Created: 6/1/1977

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Probable Soviet Reactionsrisis in Poland

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Probable Soviet Reactionsrisis in Poland

InliUitrnct Attnev Dlttcionlt of tauUitrnc*


Key Judgment*

Since Ihe end of World War II, successive Soviet leaderships have imposed poliiical, economic, .nd military requirements on the East European regimes. None of-these demands is more important to Moscow than ensuring that each regime preserve the leading role of the party, directed and fully controlled by its leadership, along with its subservience to the USSR-and thereby the Sovietoviet leadership perceive any regime'sr reticence to do thls-as in Hungary6 and Czechoslovakiaarmed Soviet intervention could and probably would take place. To the extent that an invasion ensures the primacyarty ruledeadership subservient to the USSR, the Soviets canmiliiary action toolitical success.

Soviet leaderships, however, havelear preference noi to intcrveno-at leasthorough searchonmilitary solution has been made. Secondary considerations in this Soviet determination include the physical and demographic size of the country, whether the nationommon borderATO member, its political, economic, and strategic military importance to the Soviet Union, and the historical legacy of an ti* Russia nlsm and antl-Sovictlsm harboredarget country's people.

Since coming under Communist rule, Poland, Ihe largest East European country, has been Ihe focal point of three polltlcoeconomic crises-without Soviet armed Intervention:

The "Polish October"6 followed Soviet party leader Khrushchev's faith-shattering denunciation of Stalin ath Soviet party congress In6 and culminated in the restoration of Wladyslaw Gomulka as party first secretary.

Inomulka's extremely Ill-limed decision to hike food prices during the Christmas buying season led lo bloody riots by workers, bitter repressive measures, and Gomulka's replacement by Edward Gicrck.

The Glorek regime's proposals for stIITIncrcascsIn food prices in6 again sparked worker riots that caused the government to retract Its proposals almost Immediately.

Each crisis also has been Inoviet-Polish emergency, in part because of tho potential for such unrest to spread Into the Soviet Ukraine and East Germany. Moreover, each hasoviet-Polish crisis because of the gamble taken by any Soviet leadership which decidedntervene militarily In the largest East European country. In short, the Soviets know that an invasion of Poland, with its much larger population of intensely nationalistic and anti-Soviet people, would be much more difficult than was the Invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The Soviets, of course, have the military capability to invade and occupy Poland (seehe Kremlin evidently prefers, however, to have the Polish leadership make minor concessions to the people to reduce public frustration. Polish regimes have thus far successfully used such tactics. At the same time, they have preserved the leading role of the party, while Initiating and executing the transfer of party authority. There is currently no evidence to conclude that cither (he Soviets or the Poles Intend to alter Ihisrisis could come In the event that ameliorating tactics failed to pacify the public, or In the event that the economic situation became sufficiently untenable that austerity measures would have to be strictly enforced.

Thb paper discusses the highlights of past Soviet-Polish crises-details are provided at annex-but It concentrates on the Soviet Union's political and military reactions to each emergency. The paper also outlines several key considerations that would shape any Soviei decision to intervene militarilyuture Polish crisis.


Probable Soviet Reactionsrisis in Poland


Poland is of considerable political and strategic military importance to the Soviet Union. Politically, Communist rule in Poland, the largest East European country, strengthens Soviet claims to political legitimacy and provides the Kremlin with tangible evidence of the gains of socialism. Militarily, Soviet access to Poland provides forward bases and control of the traditional Invasion routes into and from Western Europe, particularly across Poland's northern plains. Along with East Germany and Czechoslovakia, Poland constitutes an Important clement of Soviet national security.

The Russian-Polish relationship, however, hasong story of conflict, ulmost from theillennium ago when the King of Polandonvert to Roman Catholicism and turned hJs country's back to its eastern neighbors, who had turned to Constantinople for Christianity. To make matters worse. In thelury-Russia's "Time of TroubIes"-thc Poles invaded their tsarist neighbor with considerable success. Warsaw's forces repeated the Invasion0 during the transition era In the Soviet consolidation of power. For Its part, tsarist Russia, along with Austria and Prussia,5 absorbed the Polish state by dividing its territory between them.

A sovereign Poland did not rc<mergecars-unttl the end of Worldith the collapse of the three partitioning states. The partitions Instilled an Intense sense of nationalism In the Poles,eep, stubborn will to achieve and preserve their independence and nationhood.

Poles have thus come to regard civil disobedience and opposition to foreign occupiers and alien political systems as essential patriotic virtues. At the same time, this legacy has taught them to make the best of what they cannot avoid, to become masters of the grapevine In defiance of censorship, and to look to the Roman Catholic Church as the basis of national identity.

