Wojciech Jaruzelski: Wikis


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Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski

Wojciech Jaruzelski in 1968.

In office
31 December 1989 – 21 December 1990
Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Preceded by (Was President of the People's Republic of Poland)
Succeeded by Lech Wałęsa

In office
19 July 1989 – 31 December 1989
Prime Minister Mieczysław Rakowski, Czesław Kiszczak, Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Preceded by Council of State
Succeeded by (Became President of the Republic of Poland)

In office
6 November 1985 – 19 July 1989
Prime Minister Zbigniew Messner, Mieczysław Rakowski
Preceded by Henryk Jabłoński
Succeeded by (Became President of the People's Republic of Poland)

In office
11 February 1981 – 6 November 1985
President Henryk Jabłoński (Chairman of the Council of State)
Preceded by Józef Pińkowski
Succeeded by Zbigniew Messner

In office
18 October 1981 – 29 July 1989
Preceded by Stanisław Kania
Succeeded by Mieczysław Rakowski

In office
Prime Minister Józef Cyrankiewicz, Piotr Jaroszewicz, Edward Babiuch, Józef Pińkowski, Wojciech Jaruzelski
Preceded by Marian Spychalski
Succeeded by Florian Siwicki

In office

Born 6 July 1923 (1923-07-06) (age 86)
Kurów, Second Polish Republic
Political party Polish United Workers' Party
Spouse(s) Barbara Jaruzelska
Profession Military
Religion Atheism (formerly Roman Catholicism)
Military service
Allegiance Poland
Battles/wars Soviet-German War
Awards Virtuti Militari, Polonia Restituta, Cross of Valor

Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski (pronounced [ˈvɔjt​ɕɛx jaruˈzɛlskʲi]  ( listen); (born 6 July 1923) was the last commander-in-chief of the communist Polish People's Army (LWP) and the chairman of the Polish United Workers Party from 1981 to 1989, Prime Minister from 1981 to 1985 and the country's head of state from 1985 to 1990. He was the country's last communist leader and dictator and resigned from power after the Polish Round Table Agreement in 1989 led to democratic elections in Poland.


Early life and military career

Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski was born on 6 July 1923 in Kurów,[1] into a family of gentry.[1][2] He was raised on the family estate near Wysokie (in the vicinity of Białystok). He was educated in a Catholic school during the 1930s.[1]

Jaruzelski (right, in uniform) with Fidel Castro in Poland, May 1972

On 1 September 1939, the September Campaign started when Poland was invaded by Germany, with the latter country aided by another invasion begun sixteen days later by the Soviet Union. The invasions resulted in the defeat of Poland by the following month, and its partition between Soviet and German control. During the campaign, Jaruzelski and his family were captured by the army of the Soviet Union, and deported to that country.[1] In 1940 at the age of sixteen,[3] Jaruzelski was sent to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic,[1], where he performed forced labour in the Karaganda coal mines. During his labour work, he became an orphan, and having experienced snow blindness, developed permanent damage to his eyes and back.[2] He was later selected for enrollment into the Soviet Officer Training School by the Soviet authorities.[1] During his time in the Kazakh Republic, Jaruzelski wanted to join the non-Soviet controlled Polish exile army led by Władysław Anders,[3] but in 1943,[4] by which time the Soviet Union was fighting in Europe against Germany in the Soviet-German War, he joined the Polish army units being formed under Soviet command.[2] He served in the Soviet-sponsored First Polish Army during the war.[1] He participated in the Soviet military takeover of Warsaw and the Battle of Berlin,[1] both of which occurred in 1945. By the time the war ended that year, he had gained the rank of lieutenant.[2] He "further credited himself in Soviet eyes"[1] by engaging in combat with the Polish Home Army, an anti-communist organization, from 1945 to 1947.[1]

After the end of the war, Jaruzelski graduated from the Polish Higher Infantry School, an event which was followed by a graduation from the General Staff Academy.[4] He joined Poland's communist party, the Polish United Workers Party, in 1948 [4] and started to denounce people for the terrible, Soviet supervised, Main Directorate of Information of the Polish Army using the cover name Wolski [5]. In the first post-war years, he was among the military fighting the Polish anti-communist guerrillas ("cursed soldiers") in the Świętokrzyskie region. A BBC News profile of Jaruzelski says that his career "took off after the departure [from Poland] in 1956 of the Soviet Field Marshal, Konstantin Rokossovsky"[2], who had been Poland's Commander in Chief and Minister of Defence.[2] Jaruzelski became the chief political officer of the Polish armed forces in 1960, its chief of staff in 1964; and he became the Polish Minister of Defense in 1968,[2] four years after he was elected to be a member of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party.[4] He participated in an antisemitic campaign in the army, during which more than 1000 Jewish officers were demoted and expelled from the army. Even the non-Jewish minister of defence Marian Spychalski was persecuted [6] and Jaruzelski obtained his post.

