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which are restrained only out of fear of Soviet action.
Of the 3 million members of the PUWP, 1 million are estimated to be positively disposed, but poor or very little work is done with them, and more and more good Communists are leaving, or being forced out. They say openly that the politicians look to the left but go to the right, and thus the good Communists see no prospects.
Olszowski, himself, said that he did not know how to continue since the Politburo was giving ground to the increasingly stronger pressure from the right. Jaruzelski is incapable and gives ground.
There are already 7,000 civil servants in the army who are members of “Solidarity,” and the influence of "Solidarity" grows in the organs of the Interior Ministry and in particular in the mass media.
Żabiński is losing the ground beneath his feet and fears not being elected, which would mean the end of his activity.
We will support every option:
A new [Warsaw Pact] consultative meeting, like that held in December (1980), would strengthen the healthy forces in Poland. Until now they have not brought much, they have only promised much. The main question remains how to successfully strengthen the healthy forces, which are not few.
At present a hysterical (historical?--Ed.] situation exists, difficult for the good comrades, and therefore we must aid them, we must support them.
We support the proposals by Comrades Brezhnev and Honecker, and have however no illusions of the selection of delegates to the party congress.
Comrade Kapek, First Secretary of the CPCz district leadership in Prague, who was with a delegation in Poland, said, however, that it has become impossible to approach the masses. It is only possible to speak to a narrow circle.
Once again, Kania is constantly disappointing (us). As for the postponement of the party congress, that is very doubtful. Olszowski is afraid of the party congress, for whoever will come forth against the present leadership is thrown out of the CC (fliegt aus dem ZK heraus). They are disappointed by Kania and Jaruzelski. Olszowski and Grabski take a positive position, but are they the people to lead Poland out of its present situation?
Have they enough courage, do they have sufficient experience—the question remains then, with whom to work, whom to support[?] There are a million good Communists, but they are scattered, they live like partisans.
If Kania can now carry out his policy of horizontal structures, the healthy forces should also formulate their tactics.
An advisory meeting could be the impetus for a change, but the elections, which are going on at present for the preparation of the party congress, are under the influence of “Solidarity,” and it is very difficult to say how the party congress will turn out.
When Kania was in Prague, he stated that he supported convening the party congress, in order to call it
off shortly before the date. But you cannot trust Kania. Moreover, he already has his hands tied.
In a discussion with church leaders, they said that the Catholic Church in its history has found itself in different situations, but it has never allowed the condemnation of its own clergymen.
Comrade Brezhnev said that different options are being formulated as to how the positions of the good Communists can be strengthened. The enemy acts always with greater force. We, however, pay too much heed to diplomacy and protocol. The Polish comrades want contact with us, and we must fortify these contacts.
As for the ČSSR, it is true that the West intensifies its propaganda, however, it meets with no response. The Polish events arouse in our people dissatisfaction and anger. There is no danger that the masses support it.
At this point Comrade Tikhonov interjected the remark that this situation can change though.
Comrade Husák: The atmosphere in the ČSSR is good. We are preparing for elections, holding election assemblies, and we have no fear that the Polish events could have an effect on our country.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: What Erich said is correctsomething must be done before the party congress. The appraisal of Kania, and of a necessary change in the leadership is also correct, though the main question is “how” to do so.
Comrade Gromyko: After the Poles had just arranged with Leonid Ilyich to postpone convening the party congress, they convened without consulting with us and merely informed us about their decision.
Comrade Erich Honecker asked the question whether the party congress could be postponed. I think thatalthough it would be good—it is not realistic. We cannot surely have any great hopes, since Kania and Jaruzelski exercise idle, unprincipled capitulation. We must therefore work with the healthy forces, though none can say how influential these people are.
Comrade Tikhonov: We all have the same appraisal, the facts correspond. We also have information. "Solidarity” has even now formed a militia. What is going to happen? An intervention in the present international situation is out of the question, so the opposition of the healthy forces must be actively supported, but these healthy forces have no outstanding leader.
The healthy forces must appear strong, they must meet in preparation of the party congress. If at present horizontal structures appear in the foreground, then the healthy forces must create their own structures. The healthy forces must be visible, since they are presently not active in the mass media. [The idea of postponing the party congress is not unrealistic. The Polish comrades told us as well, that the meeting of the Sejm could not be postponed. Afterwards they did exactly that.—Ed. note: Added in handwriting by E. Honecker.]
