The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

By Christopher Andrew; Vasili Mitrokhin | Go to book overview
Save to active project

THIRTY
THE POLISH CRISIS AND THE CRUMBLING OF THE SOVIET BLOC

In the view of both the KGB and the Soviet Politburo, the Gdańsk Agreement represented the greatest potential threat to the "Socialist Commonwealth" (the official designation of the Soviet Bloc) since the Prague Spring of 1968. On September 3, 1980 the Politburo agreed a series of "theses for discussion with representatives of the Polish leadership"--a euphemism for demands that the Poles recover the ground lost to Solidarity:

The [ Gdańsk] agreement, in essence, signifies the legalization of the anti- Socialist opposition . . . The problem now is how to prepare a counter-attack and reclaim the positions that have been lost among the working class and the people . . . It is necessary to give overriding significance to the consolidation of the leading role of the Party in society.1

The principal scapegoat for the success of Solidarity was Edward Gierek, the Polish first secretary, bitterly criticized by the Soviet ambassador, Aristov, among others, for the loss of Party control.2 The strikers at the Lenin shipyard had greeted Gierek's television appearances with derisive catcalls. Ordinary Poles summed up their feelings in one of the political jokes with which they privately mocked their Communist leaders:

QUESTION: What is the difference between Gierek and Gomulka [who had been forced to resign as first secretary in 197 0]? ANSWER: None, only Gierek doesn't realize it yet!3

On September 5 Gierek was succeeded by Stanisław Kania, the tough, heavily built and heavy-drinking Party secretary responsible for national security. The KGB in Warsaw reported a satirical comment on the changeover doing the rounds in Poland--"Better Kania than Vanya!" (better, in other words, to put up with an unpopular Polish Communist than have to face a Soviet invasion).4 It also reported that on September 6 Admiral L. Janczyszyn, the commander-in-chief of the Polish navy, had warned two Soviet admirals that military intervention would end not in "normalization," as in Prague in 1968, but in catastrophe. "If outside troops are

-517-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 702

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?