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Life under the communist crackdown

PR dla Zagranicy
John Beauchamp 13.12.2011 11:00
  • Speaking to reporter Slawek Szefs, Janusz Onyszkiewicz reminisces the imposition of Martial Law in December 1981 when he was a Solidarity activist.
On the 30th anniversary of martial law in Poland, former Solidarity activist Janusz Onyszkiewicz tells us how being imprisoned by the communists never broke his resolve for a democratic Poland.

Soldiers patrol Poniatowski Bridge, Warsaw, Dec 1981: photo - PAP

General Wojciech Jaruzelski announced that Poland was under martial law on the freezing morning of 13 December 1981, after the communist regime had spent over a year trying to contain the influence and growth of the Solidarity trade union.

Mass arrests followed, including that of Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, and many of the protests that followed were brutally crushed by security forces.

Janusz Onyszkiewicz, one of the founders of the Mazowsze regional chapter of the trade union, which included Warsaw, and one of the leading Solidarity spokesman, was also imprisoned.

Onyszkiewicz, who went on to become defence minister of Poland after the fall of communism and who is now an elected member of the European Parliament (MEP) tells reporter Slawek Szefs what life was like under the communist crackdown.

“I had my back to a white wall and in front of me were soldiers with guns,” he tells us of the moment of his arrest, 30 years ago. (pg)

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