Comrade Andropov: It is surely not possible to find an array of decisive measures to resolve the problems.
Rakowski for example, who try to hide behind the CPSU.
Our delegations, which have traveled to Poland, were well prepared and armed with well-composed information. That is the way we can usefully support the healthy forces.
At that point Comrade Erich Honecker began to speak. He stated his agreement with the observations of Comrade Ustinov, to consider precisely the possibility of a postponement of the party congress and throwing all force now into preparing for the 11th Plenum as well as possible, proceeding from what is known of the situation, to formulate all essential options.
Therefore we must act in several directions. The postponement of the date of the party congress is not realistic, there I have the same evaluation. They speak, promise, but do nothing. Comrade L.I. [Brezhnev] had a very thorough discussion with Kania. It is then a matter not only who to replace, but also how to do so. According to our information, the balance of power stands at roughly 50-50. But the question remains, who will seize the initiative, who will convene a plenum. In my opinion, this way is unrealistic.
The party congress is the crossroad, where either the party takes the Marxist-Leninist path or it disintegrates. Consequently the healthy forces must use the 11th Plenum to fight the battle.
Four or more good comrades also are well spirited, but we do not know whether it [leading the party into new directions) will work. We know that for example already 26 voivodeship committee secretaries, members of the CC, were dismissed as secretaries.
Kociołek is a serious man.
We must not forget also that there is a rivalry between the three.
On the June 10 we will have the names of all party congress delegates, then we will know more, see better.
Comrade Ustinov: I am in agreement with the statements made by Comrades Brezhnev, Honecker, and Husák. Everything points to the failure to formulate lengthy principled proposals. It is a matter now of fighting for every healthy man. We must all support the healthy forces.
It is certainly difficult to postpone the party congress, but one should remember that it also meant that the Sejm cannot be adjourned, then it will have worked though.
It was said correctly that Kania was not living up to our expectations, but who shall take over the leadership[?] There is the 11th Plenum on the daily agenda.
Perhaps a state of emergency should be imposed, if even just partly.
Comrade Rusakov: A postponement of the party congress is no longer possible. The delegates from the factories have already been elected. On the May 30, the delegates from the voivodeships will be elected. Until then, nothing more can be done for the healthy forces.
We also have information that enraged anti-Soviet forces are appearing.
Rakowski wanted Olszowski and Grabski voted out of the Politburo, but we were able to achieve their remaining in the Politburo.
On the May 18 comrades from our Central Committee will travel to Warsaw to discuss with the comrades from the PUWP Politburo and bring them to Marxist-Leninist positions. The comrades from the SED are also exerting their influence on the party congress documents.
We are intensifying the criticism of the events in Poland in the press and radio. It is very important to come forward unambiguously because there are some, like
To conclude the meeting Comrade Brezhnev determined that the exchange of opinions was useful, even if there is no light in sight in regards to a positive change. The comrades are right when they stress that it is essential to employ all levers of pressure. It would be undoubtedly better to postpone the party congress or cancel it shortly before its meeting, as Kania had promised at the time, but that is scarcely possible at this point.
The worst (scenario] would be if the party congress took an openly revisionist position. The central matter remains therefore that the present leadership cannot be depended upon, we see however on the other hand there are no real potential candidates to replace them. We must think of how we will find suitable people and prepare them for extraordinary situations.
For the time being we have the ability to exert economic pressure, since we are the main supplier of petroleum and other raw materials.
We must now task comrades to form operational contacts with comrades in the PUWP in Poland.
We will confidentially inform Comrades János Kádár, Todor Zhivkov, and Fidel Castro of this meeting.
Comrade Husák's question whether publication will follow, was answered negatively.
Should information reach the West, a possibility excluded by the Soviet comrades and Comrade Erich Honecker, it will be denied.
