May 26, 2014


Poland's Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski Dies at 90 (VANESSA GERA, 5/25/14,  Associated Press)

Commenting on his death, Walesa called him a "great man of the generation of betrayal."

"Those times were complicated, I'm leaving the assessment to God," Walesa said.

Another of Jaruzelski's chief adversaries, communist-era dissident Adam Michnik, believes now that general had no choice.

"If you have to choose between martial law and a Russian military intervention, you should not hesitate," Michnik told The Associated Press on Sunday. "It's clear that it was the lesser evil."

Jaruzelski preferred to be remembered for the negotiations he backed eight years later that helped dismantle the regime and set Poland on track to become the thriving democracy it is today. [...]

Jaruzelski, who headed the government from 1981-85 and the party from 1981 until the communist regime's collapse in 1989, repeatedly defended his decision.

"The greater evil would have been a (Soviet) intervention," he said in a 2005 interview with the AP.

He sought historical vindication.

"The structures of the state were paralyzed. ... A general strike was imminent. We were staring hunger, cold, and blackout in the face," Jaruzelski said at Kansas State University in 1996.

"I spent the week prior to taking the decision on martial law as in some horrible nightmare. I entertained thoughts of suicide. So what held me back? The sense of responsibility for my family, friends and country," he said.

Jaruzelski claimed partial credit for negotiating the peaceful transition to democracy as Poland's last communist leader. Many Poles recognized him for allowing the "Round Table" talks with Solidarity in 1989 that paved the way for a peaceful transition to democracy. For about a year, he served as the president.

"Jaruzelski's role was positive, during the Round Table and after it," Michnik said. "He was a very loyal president toward the democratic changes that were taking place."

Unlike Gorbachev, he wasn't trying to save communism, just Poland.
Posted by at May 26, 2014 12:32 PM

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