Wojciech Jaruzelski

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Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski (Polish: [ˈvɔi̯t͡ɕɛx jaruˈzɛlskʲi] ; 6 July 1923 – 25 May 2014) was a retired Polish military officer and communist politician. He was the last communist leader of Poland from 1981 to 1989, Prime Minister from 1981 to 1985 and the country's head of state from 1985 to 1990. He was also the last commander-in-chief of the Polish People's Army (LWP). He resigned from power after the Polish Round Table Agreement in 1989 that led to democratic elections in Poland.

Early life and military career

Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski was born on 6 July 1923 in Kurów, into a family of gentry. He was raised on the family estate near Wysokie (in the vicinity of Białystok). He was educated in a Catholic school during the 1930s.

On 1 September 1939, the September Campaign started when Poland was invaded by Germany, with the latter country aided by another invasion begun sixteen days later by the Soviet Union. The invasions resulted in the defeat of Poland by the following month, and its partition between Soviet and German control. Jaruzelski and his family fled to Lithuania and stayed with some friends there. However, a few months later, after Lithuania and the other Baltic states were forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, Jaruzelski and his family were captured by the army of the Soviet Union, and deported to Siberia. In 1940 at the age of sixteen, Jaruzelski was sent to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, where he performed forced labour in the Karaganda coal mines. During his labour work, having experienced snow blindness, he suffered permanent damage to his eyes and back. The damage to his eyes forced him to wear dark sunglasses most of the time, which became his trademark.

Jaruzelski's father died in 1942 from dysentery. His mother and sister survived the war (mother died in 1966). Jaruzelski was selected for enrollment into the Soviet Officer Training School by the Soviet authorities.During his time in the Kazakh Republic, Jaruzelski wanted to join the non-Soviet controlled Polish exile army led by Władysław Anders, but in 1943, by which time the Soviet Union was fighting in Europe against Germany in the Eastern Front, he joined the Polish army units being formed under Soviet command. He served in the Soviet-sponsored First Polish Army during the war. He participated in the Soviet military takeover of Warsaw and the Battle of Berlin, both of which occurred in 1945. By the time the war ended that year, he had gained the rank of lieutenant. He "further credited himself in Soviet eyes" by engaging in combat against the Polish Home Army, an anti-communist organization, from 1945 to 1947.

After the end of the war, Jaruzelski graduated from the Polish Higher Infantry School, an event which was followed by a graduation from the General Staff Academy. He joined Poland's communist party, the Polish United Workers Party, in 1948 and started to denounce people for the Soviet supervised Main Directorate of Information of the Polish Army using the cover name Wolski. In the first post-war years, he was among the military fighting the Polish anti-communist guerrillas ("cursed soldiers") in the Świętokrzyskie region. A BBC News profile of Jaruzelski says that his career "took off after the departure [from Poland] in 1956 of the Soviet Field Marshal, Konstantin Rokossovsky", who had been Poland's Commander in Chief and Minister of Defence. Jaruzelski became the chief political officer of the Polish armed forces in 1960, its chief of staff in 1964; and he became the Polish Minister of Defense in 1968, four years after he was elected to be a member of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party. He participated in an antisemitic campaign in the army, during which more than 1000 Jewish officers were demoted and expelled from the army. Even the non-Jewish minister of defence, Marshal Marian Spychalski was persecuted and Jaruzelski obtained his post.

In August 1968 General Jaruzelski as the minister of defense ordered the 2nd Army under General Florian Siwicki (of the "LWP" ) to invade Czechoslovakia, resulting in military occupation of northern Czechoslovakia until 11 November 1968 when under his orders and agreements with the Soviet Union his Polish troops were withdrawn and replaced by the Soviet Army. In 1970, he was involved in the successful plot against Władysław Gomułka, which led to the appointment of Edward Gierek as Communist Party General Secretary. There is some question whether he took part in organizing the brutal suppression of striking workers; or whether his orders to the communist military led to massacres in the coastal cities of Gdańsk, Gdynia, Elbląg and Szczecin. As Minister of Defense general Jaruzelski was ultimately responsible for 27,000 troops used against unarmed civilians. He claims that he was circumvented, which is why he never apologized for his involvement, but he had an option of resigning open to him, especially after the resignation of foreign minister Adam Rapacki, and Jaruzelski didn't. Jaruzelski became a candidate member for the Politburo of the Polish United Workers' Party, the chief executive body of the party, obtaining full membership the following year.