Communist rule, thus, Is acceptedact of life, but the party has never enjoyed general acceptance. Most Poles believe that the party rules ultimately because of the power and proximity of the Soviet Union. When Warsaw und Moscow must decide how to keep Polish unrest within controllable limits, tho Polish heritage Is an cver-rccurrlng problem.


Tha "Polish6

Khrushchev'siering denunciation of Stalin ath Soviet party congress In6 probably more immediately affected Poland than any other East European country. Indeed, Bolcs'aw Bierut, Stalin's faithful and long-time viceroy In Poland, diedeart attack while slill in Moscow.

In the Interval between Beirut's death and the Poznan Hots ineriod oranti-Stalinist outbursts and Intense nationalistmainly by Polish intellectuals. There appeared, however, to befor concern by the Kremlin, which was preoccupied with the effectsKhrushchev speech, because the Polish leadership seemed in fullthe situation. The absence of any visible ton-level split in theand the slowly evolving and moderate character ofobscured growing contradictions within the regime. Thefailedlear-cut justification for direct

The workers* uprising In Poznan, suppressed only through the use of the Polish army, heightened Moscow's concern and signaled that the ferment had spread from the intellectuals to the workers, who were smarting under oppressive working conditions. The authorities reacted quickly and were soon In command of Ihe situation, but the leadership seemed genuinely surprised by what had occurred. The eventsoznanack of alertness by security elements and, as with later Polish crises, the absence of genuine contact between the party and the working class. The regime had to decide whether to march toward further liberalization-that is de-Stalinizatlon-or to resort to purely repressivearly Central Committee plenum In July opted for further "democratization" combined with economic measures to alleviate slightly the plight of both workers and peasants.

This apparent show of unanimity among the party's leadershipasic split in the hierarchy. Suspicionplit quickly spread among the party's rank and file, causing rumors to flourish and the political situation to deteriorate. By early October, altitudes In the country at large and within Ihe party Indicated to the Polish party hierarchy that unless decisive steps wereajor exploslon-pcrhaps civil war and Soviei military Intervention-could not bo avoided. In mid-October, (he moderate faction, which by then Included Blerut's successor as first secretary, Edward Ochab, concludedharp break with the Stalinist past was imperative.

Tho moderates decided (hut (he restoration of Wfadyslaw Gomulka to the central parly leadership was the only wayein in nationalitm. He had lost his party positionstensibly because he sympathized with Yugoslavia's Tito and spoke stronglyPolish road loharges wcro lodged against him, and he was imprisoned untilomulk. was not officially rehabilitated untilt was against this background that the moderates also concluded (hat only Gomutka could effectively reshape Polish-Soviet .relations without undermining Polish Communism.

As one who had "paid hisomulko Insisted that he wouldto tho centra! party organs without assuming lhc numberHe also demanded the removal of all arch-Stalinists froma:id the ouster of Marshel Rokossovsky, the Sovieiad been Poland's defense minister. These were stifTthe last one particularly raised the possibility of Soviet

southward with the outbreak of the Hungarian revolution and wns not relaxed until late

When the Polish party's Central Committee met on Octobero elect Gomulka as first secretary and to comply with his other demands. Ihe Soviets were stirred to action. Khrushchev. Kaganovich, Mikoyan, andclegollon representing the main factions of the Soviet leadership-flew lo Warsaw. In response, tho Poles temporarily adjourned their plenum. At the same time, Soviet military units in Poland began moving north from Silesia and those In East Germany toward the Polish border. The Polish army, still under Marshal Rokossovsky, also started maneuvers that brought some large units closer to Warsaw. The possibility of an outright clash could not be excluded, because Gomulka's supporters controlled the security forces, which were assuming defensive positions, and workers were calling for arms for what might haveew battle of Warsaw.

7It would

appear Ihat lhc Soviet leadership did not goarsaw wiih either aof the situationrogram fo impose on the Poles.arrivedet of grievances. They were particularly disturbed byof Rokossovsky's removal and apparently wereabout Gomulka's

neither endorsed nor rejected Gomulka's domestic program.

Il Is clear, however. Ihat each sidehreatening altitude. On the Soviet side, thb was buttressed by the overwhelming military strength that (he Soviet leaders had at (heir disposal, and on the Polish side, by an aroused and partly armed anti-Soviet population led by Gomulka, The turning point in the one-day.talks reportedly came when the Poles made an ominous double threat-Ochab threatened to dbtribute arms to the workers unless Soviet-ordered troop movements ceased, and Gomulka threatened to go on Ihc radio and reveal the course of events to the population, In an effort to balance his warning, however. Gomulka reportedly presented himselfoyalCommuniit who would noi lead Poland oui of the Soviet bloc.esult, the Soviet leaders accepted Ihe situation and agreed lo Ihe removal of the ullra-Slatinists from Ihe Polish leadership and Io Ihc elevation of Gomulka. Onhe day ihe Khrushchev delegation returned Io Moscow, Soviet (roop movement in Poland all bu( stopped. Onomulka was formally elecled as first secretary, and (he Stalinists were ousted at the resumed session of the party's Central Commillce.

