Primary Sources

Polish Government reports on domestic unrest

Description

Pessimism prevailed in this report prepared by the Polish Council of State assessing the general welfare of the country seven years after the national strikes that led to the Gdansk Agreements and four years after the lifting of martial law. The authors of this report note contempt among the general populace for the government's attempted economic reforms, as well as widespread dissatisfaction among workers and intellectuals. The US and Western Europe were also skeptical. No one, it seemed, thought the Polish government capable of doing anything more than keeping itself in power.

Worse still, according to the report, the collective opposition (Solidarity, the Catholic Church, etc) were themselves driven to impasse by this state of affairs. The economy was such that the government's enemies were content simply to wait. This was also true of the NATO countries, who saw Poland, as they had in 1980, as a powder keg, waiting to explode.

Source

[Polish Government], “A Synthesis of the Domestic Situation and the West’s Activity," August 28, 1987, Andrzej Paczkowski Papers, trans. Jan Chowaniec, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

Generally, anxiety is rising due to the prolonged economic crisis. The opinion is spreading that the economy instead of improving is getting worse. As a result, an ever greater dissonance arises between the so-called official optimism of the authorities ("after all, it's better [now]") and the feeling of society.

Criticism directed at the authorities is rising because of the "slow, inept and inconsistent" introduction of economic reform....

Disappointment and frustration is deepening within the intelligentsia, which placed great hope in the reform for overcoming technical and "civilizational" backwardness, and thus in their own social "promotion" and improvement in their standard of living....

The adversary admits that in terms of organization it is at a standstill, and in its political and propaganda interaction it made mistakes and found itself on the defensive vis-a- vis the government...

Based on these premises, the adversary has come to the conclusion that it does not have to bother much—it is enough to sustain a mood of justified anger and wait and join, at the right moment, the eruption of dissatisfaction, as in 1980;...

A peculiar kind of "detonator" may turn out to be terrorist actions planned by the extremists, preparations for which are advancing;...

Already in the first months of this year, Western intelligence and governmental experts' evaluations presented rather positive opinions about a "spirit of change" in Poland and on theoretical assumptions of the reform....

However, in mid-1987 one can observe increasing criticism in the evaluations and prognoses for the Polish economy made by the Western intelligence services and government experts....

These assessments are sometimes extended to the whole domestic situation....

For example, the Swedes [note]:
- The reform policy is losing speed, and paralysis in the government's activities is increasingly visible.
- The danger of an economic and societal crash is approaching.
- Poland is becoming a keg of gunpowder.
- Such evaluations may result in a fundamental change in the position of the West [with their] slowing down political normalization and gradual reconstruction of economic relations with Poland....

How to Cite this Source

Polish Council of State, "Polish Government reports on domestic unrest," Making the History of 1989, Item #150, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/150 (accessed July 28 2014, 4:18 am).

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