Polish Senate remembers bloody Poznań revolt of 1956
PR dla Zagranicy
The Polish Senate has paid tribute to workers in the western city of Poznań who revolted against the country’s communist rulers in 1956, leading to scores of deaths after the army opened fire on civilians.
Protest in 1956. The banner reads: "We demand bread". Photo: Wikimedia Commons
In a special resolution to mark the upcoming 60th anniversary of the event, senators stressed that the revolt "began a long tide of Polish workers’ struggles with communist enslavement".
On 28 June, 1956, workers from the Cegielski engineering plant (at the time named after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin) went on strike and marched through the streets to protest against the refusal of the authorities to reduce their work quotas and raise wages.
The march turned into a huge demonstration as the city’s population joined in. In clashes that lasted two days, the security police and the army opened fire, killing at least 58 people, according to Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance. Several hundred people were wounded and some 700 arrested.
The Senate resolution recalls that “13-year-old Roman Strzałkowski – one of the first victims of the clashes – became a symbol of the heroic struggle against communist dictatorship, the nation’s enslavement and the trampling of fundamental human rights”.
It also says that the memory of the Poznań rebellion will be inseparably linked to “the sight of tanks in the streets, the threat of [the then Prime Minister] Józef Cyrankiewicz that ‘the hand raised against the people’s power will be cut off’ and the beautiful words of defence lawyer Stanisław Chejmowski that ‘one does not fire shots at people calling for bread’.”
Polish historians agree that without the Poznań revolt of 1956 there would have been no workers’ protests on the Baltic coast in December 1970 and the rise of the Solidarity movement in 1980. (mk/pk)