Primary Sources

Brezhnev's Decision on Poland


In the midst of the ongoing economic and political crisis in Poland in the early 1980s, Soviet leaders frequently communicated with top Polish officials. At a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CC CPSU) on April 16, 1981, Leonid Brezhnev, then first party secretary, recounted his recent telephone conversation with Stanislaw Kania, first party secretary of the Communist Party in Poland. As this report indicates, Soviet officials continued to put pressure on Polish leaders to act decisively in response to the opposition, and they showed concern about Polish officials' attitudes and confidence in dealing with the resistance. In addition, these meeting notes show that Communist Party leaders in other parts of the region watched the events unfolding in Poland with alarm. Their concern about the tense situation in Poland resulted in the decision at this meeting to keep party officials throughout the region informed about secret discussions with Polish leaders.


CPSU CC Politburo, "On Cde. L. I. Brezhnev's Discussion with the PZPR CC First Secretary, Cde. S. Kania (by telephone)," 16 April 1981, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...BREZHNEV. Yesterday I spoke by phone with Kania....

From the conversation with Kania it was clear that after the Sejm the friends were in a more upbeat mood. They had greater self-confidence. This in itself is no small thing.

But it would be impossible to overlook the fact that the situation, as before, remains extremely difficult. The current lull is clearly only a short-term phenomenon. It was in this spirit that I, as you could see, spoke with Kania.

In general it's very important that we now maintain the right tone in our relations with our friends. On the one hand, we shouldn't badger them without need, and we should avoid making them so nervous that they throw up their hands in despair. On the other hand, we should exert constant pressure and tactfully draw their attention to the errors and weaknesses in their policy, and we should offer comradely advice about what they should do.

Comrades Andropov and Ustinov had a highly productive meeting with Kania and Jaruzelski. This sort of practice, it would seem, should be continued until the crisis begins to subside....

And one final thing. I wanted to ask the comrades whether it's worth informing our closest friends about the discussion that took place. They are very alarmed by the situation in Poland, and for them it will be important to know about the actions we have taken.

If there are no objections, that's what we'll do.

... The members of the Politburo support that proposal.

How to Cite this Source

Leonid Brezhnev and Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, "Brezhnev's Decision on Poland." Making the History of 1989, Item #261.