(Source: SAPMO-BArch ZPA, vorl.SED 41559. Published in Michael Kubina/Manfred Wilke, eds., "Hart und kompromißlos durchgreifen:" Die SED contra Polen. Geheimakten der SED-Führung über die Unterdrückung der polnischen Demokratiebewegung (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995), pp. 270-285. Translated by Christiaan Hetzner (National Security Archive/CWIHP)]
Transcript of the Meeting between Comrade L.I. Brezhnev and Comrade E. Honecker at the Crimea on
3 August 1981 (excerpt)
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: [...] A tremendous concern to all of us naturally is the situation in Poland. Recently we spoke with you and Comrade Husák in detail about Polish affairs. We all have reason to say that the CPSU and the
situation. To digress from the prepared text, I would like to say that the Poles will seek economic assistance, loan credits and food supplies. Naturally they will inform [us] of their Party Congress. One cannot help but see that for ourselves even the economic situation is very precarious. Problems weigh heavily on us. We have in our leadership a group—consisting of Comrades Suslov, Andropov, Gromyko, Ustinov, (deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers since 1980, Ivan Vasilyevich] Archipov, and Rusakov—who every day follow the situation in Poland very closely. If necessary, we will provide the Poles with certain assistance—depending on what they bring to the table.
The events in Poland are an eye-opener for a lot of things. What could earlier only be foreseen, now has been confirmed through harsh and bitter experience. [...]
SED follow a unified (political] line in the interests of overcoming the Polish crisis and of stabilizing the situation in that country. This applies as well to the 9th Extraordinary Party Congress of the PUWP. The work with the Poles in connection with the Party Congress was not futile. By implementing an entire system of measures- starting with my telephone conversation with Kania and Jaruzelski, to the dispatching of party delegations to the rank and file, and up to the CPSU CC's direct appeal to the PUWP CCwe were able to prevent the Polish leadership from becoming instruments of the revisionists. We kept the centrists from further slipping towards the right. The most important thing, however, consisted of the true Communists regaining their confidence, their seeing that they can firmly rely on us.
The Party Congress has naturally brought no radical change for the better in the situation in the party and in the country. But that could not be expected. The crisis in Poland has severely shaken society. The people are confused, with a significant number of them having fallen under the influence of demagogues and screamers [Schreihälsen) from the counterrevolutionary wing of “Solidarity.”
At the same time there is reason to conclude that the Right has not succeeded in pushing the party onto a social-democratic path or in seizing the leadership. The Party Congress confirmed what was already shown at the 11th Plenum of the PUWP CC: the majority of the party supports Kania and Jaruzelski, to them there is no alternative at present. Their positions were solidified, which allowed them then to act more boldly and decisively.
I have sent you the notes of my telephone conversation with Kania after the Party Congress (on 21 July 1981). Several days later, I sent him a telegram in which I posed sharply-pointed questions to him: concerning the disgraceful spread of anti-Soviet behavior; regarding the demand by "Solidarity" to introduce group ownership into socialist factories; about the danger of the formation of a new mass party—a so-called labor party, etc.
Surmounting the crisis in Poland obviously necessitates long-term efforts. We must all bring (our) influence to bear on the Polish leadership to urge them to take consistent offensive action against the forces of anarchy (in order to end the counterrevolution.
We receive information that the situation is not improving. “Hunger marches," in which women and children participate, are taking place, for example. I think that I will have a very open conversation with Kania and Jaruzelski here in the Crimea [on 14 August 1981). I plan to ask them there how (things in) Poland should evolve. As a socialist country—this is one thing, on the socialdemocratic path, that is something else entirely. I have also referred to these questions in the telegram to Kania.
The composition of a new Politburo in the PUWPCC is not yet definitively clear. But there are people there on whom one can rely. Therefore, Erich, let us be patient and steadfast in ensuring the necessary change in the
Comrade E. Honecker: [...] We all agree that the Polish events help the U.S. course of confrontation. This was also confirmed by the recent debate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Regarding the development in the People's Republic of Poland, continual coordination between us is particularly important.
Our Politburo has just recently received the report by the SED delegation to the 9th Party Congress of the PUWP led by Comrade (SED Politburo member Werner) Felfe. We came to the conclusion that the complicated situation at this Party Congress mirrored that in the PUWP and in the PR Poland. It is evident, in our judgment, that the MarxistLeninist forces within the PUWP are in the minority, and are not in the position to prevent straying to the right. Apparently the healthy forces are presently still too weak politically and ideologically, as well as organizationally, to bring about a change for the better. The forces of the right were able to influence considerably the political opinions and the elections to the central party organs in a revisionist fashion.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: That is correct.
Comrade E. Honecker: Through the letter by the Central Committee of the CPSU and the stance of a number of fraternal parties of socialist countries the worst was prevented. In this sense—and here I agree with you—our common attitude led to certain consequences. The Party Congress, however, had debated and decided no concrete solutions through which Poland would be led out of its political and economic misery, and through which the advancing counterrevolution would be crushed.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: That's correct.
