A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 6: Gen. Drzewiecki's Interview regarding
Memorandum on Reform of the Warsaw Pact, May 8, 1997

This interview with Gen. Jan Drzewiecki, the author of Documents Nos. 4 and 5, is of interest because he is able to explain the origins and significance of those documents after the end of the Cold War. Despite his later modesty, his efforts to press for greater Polish independent action within the Warsaw Treaty were, in the setting of 1956, quite daring. It is interesting to note that in 1956 the Polish military was in the forefront of challenging the Soviets whereas in 1980–81, at the time of the Solidarity crisis, it was a reactionary force, having by that time acquired a vested interest in the alliance as it was then constituted.

Gen. Drzewiecki: One should be aware of the situation in which the memorandum came into being. Of course, there were no miracles. I was not the exclusive author; I put it down on paper. It was the result of the thoughts of many colleagues— officers, generals—with whom I cooperated at the time. The document could only have come into being against the backdrop of the changes of the time, adopted after October "1956".4 It could be that we were I. We believed that that Plenum really initiated some period of change in the history of People's Poland. The results were unpleasant "although" the document is relatively cautious. It is true that it contains theses, which sound—sounded at that time—let's say, revolutionary. But certain postulates were considered cautious because the Hungarians were planning to leave the Warsaw Pact. And how did things end up for them? We were also aware of this at the time. Someone could link it with the developments that occurred after '89. The authors and I personally at the time did not go so far in our views. It also had reform of the system as its goal, but within limits, in the framework, in which we found ourselves earlier. That is, all the theses, although they had many reforms as a goal, did not come out against the basic strategic assumption—that is, against the participation of the armed forces in the Warsaw Pact.

"Party general secretary Władysław" Gomułka took the memorandum with him when he went to Moscow for the first time after October '56, a sort of triumphant journey. At the railway stations the train was stopped, crowds of people came; they raised the banner cry to Gomułka that he should not yield in Moscow. And when he returned, similar demonstrations took place. He took the document to Moscow and left it there. And for the longest time there was no response. After that, some cosmetic changes ensued. Basic changes occurred, however, only after the reorganization of the Polish armed forces. That is, then we finally gave up on a corps structure. The armies had a divisional structure; the operational and strategic tasks of the Polish armed forces were brought up to date.

4 The coming into power of the "national communist" regime of Władysław Gomułka.

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