30th Anniversary of the Martial Law in Poland

Posted on 13. Dec, 2011 by in Culture, Current News, History, Politics, Regulations

Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Martial Law in Poland.
Martial law in Poland (Polish: Stan wojenny, “the state of war”) refers to the period of time from December 13, 1981 to July 22, 1983, when the authoritarian government of the People’s Republic of Poland drastically restricted normal life by introducing martial law in an attempt to crush political opposition to it.

Thousands of opposition activists were interned without charge and as many as 100 people were killed. Although martial law was lifted in 1983, many of the political prisoners were not released until the general amnesty in 1986.

Pro-democracy movements such as Solidarity and other, smaller organisations were banned and their leaders, including Lech Wałęsa, detained overnight.

In the morning, thousands of soldiers in military vehicles patrolled streets of every major city. A curfew was imposed, the national borders were sealed, airports were closed, and road access to main cities was restricted. Telephone lines were disconnected, mail was subject to postal censorship, all independent organizations were delegalized, and classes in schools and at universities were suspended.

During the initial imposition of martial law, several dozen people were killed. Commanders during the crackdown claim about a dozen fatalities, while a Polish parliamentary commission in the years 1989-1991 arrived at a figure of over 90 deaths.

In the deadliest incident, nine people were killed by ZOMO paramilitary police whilst breaking a strike action in Wujek Coal Mine on December 16, 1981. People were also killed and wounded during a massive wave of demonstrations which took place on August 31, 1982.

A six-day working week was re-imposed and the mass media, public administration, health services, power stations, coal mines, sea ports, train stations, and most of the key factories were placed under military management (the employees had to follow military orders or face a court martial).

As part of the crackdown, media and educational institutions underwent “verification”, a process that tested each employee’s attitude towards the regime and to the Solidarity movement; in the result, thousands of journalists and teachers were banned from exercising their profession.

Military courts were established to bypass the normal court system, and e.g. imprison those spreading so-called “false information”. In attempt to prevent resistance, civilian phone conversations were regularly monitored by appointed operators.

The Poles actively resisted the Martial Law by organizing strikes and street marches, but any resistance to the Martial Law was brutally crushed.  The Poles continued to oppose the WRON (Military Council of National Salvation – Wojskowa Rada Ocalenia Narodowego, WRON) – many Solidarity members worked underground. They established, the so called, Revolutionary Solidarity and were involved in publishing independent newspapers, organization of street protests, broadcasting radio programs usually cut off by the government jammers). Thousands were arrested and prosecuted.

Martial Law was suspended on December 31, 1982 and terminated on July 22, 1983. Some of the restrictive legislation introduced during the martial law remained in force through the end of the eighties. The failure of the WRON and the ruling Communist Party became clear in 1989 when the Solidarity won by a land-slide in the first free election after World War II.

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Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Cicha noc, święta noc

Posted on 13. Dec, 2011 by in Culture, Holidays, music, Religion

I love Polish kolędy! Here is my favorite one:

Cicha noc, święta noc

Cicha noc, święta noc,
Pokój niesie ludziom wszem
A u żłobka Matka Święta
Czuwa sama uśmiechnięta
Nad Dzieciątka snem,
Nad Dzieciątka snem.

Cicha noc, święta noc,
Pastuszkowie od swych trzód
Biegną wielce zadziwieni,
Za anielskim głosem pieni
Gdzie się spełnił cud,
Gdzie się spełnił cud.

Cicha noc, święta noc,
Narodzony Boży Syn,
Pan wielkiego majestatu
Niesie dziś całemu światu
Odkupienie win,
Odkupienie win.

Silent Night, holy night

Silent Night, holy night
Brings peace to people everywhere
And at the manger, the Holy Mother
Watches alone, smiling,
Over the Child’s sleep,
Over the Child’s sleep.

Silent night, holy night,
The shepherds from their flocks
Run greatly surprised
After the angel’s voice announcing
Where the miracle has been fulfilled,
Where the miracle has been fulfilled.

Silent night, holy night,
God’s (new)born Son,
The Lord of great majesty
Brings today to the entire world
The redemption of sin,
The redemption of sin.

Here are 2 different versions of this carol:

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Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Old Christmas story for Polish children

Posted on 09. Dec, 2011 by in Countries, Culture, History, Holidays, Legends, Religion

This is an excerpt from “Jadwiga’s Crossing” novel devoted to Polish immigration to America. The story was told to the children to keep their patriotic feelings alive during the time when Poland lost its independence. This beautifully written, meticulously researched work is a must-read not only for Polish-Americans, but for all readers who are interested in learning about the challenges and joys of the trans-Atlantic crossing made by millions of European immigrants in the late nineteenth century. Richard and Aloysius Lutz have written a compelling tale about the hardships encountered by a group of poor Polish immigrants, viewed through the eyes of newlyweds Paul and Jadwiga Adamik. Readers are introduced to Poles and Polish folklore from several regions of then-partitioned Poland, as well as the tensions that existed between Poles and the three nations that occupied Poland in the nineteenth century: Prussia, Russia, and Austria.

“Everyone knows that in the beginning the only stars in the sky were the ones God created for Himself and His angels to see. They were very high in the sky, and no one living on the Earth could see them. 
But then God, because He was very kind, made stars for people to see, as well. He made special stars for each country, so the French had stars of their own, and the Russians, and the Germans. God had given the people of Poland so much sky – more than any other nation- that He decided that they need only one star, because they could see all the stars of all the other nations in their big sky. (…) 
It was very lonely for the Polish star, especially when the stars of other countries began to act superior because they were so many more of them. It was so lonely that sometimes she cried, but very quietly so that God would not hear. But after a while, it was so sad for the Polish star that she could not shine anymore. 
Of course God noticed this right away, so he walked over to the Polish star, and they had a talk. The lonely Polish star told God everything that was troubling her. About being so lonely, and having no other star to play with, and no one to talk with. What she said made God so sad that He cried too. 
God said to the lonely Polish star, “You must be patient, little one, and one day you will be given a tack to carry out for me that will make up for all your tears.” 
So now the Polish star stopped her tears, and she waited patiently as God told her she must. She was still a sad little star, but she knew that God would remember her, so she wept no more. 
And finally there came a special day when God summoned before Him all the stars of all sizes and nationalities. There was a Great Mission to be assigned. None of them knew what the mission was to be, but all wanted to be chosen. So all the stars crowded about the throne of God, each one trying to outshine the others so as to be noticed by God. 
God stepped down from his throne, and walked up and down the line, looking at each od the stars. They were all very quiet and very good, hoping and hoping that God would chose them. Except that down near the end of the line, there was a commotion. (…) God saw that it was his own special Polish star, so small that she had to jump about and peek around the other stars to get a look at Him. (…) 
God went back to His throne, and He took His seat. And then He said, “You, tiniest little star, little Polish star, you come here to My throne”. 
And God spoke especially to her, but all the other stars heard, too. He said, “Because you have been so patient, and so good, and have never doubted the promise I made to you, your time has come. The Great Mission shall be entrusted to you. You, among all the stars in My heaven will be the one remembered by all the peoples for all time.” 
“It is you”, God sad to her, “who is chosen to lead to lead the Wise Men to Bethlehem, where My Son shall be born. You will shine more brilliantly than any other star in the skies, and you will be known for all the ages as The Star of Bethlehem”. 
This is why the Christmas Eve is so special for all Polish people – because it is the time of their special star that leads them to the Baby Jesus. ”

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did…Read the whole book if you have a chance, it is very good.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)