Polish United Workers' Party: Wikis


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Polish United Workers' Party
Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza
First leader Bolesław Bierut
Last leader Mieczysław Rakowski
Founded 16-21 December 1948
Dissolved 27-30 January 1990
Headquarters Nowy Świat 6/12,
00-497 Warsaw
Youth wing Polish Socialist Youth Union
Membership  (1970s) 3,500,000
Ideology Communism,
International affiliation No membership
European affiliation No data
Official colors Red

The Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP, Polish: Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza - PZPR) was the Communist party which governed the People's Republic of Poland from 1948 to 1989. Ideologically it was based on the theories of Marxism-Leninism.


The Party's Program and Goals

Up until 1989 the PUWP held dictatorial powers (the amendment to the constitution of 1976 mentioned "a leading national force"), and controlled an unwieldy bureaucracy, the military, the secret police, and the economy. Its main goal was to create a Communist society and help to propagate Communism all over the world. On paper, the party was organised on the basis of democratic centralism, which assumed a democratic appointment of authorities, making decisions, and managing its activity. Yet in fact, the key roles were played by the Central Committee, its Politburo and Secretariat, which were subject to the strict control of the authorities of the Soviet Union. These authorities decided about the policy and composition of the main organs; although, according to the statute, it was a responsibility of the members of the congress, which was held every five or six years. Between sessions, party conferences of the regional, county, district and work committees were taking place. The smallest organizational unit of the PUWP was the Fundamental Party Organization (FPO), which functioned in work places, schools, cultural institutions, etc.

The main part in the PUWP was played by professional politicians, or the so-called "party's hard core", formed by people who were recommended to manage the main state institutions, social organizations, and trade unions. In the crowning time of the PUWP's development (the end of ‘70s) it consisted of over 3.5 million members. The Political Office of the Central Committee, Secretariat and regional committees appointed the key posts not only within the party, but also in all organizations having ‘state’ in its name – from central offices to even small state and cooperative companies. It was called the nomenklatura system of the state and economy management. In certain areas of the economy, e.g. in agriculture, the nomenklatura system was controlled with an approval of the PUWP and by its allied parties, the United People's Party (agriculture and food production), and the Democratic Party (trade community, small enterprise, some cooperatives). After martial law, the Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth was founded to organize these and other parties.

PUWP's newspaper "Trybuna Ludu" issue 13 December 1981 reports Martial law in Poland.

The history of the PUWP

The Polish United Worker's Party was established at the unification congress of the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) and Polish Socialist Party (PPS) during meetings held from 15 to 21 December 1948. It was possible because the PPS activists who opposed unification (or rather absorption by Communists) were dismissed from the party. Similarly, the members of the PPR who were accused of ‘rightist – nationalistic deviation’ were expelled. It is estimated that over 25% of socialists were removed from power or expelled from political life.

The collapse of the PUWP

Starting from January 1990, the collapse of the PUWP became inevitable. In the whole country, public occupation of the party building started in order to prevent stealing the party's possessions and destroying or taking the archives. On 29 January 1990, XI Congress was held, which was supposed to recreate the party. Finally, the PUWP dissolved, and some of its members decided to establish two new social-democratic parties. They get over $1 million from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union known as the Moscow loan. The former activists of the PUWP established the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (in Polish: Socjaldemokracja Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej, SdRP), of which the main organizers were Leszek Miller and Mieczysław Rakowski. The SdRP was supposed (among other things) to take over all rights and duties of the PUWP, and help to divide out the property of the former PUWP. Up to the end of ‘80s, it had considerable incomes mainly from managed properties and from the RSW company ‘Press- Book-Traffic’, which in turn had special tax concessions. During this period, the incomes from membership fees constituted only 30% of the PUWP's revenues. After the dissolution of the PUWP and the establishment of the SdRP, the rest of the activists formed the Social Democratic Union of the Republic of Poland (USdRP), which changed its name to the Polish Social Democratic Union, and The 8th July Movement. At the end of 1990, there was an intense debate in the Sejm on the takeover of the wealth that belonged to the former PUWP. Over 3000 buildings and premises were included in the wealth and almost half of it was used without legal basis. Supporters of the acquisition argued that the wealth was built on the basis of plunder and the Treasury grant collected by the whole society. Opponents of SdRP (Social Democratic Party of the Republic of Poland) claimed that the wealth was created from membership fees; therefore, they demanded wealth inheritance for SdPR which at that time administered the wealth. Personal property and the accounts of the former PUWP were not subject to control of a parliamentary committee. On 9 November 1990, the Sejm passed "The resolution about the acquisition of the wealth that belonged to the former PUWP". This resolution was supposed to result in a final takeover of the PUWP real estate by the Treasury. As a result, only a part of the real estate was taken over mainly for a local government by 1992, whereas a legal dispute over the other party carried on till 2000. Personal property and finances of the former PUWP practically disappeared. According to the declaration of SdRP MP's, 90-95% of the party's wealth was allocated for gratuity or was donated for a social assistance.

The PUWP's Congresses

The fourth congress of the Polish United Workers' Party, held in June 1964
  • I founding Congress of PZPR, in the days 15 December - 22 December 1948
  • II PUWP Congress, in the days 10 March - 17 March 1954
  • III PUWP Congress, in the days 10 March - 19 March 1959
  • IV PUWP Congress, in the days 15 June - 20 June 1964
  • V PUWP Congress, in the days 11 November - 16 November 1968
  • VI PUWP Congress, in the days 6 November – 11 November 1971
  • VII PUWP Congress, in the days 8 December – 12 December 1975
  • VIII PUWP Congress, in the days 11 February - 15 February 1980
  • IX Extraordinary PUWP Congress, in the days 14 July - 20 July 1981
  • X PUWP Congress, in the days 29 June - 3 July 1986
  • XI PUWP Congress, in the days 27 January - 30 January 1990 (the last one; concluded with self-dissolution)

Consequently, in second circulation a banknote with a printed inscription appeared: The last P.Z.P.R Congress closed the proceedings – "Workers of the World, forgive me". Near the inscriptions there is also an image of Lenin praying with rosary.

The PUWP's leaders

By the year 1954 the head of the party was the Chair of Central Committee:

Secretaries of the Central Committee of the PUWP

Leading figures of the PUWP

Notable politicians after 1989



Prime ministers

European Commissioners

The seat of the Central Committee

By 1990 the decision-making center was situated in a building erected by obligatory subscription in the years 1948-1952. The shares were distributed among the entire society. The building was officially called the Party's House, and was also known as the White House or the House of Sheep. Since 1991 the Bank-Financial Center "New World" is located in this building. In 1991-2000 the Warsaw Stock Exchange had also its seat in this building.

From 1918 to 1931 a building with the seat of communication department was located in that place. Earlier – from the November Uprising to 1918 – there was also the seat of the Clearing-House.

See also

External links


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