Politburo. Report on results of a meeting between Andropov, Ustinov and representatives (Kania, Jaruzelski) of the Polish government and Party (8 pp). [R 9 April 1981, Politburo, para 3]
[page one of eight]
MEETING OF CPSU POLITBURO
2 April 1981
Comrade K.U. CHERNENKO
Comrades in attendance:
Yu.V. Andropov, M.S. Gorbachev, V.V. Grishin,
A.A.Gromyko, A.P. Kirilenko, M.A. Suslov,
D.F. Ustinov, P.N. Demichev, V.V. Kuznetsov,
M.S. Solomentsev, I.V. Kapitonov, V.I. Dolgikh,
3. Results of a meeting between Comrades Andropov and Ustinov and the Polish Friends
ANDROPOV. Comrade D.F. Ustinov and I, as agreed with the Polish comrades, travelled to the border and held a meeting there in a train carriage not far from Brest. The meeting began at 9:00 p.m. and ended at 3:00 a.m. so that the Polish comrades would not draw attention that they had gone off somewhere.
Our task was to listen closely to the Polish comrades and to offer our interpretation, as we agreed at the Politburo session.
The general impression from our meeting with the comrades was that they were very tense and nervous, and it was obvious that they were worn out. Comrade Kania said candidly that it’s very difficult for them to work under constant pressure from Solidarity and the antisocialist forces. At the same time, they declared that following the 26th Congress of the CPSU [23 February-3 March 1981], the situation in Poland is beginning to stabilize. Kania said that they had held electoral meetings in the majority of the primary party organizations and it was noteworthy that not a single person from Solidarity had been included among the delegates: our candidates, in other words, were chosen for the [PZPR] congress. Then Comrade Kania felt compelled to say that recent events, particularly the [27 March 1981] warning strike and the events in Bydgoszcz, had shown, “The counterrevolution is stronger than we are”. They were especially frightened by the warning strike and, even more, by the prospect of a general strike. They were doing everything possible to prevent a general strike.
What tasks do we face? asked Comrade Kania. Above all they had to restore the people’s trust in the Party, restore economic life, and eliminate strikes and work stoppages at factories. Of course, the Polish comrades have no experience in struggling against these negative phenomena. Therefore they don’t currently know what methods to use and are lurching from one side to another. As for bringing in troops, they flatly said it is quite impossible; just as it is impossible to introduce martial law. They say that people won’t understand it and then they will be powerless to do anything. During the conversation the comrades emphasized that they will restore order using their own means. They have in mind that the 9th Congress, for which they are now preparing, will not enable Solidarity to field its own candidates as delegates. In the Party organizations they are selecting good workers as delegates for the congress.
With regard to martial law, it would have been possible to introduce it long ago. You know what the introduction of martial law would mean. It would help them smash the onslaught of the counterrevolutionary forces and other rowdy elements, and put an end once and for all to the strikes and anarchy in economic life. A draft document on the introduction of martial law has been prepared with the help of our comrades, and these documents must be signed. The Polish comrades said: But how can we sign these documents, when they haven’t yet been approved by the Sejm [parliament], etc. We said that there’s no need to submit them to the Sejm, etc. This is a document that lays down what you must do when you introduce martial law.
We said that you, Comrades Kania and Jaruzelski, must now yourselves sign the document so that we know you agree with it and will know what must be done during martial law. If the time comes to introduce martial law, there’ll be no time then to draw up measures for introducing martial law, they must be prepared beforehand. That’s the point.
After our explanation, Comrades Kania and Jaruzelski said that they would look over the document on 11 April and sign it.
Andropov and Ustinov then asked what Comrade Jaruzelski would say in his speech to the parliament. He spoke at length “but not clearly”. He told them he would talk about banning strikes for two months. Two months will pass quickly, they responded, and then the strikes will start again. Broad political measures needed to be implemented now. To explain, at least, the shortages of bread and other food products in Poland.
ANDROPOV. Why is this happening? Because, of course, the strikes everywhere are disorganising the entire economy, that’s why. Billions and billions of zlotys are lost with each strike, but the workers don’t realize that, and all the blame falls on the government. The government, the Party’s Central Committee, and the Politburo take the blame while the ringleaders and organizers of the strikes stand to one side and appear to be defending the workers’ interests. But if you look at the real causes, we told them, those who are mainly to blame for all these economic hardships are Solidarity and the strike organizers. That’s how things are. Why can’t the workers be informed about all this?
