Long-term Implications of 1981 Crackdown on the Solidarity Movement
On Sunday, December 13th, 1981 at 6 am, General Wojciech Jaruzelski announced on Polish television that martial law was being introduced nationwide and a new organization called the Military Council of National Salvation (WRON) had been established to introduce peace and security in the country. This message was repeated over and over again throughout the day while the communist regime proceeded with arrests of Solidarity activists and sympathizers. The arrests began already the day before. People were taken from their homes just before midnight. During just a few days, approximately 5,000 individuals were placed in internment centers. See http://13grudnia81.pl. A total of 80,000 soldiers and 30,000 communist policemen were deployed for this huge operation, using 1,750 tanks, 1,900 ground combat vehicles, and 9,000 cars.
Today, the Polish people are reticent about the Solidarity Movement because many feel that the sacrifice of the entire Solidarity generation has been wasted due to treasonous secret dealings of their leaders. Very little is written about the 1981 martial law and the Solidarity Movement afterward. Astonishingly, very few uncensored records and documents from this period have been disclosed. As a result of the 1989 Round Table Agreement between the communist regime and the Walesa fraction of the Solidarity Movement, the communist apparatchiks preserved their power in post-communist Poland for decades to come. They profited tremendously from the privatization process during Poland’s transition to a market economy by grabbing for themselves state assets. In this process, they enriched themselves at the expense of ordinary members of the Solidarity Movement. In return, the Polish people received the promise of free elections. Some people from outside of the communist clique could run for public offices. The ordinary people also received some “privileges.” Food ceased to be rationed, products from the West became available in stores also for ordinary citizens, trips abroad were allowed, etc. This contract was made between the Jaruzelski regime communists and leaders of the Solidarity Movement selected by the communists. This power-sharing arrangement was acquiesced by the Soviets, agreed by the Americans, but opposed by many members of the Solidarity Movement.
In your research, it is important to take into account not only the Martial Law but also the periods preceding and following that event because they constitute a series of steps in Poland’s struggle towards liberty and freedom after World War II. We encourage you to search for witnesses to history, learn, and tell their stories. Make their stories heard by helping them to articulate their experience and present their stories in English.
So, we invite you to learn about the price of freedom the Polish people have been paying for decades as a result of the 1945 Yalta Agreement by taking part in this competition. Take part in this unique opportunity to develop unknown chapters of the history of the Solidarity Movement and the so-called peaceful transition of Poland to capitalism!
2021 Competition of the Polonia Institute on the 40th Anniversary of the Imposition of Martial Law in Poland (the “Competition”) is open to adults 18 years or older as of September 1, 2021. Proof of age is required. The work submitted must be in the English language. All entries become the property of the Polonia Institute and will not be returned. Polonia Institute reserves the right to publish selected works or excerpts of selected works in future publications, newsletters, and other materials, on its website, on social media, and in print.
The submission deadline is September 18, 2021.
Many witnesses to history from the Solidarity era are reluctant to share their experiences. These witnesses to history should not be afraid to give their testimonies for the essays or documentaries in this Competition. If project participants so wish, the Polonia Institute will guarantee their anonymity. Please contact Polonia Institute to discuss the best way to protect the anonymity of your sources.
The 2021 Competition is offered in two main categories: A) historical documentary; B) historical essay. The winner from each category will receive the award in the amount of $3,000. Additional works may be considered for awards. recognition and publication.
Guidelines for Historical Documentary
A historical documentary is an audio/visual presentation that uses multiple tools such as images, video, and sound to present research, oral history testimonies, excerpts from interviews, and narratives in order to communicate your historical argument and its significance in history.
Your documentary may not exceed 15 minutes in length. The timing of the documentary begins when the first visual image appears or the first sound is heard. The timing of the documentary ends when the last visual image or sound concludes, including source credits.
The last portion of your documentary shall include credits for sources of moving footage, interviews, music, and images that appear in the documentary. These credits could be brief. Items found in the same collection can be included together in one credit. Source credits shall be included in the fifteen-minute time limit. They must be readable. A separate written list of source credits, citations, acknowledgments, and annotations shall be submitted together with your application. The Application Form for Historical Documentary can be found here.
Guidelines for Historical Essay
The historical essay shall reflect the contestant’s own research and original thinking. The paper shall not exceed 15 typed pages (including bibliography), shall be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced with 1” margins; pages shall be numbered. The Application Form for Historical Essay can be found here.
Attach the Application Form and proof of age to the essay. Mail and email the complete package to: