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A. Rudzienski

The Referendum in Poland

(20 July 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 35, 2 September 1946, p. 6.
Translated by Mary Bell.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

July 20, 1946

The Warsaw correspondent of the London Sunday Times, Serek Delby, writes:

“The referendum in Poland proved to the leaders of the peasant party of Mikolajczyk the danger of traps which await them in the next elections. The political situation in Poland is unquiet and the attitude of the ‘men of the forest’ (armed groups) is growing. The most prudent people are opposed to methods of violence, adducing that the greatest flow of blood will provoke only the armed intervention of Russia.” (Sunday Times)

This same organ writes that Mikolajczyk affirms that 60 per cent of the votes were in has favor, proving this affirmation with documents supplied by representatives in the electoral commissions, by members of the Christian Party of Work and even by the Socialists. Mikolajczyk continues to re-assemble the proofs of falsification and abuses in the referendum. The general commissar of the referendum, Barcikowski, (puppet of the government – A.R.) denies the whole declaration and throws back accusations.

Facts and Figures

The correspondent of the Associated Press writes that “The success of the government in Warsaw is equalled by the success of the opposition in Cracow,” where 70 per cent of the voters supported Mikolajczyk. This same correspondent writes that in Wojewodztwo (department), Bialystok (on the Curzon line) 90 per cent of the voters voted “No” (against the government) to the first question, throwing into the urns ballots with the slogan: “Return to us Vilna and Lvov.”

The Dziennik Polski (Polish daily) of London says that, aside from Cracow and Bialystok, the government has been defeated in Posnan, where according to the Warsaw radio itself 610,000 voted “Yes” and 715,000 voted “No” to the first question. According to accounts from the circles of the PSL (Mikolajczyk’s party), even in the industrial districts of Pabianice and Piotrkov, in 27 commissions 107,000 persons voted “No” and only 23,000 “Yes.” According to the correspondent of the AP in Lodz (Polish Manchester), the security police carried off 31 urns of votes, without counting them. In Warsaw thousands of forms with “No” votes were found thrown away.

Dziennik Polski of July 8, 1946, and PAT (Polish Telegraph agency) report that at the time of the plebiscite they counted 250 assaults against 65 electoral sites, 70 agents of security and of the PPR (Stalinist party) and 37 >members of the electoral colleges; 14 persons losing their lives. In Starachowice, near Warsaw, a group of 60 persons attacked the site of the plebiscite, carrying away the urn. In these fights and attacks 300 of the attackers were wounded, and 67 attackers and 60 “security” agents were killed. According to an official communication of the PSL, 14 members of the peasant party were assassinated in the department of Kielce.

The Politics and the Vote

The official Warsaw government circles affirm that 80 per cent answered “Yes" to the first question and 20 per cent “No” in favor of Mikolajczyk. Mikolajczyk himself claims that the situation is the reverse.

Polska Zbrojna (Armed Poland) accused the inhabitants of Cracow of being “Hitlerites,” threatening them with reprisals. This accusation ought also be directed against the inhabitants of Posnan, Bialystok, Pabianice, Piotrkov and the most industrial city, Lodz. Actually, Cracow has important industry and is the cradle of the socialist movement. Posnan also has important industry, and the writer knows well the class sentiments of the workers of Posnan. Bialystok, Pabianice, etc., are very industrial cities. In reality, Warsaw is now a city of bureaucracy and public officials.

From the facts and figures cited, the falsification of the plebiscite by the government seems indubitable to us, because the acceptance of an open majority of the opposition would bring Stalinist politics in Poland to a catastrophe without precedent. Poland is for Russia more important than Austria or Hungary, it is a key position, where Stalinist imperialism cannot admit its defeat.

Nevertheless, this defeat shows behind the Stalinist fraud. The New York Times of July 3 comments:

“The truth seen even by the most partisan on,the left says that the voting – even without major violence – constitutes a farce and a fraud.” (emphasis – A.R.)

“The electors have been terrorized by the police; the PSL (peasant party), which represents the majority of the people, has been in reality suspended, castigated and tortured with arrests, to the end that the government supporters controlled the majority of the local electors. The government cannot lose, except in the case that the number of votes against the government were so great, that even the abuse would be impossible to conceal.

In the fullest sense of the word the government lost the fight, even without taking into account the result of the vote. For it lost the confidence of the Polish people and of world public opinion.” (NY Times – translated from Polish to Spanish – A.R.) [Translated from Spanish to English – tr.]

We agree with this conclusion, although the NY Times draws it in the interest of North American politics and we solely in the interest of the proletariat and peasantry of Poland. The Warsaw government lost the referendum in reality and had to concede an opposition of importance, not only in the rural areas, where the “security police” had an easy task against the peasantry – dispersed, weak, frightened and disorganized, without a press or instructions from its leaders – but also in important industrial centers, where the Polish, proletariat, adhering in its majority before the war to the BPS, voted “No” en masse against the government; not feeling itself in any way partisan to a bicameral parliament. It voted in reality against the Stalinist dictatorship, against the Stalinist reaction, against Russian imperialism, Russian occupation and the colonial exploitation of the Polish people. Cracow, Posnan, Bialystok, Piotrkov, Pabianice, etc., were the traditional fortresses of the PPS (Socialist Party), the motor force of the anti-Nazi resistance in Poland and of the Warsaw insurrection of 1944.

The problematical majority of the government in Warsaw itself does not repair the mischief, because Warsaw has scarcely 500,000 inhabitants, entirely bureaucrats and functionaries, and is no longer the city of the glorious Polish proletariat. The strikes in Dombrowa (coal mine), Silesia and Pomerania show the opposition of the proletariat against the Stalinists. We do not know by what means this opposition would be organized by a communist opposition, which before the war had its nuclei in the great industrial centers, in Lodz, Dombrowa and Warsaw, and which supported the thesis on the resistance, according to published documents which have a revolutionary and not a reformist content. But we know for certain, that aside from the foreign arm of the PPS, directed from London, there exists an acknowledged left wing in the PPS which is opposed to the politics of Stalinism. For understandable reasons, we cannot cite the names of the leaders.

Revolutionary Prospects

According to all these facts, the Polish proletariat must have played a quintessentially important role in the opposition of votes against the government of quislings, executioners and colonial overseers. Neither can we identify the PSL (party of Mikolajczyk) with rightwing reaction. The peasant of Poland, in his majority very poor, is different from the peasant of Germany, Czechoslovakia or France. It is a peasantry clearly democratic, at times revolutionary, allied to the proletariat, the salaried worker in the city, railroad worker, etc., through aid to its struggle and through a long political tradition of common struggle against csarism, against Polish reaction and against the Nazis. The Polish peasantry approaches the Russian left Social Revolutionaries, but undoubtedly has mare experience and does not want to be the victim nor the “Turkish head” of the Stalinist counter-revolution. For this reason it is completely false – worse, it is a crime – to aid the Warsaw government against the worker and peasant opposition, identifying them with the right and with the old Polish reaction. The most important, the most dangerous reaction in Poland is the Stalinist counter-revolution, which constitutes the greatest and most dangerous enemy of the Polish and the world proletariat and peasantry.

For this reason the proletariat, the Polish working people in general, expect on the part of their class brothers of America and Europe, not calumnies, vacillation or “advice” that they “understand” the Stalinist executioners, but comprehension, assistance and solidarity in their struggle for a socialist Poland and a socialist Europe.

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