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Different faces of martial law

Different faces of martial law

Poland is slowly becoming a totalitarian country

Prof. Wojciech Polak

Different faces of martial law. Around midnight on December 12-13, 1981, General Jaruzelski began to introduce martial law in communist Poland. Specially prepared militia units occupied the headquarters of “Solidarity” offices, and devastated the rooms and equipment. The telephones fell silent, and the radio and television stopped broadcasting. Tanks took to the streets, and army and militia units occupied strategic points and institutions in the cities. Police and Security Service officers began detaining “Solidarity” activists.

Major Martial Law

The “Decree on martial law” of December 12, 1981 (backdated), formally introduced by the State Council, created the martial law in Poland. The morning of December 13, 1981, brought a new, dramatic reality to Poles. The highest authority during martial law was the Military Council of National Salvation. Military commissioners were appointed in individual voivodeships, who were formally representatives of the National Defense Committee. Many Solidarity activists were interned in 52 camps. The activities of all associations, organizations, and trade unions have been suspended. Organizing strikes, protests, and meetings (except religious ones) were prohibited.

A number of workplaces were militarized and placed under the control of military commissars. People who evaded work in these plants were threatened with arrest from 2 years in prison up to and including the death penalty. The eight-hour working day was not guaranteed. Militarization was applied to, among others, railways, bus stations, road transport, ports, fire brigades, post office, radio, television, oil fuel trading companies, public transport, armaments plants, mines, and power plants. Some state administrative institutions were also militarized.

Publishing of newspapers was banned, except for “Trybuna Ludu”, “Żołnierz Wolności” and restructured local papers. Private telephones were turned off.  Formal telephone tapping was established. It was forbidden to move outside the place of residence without a pass. After a few days, this regulation was liberalized – you could move around the voivodeship without a pass. It was also not allowed to send parcels through the post office, although in some cases they were accepted, provided that they were packed in the presence of post staff. An Announcement on the introduction of martial law for the sake of state security was posted on the streets of the cities. Anyone could be brought before the court for the so-called organizing strikes or, for example, printing leaflets in summary procedure. It envisaged, among other things, only one court instance (without the right of appeal) and a sentence of at least three years in prison.

Both Polish bishops and Pope John Paul II protested against the introduction of martial law. From the first days of its operation, the Church carried out various activities, providing spiritual and material assistance to internees, arrested and imprisoned people and their families, caring for the wounded in the first days of martial law, and intervening with the authorities in the event of drastic repression against the opposition.

On December 17, 1981, the Primate’s Committee for Assistance to Persons Deprived of Freedom and their Families was established in Warsaw. Established in the church of St. Marcin at Piwna Street – this committee was colloquially called the Committee on Piwna. Similar committees quickly began to be established in other dioceses, providing assistance to interned and imprisoned people and their families, among others: pastoral, food, material, legal and medical assistance.

The first parcels to the interned Solidarity activists were delivered around December 15, 1981, to the internment camp in Drawsko. Bishops of all dioceses and the secretary of the Episcopal Conference, Bishop Bronisław Dąbrowski, continually intervened in the matter of releasing interned persons including political prisoners. Often, but not always, they brought results.

Spiritual support in this difficult time was no less necessary than material help. Priests and bishops tried to fight the feeling of hopelessness and depression that appeared in the hearts and minds of many people. Many priests and monks also actively supported the structures of the Solidarity underground.

Almost from the first days of martial law, the Solidarity underground began to operate in Poland; Central and regional structures were created. In the case of regions, the Solidarity Union’s authorities were most often called Regional Executive Commissions.

On April 22, 1982, the Temporary Coordination Committee (TKK) of NSZZ “Solidarność” was established, which became the highest authority of “Solidarity” in the underground. It included representatives of the most important regions of the Union. Later, the composition of TKK changed as a result of the arrests of its members. In July 1982, at the request of the TKK, Jerzy Milewski, an activist from “Solidarity” from Gdańsk, opened the Coordination Office of “Solidarity Abroad” in Brussels. It collected funds for the Association, conducted information activities, and organized transports of printing equipment. The underground “Solidarity” was supported by numerous organizations and trade unions in Western Europe and by the US government. President Ronald Reagan, in particular, supported her verbally and actively.

