After forty-plus years of submission to Moscow, Eastern Europe decoupled from the Soviet orbit in the aftermath of World War III. The wounds and trauma inflicted on the satellite states from 9 July through early August, 1987 served as a spark on the powder keg Eastern Europe had become in the previous decade. In retrospect it is difficult to imagine how the dissatisfaction and restlessness spreading across East Germany, Poland and other Warsaw Pact nations since the late 70s went neglected by their Soviet overlords-but they had. To be fair, Soviet leadership had more pressing matters to deal with in the summer of 1987. In any event, the gameboard was set and in the first few hours of the immediate post-war period it was clear much of Eastern Europe was embarking upon a new course for the future.
For Poland, the Walesa/ Jaruzelski Government of Reconciliation was a pragmatic creation given the circumstances. The move united the staunch and historical anti-communist factions of Polish society with the more recent disillusioned men and women who’d once viewed the Soviet Union and socialism as Poland’s saving grace. The Walesa/ Jaruzelski unification was a marriage of convenience and most Poles understood its shelf life was limited. An ‘Either, Or’ moment was inevitable.
When the initial ceasefire took hold on D+25 and it became evident the war was over, Soviet supporters remaining in the government, military and other areas of Polish society saw the writing on the wall. Communism was coming to an end in Poland even though Jaruzelski tentatively remained in control of the government. A reckoning was coming at some point in the near future and the choices remaining for the diehard pro-Soviet Poles were limited. Some would join the masses of Soviet military personnel on their treks back east in late August and early September, hoping to find new lives in the Soviet Union in a political system more in tune with their ideology. Others remained. Poland was their home and they refused to be driven away. Instead, these people would fight by all means possible, both passive and active. Some would even resort to guerilla warfare and active aggression against the government. This option would not come into play until later in 1987 when Jaruzelski was removed from power and the prospect of a Polish civil war came into play.
Active fighting between Polish and Soviet troops within the borders of Poland concluded in large part on D+24 as the world teetered on the brink of a major nuclear exchange. In the following days, engagements tapered down and eventually drew to a close. Western TVD units still based inside of Poland and the GDR awaited orders from Moscow to begin preparations for departure. These orders would not come until the situation in Moscow was stable and the interim government in complete control of the government and military apparatus. In early September, 1987 the Soviet government started to establish coordination with Polish authorities for the movement of Western TVD forces from the GDR, Czechoslovakia and other former Warsaw Pact states through Poland east into Soviet territory. Negotiations were held between representatives from both sides in Bialystok.
It was at this meeting that the Soviet delegation accepted the Polish demand that once the transit of Soviet troop and equipment east was concluded, there would be no return of Soviet military or diplomatic personnel to Poland in any capacity in the future. A failure to abide by the term would free the Polish government to request NATO assistance in removing the Soviet presence through military means.
2 Replies to “Today’s Friend, Tomorrow’s Enemy D+24 And Beyond: Poland”
In my upcoming AH novel with a surviving USSR, the free Poland there is a nuclear-equipped fortress.
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I missed your comment earlier. I’m intrigued by the premise. I wonder if the Russians could stand a nuclear-armed Poland so close to its own borders.
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