History of Poland (1945–1989)  

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The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 spans the period of communist rule imposed over Poland after the end of World War II. These years, while featuring general industrialization, urbanization and many improvements in the standard of living,Template:Ref label were marred by early Stalinist repressions, social unrest, political strife and severe economic difficulties.

Near the end of World War II, the advancing Soviet Red Army, along with the Polish Armed Forces in the East, pushed out the Nazi German forces from occupied Poland. In February 1945, the Yalta Conference sanctioned the formation of a provisional government of Poland from a compromise coalition, until postwar elections. Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, manipulated the implementation of that ruling. A practically communist-controlled Provisional Government of National Unity was formed in Warsaw by ignoring the Polish government-in-exile based in London since 1940.

During the subsequent Potsdam Conference in July–August 1945, the three major Allies ratified the colossal westerly shift of the Polish frontier and approved its new territory between the Oder–Neisse line and Curzon Line, which resulted in the Polish borders shrinking and resembling those of the former Piast dynasty era. Following the destruction of the Polish-Jewish population in the Holocaust, the flight and expulsion of Germans in the west, resettlement of Ukrainians in the east, and the expulsion and resettlement of Poles from the Eastern Borderlands (Kresy), Poland became for the first time in its history an ethnically homogeneous nation-state without prominent minorities. The new government solidified its political power, while the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) under Bolesław Bierut gained firm control over the country, which would remain an independent state within the Soviet sphere of influence. The July Constitution was promulgated on 22 July 1952 and the country officially became the Polish People's Republic (PRL).

Following Stalin's death in 1953, a political "thaw" allowed a more liberal faction of the Polish communists, led by Władysław Gomułka, to gain power. By the mid-1960s, Poland began experiencing increasing economic as well as political difficulties. They culminated in the 1968 Polish political crisis and the 1970 Polish protests when a consumer price hike led to a wave of strikes. The government introduced a new economic program based on large-scale loans from western creditors, which resulted in a rise in living standards and expectations, but the program meant growing integration of Poland's economy with the world economy and it faltered after the 1973 oil crisis. In 1976, the government of Edward Gierek was forced to raise prices again which led to the June 1976 protests.

This cycle of repression and reformTemplate:Ref label and the economic-political struggle acquired new characteristics with the 1978 election of Karol Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II. Wojtyła's unexpected elevation strengthened the opposition to the authoritarian and ineffective system of nomenklatura-run state socialism, especially with the pope's first visit to Poland in 1979. In early August 1980, a new wave of strikes resulted in the founding of the independent trade union "Solidarity" (Solidarność) led by Lech Wałęsa. The growing strength and activity of the opposition caused the government of Wojciech Jaruzelski to declare martial law in December 1981. However, with the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, increasing pressure from the West, and dysfunctional economy, the regime was forced to negotiate with its opponents. The 1989 Round Table Talks led to Solidarity's participation in the 1989 election. Its candidates' striking victory gave rise to the first of the succession of transitions from communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe. In 1990, Jaruzelski resigned from the presidency following the presidential election and was succeeded by Wałęsa.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "History of Poland (1945–1989)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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