.

  • October 06, 1981

    Memorandum of Conversation between Bulgarian foreign Minister P. Mladenov and Polish ambassador Vl. Naperaj

  • October 08, 1981

    Record of a Meeting between Representatives of the CPCz CC and SED CC International Relations Department in East Germany (excerpt)

  • October 19, 1981

    Brezhnev-Jaruzelski Telephone Conversation

  • October 29, 1981

    Session of the CPSU CC Politburo, 29 October 1981 (excerpt)

    Soviet Politburo meeting discusses removing Cde. Kania due to uprisings in Poland. It also addresses shortages of oil and supplies for export and use within the Soviet Union.

  • November 21, 1981

    CPSU CC Politburo Protocol (extract) and Text of Oral Message from Brezhnev to Jaruzelski

  • November 25, 1981

    Supplement No. 2 Planned Activity of the Interior Ministry

  • December, 1981

    Information [for Gustav Husak] on the Progress and Outcome of the 14th Meeting of the Defense Minsters Committee, 1 and 4 December 1981 in Moscow (Excerpt)

    Summary of the 14th meeting of the Warsaw BlocDefense Ministers Committee. The ministers discuss the Solidarity movement and protests in Poland, and how to handle the issue in the media.

  • December 01, 1981

    The Anoshkin Notebook on the Polish Crisis

    Notebook of General Victor Anoshkin, aide of Marshal Victor Kulikov. Anoshkin kept records of Kulikov’s meetings, phone calls, and conversations in Poland in December 1981.

  • December 10, 1981

    Session of the CPSU CC Politburo

    The Soviet Politburo discusses the Polish Solidarity movement and the possibility of imposing martial law in Poland to restore order and the communist party's authority.

  • December 13, 1981

    CPSU CC Politburo Protocol (extract), "On Information about the Polish question for the leaders of the fraternal countries"

    Soviet ambassadors are informed that martial law has been declared in Poland.

  • December 13, 1981

    Shorthand Record of the Meeting of the Executive Political Committee of the CC of the RCP

    Discussion in the Romanian Politburo of the situation in Poland and the declaration of Martial Law.

  • December 17, 1981

    Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Bureau [Politburo] of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party

    Meeting of the Romanian Executive Bureau of the CC RCP, regarding the situation in Poland. The discussion focuses on what kind of aid the Romanians should send the Polish government.

  • December 30, 1981

    "Report to the [HSWP CC] Politburo," from János Berecz, Gyorgy Aczel, Jeno Fock

  • January 14, 1982

    CPSU CC Politburo transcript, 14 January 1982 (excerpt)

    Brezhnev discusses Soviet talks with Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czyrek. Brezhnev also informs the Politburo about the state of the PZPR, the Polish economy, the newly instituted Polish martial law, and the leadership of Jaruzelski.

  • April 13, 1982

    KGB Annual Report for 1981 (Excerpts)

    In this report Andropov describes the successes of the KGB and Cheka in subverting the infiltration of counterintelligence of NATO countries and Solidarity in the Soviet Union.

  • September 23, 1982

    CPSU CC Report on Economic Aid to Poland (1980-81)

    Top Secret Dossier from the CPSU CC to Poland listing amount of economic aid in 1980-1981 that is classified for specific purchases such as grain and foodstuffs, as well as for the repayment of loans to other countries.

  • July 15, 1989

    Minutes from a Meeting of the Presidium of the Citizens’ Parliamentary Club, 15 July 1989

    The Citizens’ Parliamentary Club formed by Solidarity deputies in June 1989 meets to discuss preparations for the future of Poland’s political system and election of a president.