Leader of the Polish military government

On 11 February 1981, Jaruzelski was named Prime Minister of Poland. On 18 October, Stanisław Kania was ousted as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party after a Soviet bug caught him criticising his Soviet masters. Jaruzelski was elected his successor, becoming the only professional soldier to become leader of a ruling European Communist party.

A fortnight after taking power, Jaruzelski met with Solidarity head Lech Wałęsa and Catholic primate Józef Glemp, and hinted that he wanted to bring the church and the union in a sort of coalition government. However, he intended all along to crush Solidarity. As early as September, while he was still merely prime minister, he met with his aides to find an excuse to impose martial law. On 13 December, citing purported recordings of Solidarity leaders planning a coup, Jaruzelski proclaimed martial law. A Military Council of National Salvation was formed, with Jaruzelski as chairman. A BBC News profile of Jaruzelski contends that the establishment of martial law was "an attempt to suppress the Solidarity movement."

According to Jaruzelski, martial law was necessary to avoid a Soviet invasion. In a May 1992 interview with Der Spiegel, Jaruzelski said:

“ Given the strategic logic of the time, I probably would have acted the same way if I had been a Soviet general. At that time, Soviet political and strategic interests were threatened. ”

However at a press conference in September 1997 Viktor Kulikov, former supreme commander of Warsaw Pact forces, denied that the Soviet Union had either threatened or intended to intervene. According to Politburo minutes from 10 December 1981, Yuri Andropov stated "We do not intend to introduce troops into Poland. That is the proper position, and we must adhere to it until the end. I don't know how things will turn out in Poland, but even if Poland falls under the control of Solidarity, that's the way it will be."

Jaruzelski also claimed in 1997 that Washington had given him a "green light", stating that he had sent Eugeniusz Molczyk to confer with Vice President George H. W. Bush and Bush had agreed with Molczyk that martial law was the lesser of two evils. Whether this meeting with the American vice president occurred is disputed. While it is erroneously cited, Harvard historian Mark Kramer has pointed out that no documents support Jaruzelski's claim.

Historical evidence released under Russian President Boris Yeltsin has been brought to light indicating that the Soviet Union did not plan to invade Poland. In fact, Jaruzelski actually tried to persuade the Soviets to invade Poland in order to support martial law, only to be sternly turned down. This left the Solidarity "problem" to be sorted out by the Polish government (see also Soviet reaction to the Polish crisis of 1980–1981). However, the exact plans of the Soviet Union at that time have never been determined. Jaruzelski, however, has justified cracking down by alleging that the threat of Soviet intervention was quite likely had he not dealt with Solidarity internally. This question, as well as many other facts about Poland in the years 1945–1989, are presently under the investigation of government historians at the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, IPN), whose publications reveal facts from the Communist-era archives. Additionally, there are numerous confirmations from Czech army officers of the time speaking of Operation Krkonoše, plan of armed invasion of Poland, because of which many units of the Czechoslovak People's Army were stationed on highest alert, ready for deployment within hours.

In 1982 he helped reorganize the Front of National Unity, the organization the Communists used to manage their satellite parties, as the Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth.

In 1985, Jaruzelski resigned as prime minister and defence minister and became chairman of the Polish Council of State – a post equivalent to that of president of Poland. However, his power centered on and firmly entrenched in his coterie of "LWP" generals and lower ranks officers of the Polish Communist Army.


The policies of Mikhail Gorbachev also stimulated political reform in Poland. By the close of the tenth plenary session in December 1988, the Communist Party was forced, after strikes, to approach leaders of Solidarity for talks.

From 6 February to 15 April 1989, negotiations were held between 13 working groups during 94 sessions of the roundtable talks. These negotiations "radically altered the shape "of the Polish government and society", and resulted in an agreement which stated that a great degree of political power would be given to a newly created bicameral legislature. It also created a new post of president to act as head of state and chief executive. Solidarity was also declared a legal organization. During the following Polish elections the Communists were allocated 65 percent of the seats in the Sejm, Solidarity won all the remaining elected seats, and 99 out of the 100 seats in the fully elected Senate were also won by Solidarity-backed candidates. Jaruzelski won the presidential ballot by one vote on 19 July 1989.

Jaruzelski was unsuccessful in convincing Wałęsa to include Solidarity in a "grand coalition" with the communists, and Jaruzelski resigned his position of general secretary of the Polish Communist Party on 29 July 1989. Mieczyslaw Rakowski succeeded him as the general secretary of the party.

The Communists' two allied parties broke their long-standing alliance, forcing Jaruzelski to appoint Solidarity's Tadeusz Mazowiecki as the country's first non-Communist prime minister since 1948. Jaruzelski resigned as Poland's leader in 1990. He was succeeded by Wałęsa in December. Subsequently, Jaruzelski faced charges for a number of actions such as murder that he committed while he was Defense Minister during the Communist period.

