Two communist-era Polish generals given jail terms
PR dla Zagranicy
Two Polish communist-era generals have been sentenced to two years in jail each for committing crimes against pro-democracy activists during the martial law period of 1981-1983.
Józef S. during sentencing. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kamiński.
The two generals, identified only as Władysław C., the chief of the Security Service (SB) in 1982, and Józef S, formerly a top official at the interior ministry, were accused of persecuting anti-communist activists.
The men drafted more than 300 trade unionists and opposition activists for three months of army training in winter at a military base in Chełmno, northern Poland. Draftees were quartered in tents, given poor clothing and footwear, and were put to useless work, such as digging ditches.
Poland's National Institute of Remembrance (IPN), which prosecutes communist-era crimes against the Polish nation, said the draftees faced worse conditions than internees.
Judge Robert Bełczącki said Władysław C. and Józef S. violated the basic human right to form and join trade unions and go on strike, adding that draftees were persecuted “on a mass scale” because of their political views.
The IPN, which had asked for suspended sentences for the communist-era generals, said the sentence was groundbreaking because previous similar cases had all been discontinued.
The retired generals' defence said they would appeal the verdict.
Martial law was introduced on 13 December 1981 by communist-era strongman General Wojciech Jaruzelski to stifle rising opposition, headed by Solidarity, the first free trade union in the communist bloc.
During martial law, Poland’s communist regime suspended political and workers’ organisations and introduced a curfew. Thousands of opposition activists were jailed and dozens were killed.
A parliamentary report compiled at the start of the 1990s said over 90 people were killed during martial law, which lasted formally until 22 July 1983.
According to some historians, as many as 1,450 anti-communists and trade unionists were called up for compulsory three-month military training across Poland between 5 November 1982 and 3 February 1983. (vb/pk)