Primary Sources

Report on Poland


On October 30, 1980, two Polish officials, Stanislaw Kania (first secretary of the Communist Party) and Josef Pinkowski (prime minister), visited the Soviet Union to engage in discussions with the Soviet leadership about the ongoing critical situation in Poland. The next day, at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union (CPSU), Soviet leaders met to talk about Kania and Pinkowski's visit. In his summary about the previous day's proceedings, Leonid Brezhnev, first secretary of the CPSU, expressed his continued deep concern over the strength of the opposition in Poland and the inaction and hesitation of the Polish leadership. This document points to the involvement of Soviet leaders in handling the crisis in Poland, and it shows the pressure that Polish officials received from the Soviet Union behind closed doors.


CC CPSU Politburo, "On the Results of a Visit to the USSR by the First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party, Cde. S. Kania, and the Chairman of the PPR Council of Ministers, Cde. J. Pinkowski," 31 October 1980, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...BREZHNEV. With full assuredness we can say that our meeting with the new Polish leaders was timely. Events in Poland have deteriorated so far by now that if we let time slip away and do not correct the position of the Polish comrades, we will—before you know it—be faced with a critical situation that will necessitate extraordinary and, one might even say, painful decisions.

The Polish comrades did not conceal their alarm at the stepped-up activity of the antisocialist forces. But when the discussion turned to measures for combating the counterrevolution, their statements seemed to lack resolve....

We directly asked Kania whether the Party had a plan for an emergency situation in which an open threat would arise to people's rule. He said that there is such a plan, and that they know who should be arrested and how to use the army. But judging by everything, they are not yet prepared to take such a step and have put it off until the indefinite future....

Kania ... showed distinct hesitation only on the question of introducing a state of emergency. With regard to the other measures recommended by us, he declared that he agrees with them....

Kania assured us that upon his return to Warsaw he would convey our point of view to the PZPR CC [Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party, i.e., Communist Party] Politburo.... To be sure, Kania expressed reservations about fully informing certain members of the Politburo, since there was a danger that the information would be leaked to the West. And for the Polish leaders it is essential to forestall any hints that they are acting at the behest of Moscow....

It would be worth moving quickly to lend all possible economic assistance to enable the Poles to make it through this trying time. No matter how burdensome it will be for us, we should do it.

How to Cite this Source

Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, "Report on Poland." Making the History of 1989, Item # 250.

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