President Andrzej Duda took part in Wednesday’s celebrations at Piłsudski Square in Warsaw on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of martial law. Together with the president of the Institute of National Remembrance, Dr. Karol Nawrocki, they lit candles as part of the social campaign “For the victims of martial law. Light the Light of Freedom”. – It was a shameful act, an act of cowardice, suppressing the will of the nation and the desire to live in an independent, sovereign state – said the president about the declaration of martial law.
On the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of martial law at Piłsudski Square, under the papal cross commemorating the mass celebrated by John Paul II in June 1979, president Andrzej Duda and president of the Institute of National Remembrance, Ph.D Karol Nawrocki they lit candles. Candles under the cross were also lit by representatives of the diplomatic corps and activists of “Solidarity” from the 1980s. The ceremony was preceded by reciting a rosary for the victims of the communist system.
The President recalled that the introduction of martial law on December 13, 1981 meant the suppression of hopes related to the establishment of “Solidarity”. – It was the belief that the People’s Republic of Poland, the People’s Republic of Poland, non-sovereign, not fully independent, located behind the Iron Curtain, could be changed for the better through unity, through people being together with each other – said the president.
He added that, contrary to their claims, Poles were not threatened by Soviet intervention at that time. – It was all untrue. It was a shameful act, an act of cowardice, suppressing the will of the people and the desire to live in an independent, sovereign state. The communists, led by General Jaruzelski, decided to take this away from the Poles, protecting their rule and subservience to the Soviet regime, Andrzej Duda added.
In his speech, the president mentioned the places and victims of the most famous victims of martial law, including miners from the “Wujek” mine, shot protesters in Lubin, Bogdan Włosik and Grzegorz Przemyk, priest Jerzy Popiełuszko and others assassinated during martial law and the following years of the communist regime.
– I would like to thank all those who, here and in other places in Poland, pay tribute to the victims of martial law and thank the heroes of those years, both known and unknown. Today I had the opportunity to award the Orders of Polonia Restituta to a group of steadfast people who did not give up and fought for a free Poland, risking their lives, health and professional careers – said the president.
He added that it is also a symbolic distinction for the entire generation of “Solidarity”, “all those who were not afraid and steadfastly wanted a free Poland, which we regained peacefully in 1989” and with their attitude also contributed to the fall of communism in Central Europe.
At the end of the ceremony, its participants honored the victims of martial law with a minute of silence.
“The Light of Freedom Will Never Go Out”
A post on social media on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of martial law was posted by the US ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski.
“President Reagan said: ‘Let the flame of millions of candles in American homes be a testimony that the Light of Freedom will not be extinguished.’ Continuing this tradition, today, on the 42nd anniversary of the introduction of martial law, we pay tribute to its victims with a symbolic candle flame. The Light of Freedom will never be extinguished.” will go out,” Brzezinski wrote on the X platform.
“For the victims of martial law. Light the Light of Freedom”
Social campaign “For the victims of martial law. Light the Light of Freedom”, organized by Institute of National Remembrance for the ninth time, aims to commemorate all those who lost their lives or suffered in other ways as a result of martial law introduced on December 13, 1981. To commemorate the tragic events of 42 years ago, candles were lit in the windows of Polish houses. Internet users lit the virtual Light of Freedom.
As the Institute of National Remembrance reminds, the action refers to the gesture of solidarity made by crowds of people from the free world towards Poles repressed by the martial law regime on Christmas Eve 1981. US President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II called for placing symbolic lights in the windows. In his Christmas message, the US president mentioned Poles suffering under the communist regime and turned to the Americans, saying: – Let the flame of millions of candles in American homes be a testimony that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished. That winter, candles were lit in the window of the White House and in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.
On the night of December 12-13, 1981, martial law was introduced in Poland. Police and army patrols, tanks, armored personnel carriers and combat vehicles appeared on the city streets. Official censorship of correspondence and telephone communications was introduced. The most important institutions and workplaces were also militarized and the structures of NSZZ “Solidarność” and other associations were dissolved.
The authorities of the Polish People’s Republic pacified 40 of the 199 factories striking in December 1981. The most tragic action took place in the “Wujek” mine, where the intervening ZOMO officers used weapons. Nine miners died. As a result of martial law, approximately 100 people died and a total of over 10,000 were arrested or interned.
Martial law was suspended on December 31, 1982, and canceled on July 22, 1983. Many legal regulations introduced by Wojciech Jaruzelski’s dictatorship were in force until 1989.
Main photo source: PAP/Paweł Supernak