Serious divisions In the Soviet leadership which culminate! Khrushchev's ouster of Ihe "anil-party" group In7 prevented agreementecision lo use military force. Khrushchev's dcnunciailon of Stalin made him less concerned wilh Gomulka's "Polish Communism" and the fate of Ihe Polish Stalinists than wilh the implications of Rokossovsky's expected removal.

The Soviei delegation may also have- concluded thai If Gomulka could restrain certain anil-Soviet tendencies, Moscow could tolerate ateduction of blatant Stalinist abuses of Poland's national interests. Furthermore, the situation In Hungary was heating up. and Moscow was noi anxious to have that pot boll over at the sameevelopmenl ihat would have been made much more likely by Soviet Intervention.

On the plus side of lhc ledger, power in Poland was retained by the Communist Party which initiated und executed the transfer of authority lo Comulka. Gomulka's program stressed domestic reforms that did not threaten Poland's membership In lhc bloc or the leading role of the party. Military Intervention was avoided that would have shattered the tenuous links that Khrushchev had worked so hard to develop with Tito.

Furthermore, armed Soviet Intervention would have run counter to the "friendly advice" of the Chinese, who reportedly urged restraint. Direct action would have encouraged elements In the Soviet party opposing both de-Stallnlzatlon and Khrushchev. The gradual evolution of the Polish challenge also deprived the Soviets of any immediate provocation to justify the use of force, and the Soviets knew that the historically anti-Russian and anti-Soviet nature of Poland'sillion people would have prompted massive public resistance to armed Intervention.

esult of these factors, the Soviet leaders evidently chose to guide Gomulka's courie by applying Indirect political pressure coupled with economic rewards.

Gomulka's Ouster,0

The crisis that toppled Gomulka from power onas triggered by the announcement one week earlierackage calling for wage reforms and sharp price hikes on foods. The evidence suggests that the Soviets knew in advance of the contents of the decree but not of the regime's decision to announce it just prior to Christmas.

Warsaw claimed that this unpopular move was necessitated by (Is inability to satisfy consumer demands, especially for food Items. The timing of the announcement could scarcely have been worsc-lhe Christmas season in predominantly Catholic Polandajor holiday, exceeded In Importance only by Easter.

Public riots and work stoppages Immediately swept the northern part of the country. Significantly, however, there was considerably less evidence than6trong anti-Soviet bias to the disorders. The port cities of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczccln-thc latter near the East Gcmum border-were centers of partlculorly violent protest. In Gdansk, for example, workers rioted, shouted "Down withnd set fire to party and police headquarters.

The regime responded to Ihese riots and strikes by sealing off Ihe northern coastal area,trict curfew, and sending subslantial reinforcements lo the militia and internal security forces in the region. Repression was severe, physical damage was heavy, and strikes were nationwide. The regime stressed lhal ll would not back down on Ihe retail price hUes.

Prediclably. all Polish military unlls and Ihc two Soviet divisionswere put on alert, but the evidence indicates lhal the0 crisis wasonsiderably lowcr-or at least, than in

In the dnysiiis> up to re signal ion and his replacementCicrek on Decemberacute

political concern mi Moscow over Ihc I'olisil Siluation. nitre was.everhowever,ovid mixniion lo use its miliiary forces ioproblemSoviet parly Poliibuio held two

meetings ir

J These

cngs comciueo aiart wun mc roitsnai committee plenum which was debating the fate of Gomulka. The evidence docs noi make clear whether Ihc Poles and Soviets were consulting during ihc Iwo sessions, or whether Ihe Soviets were merely discussing Ihc implications of changes already decided in Warsaw.

Unlike the turmoilhe events surrounding the fall of Gomulka0 unfolded so rapidly that the Soviets were basically cast in the role of bystanders. Several considerations probably persuaded the Soviets loands-off attitude:

The Gomulka regime had clearly outstayed its welcome by increasingly showing itself to be inept and out of touch with lhc people.

The riots did not have the strong anti-Soviet cast of thoseut (he Soviets wisely recognized that Polish nationalism was near the surface

A secondary consideration for Moscow's Inaction probablyesire not to Interrupt dclcntc and the preparatory talks then under wayonference on European Security and Cooperation.

Or crucial significance, however, was lhc fact that the leading role of the Polish party was never in jeopardy.

Ashe Polish party Initiated and executed, albeit with Soviet approval, the transfer or authority, in this case from Gomulka loGlcrek.

