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392 Document No. 71: Notes of Brezhnev–Jaruzelski Telephone Conversation October 19, 1981 At the Fourth PUWP plenum from October 16–18, a major leadership change took place as Kania stepped down as first secretary and Jaruzelski replaced him. In this telephone conversation, notable for the vast difference in the way the two leaders address each other, Brezhnev warmly congratulates the new Polish leader, who nevertheless admits to considerable reluctance in accepting the position. The Soviets had finally had enough of Kania’s reluctance to clamp down and believed that Jaruzelski was the best hope for getting the Polish leadership to act forcefully. In addition to his long record of loyalty to Moscow, Jaruzelski enjoyed a relatively high reputation in his own country. But despite his unusually powerful position—simultaneously holding the posts of party first secretary, prime minister and defense minister—he continued a policy of extreme caution at first. The Kremlin soon began to harangue him with increasing intensity in the absence of any signs of willingness to crack down on his part. Behind the scenes, though, and to a degree unbeknownst to Moscow, he began very soon to lay the groundwork for martial law. The Kremlin L. I. Brezhnev: Hello, Wojciech. W. Jaruzelski: Hello, deeply esteemed, dear Leonid Ilyich. L. I. Brezhnev: Dear Wojciech, we have already sent you our official greetings , but I wanted also to congratulate you directly on your selection as PUWP CC first secretary. You acted correctly, having agreed to this decision. There is currently no one in the PUWP who can make use of his authority the way you can; the results of the plenum also to speak to this. We understand that very difficult problems stand before you. But we are convinced that you will master them and do everything to overcome the serious ailment that has befallen your country. I think that right now, as it seems to me, the most important thing for you is to select reliable assistants for yourself from among the numbers of committed and staunch communists, rally them, set in motion the entire party, and instill in it the spirit of struggle. This, in the literal sense of the word, is the key to success. And of course it is important, without wasting time, to move on to the decisive actions you have laid out against the counter-revolution. We hope that now everyone, both in Poland and abroad, will feel that events in the country are proceeding differently. We wish you good health and success! W. Jaruzelski: Thank you very much, dear Leonid Ilyich, for your greetings 393 and above all for the faith you have shown in me. I want to say to you openly that I agreed to accept this post after a great internal struggle, and only because I knew that you support me and that you are in favor of this decision. If this had not been so, I would never have agreed to it. It is a very heavy and very difficult situation, under such complicated circumstances in the country, that I now find myself as prime minister and minister of defense. But I understand that it is a correct and necessary situation, if you personally believe it is. L. I. Brezhnev: Wojciech, we have believed it for a long time. We have spoken about it for a long time to our friends. W. Jaruzelski: And that is why I agreed. Leonid Ilyich, I will do everything, as a communist and a soldier, to make things better and to strive for a turning point in conditions for our country and our party. I understand and fully agree with you that now one of the decisive moments is at hand—the selection of the leadership both of the party and the government. And especially for that reason I have postponed the resolution of the question of cadres till the next plenum, which we will hold in several days, in order to think things through thoroughly, to consult, and in order for this to be an all-encompassing decision and not simply a series of discrete cadre steps. L. I. Brezhnev: The cadres are very important, both in the center and in the provinces. W. Jaruzelski: And it will be necessary to resolve this question in the provinces as well. Of course, this has to occur in parallel with the strengthening of the party in the sense of activating the struggle. In the appropriate circumstances, one must employ decisive actions in...


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