From Gomulka to Gierek: The Moral Decay of the Polish Bureaucracy

From Gomulka to Gierek: The Moral Decay of the Polish Bureaucracy

WLADYSLAW GOMLJLKA’S SON told me in 1957: “Only fools can believe that there are differences in theory or ideology in the Party. The only differences are purely personal; it is merely a struggle to have one’s hand in the till. They will never fool me again. Never again.”

This pessimistic realism expressed by Ryszard Strzelecki has been confirmed by recent events in Poland. Edward Gierek, the new party leader, and his associates are no different from their predecessors. They have no plans for changing the structure of the Polish government, which will surely lead to the same problems that caused Gomulka’s fall. Gierek does not even have the advantage of coming to power as a result of popularity, as did Gomulka in 1956.

In 1955-56, Poland had undergone an acute crisis. There were demands for change among the people, not only among peasants and workers, but also in the government and the Party hierarchy. When the Communist Central Committee convened on October 19, 1956, the old Stalinist functionaries were aware of an atmosphere of hatred. They could not even count on the support of the lower-echelon security officers. Even the Polish censors announced publicly that they would no longer suppress the healthy criticism of the people. This was our Polish October. Under these pressures the Central Committee decided upon substantial changes.

It was by no means of its own free will that the Committee carried out the popular program of 1956: democratization, estaba new and reasonable economic system, and the purge of the Stalinists and roughnecks who held the highest positions. They were made to realize that the loosening of Soviet control was crucial not only for the fulfillment of national aspirations, but to the solution of economic and political problems. To secure Polish sovereignty, and put an end to economic exploitation, the battalions of Russian supervisors had to be sent back to Russia. And to satisfy the people, the hero of nationalism, Wladyslaw Gomulka, would be returned to power.