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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 08, 1980


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    Report to the Politburo by the Department of International relations of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party regarding the meeting between leaders of Warsaw Pact countries on the subject of dissention in Poland
    "Report to the Politburo by the Department of International relations of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party," December 08, 1980, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Hungarian National Archives (Budapest), Department of Documents on the Hungarian Workers' Party and the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, 288, f. 5/815. ö.e., pp. 17-28
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to the Politburo

On the initiative of the Central Committee [CC] of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [CPSU] and on the basis of the Politburo's resolution, a Hungarian delegation, led by Comrade János Kádár, took part in the Moscow meeting of top-level party leaders and high-ranking state officials of the Warsaw Pact countries on December 5. The Hungarian delegation included Comrade András Gyenes, Secretary of the CC and Comrade János Borbándi, Deputy Prime Minister.

The representatives of the member-states issued a joint statement on the meeting which was published in full in Hungarian daily papers on December 6.

The only issue on the agenda—relating to the international situation—was a discussion of the situation in Poland.

In his opening, Comrade Stanislaw Kania outlined the Polish evaluation of the crisis and spoke about the work of the Polish United Workers' Party [PUWP]. He emphasized that a very severe situation had arisen in Poland, which posed a threat to socialism and also carried elements of anarchy and counterrevolution. He added that the PUWP leadership was aware of its internationalist responsibility, namely that it has to resolve the crisis on its own and that the party already had plans for its resolution. "The leadership is in constant contact with the CPSU with which it consults regularly and it is relying heavily on multi-lateral assistance from the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, on which it is counting in the future as well."

[Kania continued: "] The crisis has been made worse by the fact that it is the fourth one since 1956, that it is affecting the working class and other strata of society including the youth, that it looks likely to be prolonged, that strikes are making the situation more intense and that anti-socialist forces are trying to use the trade unions to their advantage.["]

["] In spite of present difficulties, it can be stated that the situation report of the [Polish] Party was correct: the cause of the crisis lies in the justified dissatisfaction of the working class. Ideologically, the Party did not prove equal to its task, it swept away the class-character of society and declared a 'developed socialist society' too soon in a situation where small-commodity production still existed in agriculture. Hostile forces took advantage of the dissatisfaction politically as well and provoked fierce class conflicts. When there were waves of strikes, it was correct to find a solution by political means, as only compromise was able to resolve the situation. ["]

["] The trade union 'Solidarity' was formed by opposition forces, but is popular with workers too. It has some 6 million members at present while sectoral trade unions comprise about 5 million members. The Church has become stronger also as a protector of the social rights of the masses. Hostile Western forces and reactionary émigrés have also been active and aggressive. ["]

["] In the present situation the Party has to strengthen itself on that basis in order to find a way out of the crisis by political means. It is very important to point out that it was neither socialism nor the Party that led the country into crisis but the mistakes committed in the course of its work and the violation of the norms of Leninism in party life. For this reason the Party devised the notion of renewal. This was accepted at the 6th plenary meeting, but, unfortunately, rather than the steps to be taken, invariably it has been the problems of the past that have come to fore. The membership of the Party is decreasing, yet, at the same time there are some 26 thousand new candidates for membership. The situation is getting worse in the coastal region (Pomerania), in Wroclaw and Warsaw but positive processes have begun in Silesia, Katowice, Kraków, Poznan, and in Bydgoszcz. ["]

["] There are many calls for those who have committed mistakes to be brought to account. The Party delegated this matter to the party control bodies and people's control committees. ["]

["] A positive factor has been that, despite the enemy's active work in the universities, their efforts did not produce the results they hoped for. As a consequence of the correct decision taken by the Party, the conditions are good for cooperation with the Peasants' Party. ["]

["] Lately anti-socialist forces have been taking advantage of workers' strike movements and using them for political purposes. Representatives of 'Solidarity' have even made statements against the state. Workers' protection commissions have become active, against which the Party is fighting by political means. A group of leaders of the 'Independent Confederation of Poland' movement has already been arrested, and lately more people are being taken into custody. (Due to these opposition activities it was necessary to set up the Committee for Administrative Measures).

