Martial law in Poland in 1981

A discussion of General Wojciech Jaruzelski’s declaration of martial law in Poland in December 1981.

The paper discusses the relationship between Poland and the Soviet Union at the time. It explains that Poland implemented martial law in order to avert a Soviet-led invasion.
Jaruzelski did not try to justify his actions in 1981 beyond asserting the need to protect Poland, but he has spoken on the subject more recently. The Communist Party’s monopoly of power was threatened by the rise of Solidarity, and Jaruzelski knew that the Soviet Union had not hesitated to use force to suppress an anti-Communist uprising in Hungary in 1956 and had done so again against the liberal Prague Spring in 1968.