Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview

Christian National Union and the Peasant Alliance. Yet, in June, 1992, it voted to support the no-confidence vote which ended the rule of the Olszewszki government.

After this, Pawlak was elected prime minister by a coalition of oppositional parties. He was the fourth prime minister of Poland since the collapse of the communist regime, the youngest man at the age of thirty-three ever to occupy the post of prime minister. His opponents charged that the Pawlak government was tainted by its past, namely, that the party of the prime minister had been a communist satellite and that many of the party's leaders were really communists before 1989. Although some of the charges are obviously true, Pawlak himself was certainly not tainted by collaboration, since he is too young for such a charge. In 1993, the Pawlak government was replaced by another cabinet, headed by Hanna Suchocka (see Suchocka, Hanna).


Bibliography

Vinton Louisa, "Olszewski's Ouster Leaves Poland Polarized," Radio Free Europe Research Report 1.25 ( June 19, 1992), pp. 1-10.

PAX (A Catholic Lay Organization in Communist Poland). This tightly-knit, Warsaw-based group, organized around a weekly journal, was ostensibly Roman Catholic. Most of the leaders of the group came from an organization called FALANGA, a radical rightist splinter group of the National Democratic party of the interwar years. The leader of PAX during the 1930s was Boleslaw Piasecki, whose ideas came close to those of the fascists. The organization was anticommunist and anti-Semitic and was strongly nationalistic.

The FALANGA had few followers in pre-World War IIPoland. It survived the war as an underground organization fighting against both the Germans and the communists. In 1944, Piasecki fell into the hands of the Soviet Army. In spite of his past, he soon reemerged on the political scene. It has been rumored that he became an agent of the Soviet KGB. Piasecki established the so-called Progressive Catholics movement, or PAX, with its own publishing house. According to some sources, including Jozef Swiatlo, a Polish security officer who defected to the West, Piasecki saved himself by agreeing to "subvert the Catholic church from within."

Piasecki, having been a right-wing radical, was naturally closer to left-wing radicals in his ideology than to moderates. He was certainly an opportunist who was eagerly embraced by the early communist leadership in their march to totalitarian power. Piasecki himself had a strong drive to succeed in politics, and the circumstances gave him an opportunity by making a deal with the communists. He was also a realist, and cooperation with the Soviet KGB may have seemed a realistic choice. He was convinced that the next global conflict would be fought between the Soviet Union and the United States, and that the U.S. would be the winner. For the communists, Piasecki was an ally who was eager to help them while the communist organization was still weak.

In the late 1940s, when the first great conflict between the communists and the Catholic church began, PAX sided with the state. In the disputes over the charitable

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