Poland, Bridge for the Abyss? An Interpretation of Developments in Post-War Poland

By Richard Hiscocks | Go to book overview

XI. THE MAIN DEVELOPMENTS
SINCE 'OCTOBER', 1956-61

IN the Sejm elections of January 1957 the Polish people gave sweeping approval of Gomułka's October programme. But it was by no means certain what the programme implied. This was revealed gradually. During the five years that followed Gomułka's return to power many positive achievements of the new régime were consolidated, while some of the high hopes entertained by the revisionists and by the Polish people as a whole were progressively disappointed.


(a) EXTERNAL RELATIONS

During his negotiations with the Soviet leaders in the autumn of 1956, Gomułka purchased for his country a large measure of internal freedom in return for diplomatic compliance. As regards internal affairs, it would not have been correct to describe Poland since 'October' as a satellite. One Pole with experience in the West said that in 1956 his country ceased to be a colony and became a dominion. Poland did not gain full internal freedom, but the statement had some point.1

As a Marxist, Gomułka was contented that his country should support world Communism. For two different but compelling reasons he was also willing that Poland should be aligned diplomatically with her powerful neighbour, which under Czarist and under Soviet rule had understandably never been popular with the Polish people. In the first place, Gomułka was a realist, and there was no feasible alternative to this alignment. The Soviet government considered it essential to have forces stationed in East Germany; the lines of communication passed through Polish territory; and it was therefore necessary that Poland should be a reliable member of the Soviet diplomatic

____________________
1
From the economic and military points of view it cannot be said that Canada's internal freedom is complete, in relation to the United States. Some Poles optimistically like to compare their situation as neighbours of the Soviet Union with Canada's, as a neighbour of the United States.

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