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Document No. 49: Memorandum of Meeting between Leonid Brezhnev, Erich Honecker, Gustáv Husák et al, in Moscow May 16, 1981 This richly detailed record presents at length the arguments of the key proponents among the Warsaw Pact leadership for replacing Poland’s Stanisław Kania and Wojciech Jaruzelski. East Germany’s Erich Honecker, along with Czechoslovakia’s Gustáv Husák, took the unusual step of asking their Soviet counterparts to meet to discuss the crisis. Although Brezhnev begins with a sharp critique of the situation in Poland, neither he nor his colleagues at the session, some of whom are members of the Politburo’s Commission on Poland, are ready to take such drastic action, in part because they do not agree with Honecker and Husák that the hard-liners they favor are suitable replacements. Once again, more calls are made to apply pressure of all kinds, but five months would pass before Moscow acted to oust Kania. Participating in the meeting on the Soviet side were Comrades [Nikolai Aleksandrovich ] Tikhonov, [Andrei Andreevich] Gromyko, [Konstantin Ustinovich] Chernenko, [Dmitrii Fyodorovich] Ustinov, [Yurii Vladimirovich] Andropov, [Konstantin Viktorovich] Rusakov, and [Georgii Khosroevich] Shakhnazarov. Comrade Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev opened the meeting with the remark that this gathering is being held at the suggestion of Comrade Erich [Honecker], to exchange mutual views, appraise the situation, and draw conclusions. We must, as he said, proceed from the fact that the situation in Poland has further deteriorated. The party is not just being attacked by Solidarity. It also finds itself in a process of dissolution, created by internal contradictions. At present this process is self-limiting due to the fear of external intervention. The information before us, concerning the preparations for the PUWP Party Congress [to be held on July 14–18, 1981], is negative. With the election of delegates to the party congress, not only are new people becoming involved, but hostile forces as well. The Tenth Plenum [held on April 29–30, 1981] approved a very weak draft for a [party] program. Thereupon, Solidarity published a document containing enemy nationalist positions, and Kania did not call them to order. Kania spoke briefly before the party aktiv in Gdańsk, like Gierek back in those days, that Poles can always come to an agreement with fellow Poles. Consequently , the events in Otwock18 are a disgrace, which encourages new anti-socialist acts. 18  In a rare incident of violence by the population during the Solidarity period, a police station was burned and a policeman almost lynched in early May 1981 in the small town of Otwock in central Poland, southeast of Warsaw. 280 281 Recently, our Comrades Andropov and Ustinov met privately with the Polish comrades in Brest, and gave them recommendations on a whole number of concrete matters.19 To prevent these matters from remaining in a narrow circle, Comrade Suslov traveled to Warsaw to talk things over with all the comrades from the Politburo one more time.20 We have delivered this information to you. Verbally, they assented to our suggestions, but in reality the situation further deteriorated. The Polish leadership is panicking from fear, they stare, as if hypnotized , at Solidarity without taking any concrete action. The PUWP can still rely on the Polish Army, the security organs, and the party aktiv, but Kania continues to be indecisive and soft; they are not prepared to take a calculated risk. Some comrades believe that [Stefan] Olszowski and [Tadeusz ] Grabski are men on whom one can rely. We must grasp, however, that a change of leadership can also have negative repercussions. We see no real personality who can assume command. We see the danger even that [Miecyslaw] Rakowski could assume this position. For us there is no other way now than strengthening the present leadership and bringing pressure to bear on the healthy forces. Comrade Viktor Kulikov worked out plans for several options to be implemented in case of emergency. To strengthen our influence over the mass media, we have sent the chairman of the Committee for Radio and Television, Comrade Lyapin, to Warsaw. To stimulate party relations between the municipality and voivodeship committees , eleven delegations headed by the first municipal secretaries will travel to the voivodeships in May/June. The youth organization is also intensifying its relations with the Polish youth, in order to exercise greater influence. For the time being, though, the opposition still wields its influence on the PUWP. That is why we must bolster our influence on the healthy...


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