restricted access Document No. 64: Information on Brezhnev–Kania Telephone Conversation, September 15, 1981
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360 Document No. 64: Information on the Brezhnev–Kania Telephone Conversation September 15, 1981 The day after receiving Moscow’s protest note over the course of events in Poland (see previous document), Kania called Brezhnev to discuss it. This record of the conversation includes only the Soviet side but it is useful for illuminating Brezhnev’s state of mind. The aging leader barely restrains his anger, responding to Kania’s initial remarks with the dismissive statement, “It seems to me that you are still in the grip of an illusion. ” “[Solidarity’s] preparations for the seizure of power are being carried out in practice, including the military sphere, ” he warns, likening union tactics to those used by fascists. He calls it “painful to talk about the raging anti-Sovietism that has engulfed Poland,” and asks rhetorically, “How can you reconcile yourself to moral and physical terror against communists?” Characteristically, he addresses Kania with the informal “ty”. Yet despite his exasperation, Brezhnev continues to refrain from making direct threats, reflecting his own sense of caution and reluctance to employ more extreme measures. […] Hello Stanisław! I am told you want to talk with me. I am listening. (After information from S. Kania) I have listened carefully to you. It seems to me that you are still in the grip of an illusion. We dicussed the situation in Poland with you and Wojciech [Jaruzelski] in the Crimea about a month ago. Back then there were already more than enough reasons for concern. And since then, in our opinion, the situation has become even more alarming. I will speak frankly: Sometimes you wake up and wonder who is the master of the situation in Poland, and has power already changed hands there? The leaders of Solidarity act too freely not to ask oneself this question. Solidarity’s Congress and the entire atmosphere surrounding it prove that Solidarity openly aims at [assuming] the role of a political party, anticommunist in nature. The results of the first round of the Congress, in our opinion, are a declaration of political war against the PUWP and socialist power. This, of course, is no congress of workers. Even according to Solidarity’s data, they make up only 25 percent. Almost a quarter of the delegates are representatives of the counter-revolutionary organizations KSS-KOR and the “Conference of Independent Poland.” The participants in this gathering are not interested in the workers’ interests, but in driving the PUWP and the government to its knees. At the Congress, as we know, the question was raised of removing from Solidarity ’s statutes the clauses regarding the leading role of the PUWP and recognition 361 of Poland’s international alliances. But you know, these are clauses in your constitution . This means that attacks have begun on the constitutional bases of society. Poland has become too small for Solidarity. It is trying to transmit its subversive ideas to neighboring countries and to intervene in their internal affairs. This is the only way to evaluate the “Appeal to the Peoples of Eastern Europe,” adopted by Solidarity. There are few words in this document, but they all hit the same mark. The authors would like to cause confusion in the socialist countries and agitate among various groups of renegades. I do not know how you are planning to act regarding this provocational trick, but we consider it essential that it receive the rebuff it deserves. Solidarity is not limiting itself to slogans and appeals. Preparations for the seizure of power are being carried out in practice, including in the military sphere. Leaks from the West show that “battle groups” attached to Solidarity have the goal of terrorizing Communists and patriots. These are the habits of fascists , who created units of storm-troopers. The same information [source] shows that Solidarity is starting courses for pre-conscripts to the Polish Army. How can one reconcile oneself to this? Indeed drafting those who are stuffed with anti-socialist and anti-Soviet prejudices could quickly demoralize the army. Solidarity is taking one position after another under its control. Without following any procedures [iavochnym poriadkom], legally appointed enterprise leaders are being removed. Solidarity runs the show in more than half of the major factories be creating so-called “organs of self-management.” In the countryside there are cases of arbitrary seizure by individuals of lands [belonging to] state farms and cooperatives. Solidarity reacts bitterly to criticism of its activities in the media and is working towards full control of them...