On 31 January 1991, General Jaruzelski retired from the army.

After retirement

In an interview conducted in 2001, Jaruzelski said that he believes communism failed, that he is a social democrat, and that he backed Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who at that time was the President of Poland, as well as Leszek Miller, who would later become the Prime Minister of Poland.

In May 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded a medal commemorating the 60th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany to Jaruzelski. Other former leaders awarded the medal include former Romanian King Michael I. Czech President Václav Klaus criticized this step, claiming that Jaruzelski was a symbol of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Jaruzelski said that he had apologized and that the decision on the August 1968 invasion had been a great "political and moral mistake".

On 28 March 2006, Jaruzelski was awarded a Siberian Exiles Cross by Polish President Lech Kaczyński. However, after making this fact public Kaczyński claimed that this was a mistake and blamed the bureaucracy for giving him a document containing 1293 names without notifying him of Jaruzelski's presence within it. After this statement Jaruzelski returned the cross.

On 31 March 2006, the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) charged him with committing communist crimes, mainly the creation of a criminal military organization with the aim of conducting crimes (mostly concerned with the illegal imprisonment of people). The second charge involves the incitement of state ministers to commit acts beyond their competence. Jaruzelski has avoided most court appearances citing poor health. In December 2010, Jaruzelski suffered from severe pneumonia, and in March 2011, he was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Wojciech's wife Barbara has threatened to file for divorce in 2014 after catching his nurse Małgorzata in a compromising position with him.


Jaruzelski was a controversial person in Poland. Some people, many of them a part of the "Solidarity generation", have a highly negative opinion of him, believing that Jaruzelski "is little short of a traitor", even comparing his philosophy of "a strong Poland within a Soviet dominated bloc" to Vidkun Quisling's philosophy of a similar status for Norway within the Nazi controlled hemisphere. Opinion polls, as of 15 May 2001, suggest that a majority of the Polish people are open to agreeing with his explanation that martial law was implemented to prevent a Soviet invasion. Documents available tell another story; namely, that Jaruzelski openly lobbied for Soviet intervention. In interviews in Russian Media (Rosiiska gazieta for example) he has been presented as the harbinger of Poland's democracy.

Written works

Jaruzelski, Wojciech (1999). Różnić się mądrze (English translation: To Differ Wisely).

Jaruzelski, Wojciech (2008). "Być może to ostatnie słowo (wyjaśnienia złożone przed Sądem)" (English translation:"It may be my last word (explanations given in the Court)").

Honours and awards

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia. Polish
  • Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari
  • Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta – 5 November 1948; previously awarded the Knight's Cross
  • Order of the Builders of People's Poland
  • Order of the Banner of Labour, 1st Class
  • Cross of Grunwald, 3rd class — 2 September 1945
  • Cross of Valour (twice) – 24 June 1945, 14 January 1946
  • Silver Cross of Merit – 20 July 1945
  • Silver Medal "for meritorious Field of Glory" (three times) – 4 February 1945, 27 March 1945, 12 May 1945
  • Medal for taking part in the fighting in defense of people's power
  • Medal of the 10th-Anniversary of People's Poland – 1954
  • Medal of the 30th-Anniversary of People's Poland – 1974
  • Medal of the 40th-Anniversary of People's Poland – 1984
  • Medal for Warsaw, 1939–1945 – 1945
  • Medal for Odra, Nysa, the Baltic
  • Medal of Victory and Freedom 1945
  • Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals of the Armed Forces in the Service of the Fatherland
  • Medal "For participation in the battle for Berlin"
  • Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals Medal "Merit for National Defense" – 1973, 1968 and 1966
  • Medal of the National Education Commission
  • Medal Pro Memoria – 2005
  • Gold Badge of them. Janek Krasicki
  • Polish State Millennium Badge
  • Order of Lenin (USSR) – 1968 and 1983
  • Order of the October Revolution (USSR) – 1973
  • Order of the Red Banner (USSR) – 1978
  • Order of Friendship of Peoples (USSR) – 1973
  • Medal "For the Capture of Berlin" (USSR)
  • Jubilee Medal "In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary since the Birth of Vladimir Il'ich Lenin" (USSR) – 1970
  • Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945" (USSR)
  • Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945" (USSR) – 1972
  • Badge of the 25th anniversary of Victory in Great Patriotic War 1941–1945 (USSR) – 1970
  • Jubilee Medal "Thirty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945" (USSR) – 1975
  • Jubilee Medal "Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945" (USSR) – 1985
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (USSR) – 1968
  • Jubilee Medal "60 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (USSR) – 1978
  • Jubilee Medal "70 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (USSR) – 1988
  • Medal of Zhukov (Russia) – 1996
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945" (Russian Federation) – 1995
  • Jubilee Medal "60 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945" (Russian Federation) – 2005
  • Order of Sukhbaatar (Mongolia) – 1977
  • Order of Red Banner (Mongolia) – 1983
  • Order of Georgi Dimitrov (Bulgaria) – 1983
  • Medal of 30th anniversary of the Bulgarian Armed Forces (Bulgaria) – 1974
  • Order of Red Banner (CSSR) – 1971
  • Collars of the Order of the White Lion (CSSR) – 1978
  • Order of Klement Gottwald (CSSR) – 1983
  • Medal "For Strengthening Military Cooperation" (USSR) – 1979
  • Order Of The National Flag (North Korea) – 1977
  • Order of Jose Marti (Cuba) – 1983
  • Scharnhorst Order (GDR) – 1975
  • Sash of the Order of the Star of the Socialist Republic of Romania (Romania) – 1983
  • Gold Medal "Virtutea Ostăşească" (Romania) – 1971
  • Order of Red Banner (Hungary) – 1977
  • Order Flags of Diamond Class I (Hungary) – 1983
  • Order of the Gold Star (Vietnam) – 1983
  • Commander of the Order of the Crown (Belgium) – 1967
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece) – 1987
  • Commander of the Legion of Honour (France) – 1989
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry (Portugal) – 1975
  • Knight Grand Cross with Ribbon of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy) – 1989

