Primary Sources

A Hard Line With Poland


Polish and Soviet leaders met on numerous occasions to discuss the ongoing critical situation in Poland. On August 14, 1981, for example, Leonid Brezhnev (first party secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [CPSU]) met secretly with Stanislaw Kania and Wojciech Jaruzelski (leaders of the Communist Party in Poland [PZPR]) in the Crimea following Poland's Ninth Extraordinary Congress that took place in July. As the report about the secret meeting shows, Brezhnev was concerned about the deteriorating course of events in Poland and the determination of Solidarity; he forcefully advised Kania and Jaruzelski to act decisively, even to use force, to destroy the opposition and to ensure the future existence of socialism in Poland. The document reveals Brezhnev's recognition that socialism was at stake in the ongoing confrontations.


CPSU CC Politburo, "Information about Cde. L. I. Brezhnev's Meeting with Cdes. S. Kania and W. Jaruzelski," 14 August 1981, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

... Cdes. Kania and Jaruzelski ... acknowledged that there is ample basis for the alarm that the leaders of the CPSU and other fraternal parties have expressed about the fate of socialism in Poland.

... Cde. L. I. Brezhnev ... focused the attention of the Polish leaders on the threat to the Polish people's socialist gains.... The ranks of the party are depleted. Its leading role has been greatly enervated. Solidarity is in control at a majority of large enterprises and is putting forth outrageous political demands. Antisocialist forces who are preparing to storm the positions of the PZPR are showing increased signs of aggressiveness.

... As far as a bloody confrontation is concerned, one might indeed occur if you don't pursue the political confrontation to its logical end and restore the leading role of the PZPR.

... Sooner or later, the Communists will have to square off directly against the enemy.

... [T]here is still an opportunity to mobilize all the supporters of socialism and to rebuff the counterrevolution. But to do this you will need to end your faintheartedness. The Polish comrades themselves have emphasized, on numerous occasions, that an extraordinary situation has emerged. Doesn't it follow that measures to deal with the situation must be of the same caliber — that is, "extraordinary"?

... Naturally, we assume that the Polish Communists will do everything possible to prevent the class enemy from shifting the country over to the capitalist camp.

... Cde. L. I. Brezhnev said with particularly forceful emphasis: All of us now have no greater hope than that socialist Poland will soon eliminate the threat of counterrevolution, recover from its devastating illness, and return to normal life.... He expressed the desire that the Polish comrades would match their words with deeds....

... The Polish leaders expressed the view that their course "is a line of seeking agreement, but also a line of struggle." "We will do everything necessary," they declared, "to preserve socialism in Poland."

How to Cite this Source

Soviet Poliburo, "A Hard Line with Poland." Making the History of 1989, Item #264.

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