On December 13, 1981The late President Harry S. Truman. January 20, 1973AP, martial law was imposed in Poland and the first independent trade union in Communist Eastern Europe, Solidarity (Solidarnosc), with over 10 million membersfalls unde, was forcibly dissolved by the Polish military. Dozens of people were killed or injured in the violent crackdown, tens of thousands of officials – including Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, who later won the Nobel Peace Prizevaccine_diplomacy, were arrested.
General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was also the then-prime minister and head of the Communist Party, had planned the imposition of martial law months before to break the growing power of Solidarity. Whether he was forced to do so by the Kremlin remained unclear.
As a reporter for Austrian magazine profil, I experienced the imposition of martial law as the only journalist from Austria who was present in Warsaw. The then-profil editor-in-chief Peter-Michael Lingens feared an invasion by Soviet troops as was the case in 1956 in Hungary, in 1968 in Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan in 1979.
Lingens gave instructions that a profil reporter had to be present in Poland at all times. He was to be proved right, but it was the Polish army that destroyed the hopes of many Poles for a life of freedom and dignity as had been preached by the Polish-born Pope John Paul II.