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constitution, this new version was again revised by the Politburo. Chapters one and two, which defined basic principles of the political and socio-economical system of the state, were rewritten, and changes were made in other parts as well. A draft of the first two chapters of the constitution written with Bierut's hand has been preserved in his papers.'3 Bierut also wrote the preamble.
In the fall 1951, the final draft was presented to Stalin who made about fifty changes in the preamble and in twenty-two articles of the constitution. Bierut translated Stalin's amendments personally and then wrote them in a Polish-language copy of the draft. Thus Stalin's corrections were officially introduced to the constitution as Bierut's own ones. Only few members of the top leadership knew their real author.
Most of Stalin's amendments dealt with the political phraseology of the constitution, or were only minor editorial or even grammatical ones. For instance, in some cases he replaced “people" with “masses" or "working people" with “citizens.” Some other changes, however, had more political and symbolic significance. In accordance with his own earlier recommendations that the national traditions and the sovereignty of the state were to be accentuated, Stalin introduced an attribute “national" in several places (e.g. “national culture”, “national rebirth of Poland”). He also crossed out the phrase “under the leadership of the USSR" in the preamble, and openly specified the conquerors of Poland in 19th century Russia included—which Bierut and other Polish authors of the constitution had not dared to do.
In his corrections, Stalin was quite “generous” with granting political freedoms and social rights to people. In article 70 he inserted freedom of the press and the citizens' right to have access to the radio. He also suggested that medical attention should be free. These changes, of course, had no real meaning to people as they had no possibility to execise their nominal rights. With regard to article 5, which seemed to offer citizens at least minimum protection of their rights, Stalin was more restrictive: he specified that only “reasonable" proposals, complaints and wishes of citizens would be taken into consideration, and only "in accordance with the existing legislation."
Stalin's other important amendments to the constitution concerned principles of the socio-economical structure. In articles 9 and 58 Stalin highlighted the priority given to collective and cooperative farming (in the first case, by simply transforming "modern cultivation" into “collective cultivation”). Another of his changes sounded rather disquieting. Stalin replaced the declaration in article 3, which stated that the Polish People's Republic would abolish social relations which were based on exploitation, with the ominous formulation that the Polish People's Republic would abolish social classes which lived by exploiting workers and peasants. And there was, of course, a major difference between eliminating unwelcome social relations and eliminating the social classes themselves.
One of the most consequential corrections which had a considerable impact on legislation and jurisprudence in the domain of civil law was more a result of Bierut's mistranslation than Stalin's deliberate intention. In article 11 of the draft, which referred to the protection of private property of the means of production belonging to craftsmen and peasants, Stalin changed the expression "private property" (chastnaia sobstvennost') into *personal property" (lichnaia sobstvennost') despite the fact that even the constitutions of the USSR and other People's Democracies sanctioned the existence of this kind of private property. In this manner the same qualifier (i.e. "personal") was used in article 11 as in the following article which concerned the property of consumer goods. Bierut, however, while translating Stalin's corrections used a synonym “individual property," and by doing so unwittingly introduced to the constitution a new, previously unknown type of property. What is interesting, is that this change turned out to be quite troublesome for Polish lawyers who were forced to work out whole new theories in order to justify and explain the meaning of “individual" property which was a novelty even to Marxist jurisprudence.14 The amendment concerning private property was perhaps one of the most long-lasting consequences of Stalin's decisions on Polish affairs: only recently, in 1997, the notion of private property was reintroduced to the constitution of Poland.
Before it was finally passed by the Sejm on 22 July 1952, the constitution underwent some further modifications as a result of the parliamentary debate and the subsequent nationwide discussion. Most of these changes, however, were rather superficial, and did not affect the alterations that had been introduced by Stalin. His corrections were unquestionable and unalterable even if some of them like the one concerning the elimination of undesirable social classes-raised doubts among highranking Polish officials. Although Stalin's amendments were in fact not fundamental nor did they have any direct impact on political developments in Poland, the mere fact of his correcting the Polish constitution is of exceptional significance due to its symbolic dimension. It was a manifest example of Poland's lack of sovereignty and subjugation to the Soviet Union.
