restricted access Document No. 61: Transcript of CPSU CC Politburo Meeting, September 10, 1981
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348 Document No. 61: Transcript of CPSU CC Politburo Meeting September 10, 1981 Two days before this Soviet Politburo meeting, the first Solidarity national congress issued a message of support to workers throughout the socialist bloc, along with a similar communication to Poles around the world proclaiming their status as not just a labor union but a nationwide civic movement. Reaction by communist authorities was sharp. Jaruzelski likened the actions of the congress to “a declaration of war.” Even Western governments feared the union had gone too far in inciting the powers -that-be. Brezhnev’s response, which is almost as harsh as Jaruzelski’s, appears below. The general tenor inside the Kremlin is notably angrier than at many earlier sessions, conveying a feeling that events have taken a serious turn for the worse. Brezhnev is loathe even to speak with Kania anymore, while others call for tough action against the “hooligan elements” who are “mocking” Moscow. Ever cautious, the group settles on publishing a series of pointed articles in the press, including orchestrated rebuttals by groups of Soviet workers, and transmitting another letter to the Polish leadership (Document No. 63). […] 9. Exchange of views on the Polish question. Brezhnev: Yesterday I familiarized myself with the “Appeal to the Nations of Eastern Europe,”34 which the Polish Solidarity congress adopted. It is a dangerous and provocative document. It does not contain many words but they all strike at one point. Its authors wanted to stir up sedition in the socialist countries and rouse up groups of various kinds of apostates. I think that we cannot limit our criticism in the press about this impudent prank. What if the collectives in our major enterprises—such as, let us say, the Kirov factory, Magnitka, Kamaz and others—delivered a rebuff to these demagogues? A letter from them to the Solidarity congress would probably be hard to keep quiet. The more so since we will set aside a fitting place for it in our mass media. If the comrades agree, let us instruct the Polish Commission to pick three or four industrial collectives and help them to prepare a skilled rebuke to Solidarity. Gromyko: The situation in Poland is always getting worse. If one can say so, there is not much left of the authorities. The position of the PUWP CC and the Council of Ministers is diminishing every day. As far as a conversation with Cde. Kania, perhaps we really should not speak with him now since there was a conversation not long ago. As far as a lever such as a telephone conversation, it should not be excluded for it is not a bad means of applying pressure. 34  Originally, “Appeal to the Working People of Eastern Europe” [“Ludzie Pracy”]. 349 Brezhnev: Frankly, there is no wish to speak with Cde. Kania now, it seems to me, and no good will comes from it whatsoever. Chernenko: There were conversations at one time, good instructions were given, a discussion took place in the Crimea. But what was the use? Cdes. Kania and Jaruzelski are doing things their own way. Grishin: They themselves do not deny now that they are surrendering position after position. Zimyanin: I want to tell the Politburo what publications are being planned in connection with the Solidarity congress. One can say that the congress demonstrates the further worsening of conditions in Poland. As is known, they turned to the parliaments and people of several countries including socialist ones with their program of “renewal.” Therefore, appropriate articles are being prepared following the line of our press and TASS. The actions of the Solidarity trade union will be exposed in these materials. I consider Leonid Ilyich’s proposal to be perfectly correct—to give several collectives from major, leading enterprises the possibility to speak out. We will also try to prepare for this. Tikhonov: We will have to respond somehow, and respond concretely, to these pranks by hooligan elements that are taking place in Poland and against which the government is taking no measures at all. You know, apart from the fact that they are defiling memorials to our wars, they are drawing various kinds of caricatures of the leaders of our party and government, and are insulting the Soviet Union in every way possible, and so on. To put it another way, they are laughing at us. It seems to me that we can no longer keep silent and that we must make a protest to the Polish government in...