Source: wikipedia.org, news.lv

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        Relation nameRelation typeBirth DateDeath dateDescription
        1Barbara JaruzelskaBarbara JaruzelskaWife00.00.193029.05.2017
        2Tadeusz GajcyTadeusz GajcySchoolmate08.02.192216.08.1944
        3Stanisław KociołekStanisław KociołekCoworker03.05.193301.10.2015
        4Yegor  LigachyovYegor LigachyovCoworker29.11.192007.05.2021
        5Elena  CeaușescuElena CeaușescuFamiliar07.01.191625.12.1989
        6Nicolae CeaușescuNicolae CeaușescuFamiliar, Idea mate26.01.191825.12.1989
        7Yasser ArafatYasser ArafatFamiliar24.08.192911.11.2004
        8Anna GermanAnna GermanFamiliar14.02.193625.08.1982
        9Robert MaxwellRobert MaxwellFamiliar10.06.192305.11.1991
        10George BushGeorge BushFamiliar12.06.192430.11.2018
        11Валентина ПарсадановаВалентина ПарсадановаFamiliar07.01.192828.08.2020
        12Margot HoneckerMargot HoneckerFamiliar17.04.192706.05.2016
        13József Antall Jr.József Antall Jr.Familiar08.04.193212.12.1993
        14Helmut SchmidtHelmut SchmidtFamiliar23.12.191810.11.2015
        15Mikhail  GorbachevMikhail GorbachevFamiliar02.03.193130.08.2022
        16Prince PhilipPrince PhilipFamiliar10.06.192109.04.2021
        17Jacques ChiracJacques ChiracFamiliar29.11.193226.09.2019
        18Gustáv HusákGustáv HusákFamiliar10.01.191318.11.1991
        Adam KowalikEmployee15.12.193317.12.2016
        20Michał JaniszewskiMichał JaniszewskiEmployee15.06.192603.02.2016
        21Władysław JabłońskiWładysław JabłońskiEmployee12.12.193205.04.2013
        22Czesław KiszczakCzesław KiszczakEmployee19.10.192505.11.2015
        Marcin NurowskiEmployee07.09.193421.07.2017
        24Josip Broz  TitoJosip Broz TitoIdea mate25.05.189204.05.1980
        25János KádárJános KádárIdea mate26.05.191206.07.1989
        26БанзайБанзайIdea mate23.05.196103.08.2014
        27Yuri AndropovYuri AndropovIdea mate15.06.191409.02.1984
        28Konstantin ChernenkoKonstantin ChernenkoIdea mate24.09.191110.03.1985
        29Erich HoneckerErich HoneckerIdea mate25.08.191229.05.1994
        30Leonid BrezhnevLeonid BrezhnevIdea mate19.12.190610.11.1982
        31Władysław GomułkaWładysław GomułkaIdea mate06.02.190501.09.1982

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