Activists of the underground “Solidarity” initially hoped their work would result in a general strike that would force the communists to make concessions. It was even expected that the strike would break out in the spring of 1982, hence the slogan popular in the illegal press: “Winter is yours, spring is ours.”

Over time, it turned out that this idea was unrealistic and that the Union would have to face a long period of arduous underground work. Its most important manifestation was the publication of underground magazines. From the introduction of martial law until mid-1986, at least 2,300 of various types were issued. Some of them appeared for a short time, others for years, with impressive regularity.

The most popular was undoubtedly “Tygodnik Mazowsze”, published from February 1982 to April 1989 (290 issues). “Tygodnik Wojenny” was published til the mid-1980s. Both magazines were published in Warsaw, but they had nationwide coverage. Among the regional newspapers, popular ones included: “Z dnia na dzień” (Wrocław), “Obserwator Wielkopolski” (Poznań), “Solidarność Małopolska” (Kraków), “Biuletyn Informacyjny Solidarność” (Białystok), “Jedność” (Szczecin ), “Solidarność Podbeskidzie” (Bielsko-Biała), “RIS – Regional Informator of Solidarity Śląsko-Dąbrowskiej”, “Solidarni” (Łódź), “Gdańsk”, “Solidarity Gdańsk”, “Feniks” (Gorzów Wielkopolski), “Rezonans” (Olsztyn), “Toruński Informator Solidarności”.

The structures of “Solidarity” and circles associated with “Solidarity” also printed various large-volume books and socio-political magazines. Additionally, cassettes with music recordings and postage stamps, often at a very high graphic level, were issued en masse.

In 1982, the tradition of celebrating Holy Mass for the homeland in Polish churches was established. Probably the first such Eucharist in Poland was celebrated on January 13, 1982, by a Wrocław pastor, Fr. Mirosław Drzewiecki. The Security Service subjected this priest to various forms of harassment. However, dozens of other Polish cities followed Wrocław’s example.

In Warsaw, the first Holy Mass for the Homeland was celebrated on March 13, 1982, in the church of St. Cross, although of course the most famous were the Eucharists celebrated from April 1982 by Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, on the last Sunday of each month, in the church of St. Stanisław Kostka in Warsaw’s Żoliborz district.

Frequent street demonstrations, brutally dispersed by units of the Citizens’ Militia and the Motorized Reserves of the Citizens’ Militia (ZOMO), were also a manifestation of social resistance against General Jaruzelski’s junta.

Lesser Martial Law

What is currently happening in Poland is strongly reminiscent of the times of martial law, although the scale of brutality and repression is fortunately not comparable to the events of forty-odd years ago. However, the damage caused by the actions of the current government may be even greater than back then.

The current coalition government effectively takes over various sectors of power, which are theoretically independent of the term of office of the Sejm. In gross violation of the law, public media were taken over by force, becoming a propaganda mouthpiece for Donald Tusk and his allies. The national prosecutor and his deputies were removed from office completely illegally. Efforts are underway to dismantle the Constitutional Tribunal and remove some judges from it. The legality of the National Council of the Judiciary is being challenged, and the Prime Minister with some of his ministers officially declare that they do not recognize one of the chambers of the Supreme Court.

Directors of public cultural institutions are removed, even though they are subject to the term of office clause. Already granted government subsidies are being withdrawn from cultural institutions that the new government considers as politically inconvenient, for example the Museum of Memory and Identity of Saint John Paul II established in Toruń. Under various pretexts (often extremely frivolous), institutions responsible for the popularization of history and patriotism are being destroyed through inspections, audits, and withdrawal of funds. Education is being demolished by cutting school curricula, eliminating homework, and such subjects as History and the Present Time. Religious teaching in schools is limited. The government is implementing a number of measures against the Catholic Church, including the liquidation of the Church Fund. There are now plans to allow abortions up to the third month of pregnancy. The person of our great compatriot, Pope St John Paul II is being defamed.