["] There is an operational body working alongside the Prime Minister which is prepared for the introduction of a state of emergency. Combat-ready units are being set up by members of the Party and they will also be provided with arms. Today these number 19 thousand men, by the end of December their number will reach 30 thousand. In an emergency these units would launch surprise arrests of the main opposition elements, and would take control of the mass media, the railways and principal strategic

However, the Party intends to seek a solution by political means. The 7th plenary meeting created a more favorable atmosphere for this. Democratic centralism gained strength in the Party. The Party appealed to the Polish people more pointedly than before. This has been made necessary, in fact, by the demands of the crisis as well as those of society.

["] The Party holds a key position in the search for a solution, since it is important for the Party itself to escape the 'mutual settling of accounts.' The enemy also wants to break down organizational unity in the Party. The unified forces are putting up a consistent fight against factionalism and are taking measures to strengthen ideological unity. The convocation of the extraordinary Congress of the Party was scheduled between the first and second quarters of the next year. However, a potential danger has emerged, as circumstances are not right for the party organizations to elect Marxist delegates. It seems that the Congress would not be able to take place on the scheduled date. The leadership of the Party is currently dealing with the replacement of cadres, which is proceeding according to plan."

Comrade Kania admitted that the PUWP deserved criticism for the work of the organs of the mass media. Determined and conscious cadre work has been launched in this field as well, in order to radically change the character of the propaganda. The situation was adequate in the organizations of the CC, in the Warsaw and other voivodeship party newspapers, but they need to take proper control of all mass media organs.

As far as the trade unions were concerned, Comrade Kania added that they wanted to restore the class character of the movement and that sectoral trade unions were already functioning in line with this aim. "It is possible that a trade union federation will be formed. It is necessary to force Solidarity to hold elections. Experience has proved that, through elections, counterrevolutionary forces are voted out of leading positions, while a number of honest Communists get in." He described Walesa as a "sly half-wit," stressing that his movement had leaders influenced by extremists (such as anarchists and terrorists). He added that it is necessary to prevent him from establishing closer relations with the workers' protection commissions.

[Kania continued: "] At the Polish Armed Forces everything is in order and the effective force follows the party line. However, political-educational work is important, as these forces too, are influenced by the events and one-quarter of the effective force has been replaced as a consequence of new recruits to the army. ["]

["] The situation of the Sejm and local councils is improving. Their work has to be made even more popular, so they will discuss certain issues in public and thus respect for them will grow among the masses. ["]

["] The country's economic situation is extremely grave, market supplies are insufficient and rationing has to be gradually introduced. Poland is striving to export more goods (e.g. color televisions) in order to be able to import food products. In 1981 the national income will decrease again. Coal production is expected to decrease, as miners are unwilling to work on Sundays. ["]

["] Poland is largely dependent on the West, above all on the German Federal Republic and the USA. Its capital debt stock is some 27 billion dollars. In 1981 Poland will have to take up another 10 billion dollar loan, since the value of its exports to capitalist markets does not cover the compulsory amortization installments. On the other hand imports will have to be financed from further credits. The USA and other capitalist countries have brought it to their attention that in the event of Poland joining the International Monetary Fund, more favorable credit terms would be granted. However, for reasons of principle, Poland rejects this proposal. ["]

["] According to the plan for economic stabilization, it will take about 3 years to surmount the present difficulties. They wish to rely on the assistance of financial experts of the Soviet Union and would also like to make use of the experiences of other socialist countries. ["]

["] On December 16 it will be the 10th anniversary of the events in Gdansk which will obviously be commemorated. The PUWP cannot completely isolate itself from this and cannot yield ground to the class enemy. Presumably, the anniversary will be dealt with by the 6th Party Congress and the 7th plenary meeting. ["]

Finally, Comrade Kania emphasized that the Polish Communists will do their utmost to defend socialism in their country.