The fact that Stalin corrected the Polish constitution was unknown to the public until the mid-eighties. It was revealed the first time by former Politburo member Jakub Berman in his interview with Teresa Toranska but Berman's account was on this point imprecise and not entirely reliable.16 The most crucial of Stalin's corrections were published in Polish by Andrzej Garlicki in 1990, after the archives of the Communist Party became accessible.!? This version was based on the Polish text of Stalin's amendments which slightly differed from the Russian one and included some of Bierut's own corrections too. The present version is based on the Russian-language copy of the draft of the constitution which was actually read by Stalin. It includes the full text
of the preamble and those sections of the constitution in which Stalin introduced his amendments. Seven articles of the constitution in which the amendments were so minor that in translation into English they would be negligible were omitted. Words deleted by Stalin are printed with strikethrough font and words added by Stalin in bold font.
Constitution of the Polish People's Republic
Constitution as the fundamental law by which the Polish Nation and all organs of authority of the Polish working people shall be guided, in order:
To consolidate the People's State as the fundamental power assuring to the Polish Nation the highest degree of prosperity, its independence and sovereignty.
To accelerate the further political, economic and cultural development of Poland, and further growth of its resources.
To strengthen the unity and solidarity of the Polish Nation in its struggle still further to transform improve social conditions, to eliminate completely the exploitation of man by man, and to put into effect the great ideals of socialism.
To strengthen friendship and cooperation bet nations, on the basis of the principles of alliance and brotherhood which today link the Polish Nation with the peace-loving nations of the peace camp world in their common effort under the teadership of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republies to make aggression impossible and to consolidate world peace.
The Polish People's Republic:
d) places restrictions on, gradually ejects and abolishes social relations which are based on exploitation those classes of society which live by exploiting the workers and peasants.
e) ensures a continual rise in the level of the prosperity and secures the development of national culture and of education of the working people of town and country of the people.
The Polish People's Republic is a republic of the working people, carries on carrying on the most glorious progressive traditions of the Polish Nation and gives giving effect to the liberation ideals of the Polish working peopte masses. The Polish working people, under the leadership of its heroic working class, and on the basis of the alliance between workers and peasants, fought for many years against the national enslavement and oppression imposed by the Prussian, Austrian and Russian conquerors and colonizers as well as, just as against exploitation by the Polish capitalists and landlords. During the occupation the Polish Nation waged an unflinching fight against the bloody Hitlerite captivity. The historic victory of the USSR over fascism, by liberating Polish soil, enabled the Polish working people to take power, and created conditions for the national rebirth of Poland within new and just frontiers. The Recovered Territories 18 were restored to Poland forever.
By carrying out the memorable directives of the Manifesto of 22 July 1944,'' and by developing the principles laid down in the program of that Manifesto, the People's Authority-thanks to the selfless and creative efforts of the Polish working people in the fight against the bitter resistance of the remnants of the old capitalistlandlord system has accomplished great social changes. As a result of revolutionary transformations the rule of the capitalists and landlords has been overthrown, a State of People's Democracy has been firmly established, and a new social system, in accord with the interests and aspirations of the great majority of the people, is taking shape and growing in strength.
The legal principles of this system are laid down by the Constitution of the Polish People's Republic.
The basis of the People's Authority in Poland today is the alliance between the working class and the working peasants. In this alliance, the leading role belongs to the working class – as the most revolutionary class of the Polish society - the class based on the revolutionary gains of the Polish and international working class movement, and on the historic experience of victorious socialist constructing in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, the first State of workers and peasants.
Implementing the will of the Polish Nation, the Legislative Sejm20 of the Republic of Poland,21 in accordance with its purpose, solemnly adopts the present
1. The laws of the Polish People's Republic express the will of the working people and are a common good of the Polish Nation.
All organs of State power and administration are supported in the exercise of their functions by the conscious and active cooperation of the broadest masses of the people, and they are bound:
a) to account to the Nation for their work;
b) to examine carefully and take into consideration, in accordance with the existing legislation, reasonable proposals, complaints and wishes of the citizens
th Panama We
1. The Polish People's Republic develops, according to plan, the economic bond between town and country founded on the brotherly cooperation between workers and peasants.
Article 9 (...)