Photograph of Wojciech Jaruzelski taken in 1987.

In August 1968 general Jaruzelski as the minister of defense ordered the 2nd Army under general Florian Siwicki (of the "LWP" ) to invade Czechoslovakia, resulting in military occupation of northern Chechoslovakia until November 11 1968 when under his orders and agreements with the Soviet Union his Polish troops were withdrawn and replaced by the Red Army. In 1970, he was involved in the successful plot against Władysław Gomułka, which led to the appointment of Edward Gierek as Communist Party General Secretary. He took part in organizing the brutal suppression of striking workers, and his orders to the communist military led to massacres in the coastal cities of Gdańsk, Gdynia, Elbląg and Szczecin. In December 1970, Jaruzelski became a candidate member for the Politburo of the Polish United Workers Party, the chief executive body of the communist administration of Poland, obtaining full membership the following year.[1]

Leader of the Polish military government

On 11 February 1981, Jaruzelski was elected Prime Minister of Poland and became the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party on October 18 the same year.[4]

On 13 December 1981, Jaruzelski imposed martial law in Poland and in fact became a dictator. He was the member of the Military Council of National Salvation. According to his explanation, this action was intended to prevent a threat of Soviet invasion[7]. A BBC News profile of Jaruzelski contends that the establishment of martial law was "an attempt to suppress the Solidarity movement."[2] CIA released documents counter his claims that he had been trying to prevent Soviet invasion as according to those documents by 1981 Soviet Politburo had no plans to even help his regime (a note by general Victor Anoshkin). Recently Polish historians and investigators from Institute of National Remembrance "IPN" concluded that the key factors in imposing the martial law were his desires to suppress the popular social rebellion inside the country that had directly been challenging his clique's hold on political power and strengthening of the army, his own source of power and his last resort. Most former opposition members argue that it was merely an action by the Polish Communist regime to retain power and strangle the newly born and developing civil society. Some even hold that the circumstances of the martial law were even in violation of the Communist constitution.

Historical evidence released under Russian President Boris Yeltsin has been brought to light indicating that the Soviet Union did not plan to invade Poland; in fact, the Soviets strictly rejected Jaruzelski's request for military help in 1981, leaving the Solidarity "problem" to be sorted out by the Polish government (see also Soviet reaction to the Polish Crisis of 1980-1981). However, the exact plans of the Soviet Union at that time have never been determined. Jaruzelski, however, has justified cracking down by alleging that the threat of Soviet intervention was quite likely had he not dealt with Solidarity internally. This question, as well as many other facts about Poland in the years 1945–1989, are presently under the investigation of government historians at the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, IPN), whose publications reveal facts from the Communist-era archives. Additionally, there are numerous confirmations from Czech army officers of the time speaking of "Operation Krkonose", plan of armed invasion of Poland, because of which many units of the People's army of the Czechoslovakia were stationed on highest alert, ready for deployment within hours.[8]

In 1982 he helped (rather ordered) reorganize the Front of National Unity, the organization the Communists used to manage their satellite parties, as the Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth.

In 1985, Jaruzelski resigned as prime minister and defence minister and became chairman of the Polish Council of State--a post equivalent to that of president or a dictator, with his power centered on and firmly entrenched in his coterie of "LWP" generals and lower ranks officers of the Polish Communist Army.


The policies of Mikhail Gorbachev also stimulated political reform in Poland. By the close of the tenth plenary session in December 1988, the Communist Party was forced, after strikes, to approach leaders of Solidarity for talks.