There’s a good deal of talk in your country about creating a National Front of Salvation for Poland. Such conversations are taking place in a number of regions. The idea is to include veterans of the revolutionary movement, military commanders such as Rola-Zymierski, and others in this National Salvation Front for Poland. This, too, might be noted down. Or, for example, take the talk now in the Federal Republic of Germany about Silesia and Gdansk being territories annexed to Poland and giving them back to the FRG. Why not play up this issue? I think that the people could be brought together over such issues. You must stir up the people.
We said that we don’t object to the creation of a National Front of Salvation for Poland. But this front must not be a substitute for the Party and government. …
The Polish comrades said that three workers should be brought into the Politburo. They quoted Lenin who suggested bringing workers into the Politburo. We said we had not had workers in the Politburo but if you really have a need for that now then you can introduce, perhaps, one worker but not necessarily three into the Politburo. An additional number of workers could be elected to the Central Committee, in other words, these are all measures that will enable the Party to unite and consolidate. For example, you talk about bringing workers into the oversight agencies. That would not be a bad idea.
We told Kania outright, Every day you keep backing down and retreating. You must take action; you must approve military and emergency measures. …
Concerning support for the Politburo and on whom it might rely. Their army numbers 400,000 soldiers, the internal affairs ministry 100,000, and the reservists 300,000 — that is, 800,000 in all. Kania said that tensions have now diminished somewhat, and they have succeeded in preventing a general strike. But how long that calm will continue is difficult to say.
[What had the two PZPR leaders been doing since the April meeting? Kania was on his way to Gdansk and Jaruzelski was rewriting his speech to the Sejm. There were many differences of view between the two men, however, on individual matters.]
ANDROPOV. Comrade Jaruzelski has again requested that he be released from his post as prime minister. We explained to him in simple terms that he must remain in that post and give a worthy performance of duties with which he’s entrusted. We emphasized that the enemy is preparing its forces to seize power.
Other members of the Politburo, on the other hand, such as Comrades Olszowski and Grabski, have embraced a somewhat different and firmer position than that of the leadership. We must maintain contacts with them. In particular, they have proposed organising an underground Politburo and to carry on work in that fashion.
They got this idea, apparently, from recommendations given to them by Comrade Zhivkov [Bulgaria]. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but they say that Comrade Zhivkov gave them such advice. We must also draw a conclusion from this: that if the leaders of fraternal parties are going to offer the Polish friends such advice, we of course will gain nothing from it and will only lose by it.
SUSLOV. Perhaps we must prepare information for the fraternal parties.
GROMYKO. But under no circumstances should we mention that a meeting took place.
ANDROPOV. Yes, it’s quite impossible to refer to the meeting.
USTINOV. Yu.V. Andropov has described everything very well. Therefore I want briefly to mention the following. First, and it could not be mistaken, the dejected condition of the men we talked to. Nevertheless, it seems to me, we still need to preserve this pair, Kania and Jaruzelski, and consolidate relations between them. The members of their Politburo have disagreements. They are astonished most of all by the strikes, of course, they’re very afraid of them. We asked why they had changed their decision on Bydgoszcz. As you know, they didn’t want to back down on the Bydgoszcz conflict, but then they did back down. They asserted that they were facing the threat of a general strike. Next we asked why they were paying workers during strikes. They say that Solidarity has demanded this. We responded that this meant they were just adopting Solidarity’s own line. On the question of Rural Solidarity, they have not yet reached a final decision, but they have already recognized the de facto existence of this organization. …
To dispel their fear about introducing a state of emergency or martial law, we gave the example of many countries in which a state of emergency or martial law was introduced as soon as there was even a hint of an uprising or the start of some sort of disorder. Take Yugoslavia. When demonstrations were held in Kosovo, they introduced martial law and no one said a word about it. It’s simply incomprehensible to us why the Poles are afraid to introduce emergency rule.
Yury Vladimirovich [Andropov] spoke well about the plans for introducing martial law. We said that it is necessary to sign the plan drafted by our comrades.
I then directly asked them, as we agreed in the Politburo, what will happen in Poland, what sort of economic state will it be in, if you botch things up there? At the moment Poland is receiving all its oil for about half-price from the Soviet Union. It is also receiving cotton, iron ore, and many other goods. If it doesn’t receive these goods, what then? Why isn’t this fact being explained and brought to the attention of the workers? It could be a powerful weapon. You must speak about this to the workers; you must also speak about it to Solidarity. Solidarity has now entrenched itself at the largest factories. These factories must be taken away from Solidarity. You have good factories where the workers support the management. For example, the television factory. You can and must support the branch trade unions and conduct active work with them. Jaruzelski then said to me again that he isn’t able to do such work and no longer has any strength, and he urged that he be released from his post. […]