These political and mililary considerations almost certainly gave Moscow some anxious moments. But Brezhnev, unlike Khrushchev


did not have to contendnti-party" croup challenging his leadership. Tills ulmost certainlyore measured and relaxed Soviet response.

Tha June8

oviet as wellolish viewpoint. It is ironic that like Gomulkaolish parly chlcrGlcrek had to cope late last June with public rioting sparked by his regime's proposals for sharp price hikes on food. This Irony was undoubtedly heightened by the knowledge in Moscow and Warsaw that Cierck hadpecial party commission that investigated the Poznan riotse wasember of the Polish team-led by Gomulka-that conducted the crucial negotiations with the angry Khrushchev delegation Ih Warsaw In

In summary, the June riots followed the regime's announcement on Junef stiff price increases on most foods, particularly meat. Prices of basic food Items had been frozen since Gomulka's ouster. Meantime, Gicrck hadassive program, boscd on importing Western technology, to modernize the Polish economy. The Soviets were reportedly unhappy with the slress that the Poles put on expanding Western economic relations, but this policy was inherent In the Soviet prescription for bloc economic ills. The Soviets were also unhappy about Warsaw's heavy foreign debt and debt servicing and the consequences thcreor. The population benefited through higherpercent Increase In real wages1 towere greater than those Justified by increased productivity. Consumers also had more to spend and. In (he absence of sufficient supplies of major consumer goods, tho Poles Increasingly spent their extra money on food.esult, per capita meat consumption sharply Increased, and budget subsidies to support stable food prices more than quadrupled1ndeed,he subsidies had retchedercent of lotal budget outlays.

Glcrck's ruling style also probablyey clement in the decision to raise food prices. Unlike Gomulka, Gicrck docs not rule by diktat. In late June, he evidently yielded to the economists, who had strongly pushed for the Increases. In contrast, the politicians had opposed the hikes because, mindfulheyiolent popular reaction. Like Gomulka. Gicrck and the economists badly misjudged the public's reaction, which became evident the day after the proposals were announced.

Faced with widespread disorders, the stunned leadership promptly withdrew its proposals ond prohibited the militia from using firearms In


quelling the riots. Warsaw has since promised not to raise food prices untilt has freed nearly all the workers imprisoned for allegedly participating in the riots, and il has promised to consult with Ihc workers before decisions on pocketbook issues are made.

There is absolutely no evidence, however, that the Soviets playedirect or indirect role in quelling the disturbances.

Soviet press treatment of Ihe PolishS low key. The Gicrck leadership's decision to retract the increases was reported without editorial comment in the press ony which time Polish tempers were visibly cooling. Moreover, as if to avoid fueling discontent al home. Soviet media conspicuously refrained from reporting that Polish workers had again taken to the streets.

Privately, however, the Soviets were and are deeply concerned over unrest in Poland. Moscow's ultimate concern is to ensure Ihat political stability reigns in Poland. This concern did not prevent Gierek and Brezhnev from seriously disagreeing-reportcdly over the price hikerivate meeting on Junen East Berlin at Ihc European Communist Parties* Conferencene monlh later in the Crimea, however, the twofriendly" meeting. In November. Brezhnev's ringing endorsement of the Polish leader, delivered when Gicrck visited Moscow,oncurrent Soviet economic package clearly signaled Soviet agreement with Gicrck's placatory approach as the safest bet over the short run.

Poland's other neighbors. East Germany and Czechoslovakia, showed minor signs of concern over the possible turn of events, but their misgivings were dispelled by early July, when conditions in Poland had essentially returned lo normal. East Berlin and Prague were mainly concerned that there mightpillover from the Polish unrest that would find popular acceptance among disgruntled East German and Czechoslovak workers.


Moscow's apparent restrained reaction to the June riots was probably governed by the following considerations:

Polish authorities and the party clearly had the means to control the situation.

The June violence broke out lesseek before the long-delayed and Soviet-desired European Communist Parties' Conference opened In East Berlin. Any hcavyhanded Soviet meddling In Polish affairs prior to (he ECPC would have Incurred

he risk of scuttling the conference, bringing Moscow under intensive public attack from the Eurocommunlsls, and triggering an explosion of Polish nationalism. '.

nationalistic feelings with anti-Soviet overtones hadxpressed In Warsaw earlier In the year by the church ond Polish

intellectuals. They successfully opposed amendments to the constitution that would have further Institutionalized the country's links with the Soviet Union and strengthened the role of the party at the cvof

Soviet economic aid package in November and Gierek's tactics have enabled Polish authorities to muddle through the country's two major religious holidays-Christmas and Easier. But the testing period is far from over. With the Soviet leadership and the Polish people both judging his performance, Gicrck must successfully copeistrustful and volatile populace that Is at once Increasingly conscious of its own power and Impatient for concrete results. At the same time, he must also copeoviet leadership that is becoming Impatient with subsidizing the relatively high level of Polish consumption.

