political reforms. On August 25-26 1956, nearly a million people traveled to the monastery of Jasna Gora at Czestochowa to commemorate the liberation of Poland from the Tatar armies three hundred years before. They demanded a similar liberation from Soviet domination.
The party leadership offered the chance to Wladislaw Gomulka to return to power (he had been released from prison in 1955 and was living in retirement), but with all sorts of restrictions. Gomulka knew that he was the people's choice, and he refused to accept the conditions. He insisted on a free hand. He declared the collectivization of the land to be a costly failure, and announced that he would insist on the primacy of Polish national interests in Poland's relations with other states.
Ochab had little choice, and he finally acceded to Gomulka's demands. He realized that only Gomulka could still save Soviet-style socialism in Poland. The Soviet leaders who were opposed to the reemergence of Gomulka as Poland's communist chief were finally convinced that they, too, had little choice. They realized that the choice was civil war, which could turn into a national uprising against the Soviet Union. Ochab was, therefore, replaced by Gomulka in October 1956, and he retired from political life.
Bethell Nicholas, Gomulka: His Poland and His Communism ( London, 1972); Syrop Konrad , Spring in October: The Story of the Polish Revolution of 1956 ( London, 1958); Rothschild Joseph, Return to Diversity. A Political History of Eastern Europe since 1945 ( Oxford, 1992).
Oder-Neisse Line. At the conferences of the Allied leaders at Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam, there were many discussions of Poland's postwar borders. Joseph Stalin insisted that the country's boundaries in the east with the Soviet Union should be moved to the west, since Poland had acquired the eastern territories in the war with the Soviet Union in 1920. Furthermore, the eastern lands of Poland contained large Great Russian, White Russian, and Ukrainian populations. The territory in question amounted to 180,000 square kilometers or 69,479 square miles. In order to compensate Poland for the loss, about 103,000 square kilometers of German lands in the western part of Poland were to be ceded to the postwar Polish state, up to the line of the Oder-Neisse rivers. The Allied leaders eventually accepted these proposals, and Poland was "moved to the west."
According to the agreement, Polish citizens living in the eastern lands were to be removed More than 3 million Germans were expelled and settled in the Allied occupational zones of Germany. Polish-German national antagonisms were, thus, ensured, and Poland's reliance on Soviet guarantees of its security was made a necessity. The newly acquired territories, officially called the "recovered lands" by the successive Polish governments, included the cities of Gdansk ( Danzig), Wroclaw ( Breslau), Szczeczin ( Stettin), and parts of East Prussia, as well as the entire industrial basin of Silesia.