From 6 February to 15 April 1989, negotiations were held between 13 working groups during 94 sessions of the roundtable talks.[1] These negotiations "radically altered the shape of the Polish government and society"[1], and resulted in an agreement which stated that a great degree of political power would be given to a newly created bicameral legislature. It also created a new post of president to act as head of state and chief executive.[1] Solidarity was also declared a legal organization.[1] During the following Polish elections the Communists won 65 percent of the seats in the Sejm, though the seats won were guaranteed and the Communists were unable to gain a majority, while 99 out of the 100 seats in the Senate freely contested were won by Solidarity-backed candidates.[1] Jaruzelski won the presidential ballot by one vote.[1]

Jaruzelski was unsuccessful in convincing Wałęsa to include Solidarity in a "grand coalition"[1] with the Communists, and Jaruzelski resigned his position of general secretary of the Polish Communist Party.[1] The Communists' two allied parties broke their long-standing alliance, forcing Jaruzelski to appoint Solidarity's Tadeusz Mazowiecki as the country's first non-Communist prime minister since 1948. Jaruzelski resigned as Poland's leader in 1990.[1] He was succeeded by Wałęsa in December. Subsequently, Jaruzelski faced charges for a number of actions such as murder that he committed while he was Defense Minister during the Communist period.

On 31 January 1991, General Jaruzelski retired from the army service.

After retirement

In an interview conducted in 2001, Jaruzelski said that he believes communism failed, that he is a social democrat, and that he backed Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who at that time was the President of Poland, as well as Leszek Miller, who would later become the Prime Minister of Poland.[3]

Wojciech Jaruzelski in 2006

In May 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded a medal commemorating the 60th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany to Jaruzelski. Other former leaders awarded the medal include Romania's former King Michael I.[9] Czech President Václav Klaus criticized this step, claiming that Jaruzelski is a symbol of the Warsaw Pact troops' invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Jaruzelski said that he had apologized and that the decision on the August 1968 invasion had been a great "political and moral mistake".[10]

On 28 March 2006, Jaruzelski was awarded a Siberian Exiles Cross by Polish President Lech Kaczyński. However, after making this fact public Kaczyński claimed that this was a mistake and blamed the bureaucracy for giving him a document containing 1293 names without notifying him of Jaruzelski's presence within it. After this statement Jaruzelski returned the cross.

On 31 March 2006, the IPN charged him with committing communist crimes, mainly the creation of a criminal military organization with the aim of conducting crimes (mostly concerned with the illegal imprisonment of people). The second charge involves the incitement of state ministers to commit acts beyond their competence[citation needed]. Jaruzelski has avoided most court appearances citing poor health.


Jaruzelski is a controversial person in Poland. Some people, many of them a part of the "Solidarity generation", have a highly negative opinion of him, believing that Jaruzelski "is little short of a traitor".[2], even comparing his philosophy of "a strong Poland within a Soviet dominated block" to [Vidkun Quisling's] philosophy of a similar status for Norway within the Nazi controlled hemisphere. Opinion polls, as of 15 May 2001, suggest that a majority of the Polish people are open to agreeing with his explanation that martial law was implemented to prevent a Soviet invasion.[2]

Written works

Jaruzelski, Wojciech (1999). Różnić się mądrze (English translation: To Differ Wisely).[4] Jaruzelski, Wojciech (2008)."Być może to ostatnie słowo (wyjaśnienia złożone przed Sądem)" (English translation:"It may be my last word (explanations given in the Court)").


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Józef Pińkowski
Prime Minister of Poland
Succeeded by
Zbigniew Messner
Preceded by
Henryk Jabłoński
Chairman of the Council of State
Succeeded by
as President of Poland
Title last held by
Bolesław Bierut
President of Poland
Succeeded by
Lech Wałęsa
Party political offices
Preceded by
Stanisław Kania
General Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party
Succeeded by
Mieczysław Rakowski

Simple English

Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski
File:Wojciech jaruzelski

In office
July 19 1989 – December 22 1990
Preceded by Council of the state (PRL) (president office was not)
Succeeded by Lech Wałęsa

Born July 6, 1923
Nationality Polish
Spouse Barbara Jaruzelska
Profession general
Religion Atheist

Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski (born July 6, 1923 in Kurów) is a Polish politician and the President of Poland from July 1989 to December 1990. He was also the last commander-in-chief of the Polish People's Army (Ludowe Wojsko Polskie), chairman of the Polish United Workers Party 1981-1989, Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland from 1981-1985. He was Poland's last communist leader. He resigned as President to allow for democratic elections.

Jaruzelski is a comes from a family of Polish gentry. He is a son of Władysław Jaruzelski.

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