Between July 1980 and December 1981, Poland stumbled through the most serious political crisis faced by a Warsaw Pact member since the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968. The resolution of this crisis through the declaration of martial law by the Polish authorities provided only a temporary respite.
The rise and suppression of the trade union Solidarity, followed by the inability of Polish communist authorities to restore political credibility or economic activity, were key developments that created the conditions that led to the eventual collapse of the Warsaw Pact by the end of the decade.
In 1972, Ryszard Kuklinski, a senior officer on the Polish General Staff, volunteered his services to the United States at a time of increased friction between the Soviet Bloc and the Free World.
During the Polish crisis, from the initial outbreak of labor unrest in July 1980, until the declaration of martial law in December 1981, Col. Kuklinski provided periodic reporting and commentary on the chaotic progression of events. He focused on the increasing refinement of the plans for introducing martial law, the internal political debates surrounding these preparations, and the almost constant pressure from Moscow for the Poles “to do something” to contain and destroy Solidarity.
View the Martial Law FOIA documents.