Tensions will thus remain high and could again explode into public disorders and rioting as the Gicrck regime tries to decide how to:

ealthy measure of public confidence.

Manage the politically explosive and economically pressing problem of raising food prices.

Overcome shortages of consumer goods, particularly meat.

Proceed with economic development as the burden of hard-currency debt gets even heavier.

Gicrck must show progress In achieving the above goals In the full cnowledgc that:

The authority of his regime has been clearly weakened.

There Is now little room for political or economic maneuver.

The Soviets have recorded in no uncertain terms their displeasure both with Poland's growing Indebtedness to the West and with the June violence.

The Kremlin would be even more displeased should thereecurrence of riotinghenh anniversary of Ihe Soviet October Revolution is celebrated.

Any major mistake could again send the Poles into the streets, thereby substantially raising the probabilityew Polish leadership and possibly inviting Soviet intervention.

Conjecture on Intervention

Successive Soviet governments have since World War II imposed political, military, and economic requirements on East European regimes. Political requisites haveonopoly of power for the Communist Party. Military needs have-in the case ofemphasized control over the lines of communications to Soviet forces In East Germany. Economic requirements have stressed close cooperation with the Council for Economic Mutual Assistance. When. In Moscow's opinion, these fundamentals appear to be seriously threatened or compromised, the Soviets can be expected to show alarm.

Moscow would become particularly alarmed,he Polish leadership edged toward the "main danger of revisionism" while trying to reduce


conflict between the party and the people. From the Kremlin'sIhU could undcrmlno the Polish party's ability to continue leadingThe Soviets might also consider that Warsaw's concessions toof the workers and Intellectuals could tilt the Gicrckthe Eurocommunlsts. For the Soviet Union.challenges the very legitimacy of the Soviet party modelthe prospecturopcanidation of Communism In Eastern as well

In conjecturing about Ihe possibility of armed Soviet intervention. It may also be useful to keep In mind the principles that lay behind the Soviet

decision to Invade Czechoslovakia.

j '


so-called northern tier countries-Czechoslovakia. East Germany, and Poland-are of crucial political, economic, and strategic mililary Importance to the Soviei Union. The strong Western political, cultural, and economic heritage of these countries also makes them the Achilles heel of the Soviet empire.

Soviet doctrine is rich in guidelines for dealing wiih non-CommunisI enemies, but it offers relatively lit tic guidance for resolving major conflicts among Communist-ruled countries.

The Soviets can procrastinate and appear to be patient with East European countries experimenting wiih reforms or coping with unrest. When party control Is threatened, however, the Kremlin con and will take the measures necessary to preserve lis empire.

In Czechoslovakia, Soviet actions were as frequently based on Ihe Kremlin's Interpretation of the possible consequences of Dubcek'a methods and Intentions as on Ihe measures which his regime had actually put Into offect.

Upertain point, the disbelieving, often hostile Polish people, their wary leaders, and church authorities can count on each other to keep unrest contained. Most Poles assume, and correctly so, thai the Soviet Union would be forced to Invade If:

.the leading role of thee seriously threatened, or

Soviet military access to East Germany were severely Jeopardized, or

Trip tlfl Hi

the Poliih people simply refused to yield to regime concessions coupled with promises Tor the future.

Some Constraintsecision To Invade

Tho cautious nature of Soviet reactions lo past Polish crises clearly Indicates that the Soviets would prefer nointervene militarilyolish emergency. In support of this generalization. It Is helpful lo recall that In the months leading lo the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Kremlin abo searched carefullyonmilitary solution. Forolitburo-to*Politburo summit was used to persuade the Prague leadership to slow down, if not reverse, Dubcek's reformist course. The Kremlin also extensively consulted with all of Its East European allies, except Yugoslavia and Romania. In the final analysis, It was not Brezhnev but East Germany's Ulbricht who most stubbornly advocated military action. Indeed, the Soviet leadership abandoned nonmilitary courses of action only after it became clear that the Dubcek learn could neither modify nor control steadily Increasing popular demands. Moscow was also concerned about the possible effect! of Ihe "Prague Spring" In the Soviet Union.

