General Wojciech Jaruzelski declares Martial Law in Poland, 1981

For the enlightenment, advancement, and inspiration of its members


Proudly presents

With the kind permission of the Heritage Foundation
A filmed talk drawing on Polish and Soviet archives
and the personal experiences of the speakers

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Poland on the Eve of Martial Law

 Featuring two Polish scholars

Marek Chodakiewicz

(Academic Dean and Professor of History, Institute of World Politics)


Janusz Reiter

(Ambassador of the Republic of Poland)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Date: Monday April 02 2012

Venue: Home of Prodos & Barboo, 153 Lennox Street, Richmond. Phone: 9428 1234.

6.30 PM: Doors Open.

Meals (all at cost price) served between 6.30 PM and 7.15 PM

  • Lemon Pepper Atlantic Salmon: $12
  • Crumbed Lamb Cutlets: $12

7.30 PM (sharp): Commencement of Film + Chaired discussion.

Who: Only registered PRODOS Film Study Group members and guests of members allowed. You can apply to join on the night. To join you need to agree with our purpose and pay the $2 annual fee.

Policy: Leaving straight after a film and therefore skipping the discussion goes against one of the conditions upon which our permission to screen these films is based.

9.45 PM: End of meeting.

Cost: No charge. But if you’d like to make a personal donation to Prodos that’s greatly appreciated. Thanks.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


On December 13, 1981 Poland awoke to find itself under Martial Law.

Imposed by Prime Minister Jaruzelski to “defend socialism” from Solidarity, the first independent trade union in Eastern Europe during the Soviet era, all travel, outside communications, economic activity and media reports were put under military administration.

Solidarity’s leaders and activists were arrested and imprisoned without sentence, and active resistance was brutally crushed. Martial Law was eventually suspended on December 31, 1982 although much of the restrictive legislation continued throughout the 1980s.

At a state dinner in Warsaw in November 1988, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called for “personal and political liberty,” joining growing international pressure from the Pope and President Reagan.

On June 5, 1989, Solidarity won the first free elections in Poland after WWII by a land-slide.

What was it like to wake up to the sight of tanks and armed military units on the street? And what are the longer-lasting consequences of this event?

Successive polls show that around 50% of Poles consider Jaruzelski’s decision to impose martial law as justified, although prosecutors filed charges against Gen. Jaruzelski this March, to prosecute the unconstitutional imposition of martial law.

The panelists reflect on their direct experiences of martial law in Poland, what happened afterwards, and analyze the residual effects on modern Poland today.

PART ONE December 23, 1981.
Ronald Reagan’s speech in support for Poland’s Solidarity Movement …


Report This Post