Comrade E. Honecker: Our delegation returned with the impression that the PUWP is torn from within and unfit for the struggle, a party which constantly loses its MarxistLeninist character. As the analysis shows, the forces of the right have consolidated their positions in the Central
were in close contact with at least 15 voivodships.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: Answer a delicate question for me please, Erich. Can Kania take control of the situation? Do you personally have confidence in him?
Comrade E. Honecker: No. I don't have any confidence in him. He has disappointed us, and he never kept his promises. Only recently, at an advisory session of the Politburo with the First Voivodship Secretaries, have most of them criticized Kania, because he has taken no decisive measures.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: Did this advisory session take place before the 9th Party Congress?
Committee, Politburo, and Central Committee Secretariat. More than 40% of the members and candidates of the Central Committee belong to "Solidarity," three are members of “KOR." Things have gone so far that an advisor to “KOR” (H. Kubiak) has been elected to the Politburo and the Secretariat of the Central Committee.
Every day the counterrevolution under the leadership of “Solidarity” undertakes new campaigns for the subversion, destruction, and seizing of the state's power, for which they exploit the economic difficulties. Among these are the so-called "hunger marches" organized recently in Kutno, Łódź (with the participation of 10,000 women and children) and in other locations, which were held under anti-socialist slogans. Our citizens may see all of this on Western television.
The opportunity at the Party Congress to label "Solidarity" as the true culprit for the economic misery of Poland was not utilized. Instead the members of the former leadership exclusively were blamed for it. With that, the path to capitulation was justified and continued. That is also shown in the recent retreat in the case of the strike threat by (the Polish national airline] LOT.
The enemy is now trying to fan the flames of general dissatisfaction and, through pressure, to achieve further division of power, premature Sejm elections, and the strengthening of capitalist structures. The Party Congress produced neither clear short-term nor long-term programs. The revisionist forces speak openly of a new Polish model of socialism, that will have an international impact. We must not underestimate the possibility that the Polish disease will spread.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: That is a correct evaluation.
Comrade E. Honecker: No, afterwards. We know this from Polish comrades.
Poland is a cause for our entire movement. It would be good for our socialist community, good for the Communist movement and the restraint of opportunism, if we all gather in the near future to discuss political and theoretical matters which result from the development in Poland for the Communist world movement, for the convincing propagation of real socialism.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: Are you thinking then of a meeting of the first secretaries of the fraternal parties of the socialist community?
Comrade E. Honecker: Yes. [...]
(Around 9 p.m., the conversation was briefly interrupted to watch the television broadcast of the meeting between Comrade L.I. Brezhnev and E. Honecker.)
Comrade A.A. Gromyko: The evaluation is sober and correct.
Comrade E. Honecker: Clearly we must put up with Kania for a certain amount of time, as you have already determined. Perhaps it would be advisable to agree how we can integrate the Poles more firmly into our community. It would be possible to tie that to some of the correct statements at the Party Congress, for example the speech by Jaruzelski, in order to strengthen the people's power, to contain the enemy, and to tighten up our alliance.
I propose to you, Comrade Leonid Ilyich, that the CPSU, the CPCz, the SED, and possibly other fraternal parties, in close cooperation, further assist the PUWP to form a reliable, combat-ready Marxist-Leninist leadership. To this end we will make use of all our contacts.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: I would like once again return to your proposed meeting in Poland of general secretaries of the fraternal parties of the socialist community, Erich. It seems advisable to me to discuss these matters again later-in other words after our discussions with Kania and Jaruzelski and in consideration of the results of these talks. Let us see how Kania will behave after these discussions.
Dear Erich, I would like to express my satisfaction over my meeting with you, over the discussion of significant matters regarding our joint work. I hope that this will bring progress towards a resolution of important questions of our cooperation.
Comrade L.I. Brezhnev: When were you, Erich, last in contact with Kania?
[Source: SAPMO-BArch ZPA, JIV 2/2/A-2419. Published in Michael Kubina and Manfred Wilke, eds., “Hart und komprimißlos durchgreifen:“ Die SED contra Polen. Geheimakten der SED-Führung über die Unterdrückung der polnischen Demokratiebewegung (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995), pp. 331-336. Translated by Christiaan Hetzner (CWIHP/National Security Archive).)