After Comrade Kania and before Comrade T. Zhivkov, Comrade János Kádár rose to speak. Comrade Kádár emphasized the following in his speech. "The aim of the meeting is to coordinate our views, to encourage the supporters of socialism in Poland and around the world and to give a warning to the class enemy. In the present complicated international situation, the events in Poland directly affect both Europe and the Warsaw Pact." Talking briefly about the current issues of the international situation, Comrade Kádár passed on to an analysis of the circumstances in Poland. He emphasized that the roots of the crisis ran deep and that its causes were to be found in agriculture, in the overdemanding pace of industrial development and investment, in the continuous increase in wages, in failing to meet the demand for goods and also in mistakes in state leadership. "All this has led to tensions, strikes and started the process of disintegration and erosion. The class enemy has learned more from past events in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland than we have. Formally, for example, they agree with the leading role of the Party, with building socialism and with membership in the Warsaw Pact. However, in reality they want to drive socialist forces back in all areas. ["]

["] The imperialist forces assert that other socialist countries are afraid of the "Polish infection." From the point of view of internal affairs, we are less anxious about the events, we rather deal with the issue as a common, international one." To avoid misunderstandings, in his appeal to Comrade Kania, János Kádár clarified that it was the public feeling he was referring to. He added that during the events in Pomerania, the Hungarian public was of the opinion—in spite of the long-standing historic friendship between the two nations—that it was impossible to distribute more goods without work or to go on striking while other socialist countries worked normally. János Kádár said that they were also concerned with the issue of participation of a Polish delegation in the Congress of the Central Council of the Hungarian Trade Unions. He believed that the absence of the Polish delegation from the Congress would be regrettable, yet the composition of the delegation was of prime importance as Hungary was not willing to provide assistance to the international legalization of 'Solidarity.' Thus Comrade Kádár requested the leadership of the PUWP to take this into consideration when selecting the delegation.

Kádár stressed the solidarity of the Hungarian nation and pointed out that the socialist way out of the crisis was to be found by Polish Communists themselves. He said: "We are neither able to, nor do we want to determine this solution, nonetheless we would like to make some comradely remarks. The preservation of the leading role of the Party is absolutely necessary, as is the maintenance of socialist constitutional order and the preservation of national state power in which mass communication agencies play an important and integral role. Another important point in question is the protection provided by the Warsaw Pact. ["]

["] In international relations our Party has invariably emphasized the same position, when addressing either fraternal parties or the representatives of capitalist governments, that it is adopting now. We told our Yugoslav comrades, British Foreign Minister [Lord] Carrington, [Hans-Jhrgen] Wischnewsky, Vice President of the SPD, and others that Poland had never been and would never be for sale and that she cannot be torn out of the Warsaw Pact. There are powerful forces in Poland which believe the same and that the crisis has to be overcome by the Polish people themselves. It seems that these negotiating parties have understood this point. ["]

["] We do not wish to give advice to the Polish comrades, however, we do have some revolutionary experience from which it would be useful to exchange our opinions. Yet, it should be taken into consideration that it is not advisable to copy anything. If we were in the same situation, we would strongly suggest that first of all the Party take a firm stand and then that it start a counter-attack. It is of prime importance to determine urgently—and more explicitly than before—the political platform of development. The emergency congress would then be able to carry out useful work only on the basis of such a political platform. In the case of examination and judgment of cadres, their actual activity should be taken into account. This work is to be started at the Central Committee and the Politburo. If the controlling organs form an integral whole this unity will manifest itself in the Party as well. ["]

["]There is a unique situation in the Party now as it is events which are selecting the Party members. In this process the most important is not the number of members, but rather the number of those who support the Party's platform. It is also important to distance oneself from the mistakes of the past, but attention should not be concentrated on the search for scapegoats. ["] (In this connection, Comrade Kádár referred to the fact that Rákosi and his clique had been called to account only in 1962.)

