restricted access Document No. 58: Record of Brezhnev–Honecker Meeting in the Crimea, August 3, 1981
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330 Document No. 58: Record of Brezhnev–Honecker Meeting in the Crimea August 3, 1981 In the wake of the troublesome Ninth PUWP Congress, Brezhnev and his Kremlin colleagues felt a certain amount of relief that the “rightist forces” did not make more dramatic inroads into the Polish party hierarchy. The loss of some hard-liners such as Tadeusz Grabski was substantially offset by other changes in the top ranks of the PUWP. Still, there was major cause for concern in the socialist camp, as this conversation with the GDR’s Erich Honecker makes abundantly clear. Brezhnev tries to put a positive spin on developments but generally agrees with Honecker’s conclusions that the party emerged considerably weaker from the congress. It is possible that Brezhnev and Gromyko were simply mollifying Honecker, who always felt the most threatened by the Polish events, but whether or not that was the case it is notable how much more attentive of their allies the Soviets had become by the late Brezhnev period as compared with earlier phases in their relationships. […] Cde. L. I. Brezhnev: […] A gigantic concern for all of us is of course the situation in Poland. Recently we have discussed Polish affairs with you and Comrade Husák in detail. We have every reason to say: the CPSU and the SED carry through a unified line in the interest of overcoming the Polish crisis and in the interest of the stabilization of the situation in this country. That also applies to the extraordinary Ninth party meeting of the PUWP. The work with the Poles in connection with the party meeting was not useless. By carrying out an entire system of measures—started by my telephone conversations with Kania and Jaruzelski , the dispatch of party delegations to the bases, to the direct appeal of the CPSU CC to the PUWP CC, we could hold the Polish leadership to not letting themselves be used by the revisionists. We have saved the centrists from a further slide to the right. The most important is, however, that the real communists have regained self-confidence, that they have seen that they can rely on us fully. The party meeting has of course not brought a radical change for the better in the situation of the party and the country. But that was not to be expected. The crisis in Poland has shaken society deeply. The people are confused, a considerable part has come under the influence of demagogues and crybabies from Solidarity’s counter-revolutionary wing. At the same time there is reason to conclude: the rightists have not succeeded in forcing the party onto a social-democratic road, to seize the leadership. The party meeting confirmed what could already be seen at the Eleventh Plenum of the PUWP CC: the majority of the party supports Kania and Jaruzelski; for them 331 there is no alternative right now. Their position was strengthened, which makes it possible to act bolder and more decisively. I have given you the record of my telephone conversation with Kania from after the party meeting.32 I recently sent him a telegram in which I posed sharp questions to him: about the scandalous spread of anti-Sovietism; about the demand of Solidarity to introduce group ownership in the socialist plants; about the danger of the creation of a new mass party—a so-called party of labor etc. Apparently overcoming the crisis in Poland will require long term efforts. We all will need to exert influence on the Polish leadership, to urge upon them consistent , offensive action against the forces of anarchy and counter-revolution. We receive information that the situation is not improving. For example, “hunger marches” are being held with participation of women and children. I think that I will have a very frank conversation here on the Crimea with Kania and Jaruzelski. I plan to ask them, how should Poland develop? As a socialist country—that is one matter, on a social-democratic road—that is another matter. In my telegram to Kania I have also pointed to these questions. The composition of the new Politburo of the PUWP CC is not definitively clear. But there are people there one can rely on. Also, Erich, let us work patiently and steadfastly in the direction of securing a necessary change in the situation . Diverging from the prepared text I would like to say that the Poles will ask for economic assistance, for credits and food supplies. Of course they will...