Tho conclusion that Moscow would use extreme caution wilh the Poles, however, does not preclude Invasion as an ultimate Soviet actionufficiently threatening situation In Poland. Rather, it argues lhal because the Soviets showed considerable restraint wilh respect to Czechoslovakia, they would show an even greater reluctance to Invade Poland. They encountered only token resistance In Czechoslovakia.ear certainty, however, that Soviet Invasion of Poland would be met with widespread and bloody opposition, including some from elements of the Polish army. Furthermore, Soviet Intervention could spark reactions in East Germany and in Ihe restive Ukrainian and Lithuanian Soviet republics bordering on Poland, as well as stimulate intense political activity among the numerically and politically significant ethnic Polish minority living In the West, including the United Slates.

Other probable restraints against military Intervention by thepossible differences of opinion In the Soviet leadership, theeffects on decisionmaking of the aged and ailing nature ofas well as the likelihood of differing opinions among Moscow'sSoviet leadership was not genuinely united in Its decision toA consensus favoring

Intervention In the much more populous and anti-Soviet Poland-which would require the largest Soviet miliiary operation since World War ll-coutd

easily be more dlfflcull lo achieve. This would panicularly be the case.ecision had to be made during Jockeying for position to succeed Brezhnev and Premieronsensus might be even more difficult to reach in Ihe event that the question of Invasion had to be decided after the departure of Brezhnev. The periods immediately following the Stalin and Khrushchev eras were markedack of decisiveness in Eastern Europeonsequent drift of control.

The Soviet leadership Is presumably aware from the Czechoslovak experience that any invasion of Poland would repress but not eliminate the powerful political, economic, and social forces challenging the Kremlin's Interests and authority.ationalism and the quest for socioeconomic modernization In East Europe have become stronger. Invasion would also tend to prove that force, fear, ond intrigue ore the ultimate and dominant principles of the Soviet international system, and would reveal to the world the fragility of Moscow's situation in Eastern Europe, To the extent that intervention would strengthen this impression, the ability of the Soviet party to pose convincingly as the superior model of Communist practice would be severely undermined; the Chinese party couldropaganda bonanza.

Divided opinion among Moscow's allies could reflect the regimes* Individual perceptions of the Soviet leadership situation. Survival Instincts of East European party hierarchies arc keenly developed, in part by scrutinizing and assessing the political scene in Moscow for signs of leadership differences on key issues. In addition, some regimes might want lo conceal their position on Intervention, cither to minimize problems with their own populations or to limit damage to tics with major West European countries and political pa.ties, Including the Furocommunists. Even so, no member of the Warsaw Pact, with the possible exception of Romania, could refrain from going alongoviet decision to invade. The Hungarians, who alsoolatile brand of antUSovlctlsm, might engage In foot-dragging, however. In order to reduce the risk of unleashing Hungarian nationalism.

Elsewhere, orchestrated activity by the West, especially by NATO members, would probably be the single most Important constraintoviet decision to Intervene Inoviet determination to invade would have to be preceded by considerable military preparation. Western monitoring could hardly fall to detect such activity in Its early stages. The transformation of these findings Into concerted diplomatic initiatives would not necessarily alter the Soviet decision.he balance favoring Invasion In


Ihc Soviet leadershipelicate one. however, the Western activity might al least forestall, if not change, the decision to intervene.

The exlenl of Ihe Soviet Union's reliance on the West for the transfer of technology and overall economic, cultural, and political Kasl-Wcst exchanges could constitute additional leverage to be brought lo bear on Moscow. Moreover, wilh the advent of Ihc triangular relationship-Moscow, Washington, and Pcklng-the Soviet Union hasarticularly strong interest inialogue with the USide variety of issues,orth noting that Foreign Minister Cromyko publicly announced, about three weeks before the Czechoslovakoviet willingness to discuss arms control issues, including limitations on Ihc deployment of offensive and defensive missiles, to; which Washington had

long pressed


Advantages of an Invasion

The Soviet Union would presumably predicate any decision to invade Poland on an exhaustive but unsuccessful searchonmilitary solutionerceived crisis.ituation would almost certainly contain any or all of the following elements or would be seen by ihe Soviets as pointing in that direction.

Polish authorities would no longer adhere lo the basic tends of Communis! practice as interpreted by Ihe Soviet parly leadership.

The regime in Warsaw would either be unable or unwilling to meet the full range of Soviet military and economic requirements.

The Polish people would not settle for "amelioration" or Ilic transfer of power from one perceived group of pro-Soviets to another.

An invasion could in theoryumber ol advontages-from (he Kremlin's polnl of view.

most immediate effcci would be to "stabilize" the situation by freeing Ihe Soviet empire from possible contagion posedresumably "reformist" ond probably "weak" Polish regime. Intervention would also remove all doubts that the Soviet Union was and will be prepared to use its military forces to preserve its political and military requirements in the area encompassed by Ihe Warsaw Pact.


A "successful" Invasion might strengthen the Soviet grip over (he Council for Economic Mutual Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.

Successful Intervention would also have the effect of strengthening those East European countries and leaders most loyal to Moscow.