"A clear situation has to be created within the Party and others are not allowed to interfere with its decisions with democratic slogans. The same holds for the questions of state power. The Party's platform has to reflect a kind of determination and it also has to make clear that the PUWP will not look for bloodshed in the future either; however, that it will ensure the protection of certain things by all possible means. A distinct, straightforward policy will be supported at least by half of the population of the country. In this they (i.e. the leadership of the PUWP) can count not only on the communist, but also on other progressive, patriotic forces, including even religious people." Comrade Kádár recalled the events following 1956 when the Soviet comrades encouraged Hungarian Communists by telling them that they were stronger than they had ever thought. He added that the same applied now to Polish Communists.

Finally he emphasized that the existing situation was the PUWP's and the Polish nation's own affair, which was nevertheless inseparable from the socialist community and from European and international political questions. Comrade Kádár then declared: "With joint effort we shall overcome the difficulties. We stand by you. In finding the way out you can rely on the progressive forces of the world and, in a sense, even on sensible capitalist circles which would rather avoid confrontation."

Comrade Leonid Brezhnev requested permission to speak towards the end of the meeting. He underlined that the processes in Poland could have been prevented and that he had called Comrade Gierek's attention to the mistakes several times, the last time during the meeting in the Crimea in 1980. Comrade Gierek, however, kept reassuring him that their Party had control over the situation. However, the events had serious consequences, which then affected the international state of affairs and the cause of peace as well.

Comrade Brezhnev also said: "It is completely inexplicable why the Party withdrew following the first attack. The PUWP should not be concerned with the past for it only provides the enemy with a weapon in this way. The hostile forces are working on the basis of a realistic evaluation of the present circumstances. However, despite unanimous evaluation just a month earlier by leaders of both the PUWP and the CPSU both of the situation and of the measures to be taken, things became worse. It was determined that further withdrawal was out of the question, that an offensive had to be launched and that the Party had to be made ready to strike. The basis for all this was prepared and the Party was able to rely on so-called 'sound' forces, the army, the police and on a section of the trade unions. At the same time the Party retreated again. Hostile forces became active and the class-conflict grew tense. The counterrevolutionary center accelerates processes: it seeks to form a party on the basis of the 'Solidarity' organization and it tries to win over the Peasants' Party to its cause. On top of that a Christian Democratic Party is about to be formed, while the same counterrevolutionary center is working on the development of a bourgeois election system, is determined to split the Party, the intelligentsia and the youth apart, is cooperating with the Church, is gradually taking over the mass media apparatus, is becoming active even within the army, where it exerts its influence with the help of the Church. ["]

["]The CPSU did agree with the idea of finding a political solution for the crisis. Today, however, the class enemy does not show restraint. It regards the work of the PUWP as its weakness and is increasing the pressure on it. In practical terms, there is dual power in Poland today. ["]

["]To put it bluntly, the Party has to admit that socialism is in great danger in Poland. It has to be emphasized that the present situation is not merely the consequence of mistakes committed in the past, but also that of five months of strike movements. We must make it absolutely clear that we shall not take any steps backwards, that we support the further development of socialist democracy, the rights of the trade unions and that we will determinedly fight back anti-socialist forces. ["]

["]The Soviet Union and the socialist countries support the Polish communists economically as well. We have provided them with 2 billion dollars of aid, credits, transports of goods and collective sales of oil. We will be looking for opportunities for assistance in the future too, although Poland will also have to make efforts. ["]

["]The execution of common resolutions is more pressing now than it was a month ago. The Party needs reinforcement. Party members have to be mobilized, the principle of democratic centralism and the Leninist norm of Party life have to be observed. The time to call 'Solidarity' to order has come, for it is already pursuing political objectives. The mass media apparatus has to be taken back."

