The 1956 Uprising

more than a year ago

The Poznań Riots, or the '1956 Uprising' (because PL loves its Uprisings), was the first recognised strike and street demonstration in Communist Poland. Although brutally suppressed, this show of the people’s strength remains an intense source of pride for the local community, and though it would be another 33 years until the people of Poland would enjoy complete freedom from the Kremlin, the uprising led to a significant liberalisation of Soviet policy in Poland, and would act as a prelude to the 1980 Lenin Shipyard Strikes in Gdańsk that saw the birth of the Solidarity movement.

The death of comrade Stalin in 1953 provoked a certain degree of optimism among Poles, promising an end to the social and political terror associated with the Soviet Union’s hegemony of Central and Eastern Europe. Hopes were short-lived, however, as Nikita Khruschev’s address to the 20th Convention of the USSR’s Communist Party in 1956 spoke of strengthening socialism’s grip on the East, and of the dangers of individualism. Simmering with discontent the Polish media helped stir local discord and on June 28th strikes broke out in Poznań’s factories – first in the Stalin brick factory (later the ‘Hipolita Cegielskiego Factory’), before spreading to the city’s other major industrial plants. An estimated 100,000 workers descended on the Municipal National Council (now the Zamek building), chanting slogans like ‘Bread and Freedom’ and ‘Out with Bolshevism,’ while demanding lower prices, higher wages and a reduction in work quotas.


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