Post Communism in Poland Research Paper

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Polish Antipathy towards the Soviet Union

After the conclusion of the Second World War, the victorious Allies were showered with the spoils of their success in the conflict. The victorious nations - the Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and France -- were left to decide what to do with the war ravaged countries that remained throughout Europe and Asia. The major question on the minds of the leaders and politicians remained: how to divide up the crumbled nations of the broken continent? When dividing up the spoiled nations, the job was broken into different geographical tasks: Europe, Asia, and the third world countries (Gaddis, 1997).

In February 1945 the leaders from the big three countries - Franklin Roosevelt (President of the United States), Winston Churchill (Prime Minister of Great Britain) and Josef Stalin (Soviet Premier) met in the City of Yalta to discuss how to divide Europe (Judge & Langdon, 1999). The Soviet Red Army had already occupied Poland and established a Soviet-sponsored provisional government (Judge & Langdon, 1999). The Polish people were in favor of being run by a Soviet-sponsored government or of being recognized as a central Soviet state.

With the war in Japan far from over, Roosevelt believed that conceding Poland to the Soviet Union would help gain Russian support against the Japanese (Judge & Langdon, 1999). Churchill and Roosevelt tried to obtain the best arrangement they could on Poland, but it would be a futile process as the Soviets would go on to occupy Poland (Judge & Langdon, 1999). Historically, this is noted as the point that the Western leaders sold out the Poles to the Soviets. The Polish citizenry and political leadership were left upset that they were just given to the Soviets as a bargaining chip in World War II.

The Yalta Conference essentially made the country of Poland a Soviet territory. The three powers decided to recognize the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity. In 1945 - as promised by Stalin - Poland would hold democratic elections (Dziewanowski 1987). The elections, controlled by the Soviets, were a fraudulent act used to claim Soviet legitimacy over Poland (Dziewanowski 1987).

With the Soviet sponsored government in place, the Polish people would be officially part of the communist network. The citizens of Poland were angry at being sold out to the Soviets and would develop feelings of antipathy toward the Soviet Union. The feelings of antipathy would cause superior conflict between the Polish people and the Soviet-sponsored state. The communist-backed Polish Provisional Government of National Unity would have to intervene to try to end the antipathy that the population of Poland felt towards the Soviets.

The steps taken by the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity were meant to stop antipathy, and succeeding in suppressing anti-communist views with the threat of violence and the creation of the Polish Constitution of 1952. This was used to ease the transition of Poland into a central Soviet state, and was coupled with an interjecting of Soviet influence into the daily lives of their citizens -- what was in essence an effort to try to make the Polish people more appreciative of the Soviet Union.

Suppression through Violence

During the Cold War there were two ideologies around the world for government and for way of life. One was the capitalist system that promoted democracy and freedom; the second was a socialist system that promoted communism and equality for all in society (Gaddis, 1997). When a country became communist, they would do so with guidance from the Soviet Union and would establish a socialist system as both a government and a way of life (Gaddis, 1997).

The Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was completely under the control of the Soviet Union (Kersten, 1991). Many top Polish government officials spent time training and developing communist skill sets and ideologies. The Soviet Union believed that, by teaching others the way of communism, they would continue the process of implementing it into their societies (Dziewanowski1987). Furthermore, the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin would not tolerate any non-communistic viewpoints. Stalin often had people with non-communist views disposed of through murder or relocation (Dziewanowski1987). There was no room, according to Stalin, for any differing ideology in the Soviet-controlled countries. Dissenting views would be a problem, and the Polish people remained angry and held onto conflicting viewpoints about the Soviet Union and Stalin.

When taking control over Poland, Stalin made it perfectly clear that the only ideology the Polish people would follow would be that of communism (Dziewanowski 1987). The Soviet Union took control of the elections in Poland, thus demonstrating that the Soviet system of communism and socialism would be the only life for the Polish citizens (Dziewanowski 1987). There were two ways the Soviets knew how to be successful imposing influence or will on another county, and these ways existed through brute force or anti-communist legislation. The actions taken by the Soviets were often of force and completely unacceptable to many of the Polish citizens.

Under Soviet influence, the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity would begin a process of eliminating anti-communist viewpoints. After the elections in 1947 the communist Polish Provisional Government of National Unity controlled 417 out of 434 seats in the parliament, thus forcing the established Polish government official out of office. By using force to control the elections, the communist government of Poland had controlled 96% of the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity. The Western powers did not protest leaving the anti-communist leaders in Poland powerless -- and this is a point that has remained contentious among the Polish to this day.

Either through force or through legislation (Polish Constitution of 1952), the communist viewpoint would be the supreme law of the land in Poland (Kersten, 1991). One way of forcing people to covert to communism was through salami tactics. Salami tactics allowed communists to legally dismember any person or group that provided opposition. It thus became a tactic that gave the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity and the Soviet Union absolute control over Poland. With people in Poland fearing dismemberment, they were left to remain quiet and accept communism or to flee the country for freedom elsewhere.

The salami tactics used against Jozef Pilsudski (a major force in Polish politics) ended his reign of political influence. The tactics helped to rip Pilsudski's Polish Socialist Party apart and eventually allowed it to fall into the communist regime (Kersten, 1991). At first Pilsudski's party split into two factions, but later through legislation and force, became fully in supportive of the communist opposition. This activity forced Pilsudski and others in his party to flee Poland (Kersten, 1991). When the citizens of Poland saw that established political officials were fleeing or being executed, they were further enraged at the communist regime.

With the salami tactics in full effect, there would be little - if any - opposition to the communist Polish Provisional Government of National Unity. Polish reality would fall to a position of rule under the influence of Stalin as a central Soviet state. Stalin was known to have anti-communists executed or sent to prison camps in which they would live a life of hard labor until their deaths (Dziewanowski 1987). Many anti-communist parties and their supporters were forced to become communist or to flee Poland in fear of their lives or freedom.

Stalin's system of suppression was also adept at using military force when necessary to express communist views. The Soviet Union's Red Army was a well trained and massive militia that reported directly to Stalin himself (Dziewanowski 1987). If a group wanted to demonstrate an anti-communist or anti-Stalin viewpoint, the Red Army would likely be called into duty. Stalin's brute force controlled many European countries. This strategy was effective because of the fact that many opposed to Stalin were fearful of both him and of the threat of brute force that he brought down on others (Dziewanowski 1987).

Although the Polish people were angry and did not want to be a part of the central Soviet state, the first step taken by the communist Polish Provisional Government of National Unity to stop antipathy against the Soviet Union was to drown out the voice of any who dared to oppose them. This was done through brutal force. In September 1980 the Solidarity was formed; this was the first non-communist political party in Poland. The Solidarity was created as a social movement against communism, and they displayed civil resistance in an attempt to change the culture that encompassed workers rights.

Polish Constitution of 1952

The second step taken by the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity to stop antipathy against the Soviet Union was to enact the Polish Constitution of 1952. The constitution was also known as the July Constitution or the Constitution of 1952 because it was signed into law on July 22, 1952. The Polish Constitution of 1952 was modeled after the 1936 Soviet Constitution. The model posited several key features, including a definition of the…

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