Two PiS MPs were illegally excluded from parliament and imprisoned after an unprecedented event – the police intrusion into the Presidential Palace. The MPs were released only as a result of decisive actions by the President. But other political prisoners appeared – Fr. Michał Olszewski, SCJ was arrested on Holy Thursday together with two ladies, employees of the Ministry of Justice. Searches are carried out in houses and premises used by opposition MPs, which constitutes a violation of parliamentary immunity and due process of law.

Donald Tusk’s government clearly wants to abandon the large pro-development investments already initiated by the previous United Right government. All key projects such as the Central Communication Port, the container port on the island of Usedom, the adaptation of the Oder to accommodate barges with goods, and nuclear power plants are on the cutting block. This attitude arouses great satisfaction in Germany, which has been dismayed by Poland’s rapid economic development and growth.

The introduction of Value Added Tax on food products by Donald Tusk’s government, as well as the abolition of “protective shields” on energy prices, will result in significant impoverishment of the Polish people. The requirements for home insulation and the use of “emission-free heating” introduced at the request of the European Union will be a tragedy for many Polish families. If, in accordance with the EU directive, the government begins to impose penalties in the future for failure to meet these requirements, it will lead to the confiscation of hundreds of thousands of homes and apartments from Poles, throwing millions of our citizens onto the street.

The introduction of the euro currency planned by this government will be a disaster for our pockets. It will also cause a significant slowdown in Poland’s economic growth. The obstacle to these plans is the President of the National Bank of Poland, Adam Glapiński. That is why Donald Tusk wants to remove him from office by bringing him before the State Tribunal. There is an ongoing campaign of defamation of PiS MPs and politicians. There are repeated threats to strip them of their immunities and bring them to court.

Unfortunately, President Andrzej Duda limits himself to enigmatic comments on the violation of the law by Donald Tusk’s regime and does not use certain constitutional rights, which he does have. This is very disappointing for many Poles. The Polish Episcopate is also silent.

There is enormous intimidation. Many conservatives are afraid to admit it. Their fears are justified, as thousands of people associated with the previous patriotic government are being thrown out of their jobs and positions across the country.

Let’s prepare modern printing machines!

Poland is slowly becoming a totalitarian country, additionally controlled by an equally totalitarian state permeated by extreme leftism and the “ecologism” of the European Union headed by Germany. And let’s not delude ourselves – it will get worse.

I do not want to scare you, but I am afraid that soon there will be further brutal acts of lawlessness in Poland, concerning, for example, the Constitutional Tribunal and the National Bank of Poland, more political prisoners will end up in jail and they will begin to liquidate independent television and radio stations under any pretext (even though they are few), newspapers and websites. Especially since the authors of texts and comments can be effectively executed with drastic court sentences for just anything. After all, in recent years, conservative journalists have been sentenced to huge fines even for conducting political analyses, making forecasts, and expressing opinions.

We must be ready for a total information blockade. And we have to deal with it, especially since there is no Radio Free Europe anymore (like during communism). We need to prepare for the mass printing of underground newspapers and remember the times of martial law. Of course, underground publishing will not be as difficult as it was then. Instead of primitive frames and duplicators, today we have a lot of excellent computer printing equipment, thanks to which it will be possible to print newspapers at an excellent graphic level. However, we need editorial offices, authors, sources of information, paper, paint, premises, funds, transport, and distribution networks, all organized in a clandestine manner (according to patterns tested after December 13, 1981). The government will certainly establish services that will track down and destroy free speech. But we will be able to deal with this, just like we managed during Jaruzelski’s government.

And one more thing. It is worth returning to regularly celebrated Holy Masses for the Homeland. Poland and Poles need prayer. They also need God’s Help to put our country on the right track – for goodness, truth, beauty, development, and prosperity!


This article was published in Polish by Wpis: Faith, Patriotism, and Art monthly magazine. You can find Wpis here: https://e-wpis.pl/

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