Skip to content
September 1980 crisis in Poland

1980-81 Polish Crisis

The Polish Crisis of 1980-1981 began with a wave of strikes across Poland and the formation of the first independent labor union in a Soviet bloc country – Solidarity. The crisis ended with the imposition of martial law in December 1981. Most of these documents are from Russian archives and record the Soviet response to the Polish crisis, including preparations for military intervention. There are also documents from other Eastern European archives which contain the Communist bloc leaders’ discussions and reactions to the events in Poland. See also the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Warsaw Pact.

September 1980 crisis in Poland

Popular Documents

October 29, 1981

Session of the CPSU CC Politburo, 29 October 1981 (excerpt)

Soviet Politburo meeting discusses removing Cde. Kania due to uprisings in Poland. It also addresses shortages of oil and supplies for export and use within the Soviet Union.

March 12, 1981

Session of the CPSU CC Politburo, 12 March 1981 (excerpt)

Brezhnev summarizes his meeting with E. Honecker regarding the efforts of the PZPR to suppress the rise of antisocialist political opposition forces in Poland. K.V. Rusakov and A.A. Gromyko respond by expressing their worries about the situation in Poland and criticizing the PZPR for not taking decisive measures to restore order and control over the country.

January 22, 1981

Transcript of the CPSU Politburo Session, 22 January 1981 (excerpt)

Delegation of CPSU Party Officials headed by L. M. Zamyatin discusses the political and social situation in Poland after Zamyatin’s trip there. Zamyatin gives an optimistic report about the PZPR’s efforts to regain control over society in Poland, and comments on the division in Solidarity as well as its strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited by the PZPR. The members of the Delegation discuss possible measures that the PZPR can implement in its counterrevolution against the growing power of antisocialist forces in Poland.

September 10, 1981

Session of the CPSU CC Politburo, 10 September 1981 (excerpt)

The Soviet Politburo discusses dissent within Poland and the loss of power of the communist party in Poland.

April 30, 1981

Session of the CPSU CC Politburo, 30 April 1981 (excerpt)

Soviet leaders discuss the results of negotiations between a CPSU delegation and the PZPR leadership, and express concern with the decisions of the Polish leadership.