From Moscow's vantage point, benefits beyond Eastern Europe could include:

An increase in the credibility of Soviet power. In this context, the Kremlin would probably be only slightly concerned by negative reactions to an invasion in the West. On the basis of the post-Invasion situationhe Soviets clearly consider such responses to be short-lived.

A demonstration to Eurocommunistsestern-inclined Polish leadership that the Soviets were resolved to defend against Western political penetration of the East.

Proof thai the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe is so Important to Moscow that it Is unrealistic for either East or West Europeans to anticipate major shifts in the region, except in the context of very significant changes In Soviet attitudes or leaders or


Collectively, these advantages strongly suggest that the Soviets will do whatever Is necessary to preserve their sphere of Influence and security. There Is reason to believe that the Soviets consider their past armed interventions to have been "successful" In terms of "stabilizing" threatening political situations. This suggests thatuture Soviet decision to invade may be difficult and distasteful for the Kremlin, neither the cries of East Europeans and their Eurocommunlst supporters nor Western public Opinion will change the Soviet perception of the need to protect the USSR's national Interests.


The Sovkst CBpabilityilitary Solution

Should the Soviets decide to use military force to Intervene in Poland, they would have several options open to them. The following options assume that no resistance would be encountered from the Polish-army.

:The two Soviet tank divisions in Poland could be used anywhere in the countryew hours for riot suppressionimited show of strength.

Airborne troops from the USSR probably could be airlifted to major Polish cities withinours.

The Soviet divisions nearest the Polish border in the western USSR and East Germany could be moved Into Poland withinours. There arc currentlyoviet divisions in the western military districts of the Soviet Union andoviet divisions in East Germany.

The Soviet divisions In the western military districts in the USSR could be mobilizedull-scale Invasion; however thb would require at least three days.



C^rorrolocjy: Hkjhlkjht. ot the "Polish8

h Soviet parly congress. Major ideological changes and denunciation of the cult of personality culminate in secret session on last day when Khrushchev fiercely attacks Stalin.

party first secretary Boleslaw Beirut dieseart attack in Moscow, Edward Ochab succeeds him.

Ochab announces several rehabilitations, including the partial one of Wladyslaw Gomulka.

Poznan worken riot, calleneral strike, and more than SO deaths ensue.

At the 7th Central Committee plenum, Ochab rejects theory that "provocateurs and Imperialist agents" were rcsponsbile for the Poznan riots. Plenum makes modest moves toward reforms, Gomulka's party membership is restored, and Edward Gicrck joins the party's Politburo.

September 27

Poznan trials start, Trials are open to the public, all accused ore properly defended, and relatively mild sentences are hnnded down.




October 19

Central Committee convenes 8th plenum amid icports It will call for the dismissal of Soviet officers and the departure of Soviet troops.

Khrushchev, Mikoyan, Molotov, and Kaganovich arrive in Warsaw.

ours, the Khrushchev delegation, finding the

Polish party firmly In control and the anti-Gomulka faction weak, departs Warsaw for Moscow.

OctoberCentral Committee plenum resumes, Gomulka is

elected first secretary, and his "national Communist" reform faction gains majority In Politburo.

October 23 All Poznan sentences are reviewed.

Octoberpublicly reaffirms ties with the USSR ond

asserts that the Soviets have promised to return units in Poland and the GSFG to their barracks area within two days.


October 25 Transport aircraft for the airborne forces in the Kaunas area return to their home bases.

October 28 Stefan Cardinal Wyszynskl is released.

Late October Poles begin release or reassignment of Soviet officers assigned to their armed forces.

November 19 Soviet Marshal Rokossovsky "resigns" as Polishandoviet deputy defense minister.



Chronology: The Downfall of Gomulka,0

December 9 Probable dale of Polilburo meeting in Warsaw to decide on regime's package of wage reforms and food price



December 13

Decemberecember 14

December 15

December 16

Decemberecember 17


The official decree is published in the press and broadcast on Polish radio and television. Price hikes on food range from II toercent.

Polish police and military units are alerted.

reak out in Gdansk with workers shouting "Down with Gomulka!"

Party and police headquarters as well as radio station in Gdansk are set afire by rioting workers.

Riots spread to Gdynia; eyewitness reports from Gdansk say police and military are engaged in quelling the nols

people hive

i-ten arresieu inince December I. Polish press reports northern part of country is scaled off.


Strikes and riots break out in Szczecin, nearast German border.

The Council of Ministerslate of emergency and formally authorizes the use of all necessary means to quell disorder.




working there aic urged not to go home for the holidays


December 17 Broadcasts from Gdansk and Szczecinerious situation exists.

