Primary Sources

Decisions of the Polish Leadership


As the economic and political crisis in Poland continued to worsen in the early 1980s, Soviet officials regularly and secretly met with Polish leaders to provide support, advice, and criticism. In April 1981, for example, a delegation of Soviet representatives traveled to Warsaw, Poland, to meet with Polish Communist Party officials. At the following meeting of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union on April 30, 1981, Central Committee members talked about the negotiations that took place in Poland. These meeting notes make clear the persistent pressure that Soviet leaders placed on Polish officials to act decisively in response to the opposition. These notes also reveal Soviet leaders' frustration with Polish officials who did not always follow Soviet recommendations. As this document demonstrates, Polish Communist leaders in the early 1980's were not their own masters during the crisis yet also often acted contrary to advice of their Soviet counterparts.


CPSU CC Politburo, "On the Results of Negotiations Between a CPSU Delegation and the PZPR Leadership," 30 April 1981, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...BREZHNEV. As you know, in accordance with our decision, Cdes. Suslov and Rusakov [members of the Central Committee] traveled to Warsaw several days ago. The USSR ambassador in Poland, Cde. Aristov, also was in the delegation.

In accordance with our instructions, the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] delegation held a discussion in which members and candidate members of the PZPR [Polish United Workers' Party, i.e., Communist Party] Politburo and members of the PZPR Secretariat took part for the Polish side.

...I think that in the future, too, we should not exclude the possibility that individual members of the Politburo or a group of members of the Politburo might travel there, or have a meeting somewhere outside Warsaw and outside Moscow.... The benefit of such measures is indisputable.

SUSLOV. Our negotiations with the PZPR leadership showed that the Politburo's decision regarding our delegation's trip to Poland was very beneficial and timely.... For our part, we sharply criticized the actions of the Polish leadership vis-a-vis Solidarity and the antisocialist elements. We attacked their indecisiveness and their efforts somehow to smooth over the situation without confronting the main questions....

SUSLOV. ... Our criticism is having a definite influence on the Polish leadership, particularly on matters connected with preparations for the congress and on other matters. Of course, the Polish leadership must have a distinct degree of trust in us, and we, too, must have a certain degree of trust in them. To be sure, it's impossible to have much faith in what they promise they'll do, but even so we must somehow, on certain matters, support and encourage them.

BREZHNEV. In general there can be little trust in them because even though they listen to us, they don't do what we recommend....

How to Cite this Source

Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, "Decisions of the Polish Leadership." Making the History of 1989, Item #262.

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