2. The Polish People's Republic gives special support and all-round aid to the cooperative farms set up, on the basis of voluntary membership, as forms of collective economy. By applying methods of the highly efficient modern collective cultivation and mechanized work, collective farming enables the working peasants to reach a turning point in the rise of production and contributes to the complete elimination of backwardness exploitation in the countryside and to a rapid and considerable improvement in the level of its prosperity and culture.
3. The principal form of State support and help for cooperative farms are the State machine stations, which make it possible to employ modern technology; and State credits on easy terms.
b) the development of State organized protection of the health of the population, the expansion of sanitation services and the raising of the health standards in town and country, a wide campaign for the prevention of and fighting disease, increasing access to free medical attention, the development of hospitals, sanitaria, medical aid centers, rural health centers, and care for the disabled.
1. Citizens of the Polish People's Republic, irrespective of nationality, race or religion, enjoy equal rights in all spheres of public, political, economic, social and cultural life. Infringement of this principle by any direct or indirect granting of privileges or restriction of rights, on account of nationality, race or religion, is punishable by law.
2. The spreading of national hatred or contempt, the provocation of strife or the humiliation of man on account of national, racial or religious differences are forbidden and punishable.
1. Polish People's Republic guarantees freedom of conscience and religion to citizens. The Church and other religious unions are free may freely exercise their religious functions. It is forbidden to prevent anybody from taking coerce citizens not to take part in religious activities or rites. It is also forbidden to coerce anybody to participate in religious activities or rites.
2. The Church is separated from the State. The principles of the relationship between Church and State are, together with the legal and patrimonial position of religious bodies, determined by law.
3. The abuse of the freedom of conscience and religion for purposes prejudicial to the interests of the Polish People's Republic is forbidden punishable by law.
Article 13 [...]
2. By their work, by the observance of work discipline, by work emulation and the perfecting of methods of work, the working people of town and country add to the strength and power of the Polish People's Republic, raise the level of prosperity of the people and expedite the full realization of the socialist system of social justice. [...]
Article 58 [...] 2. The right to work is ensured by the social ownership of the basic means of production, by the development of a social and cooperative system in the countryside sociał relations, free from exploitation; by the planned growth of the productive forces; by the elimination of sources of economic crises and by the abolition of unemployment. [...]
1. The Polish People's Republic guarantees its citizens freedom of speech, of the press, of public meetings, of processions and demonstrations.
2. Making available to the working people and their organizations the use of printing shops, stocks of paper, public buildings and halls, means of communication, the radio and other indispensable material means, serves to give effect to this freedom.
1. Citizens of the Polish People's Republic have the right to health protection and to aid in the event of sickness or incapacity for work.
2. Effect is being given to this right on an increasing
Every adult citizen who has reached the age of eighteen24 has, irrespective of sex, nationality and race, religion, education, length of residence, social origin, profession or property, the right to vote.
Candidates are nominated by political and social organizations, uniting working people citizens of town and country.
(Source: AAN (Archive of Modern Records), KC PZPR, 2774, pp. 1-27. Obtained and translated by Krzysztof Persak.]
5 The two first countries of the Soviet bloc to adopt new "socialist” constitutions were Yugoslavia (31 January 1946) and Albania (14 March 1946). They were followed by the constitutions of Bulgaria (4 December 1947), Romania (13 April 1948), Czechoslovakia (9 May 1948), Hungary (20 August 1949), GDR (7 October 1949), another constitution by Albania (4 July 1950), and finally of Poland (22 July 1952). Shortly afterwards the new constitution of Romania was passed (27 September 1952).
6 The course of the 1949-1952 constitutional works was most fully analyzed by Marian Rybicki, “Geneza i tryb przygotowania Konstytucji PRL z 1952 r.”, in: Konstytucje Polski, Vol. 2, ed. Marian Kallas (Warsaw: PWN, 1990).
?AAN, KC PZPR, 2609, p. 288. The note is not dated but from Bierut's other notes it can be inferred that this conversation took place on 3 November 1950.
