June 4th, 1989

From article published on hej-kto-polak.pl  in 2013:

okraglystol

 

In 1989 we were cheated, and for almost a quarter century after that, we were deceived. But we need not despair; we should look at the bright side. What all of this means is that real freedom is yet to come!

Whilst wandering through the Internet, looking for witnesses who could shed a little light on any of the white spots in recent Polish history, I once came across the memoir of a man who, in June of 1989, was the chairman of Solidarity Trade Union Committee in Gorzow Wielkopolski. His account is so interesting that, in my opinion, it ought to be publicized as much as possible, using the most extensive passages possible.

But before I quote from it, let’s recall that as a result of the Roundtable discussions “the liberal communists” and “the un-extreme Solidarity people” decided that at the beginning of June 1989 Poland would hold “its first free and democratic elections “. What happened next, his account concisely recounts:

Pretty soon it became apparent that the election of June 4th, 1989 was in no way a celebration of democracy, but rather a gross imitation. Its true character came out with brute force on the day after the first round. The voters sent to hell the national list, which meant all the top commies lost. The list consisted of 35 names, and only 2 got more than the needed 50% of valid votes. For both the Jaruzelski Junta and Walesa/Geremek group this came as an unpleasant surprise, because the voters negated in election booths the agreement reached at the Round table.

For me, the surprise really was how the new “Solidarity” proved to be as centralized as the old PZPR (Communist united workers’ party), because of what happened after the first round. Our witness continues:

I was summoned to an urgent conference in Warsaw. The assembly was led by Bronislaw Geremek who ordered all leaders of the Citizens’ Committees to urge voters to participate in the second round, despite winning by “Solidarity” in the first round everything the Reds consented to, therefore not having any reason to go to polls again.

However, as it turned out later this activating of voters was done as a formality only. The “mediators” had no intention to let anything go uncontrolled. And so, as a seasoned “people’s” democrats would do, the creators of the new system took matters into their own hands rather than relying on voters. The voters were not really needed for the Roundtable dealers. The author of the memoir recalls the continuation of this “road to freedom:”

To seize the situation, on June 8th, 4 days after the 1st round, Solidarity leader Walesa (afterwards we found out, a secret police agent, code “Bolek”) bluntly announced that he approved changes to elections rules for the 2nd round. Walesa was joined by others: first Geremek snubbed the nation overjoyed by the commies’ loss in the first round, that “pacta sunt servanda”—agreements should be kept; then Michnik warned not to be tempted by “triumphant-confrontational rhetoric”, and advised not to celebrate too loud, as this could upset Communist Generals Jaruzelski and Kiszczak. After these proclamations nothing stood in the way of State Council to change the electoral law by decree (during elections!) and announce it on June 12th, 5 days before the next round.

This plot, with its illegal and unconstitutional State Council decree clearly reiterates the circumstances of Martial Law’s imposition on Poland in December 1981. At that time, the State Council was also not authorized to issue decrees; in accordance with applicable laws during the Fall-Winter Session of the Parliament (Sejm), the State council did not have such powers. But, simply in order to simulate maintaining the rule of law after carrying out military pacifying operations, the Jaruzelski Junta tried to legalize them.

Similarly in 1989 the first decision made was to “subdivide power”, portion the spoils, and only then try to give this arrangement a semblance of legality. The Martial Law and the 1989 elections can therefore be thrown into one and the same rogue sack.

The author of this memoir concludes his story about the creation of the Third Republic by citing some well-known facts, which nevertheless are worthy to evoke:

Communist dictator Jaruzelski was elected the President of the Polish People’s Republic on July 18th, 1989. Several days later, on August 2nd, the Parliament entrusted the post of Prime Minister to another Communist General, Czeslaw Kiszczak, a “distinguished” military police officer, later a chief of the communist secret services. In the 50s he specialized in sending interrogated people “on the tiles,” which meant torture (see: http://www.bibula.com/?p=2941). This police chief, recognized by Michnik as a “man of honor”, inflicted a painful blow to the builders of “freedom regained on 06.04.1989” legend. Testifying at the end of April 2009 before a court he stated, among others, “In 1989 nobody won anything. It was us who allowed Solidarity to assume power (…) I understand their disgust, but you cannot lie that Solidarity had won.”

The name “Round Table” was probably meant to be associated with Knights of King Arthur deliberations of lore. However, as it turns out, more accurately its role is determined by the place in which it was stored, the partition-era Governor’s Palace.

It’s true: they cheated us in 1989, and brazenly deceived us for nearly a quarter century. But let’s look at it from the other side. I do not think we should give up and despair. Because this means that freedom is yet to come!


Roman Misiewicz – born in 1964 in Debica, a lawyer, former editor of the “Nowa Okolica Poetow”, published inter-alia in Creativity, Fronda, Toposie; recipient of “Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna” award for 2003.

 



Categories: Communist Poland, History of Poland, III Republic