The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944-1949

By Norman Naimark; Leonid Gibianskii | Go to book overview

7 The Gomułka Alternative: The Untravelled Road

Inessa Iazhborovskaia translated by Anna M. Cienciala

For almost half a century, Soviet scholarly treatment of the regimes of People's Democracies was dictated by apologetic interpretations, ideological caveats, and the inaccessability of important sources. After the liberation from ideological pressures, and the opening of formerly inaccessible archival materials, historians finally were able to undertake a more objective analysis of the establishment and development of the regimes of People's Democracies in Central and Southeastern Europe. In the case of Poland, the key task is to elucidate the following issues: what was the model of political relations; how did the Stalinist regimes of the People's Democracies take root; and in what manner did totalitarian mechanisms and methods of rule become consolidated in them?

The development of political relations in Poland, and the formation of the Polish People's Democracy, are of particular interest because the conditions in which they came in to being could be likened to "laboratory" conditions. That is, the political arena in Poland had been swept virtually clean with the "liquidation" of the Polish state. Moreover, the authority of the Polish government in London had been undermined, and only a narrow spectrum of forces remained in the resistance movement. As a result, the task of shaping the new regime was left largely to the Polish Workers' Party (PPR), which did not possess any significant political base.

In the post-Yalta world, these factors determined that Comintern

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