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A. Rudzienski

A Working Class Group Resists Stalinist Terror:

The Polish Independent Socialists

(10 January 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 6, 10 February 1947, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The dispatches of A. Rudzienski, we believe, have been unrivalled in the American press for their presentation of the facts about Poland and their detailed examination of that nation’s political life. While we do not necessarily agree with every formulation which they hove contained, we believe that his dispatches have gone far to dispel the cloud of lies about the Stalinist claims to popular support in Poland. He has been the only correspondent who has offered detailed Information and Marxist analysis of the anti-Stalinist struggle.

The article printed here provides information about the Polish underground. Contrary to the Stalinist attempt to smear all oppositionists in Poland as fascists, this article offers evidence that there is not one but many underground groups battling against the Stalinist terror in Poland; that there are socialist groups in opposition; that the underground as a whole is a bloc of heterogeneous groups whose common aim is the achievement of democratic rights. We have requested Rudzienski to write further on this subject and as soon as he does, we will print his dispatches.Editor


January 10, 1947 – In previous articles we informed our readers of the “expropriation” of the Polish Socialist Party by the Stalinists, who stole the name of the old and genuine socialist party, the title of its central organ Robotnik (Worker) and even the national congresses. This bureaucratic-totalitarian expropriation of a party and of the unions of the workers has no precedent in political history.

In spite of having GPU agents imposed as leaders of the expropriated party and in spite of having this organization dominated by police measures, the Polish workers did not submit. When the old genuine Polish Socialist Party was denied the right to legality, the militants and leaders of this party entered the Stalinist-dominated “Socialist Party” and began opposition work inside of it.

The regional congresses of the Socialist Party in the industrial districts opposed the totalitarian Stalinist policies, the persecution of the peasants, the elections “bloc” and demanded electoral freedom and the right of strikes and union organization for the workers. The representative of this tendency in the party’s national council, Zulawski, protested against the Stalinist terror. The pressure of this group, supported by the working-class base, of the party, caused a conflict between the Stalinist Party and the conciliatory Polish “Socialist Party,” a conflict that threatened the basis and even the existence of the Stalinist regime in Poland. The quarrel was resolved in Moscow, under the personal auspices of the “great Stalin.”

The results of this understanding are personal concessions to the Stalinist-reformist bureaucrats and a pact directed against the working class opposition. According to dispatches from PAT (Polish telegraphic agency in London), the socialist oppositionists within the legal Polish “Socialist Party” were excluded from it.

Still they did not submit. Zulawski and his comrades formed groups of independent socialists in various industrial districts of the country. His principal base is Cracow and the industrial region around Cracow, especially Chrzanow, an industrial city near Cracow, which manufactures locomotives. (Cracow is a traditional fortress of the Socialist Party.) The independent socialists formed an electoral bloc with the Mikolojczyk peasants in the spirit of the best traditions of the worker-peasant alliance in Poland. In Cracow the workerpeasant opposition slate was headed, not by Mikolajczyk, but by the socialist leader, Zulawski. Still other slates of the socialist-populist opposition bloc were circulated through Chrzanow, Chorzow (chemical industrial district), Radomsk (metallurgical manufacturing) and throughout the city of Warsaw.

The significance of this accomplishment is of enormous importance not merely for Poland but for the entire working class movement in the Russian zone. In none of the countries dominated by Russia – Yugoslavia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia or Hungary – has anyone dared to attack the Stalinist regime so strongly as has the Polish opposition. In all of these countries the socialists remain, in greater or lesser degree, submissive to Stalinism.

Form Open Opposition

Only in Poland, after two years of terror, persecution, imprisonment, shootings and deportations, do the workers openly dare to oppose Stalinism, to form an independent socialist party of opposition and to ally themselves with the peasant opposition against the governmental bloc in the elections.

We have no illusions about the electoral results. According to the declarations of Mikolajczyk, 50,000 members of his party were jailed. In its best days, the illegal Peasants Party had 20,000 militants. The imprisonment of 50,000 populist militants signifies therefore the complete paralysis of the Peasant Party.

In addition, many socialists are prisoners, including Puzak, ex-president of the National Council of the Resistance and political leader of the Warsaw insurrection. But the reprisals of the “security police” fall in the first place on the workers and peasants at the bottom accused of being contacts with the illegal underground.

In twelve districts the electoral slates of populist candidates were cancelled on the grounds that they were suspected of being contacts of the underground.

Inter-Imperialist Conflicts

The governments of Great Britain and the United States are attempting to utilize the Polish situation. The “Western Allies” who sold out at Yalta and Potsdam in total disregard of the Polish resistance which menaced their imperialist rule, are today attempting to foment a civil war in Poland. But if the Polish people hate the Stalinist occupiers like a plague, they do not intend to shed their blood in behalf of the Anglo-American imperialists nor to pull their chestnuts out of the Russian fire for them. The Polish people will take advantage of the Anglo-American pressure against Russia to win a certain margin of political and economic freedom from Stalinist totalitarianism, without losing sight of the British betrayal in 1939 when the Polish people were left to their own fate, nor the miserable betrayal of the Warsaw insurrection of 1944, which was handed over to Hitler and Stalin by the Western imperialists. Nor will the Polish workers and peasants forget this election easily, even though the proverb says that in Poland memory does not exist.

The proletariat of Poland and the poor and rebellious peasants, however much they hate Russian imperialists, do not want a new war and do not want to be used as a spearhead of American imperialism. The Polish proletariat, in alliance with the radical peasants, is fighting for a socialist Poland, for a socialist Europe without spheres of influence and imperialist zones.

The formation of the independent socialist party and the worker-peasant bloc openly opposed to Stalinism, demonstrates the sound class instinct of the Polish proletariat, its enormous revolutionary dynamism and its inexhaustible capacity for resistance. Even if this movement is for the moment led by political centrists, it merits the warmest support from the international proletariat because its social and political implications are revolutionary.

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