The Jaruzelski Interlude
The Jaruzelski regime marked another historic turning
in governance of the Polish state. Beginning with
measures to silence all opposition, Jaruzelski eventually
presided over the popular rejection of Polish communism.
In December 1981, Jaruzelski suddenly declared martial
ordering the army and special police units to seize
the country, apprehend Solidarity's leaders, and prevent
further union activity. In effect, Jaruzelski executed a
carefully planned and efficient military coup on behalf of
beleaguered and paralyzed the PZPR. The motives of this
remain unclear. The general later claimed that he acted to
off the greater evil of an imminent Soviet invasion;
dismissed this explanation as a pretext for an ironfisted
to salvage party rule. In any case, the junta suppressed
resistance with a determination that cost the lives of
protesters, and by the new year the stunned nation was
under the firm grip of a conventional communist regime.
Under martial law, Jaruzelski's regime applied
restrictions on civil liberties, closed the universities,
imprisoned thousands of Solidarity activists, including
During the succeeding months, the government undid much of
Solidarity's work and finally dissolved the union itself.
Official pressure overcame repeated attempts by Solidarity
sympathizers to force the nullification of the December
the end of 1982, the junta felt sufficiently secure to
Walesa, whom it now characterized as the "former leader of
former union." After gradually easing the most onerous
of the state of emergency, Warsaw lifted martial law in
1983, but Jaruzelski and his generals continued to control
most critical party and government posts.
Data as of October 1992