Eastern Europe in the Post-War World

By Hubert Ripka | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
The Polish Rebellion

POZNAN RIOTS

DeStalinization in Poland and Hungary created such a wave of 'liberalization' that open revolt became inevitable. In these countries the voices of opposition and criticism made themselves heard far more clearly than they had for a long time in many of the other oppressed nations. Even before Khrushchev's attack on Stalin, Rakosi had been trying to damp down discontent. In Poland, at the same time, critics grew ever louder. At the beginning of November 1955, one supporter of the Government complained: 'The sense of the "thaw" does not lie in more intense criticism of evil symptoms (such criticism is wholesome and creative), but in ideological chaos and defeatism . . . in withdrawal. . . . from the proletarian dictatorship and the leading role of the Party in the life of our society.'1

Khrushchev only added to the 'ideological chaos' and encouraged severe criticism of the regime, and indeed of the Communist doctrine itself. After he had told the truth about Stalin at the XXth Congress of the Soviet Communists in Moscow, Warsaw announced that the decisions of the Congress must be translated into the Polish language: 'Certainly there will not be more meat, fats or milk from one day to another. Certainly wages will not rise from one day to another or from one month to the next. But the road to independent, creative businesslike thought is open to everybody. . . .'2

Even during the XXth Congress, Polish Communist pre-war leaders who had either been executed or imprisoned

____________________
1
Adam Schaff in Przeglad Kulturalny, Warsaw, November 3-9, 1955. Quoted from News From Behind The Iron Curtain, New York, March 1955.
2
Quoted from News From Behind The Iron Curtain, April 1956, p. 47.

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