East German Politburo iruTmocr Honeckcr ocscnocs the Polish situationcounterrevolutionary matter" against the stale.

December the Warsaw Pact members

f Jp'.-ced their police and internal security organs on

_ 1


is reportedly asked loolitburo meetingroup of colleagues opposed to pure repression. His replacement is discussed.

C "3

C 3


a seven-hour meeting of the Polish partyajority agrees to ask Gomulka to resign.

20 lenum of the Polish party's Central Committee formally elects Edward Gicrck as first secretary and approves other changes In the composition of the ! Politburo and Secretariat.

Glerek appears on Polish television, acknowledges the I leadership's 'mistakes, and promises a revision of economic arid other policies. Strikes and disturbances start to die down.

December 20

German ^Politburo member iioneckcr.

Implies that Moscowand in the decision lo replace Gomulka.


Decemberhe crisis appears to be abating. Brezhnev sends warm personal messages to Gicrck.

Decemberolish Council of Ministers revokes the Decembermergency measures, stating that life had returned to "normal" In the coastal cities.

worker unrest surfaces, albeit in much less

violent form. Gicrck successfully appeals for "reason" among the people. The Soviets show some signs of anxiety but onhen Warsaw announces price adjustments favoring the consumer, unrest quickly dissipates.


Reaction to Price Proposals,6

MarchMinister Jaroszewicz echoes Gierck's remarks lo

the parly congress in December by stressing to parliament the need to end the existing freeze on food prices. He makes no formal proposals, however.


C 1


Juneparty's newspaper prepares its readers for price hikes

by condemning the policy of subsidies.

Juneannounces proposals for price hikes on food

engthy speech lo parliament. The proposals call for an average price increase ofercent onercent on sugar, and overercent on bulter and higher quality cheese. Bread, flour, and some milk products will remain at their current prices.

juneand demonstrations break out at several key

industrial facilities, workers stop trains on nearbygrowing

rumors of unrest .hroughout Poland.

Junea onc-minulc "speech" on Polish television, Prime

Minister Jaroszewicz retracts the regime's proposals for food price hikes.

Junegroup of Polish Intellectualsetter lo the

Polish parliament, colling for an "expansion of democratic freedoms, including freedom of the presssembly. in order to prevent further popular excesses."

Junethe European Communist Parties' Conference in East

Berlin, Gicrck and Brezhnev reportedly disagree in private over (he food price debacle in Poland.

LateJ authorities in

East Berlin are closciy waicning Poland's food price riots for any possible spillover effects.

Julyhis first public speech since the riots, Gierek appeals to

workers to show "patriotism and national unity."


reiterates nis strong commitment to raise food prices.

Julygovernment announces it will increase prices on meat

by an average ofercent later this year but willrice freeze on other basic foods at least

Julycourts sentenceonvicted rioters to prison

terms rangingoears.

Julymember of the Polish party Central Committee tells

the mishandling of the proposed

price increases nas produced "depression, defensiveness,oss of self-confidence" within the leadership. He does not imply, however,hange in leadership might be In order.

July(op Polish party official informs

that Warsaw will not raise meat prices this year.

Lctemajor French non-Communist labor union joins with

the Italian labor movement In protesting (he trials and prison sentences for Polish workers.

ierek announces that existing economic problems will be examined by five commissions-each headedolitburo member; the commissions are told to complete their workear or by the next party conference

Septcmber9 Poland's Catholic bishops call for an amnesty of workers punished for their roles In the riots. The bishops also appeal for calm and unity.

Mid-September Lite September

Septemberctober 25

Ute October


December 2

Early December

December 13

Indicate that the Poles will not raise food prices for at least another year.

Dissident Polish intellectuals are the main force in creating the Workers' Defense Committee. The committee seeks to defend the rights of arrested or dismissed workers and to provide financial aid to families of such workers.

The Polish Supreme Court reduces the sentences of seven workers to one year's imprisonment, suspended.

Jaroszewiczne-day visit to Moscow, probably to discuss economic issues, Including Soviet aid, prior to Gierek'a visit in November.

authorities are worriedossible outbreak of violence at Warsaw University.

Gierek and Jaroszewiczarty and state delegation to the USSR. Brezhnev gives Gierek his full personal endorsement, and the Soviets grant an apparently sizable economic aid package to Poland.

Following the Gierek visit to Moscow, important personnel shifts are announced in the Polish party and in the Council of Ministers. Changes focus onetter hold on the country's economic problems.

Reports claim that some party and government officials In Warsaw have become increasingly concerned during the last several months about the morale and reliability of the Polish armed forces.

An article in the major party daily for the first time brands the Workers' Defense Committee as the chief antlgovcmment group at home and abroad. The article also tries to undercut the committee's claim to speakegitimate representative of the worken.



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