History - Destalinisation and the Polish Uprising 1956


What was Destalinisation?

  • February 25th 1956 - at closed session of Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, 1500 visitors and delegates went to a speech by Khrushchev. It was on 'The Personality Cult and its Consequences'.
  • He denounced Stalin, the cult of personality he had fostered and the crimes and executions perpetrated
  • Khrushchev blamed Stalin for foreign policy errors and failure of agriculture collectivisation
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Causes of the Polish Uprising 1956

  • Stalin died March 1953. Provoked optimism in POL that the USSR control would relax, and they could follow an independent path to socialism
  • Anti-communist resistance was bolstered by destalinisation. The Skewed Wheel Club was founded in Warsaw, which discussed independence, state efficiency and the treatment of the Polish Army
  • Khrushchev made another speech dashing these hopes. He spoke of the dangers of 'individualisation'. He wanted some leniacy was not lots
  • There was poor living conditions in POL, despite contrary propaganda
  • Since 1955, tensions had been increasing in Poznan, especially at Joseph Stalin's Metal Industry where workers complained of increasing tax
  • 80% workers at this factory suddenly had increased work quotas. Petitions and letters were sent to places like Polish Ministry of Independence but they were ignored
  • On the 23rd June 1956, these workers went to Warsaw to protest because they wanted their demands met
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Events of the Polish Uprising 1956

  • 6am: 28/06/56 - workers from the factory strike and march, demanding for compensation
  • Marched to the city. Students and other workers joined in. 100.000 were gathered on the streets between 9 and 11am. They gathered at police headquarters and authorities
  • They demanded decreased prices, wage increases and law reversals. Even some police joined the crowd
  • 10am: Deteriorated. Provocateurs entered and said delegation (the 27 workers) had been arrested. This was a lie and was not true. 
  • Protestors went to the prison they thought the delegation were at. Released 100s prisoners and weapons - protestors now armed. Ransacked communist party HQ. Shots were fired into the crowd
  • Until 6pm, they seixed gvt buildings, such as radiostations (no longer broadcast comm. messages) and prison camps
  • 11am: 16 tanks and 30 cars from a garrison arrived. They fired no shots and were friendly. 
  • However, Soviet General decided to take control and instil order Soviet style. Over 10,000 more troops. Detained demonstrators, and interrogated them at an airport
  • 7.30 am: 29/06/56 - PM arrived and threatened to cut off peoples hands if they raised them against the gvt. Lasted until the 30th.
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Consequences of the Polish Uprising 1956

  • Economic: POL were no longer leaving COMECON
  • Social: There was no change for the people. They needed real change, such as withdrawl from the Warsaw Pact and COMECON
  • Political:  The POL communist party turned against Gomulka due to bitterness caused. 19-20th October - Red Army units were sent to stop Gomulka's election as they were worried about POL independence - election went ahead. Gomulka assured USSR that POL would remain a Warsaw Pact member.
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