'Fortunately, Russian sources have started emerging in recent years. Among the most important documentary collections on Polish-Soviet relations in the Stalin years are: Polska - ZSRR: struktury podleglosci. Dokumenty KC WKP(b) 1944-1949 [Poland-USSR: The Structures of Subjection. Documents of VKP(b), 1944-1949), edited by Giennadii A. Bor Aleksander Kochanski, Adam Koseski, Giennadii F. Matveev and Andrzej Paczkowski (Warsaw: Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, 1995. A Russian edition of this volume, published in Moscow, exists as well): NKVD i polskoe podpol'e 1944-1945 (Po“osobiim papkam” I. V. Stalina), ed. A. F. Noskova et al. (Moscow: Institute of Slavonic and Balkan Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, 1994); Vostochnaia Evropa v dokumentakh rossiiskikh arkhivov 1944-1953 gg., Vol. 1: 1944-1948, ed. G. P. Murashko et al. (Moscow-Novosibirsk: Sibirskii Khronograf, 1997).
2 The first known official transcript of Polish-Soviet talks of the post-war period, prepared by the Polish side, is one of Gomulka's visit to Moscow in November 1956. A selection of Polish documents on Polish-Soviet relations in the years 19561970 which includes minutes of Gomulka's meetings with Khrushchev and Brezhnev has been just published: Tajne dokumenty Biura Politycznego: PRL-ZSRR, 1956-1970, ed. Andrzej Paczkowski (London: Aneks Publishers, 1998).
3 So far, I have been able to locate 17 sets of such published and unpublished notes, 13 of them are Bierut's notes. The remainder were taken by Gomułka, Jakub Berman and Edward
°AAN, KC PZPR, 1636, p. 14. “Protokol nr 44 posiedzenia Biura Politycznego w dniu 16 listopada 1950 r.”
10 Rybicki, op. cit., p. 333.
"The questions of friendship with the USSR and PUWP's leading role in society would be introduced to the Polish constitution in 1976. This would become one of the impulses for the rise of democratic opposition in Poland.
12 In Polish both republika and rzeczpospolita mean “republic” but only the Old Polish word rzeczpospolita is traditionally reserved to be used with regard to the name of the Polish state. Thus although in 1952 the Polish Republic became “People's”, it still remained rzeczpospolita, not republika.
AAN, KC PZPR, 2772, pp. 82-90. 14 These explanations were usually very unconvincing. For example, an eminent Polish lawyer, Jan Wasilkowski, in conclusion of an article in which he discussed the new legislation on property contradicted all his previous argumentation and wrote that avoiding the term “private property” in the constitution was only a matter of style and the essence of “individual” and “private” property of means of production remained the same. (See Jan Wasilkowski, “Typy i formy wlasnosci w projekcie konstytucji Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej,” Panstwo i Prawo, 3, 1952, p. 436-437).
1s See: AAN, KC PZPR, 2737, p. 151, “Zestawienie tresci istotniejszych poprawek zgloszonych do Projektu Konstytucji Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej.”
Teresa Toranska, Oni (London: Aneks Publishers, 1985), pp. 314-315. For the English edition see: Toranska, Oni: Stalin's Polish Puppets, trans. by Agnieszka Kolakowska (London: Collins, Harvill, 1987).
Andrzej Garlicki, “Zatwierdzenie Konstytucji PRL,” Polityka 28 (1990). Reprinted in Garlicki's book: Z tajnych archiwow (Warsaw: BGW, 1993), pp. 187-194.
18 The provinces of Lower Silesia, Pomerania and a part of East Prussia, in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, were handed over to Poland, concurrently with the Russian acquisition of Eastern Poland.
19 The Manifesto of the Polish Committee of National Liberation was treated as the founding deed of the new communist authority in Poland, and the day of its proclamation, July 22, was celebrated as the national holiday until 1989.
20 Sejm is the proper name of Polish Parliament. The Legislative Sejm was elected in January 1947, and its main purpose was to establish the new constitution of People's Poland.
21 Until the adoption of this constitution, the official name of the state was the Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska).
22 Originally, in the Russian copy of the draft, Stalin replaced the word “private" with “personal” but Bierut translated it as “individual".
23 This amendment was not introduced by Stalin directly into the text of the constitution. He wrote the suggestion "Healthcare free?" on the margin of the draft, and the word “free” was added to the text of the constitution by Bierut when he re-wrote Stalin's corrections.
24 Like in article 60, this correction probably was not introduced directly by Stalin. He underlined the word “adult” and wrote the question "How many years?" above it. The words “who has reached the age of eighteen” were written in Russian, most probably with Bierut's hand.
25 People's Councils were organs of local government (equivalent to Soviets in the Soviet Union).