The meeting between the Soviet ambassador and Poland’s head of state concluded three minutes after midnight. As soon as the pompous Soviet diplomat was gone, Wojciech Jaruzelski summoned his aides and the senior members of his government. Telephone calls were made, and orders given. The Soviet ambassador had made a fatal mistake in only taking over control of Poland’s intelligence services on behalf of his nation’s government. He neglected to include Poland’s armed forces in the annexation. Jaruzelski took note of it at once and would later admit he was counting on it to an extent because his rapidly blooming plans were centered on maintaining control of his military in the coming days.
The Polish leader then issued orders to the armed forces confining the troops and units presently in Poland to their barracks. Orders had been sent to the amphibious assault group to disembark in Gdansk. Orders also went out to the Polish divisions in East Germany after 0100 to halt in place. At dawn they were to begin the return journey back to Poland and regard any Soviet forces encountered to be unfriendly. In the early morning hours other Polish troops were moving into Warsaw from installations close to the capital city. These men, commanded by officers loyal to Jaruzelski, started establishing defensive positions around government buildings.
Around the same time Poland’s intelligence services were beginning to take the first orders issued by their new KGB overseers. The Poles were responding quite slowly.
At 0300 Jaruzelski put an under-the-counter request to Solidarity leaders to contact Lech Walesa and place him in communication with the Polish government. Understandably, Solidarity was suspicious and believed the request was a trap being set. A second message is sent a short time later urging the movement to have its members watch Jaruzelski’s live speech to the nation at 9:00 AM later that morning. The Polish leader next informs the Soviets about the speech, telling the Soviet ambassador he will be putting a nationwide manhunt for Lech Walesa into effect.
Moscow is suspicious of Jaruzelski’s intentions and so is the commander of the Western TVD. Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov’s primary worry were the Polish divisions in Jutland and the potential of them either defecting or outright surrendering sometime in the next twelve to eighteen hours. News of the Polish leader’s planned speech, as well reports of unusual movements of forces around Poland increased his anxiety. Moscow was moving too sluggishly for Ogarkov’s comfort. His forces in Denmark, and perhaps also those in Poland needed a hedge. That would come in the orders he planned to issue to Northern Group Forces. If executed swiftly and with overwhelming firepower, the operation he was ordering to be executed should neutralize at least one appendage of the Polish problem.
At 9:00 A Wojciech Jaruzelski’s face appeared on television sets around Poland. His speech was being broadcast live on all television and radio stations. He waited for his cue and raised his head, staring directly at the camera. His usual poker-face and bland expression were missing.
“Citizens of Poland,” he started and then hesitated for a moment. Then his expression changed, and so did his tone of voice. “My fellow countrymen…..”
Seconds later it became clear to the Soviet ambassador, as well as millions of others in Poland that this speech was not going to be about anything connected to a manhunt for Lech Walesa at all.
Author’s Note: Quick revision for upcoming posts. Baltic Approaches D+14 Part III will be Monday, and then the concluding Poland post Wednesday. – Mike