Leader's daughter: Fear behind Polish martial law

AP News
Posted: May 28, 2013 11:33 AM
Leader's daughter: Fear behind Polish martial law

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The daughter of Poland's last communist leader, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, says her father's innate pessimism and fear dictated his decision to impose martial law against the Solidarity freedom movement in 1981.

Jaruzelski, 89, has said he chose a "lesser evil" in imposing martial law on Dec. 13, 1981, in the hey-day of Solidarity, which opposed communist rule. He maintains he prevented a Soviet military intervention and a bloodbath, saying that Moscow was ready to use force to preserve its control of Poland.

Thousands of dissidents were arrested and some 100 people were killed during the 18 months of the clampdown. Poor health prevents Jaruzelski from standing trial on charges he violated the law by imposing military rule and was the leader of an armed criminal group, as his military Cabinet of the time is described in the indictment.

In her new book about her family "Comrade Miss," Monika Jaruzelska writes that her father's "pessimism and a sense of fear determined many decisions ... including that most important one."

She declined comment on the book Tuesday.

A student of Polish literature at Warsaw University, she learned of the clampdown at the same time as other Poles from her father's statement in the media. Three days later, he called her from his office to break the news of the death of nine miners shot by the riot police while protesting the martial law.

In 1985-86, Monika Jaruzelska accompanied her father on state visits to Moscow-backed leaders in Cuba, North Korea and Libya.

She calls Libya's then-leader Moammar Gadhafi a "soap opera character." He had a Polish masseuse, by the first name Bozenka, who was the only one sporting an above-the-knee skirt in his entourage.

North Korea's first leader, Kim Il Sung, was "simply a modest, nice man, rather short (...) It would be hard to conclude from his looks that he was a terrible despot."

In 1989, when Solidarity prevailed, Wojciech Jaruzelski was chosen by a partly democratic parliament to be Poland's first president after communism.

He was replaced by Solidarity leader Lech Walesa after democratic elections in 1990.