Primary Sources

The Politburo Discusses Solidarity


In April 1981, Polish officials Stanislaw Kania (first secretary of the Communist Party in Poland) and Wojciech Jaruzelski (then prime minister of Poland) secretly met with two Soviet leaders, Yu. V. Andropov (a secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [CC CPSU]) and D. F. Ustinov (the minister of defense). During a meeting of the CC CPSU that followed, Andropov and Ustinov relayed information about the secret meeting. According to this report, the Soviet officials grilled the Polish leaders about their inadequate response to the growing opposition in Poland and pressured them about the introduction of martial law, which was eventually introduced in Poland in December 1981. The document illustrates the divide that separated the Polish Communist leadership's willingness to 'fight' Solidarity and the Soviet Union's fears with the failures of the Polish leaders to precisely that. The document clearly shows the involvement of Soviet leaders in determining how best to resolve the ongoing resistance in Poland.


CC CPSU Politburo, "On the Results of the Meeting Held by Cdes. Yu. V. Andropov and D. F. Ustinov with the Polish Friends," 9 April 1981, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...ANDROPOV. Cde. D. F. Ustinov and I, as we agreed with the Polish comrades, traveled to Brest and held a meeting there in a train car right near Brest. The meeting began at 9:00 p.m. and ended at 3:00 a.m. so that no one would discover that the Polish comrades had gone off somewhere.

...The general impression from our meeting with the comrades was that they were very tense and nervous, and it was obvious that they were worn out. Cde. Kania said candidly that it's very difficult for them to conduct their business under constant pressure from Solidarity and the antisocialist forces....

With regard to the introduction of troops, they flatly said that this is absolutely impossible, just as it is also impossible to introduce martial law....

With regard to martial law, it would have been possible to introduce it long ago.... It would help them smash the onslaught of the counterrevolutionary forces and other rowdy forces, and put an end once and for all to the strikes and anarchy in economic life. A draft document on the introduction of martial law has been prepared with the help of our comrades, and these documents must be signed. We say that now you personally, Cdes. Kania and Jaruzelski, must sign the documents so that we can be sure you agree with them and will know what must be done during martial law. When it comes time to introduce martial law, there'll be no time then to work out the measures for doing so; you must work them out beforehand....

Then, after our explanation, Cdes. Kania and Jaruzelski said that on 11 April they'll look over and sign this document....

You must speak about this to the workers, you must also speak about it to Solidarity. Right now Solidarity has entrenched itself at the largest factories. These factories must be taken away from Solidarity.

How to Cite this Source

Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, "The Politburo Discusses Solidarity." Making the History of 1989, Item #260.

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