Primary Sources

Tightening the Soviet Borders with Poland


This November 1980 directive from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) proposed a temporary reduction in travel between the Soviet Union and its neighbor because of the difficult ongoing political situation in Poland. The CPSU planned to decrease tourism in both directions by between 36 and 44 percent for the remainder of 1980 and the first half of 1981. Not all tourism was affected. Trips from Poland to the Soviet Union that focused on ideological indoctrination were to continue. By promoting travel that was intended to stress socialist ideology, the directive points to the CPSU's desire to maintain control over where visitors traveled, what they saw, and who they met. By reducing other travel, such as personal trips and longer vacations over which the CPSU had less control, the directive suggests Soviet leaders' concern over the potential spread of nonsocialist and even antisocialist ideology by the strong and growing opposition in Poland.


CC CPSU Politburo, "On a Temporary Reduction in Tourist Exchanges Between the USSR and the PPR," 14 November 1980, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt


It is proposed that Soviet tourist visits to the PPR [Polish People's Republic] for the remainder of 1980 be reduced from 4,900 persons to 3,200 (a 36 percent reduction), and that in the first half of 1981 they be reduced from 45,400 persons, as envisaged in the plans, to 24,500 (a 44 percent reduction).

...It is also proposed that in the first half of 1981 the number of Polish tourists visiting the USSR be reduced from 105,000 persons, as envisaged in the plans, to 66,000 (a 37 percent reduction).

In &hellip accordance with the CPSU CC [Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union] directive issued on 4 November 1980, measures are to be taken to improve the selection, preparation, and training of Soviet citizens traveling as tourists to the PPR, as well as to improve the work involved in receiving and accommodating Polish tourist groups....

Taking account of the current situation in the PPR, we believe it would be advisable to make a temporary reduction in the volume of Soviet tourism in the PPR, focusing this reduction on such types of travel as prolonged fixed trips and vacation tours and specialized groups whose itineraries include visits to industrial enterprises, official establishments, and households....

To bolster our ideological influence on citizens of the PPR via foreign tourism, we believe it would also be worthwhile ... to preserve the kinds of tourist trips from the PPR that are most politically effective: friendship trains and aircraft, trips by activists of the Polish-Soviet Friendship Society and activist veterans of the PZPR [Polish United Workers' Party, i.e., Communist Party] and World War II, trips to twin cities and provinces, cruises along the Volga and Dniepr [Rivers], and some fixed vacations and tours.

For these sorts of trips, the itineraries of Polish tourists should include the widest possible range of stop-off points and ceremonies that will familiarize them with the history and culture of the peoples of our country and the internal and foreign policies of the CPSU and Soviet government....

How to Cite this Source

Central Committee Secretariat of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, "Tightening the Soviet Borders with Poland." Making the History of 1989, Item #252.