Comrade E. Honecker: That was just before the Polish Party Congress. Afterwards I was in touch with other Polish comrades. Comrades from our Politburo were in Poland (e.g. Comrade (Konrad] Naumann in Warsaw). We
New Evidence on Poland in the Early Cold War
Editor's Note: This Bulletin section features essays and documents which emerged as part of CWIHP's “Stalin Project,” an international effort, inaugurated last year, that aims at a comprehensive (inasmuch as that is possible) compilation of archival and other materials on Josef Stalin's views and impact on Soviet foreign relations during the early Cold War. Following a workshop in Budapest (3-4 October 1997) on “European Archival Evidence on 'Stalin and the Cold War'” (co-sponsored and hosted by the Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution), and a 19-20 March 1998 workshop in Moscow on “Stalin and the Cold War" (co-sponsored and hosted by the Institute of General History of the Russian Academy of Sciences), CWIHP is currently seeking to establish a website database of all known and documented conversations between Stalin and foreign leaders. CWIHP is also planning further conferences on the subject. Key documents will be published in this and future issues of the Bulletin as well as on the CWIHP website (cwihp.si.edu). The following contributions by Andrzej Werblan, Andrzej Paczkowski and Krzysztof Persak focus on new evidence on Soviet-Polish relations in the Stalin era.
The Conversation between Władysław Gomułka and
Josef Stalin on 14 November 1945
By Andrzej Werblan
n November 1945, Władysław Gomułka' was
Worker's Party (PPR) (and had been since November 1943). Soon afterwards, in December 1945, during the first PPR congress, the post of General Secretary was created and entrusted to Gomułka. He held that post until August 1948. In his memoirs, written in the seventies after he retired, Gomułka writes that, after the creation of People's Poland at the end of World War II, PPR leaders frequently paid unofficial visits to Stalin. Not many archival traces of these visits and conversations have survived. The Polish scholar Krzysztof Persak presented Polish archival information on this topic during a conference in Budapest, organized by the Cold War International History Project, on 3-4 October 1997.4 Some additional information about meetings between Stalin and Polish leaders in 1944-48 can be found in a recently published Russian documentary collection. Prof. Albina F. Noskowa, the co-editor of this collection, told me that many of the meetings between Stalin and the leaders of “people's democracies” and Communist parties were not recorded (no minutes were taken) during those years. As a rule, it appears, no minutes were taken of meetings conducted at the dachas in Sochi or the Crimea, where Stalin spent long fall and winter months.
The memorandum of conversation with Stalin published below was prepared by Władysław Gomułka and found in his private papers. Most probably Gomułka himself wrote the memorandum after the conversation took place. Two factors support that interpretation. First, the text with the handwritten (and, as it turns out, erroneous) note “third quarter of 1945” was found in his private papers; second, the style of the memo, is very characteristic of Gomułka. As was the case in his other reports of talks with Stalin which have survived, he only noted Stalin's statements and completely omitted his own.
By a fortunate coincidence, information about the
very same conversation can be found in the abovementioned collection of Russian documents, in a letter dated 14 November 1945 written by Stalin to Molotov relating the conversation with Gomułka and Hilary Minc. The letter was meant for “The Four," that is, probably for the few closest associates of Stalin at the time. The memo is laconic, consisting of the list of questions asked by the Poles and short, thesis-like answers. When one compares their subjects, it is clear that both Gomułka's memo and Stalin's letter refer to the same conversation. Gomułka's description is more detailed, but the order in which he relates the topics of conversation differs from Stalin's note. By the end, Gomułka also writes in abbreviated form, using short sentences, including digressions and unrelated issues mentioned by Stalin during the conversation, as well as during the dinner which usually followed such conversations. From Stalin's memo we learn that the conversation took place on 14 November 1945 and that Minc participated in it as well, but no minutes were taken.
The content of both documents indicates that the reason for the conversation was the new situation in Poland following the formation of the Provisional Government of National Unity (TRJN — Tymczasowy Rząd Jedności). The main problems about which the Polish leaders consulted Stalin concerned relations with the Polish Peasants' Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL), which was formed in September 1945 under the leadership of Stanisław Mikołajczyk? and which appeared to be the first political party completely independent of the PPR, as well as the relations with the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), which also gained independence under those circumstances. Another important part of the conversation related to the approaching PPR Congress (6-12 December 1945) and the plans for parliamentary elections. International problems also consumed a relatively large part of the conversation. These included the question of