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The fleeting memory of December 1970

In December 1970 violent riots broke out in the Polish cities of Szczecin and Gdynia, while in Gdańsk strikers surrounded the seat of the Polish United Workers’ Party. Clashes with militia erupted and the central committee of the communist party decided to brutally quell the rebellion. These events became an important founding myth for the struggle against the communist authorities. Fifty years later, how are these events remembered?

In December 1970, 14 years had passed since Wiesław Gomułka became the first secretary of the communist party in the People’s Republic of Poland. At that time, both the thaw of 1956, which allowed Gomułka to return to power, and hope for reforms that he promised (the so-called Polish way to socialism) were already a fading memory. It was not the right moment for a nostalgic journey to the past. And with Christmas just around the corner, everyone was busy stockpiling goods that were hard to come by.
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November 16, 2020 - Piotr Leszczyński - History and MemoryIssue 6 2020Magazine

The Monument to the fallen Shipyard Workers 1970 (right) with the building of the European Solidarity Centre on the left. Photo: Adam Reichardt

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