Warsaw in early September 1988 was a city swept by an air of excitement, hope, and nervous anticipation. The government had just announced a course of action designed—or so it would seem— to set Poland on the road to economic and political well-being.
It was all grimly familiar. Exactly two years before, the government had proclaimed a sweeping amnesty for political prisoners. It would no longer “repress” or “discriminate against” anyone “for his or her convictions.” Instead, it would search for a “dialogue” with the political opposition, including “persons from the realistically oriented bodies of former Solidarity.” Censorship would be curbed; private individuals would be allowed to found “independent” journals; new electoral laws for “people’s councils” (local administrative bodies) and eventually the Sejm (parliament) would soon be put into effect....
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