In the fall of 1988, Alfred Miodowicz, the head of the official union OPZZ (All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions), challenged Lech Wałesa, the leader of the outlawed Solidarity trade union, to a televised debate. The offer signaled the growing willingness of many party leaders to compromise with opposition groups, but it was also a sign of the party’s continued self-confidence. Miodowicz, a….
Minutes No. 64 from an Expanded Meeting of the PZPR CC [Central Committee of the Communist Party] Secretariat, June 5, 1989
The following are excerpts from a meeting of the leadership of Poland’s communist party held the day after the June 4, 1989 elections, when the magnitude of the party’s electoral defeat was just becoming clear. Particularly embarrassing was the fate of the 35 candidates on the so-called “national list,” well-known dignitaries who were running unopposed. Almost all were simply crossed….
President George H.W. Bush and Solidarity Leader Lech Walesa in Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following a Luncheon in Gdansk, 11 July 1989
The transition to a Solidarity-led government in Poland was closely associated with the introduction of market-oriented economic reforms. Many Poles hoped that this might lead to a dramatic improvement in the country’s economy, not only through the stimulation of domestic growth but also through the attraction of investment and outright financial aid from the West. In this brief exchange with….
Following the historic semi-free elections in Poland in June 1989, which resulted in a near total defeat of the Communist regime, Polish Communist and Solidarity leaders engaged in ongoing and significant negotiations in the hope of establishing stability in Poland. On August 24, 1989, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, journalist and Solidarity activist, became the first non-Communist prime minister in….
In early June 1989, Poland held its first semi-free elections since the inception of Communist Party rule in the post-World War II era. Poles indicated strongly their anti-Communist and pro-Solidarity sentiments, as evidenced by the solid defeat of Communism in this election. A few weeks after this historic election, the new pro-Solidarity parliamentary leaders formed the Citizens'….
In June 1989, Poland held its first semi-free elections since the inception of communism after World War II, in which the Communist Party was soundly defeated by the opposition. Following this historic election, ongoing negotiations took place between Communist officials and new leaders in an effort to create stability and ensure that the transition was smooth. In this confidential cable from….
In June 1989, Poland held its first semi-free elections since the beginning of Communist Party rule following World War II, in which Communism was soundly defeated by Solidarity activists. Shortly after this election, the newly elected leaders of the opposition formed the Citizens' Parliamentary Club through which they debated potential government structures and the future road for Poland. One….
In the mid- to late 1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on a new path for the Soviet Union by introducing significant changes to his country’s domestic and foreign policies, which eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev’s glasnost resulted in a crucial shift toward more open dialogue not only within the Soviet Union but also with….
President George H. W. Bush visited Poland and Hungary in July 1989, following a series of speeches he had made that defined the direction his administration would take in its relations with the Soviet Union. On April 17, at Hamtramck, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit heavily populated by Polish-Americans, Bush had devoted a speech—referred to in the excerpt below—to the future of Eastern….
In early June 1989, Poland held its first semi-free elections since the inception of Communism following the Second World War. In the first round of these elections, Poles exhibited strong anti-Communist and pro-Solidarity sentiments, surprising both sides. Immediately after the first round of these elections, the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR, i.e., Communist….
One of the most important agreements made by Communist officials and opposition leaders in Poland at the roundtable talks that took place in February through April 1989 was the decision to hold, for the first time, semi-free elections, in which half of the parliamentary seats would be freely contested. In this confidential cable, the American Embassy in Warsaw reported to the U.S. Secretary of….
Formed in September 1980 in Poland and recognized as a legal union by Communist officials in November, Solidarity was formally dissolved by Communist leaders on October 8, 1982, and forced to function illegally and underground. During the historic roundtable talks between Communist officials and leaders of the opposition that took place in February through April 1989, participants revisited the….
Leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) grew increasingly concerned about the strength and growth of the Solidarity Movement as well as the largely unsuccessful actions of Poland's Communist Party against the opposition in Poland. These meeting notes of the Central Committee of the CPSU from January 1981 indicate that Soviet leaders recognized that the Polish Communist….
In January 1981, Lech Walesa, leader of the Solidarity Movement in Poland, along with other participants in the opposition, traveled to Italy. In response to this visit, the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union sent a telegram to the Soviet ambassador in Italy instructing him on how to handle the visitors. The instructions advised the ambassador to meet with the leader….
In the summer of 1980, strikes erupted among workers in Poland, making Communist leaders throughout the Soviet bloc uneasy. The Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union met in October 1980 to discuss and endorse a report compiled by some of its members about a forthcoming visit of two Polish officials, Stanislaw Kania and Josef Pinkowski. In their discussions, they agreed….
Prior to the historic roundtable talks between Polish Communist officials and leaders of the opposition that eventually took place from February to April 1989, Solidarity activist Andrzej Stelmachowski secretly met with Secretary Jozef Czyrek, a member of the Polish Politburo. While their occasional meetings to discuss the content, structure, and composition of the upcoming talks were….
Andrzej Stelmachowski, a Solidarity activist, engaged in secret negotiations between the opposition and communist party and state leaders in Poland regarding the preparations for the historic Roundtable Talks that eventually took place in February through April 1989. In this document, he reported to Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity Movement, about his discussion with Secretary Jozef….
In September 1988, Lech Walesa, leader of Poland's Solidarity Movement and later president of Poland following the collapse of communism (1990-1995), wrote this document a few months prior to the historic Roundtable Talks between party and state officials and the opposition that eventually took place in February to April 1989. Walesa presented what the opposition viewed as the most important….
Prior to the historic Roundtable Talks between the opposition and the communist party and state officials in Poland, negotiations occurred on many levels, as shown in this document. Not only were participants in the opposition negotiating with communist leaders, but they were also negotiating among themselves. Leaders of the opposition held numerous meetings in the fall of 1988 to discuss the….
Lech Walesa, leader of Poland's Solidarity Movement and outspoken critic of the communist party and state, a shipyard worker in the city of Gdansk, and later president of Poland following the collapse of Communism (1990-1995), wrote this note prior to the Roundtable Talks that eventually took place in February to April 1989. During the historic Roundtable Talks, Polish communist leaders met….