Comrade Brezhnev pointed out that progressive forces were able to exert influence even on moderate clerical elements. Comrade Brezhnev emphasized that imperialist forces were also carrying out considerable subversive work and that the situation in Poland was extraordinary, which accordingly required the adoption of extraordinary means. He considered it very important to have a definite plan in the case of the army taking over major strategic points, to organize the security system and to guarantee the safety of railway and public transport. He added that it was of importance not only to the economy but also to the security of the Warsaw Pact.

In his analysis of the period preceding the events in 1968 in Czechoslovakia, Comrade G. Husák dealt with the aspects of political settlement of the crisis in Poland in an indirect way, just as Comrade Kádár did. Touching on each topical issue in detail, and drawing on Czechoslovak experience, he examined the situation and tasks in a very humane and comradely manner. He pointed out that in the spring and early summer of 1968, the crisis in Czechoslovakia could have been settled from within, with their own resources. However, the Party was slow to act, had no clear-cut program, lost its initiative role and thus, by August, socialism could only be upheld in Czechoslovakia with help from outside.

Comrade N. Ceausescu pointed out the consequences of economic difficulties in his speech and stressed that socialist countries were not able to solve their economic problems satisfactorily, including, in particular their energy needs and the supply of raw materials, within the framework of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance [COMECON]. In this connection, he underlined the need for further development of socialist economic integration and concluded that the Polish events served as a warning for other socialist countries to tighten cooperation, especially in economic and social fields. He also suggested that another meeting be held in the near future on the same topic and at the same level.

Comrade Ceausescu pointed out that Poland had to solve the problems on its own and by political means. In connection with this he repeatedly talked of the significance of the working class and stressed that, whatever the strength of the army and the police, the situation can be solved only with the support of the working class and the people. He added that it was also necessary to take firm action against groups endangering the people's power. Finally, Comrade Ceausescu stressed that a possible "intervention" from outside would entail very serious dangers.

Comrade T. Zhivkov's evaluation of the situation tallied fully with those of the previous speakers. In the search for a solution, he, however, emphasized the simultaneous application of political and administrative measures, with a major stress on the latter. He explained this by stating that there was a real threat of change in Poland's socialist order, since political means had been almost totally used up, while counterrevolutionary forces were gaining more and more ground. In his opinion the reason for the relative calm at the time was that the enemy felt it [was] still [too] early to reveal its real power. Comrade Zhivkov pointed out that the continual postponement of the open class confrontation was extremely dangerous and therefore firm action needed to be taken.

In Comrade E. Honecker's opinion the first "capitulation" of the PUWP was a serious mistake and the Party had been continually backing down since then. "That kind of attitude disappoints even people loyal to socialism," he said. He wondered why the Polish comrades failed to introduce measures that they had agreed upon with Comrade Brezhnev just a month before. He referred to the lesson learned from the events in Czechoslovakia and also to the experiences of the German Democratic Republic [GDR]. He pointed out emphatically that, besides political measures, administrative means had to be introduced. He talked of the particular situation of the GDR which formed a dividing line between the two existing social orders and added that capitalist countries wanted to smuggle the Polish events into the GDR as well. However, the German Socialist Unity Party [SED] made it clear that it would persist in its principles which had become clear through the restriction of tourism in East Germany.

Comrade Honecker emphasized that the PUWP was strong enough to restore order in the country and that the activity of counterrevolutionaries made it evident that, in order to defend the power of the people, the resources of worker-peasant power had to be deployed.

In our evaluation the meeting fulfilled its purpose: it served to coordinate the opinions of fraternal parties, supported the followers of socialism within Poland and beyond her borders and at the same time it gave a distinct warning to the internal and external forces of reaction.

The report was compiled by: Approved by:
András Gyenes

János Kádár
Géza Kótai