Polish Peculiarities? Military Loyalty During the 1980-1981 Solidarity Crisis

Elizabeth P. Coughlan


On December 13, 1981, the Polish military under the leadership of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law, effectively ending sixteen months of popular protest and bargaining between the Polish United Workers Party (PUWP) and the independent trade union Solidarity. In the West, and particularly in the United States, martial law was interpreted as the Polish military declaring war on its own people on the orders of the Soviet Union. It was assumed and repeatedly asserted that the military was loyal to the Communist Party and to the Soviet high command, that they were little more than communists in uniform.  Such an assertion, however, leaves one hard pressed to explain the acquiescence of the militaries across Eastern Europe to the changes of 1989 and the ability of those militaries to adapt to noncommunist regimes to the point of being willing and even eager to join NATO.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cbp.1999.82


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