Citroën Traction Avant, a car commonly used by the UB
The Polish People's Republic in 1989
The PKWN Manifesto, issued on 22 July 1944
Poland's fate was heavily discussed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Joseph Stalin, whose Red Army occupied the entire country, presented several alternatives which granted Poland industrialized territories in the west whilst the Red Army simultaneously permanently annexed Polish territories in the east, resulting in Poland losing over 20% of its pre-war borders - areas primarily inhabited by ethnic Belarusians or Ukrainians. Soviet-backed Polish communists came to power and oversaw the country's entry into the Warsaw Pact in 1955.
Jakub Berman
Border changes of Poland after World War II. The eastern territories (Kresy) were annexed by the Soviets. The western territories, referred to as the "Recovered Territories", were granted as war reparations. Despite the western lands being more industrialized, Poland lost 77,035 km2 (29,743 sq mi) and major cities like Lviv and Vilnius.
Józef Światło, born Izaak Fleischfarb, defected to the West and spoke publicly of UB's brutal actions
The 1970 Polish protests were put down by the Communist authorities and Citizens' Militia. The riots resulted in the deaths of 42 people and over 1,000 injured.
Ministry office in Warsaw (current Ministry of Justice)
Queues waiting to enter grocery stores in Warsaw and other Polish cities and towns were typical in the late 1980s. The availability of food and goods varied at times, and the most sought after basic item was toilet paper.
Office of Public Security regional location in Szczecin, Poland
The new Warszawa Centralna railway station in Warsaw had automatic doors and escalators. It was a flagship project during the 1970s economic boom and was dubbed the most modern station in Europe at the time of its completion in 1975.
Ministry of Public Security organization for 1953, (Organizacja Ministerstwa Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego na rok 1953, M Malinowski)
Lech Wałęsa co-founded and headed the Solidarity movement which toppled Communism. He later became the President of Poland.
Ministry of Public Security field organization, 1953
The 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard Strike and subsequent Summer 1981 Hunger Demonstrations were instrumental in strengthening the Solidarity movement's influence.
Stamp of the Committee for Public Security, 1954–1956
Logo of the Polish United Workers' Party
Władysław Gomułka and Leonid Brezhnev in East Berlin, 1967
An abandoned State Agricultural Farm in south-eastern Poland. State farms were a form of collective farming created in 1949.
Łódź was Poland's largest city after the destruction of Warsaw during World War II. It was also a major industrial centre in Europe and served as the temporary capital due to its economic significance in the 1940s.
Female textile workers in a state-run factory, Łódź, 1950s
Supersam Warsaw, the first self-serve shopping centre in Poland, 1969
Pewex, a chain of hard currency stores which sold unobtainable Western goods and items
Ration cards for sugar, 1977
Bar mleczny, a former milk bar in Gdynia. These canteens offered value meals to citizens throughout Communist Poland.
Trybuna Ludu (People's Tribune) was a government-sponsored newspaper and propaganda outlet
Andrzej Wajda was a key figure in Polish cinematography during and after the fall of communism
Allegory of communist censorship, Poland, 1989. Newspapers visible are from all Eastern Bloc countries including East Germany, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia
The 237-meter Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, constructed in 1955. At the time of its completion it was one of the tallest buildings in Europe
Smyk Department Store, 1960s
Polish university students during lecture, 1964
One of many schools constructed in central Warsaw in the 1960s
Jerzy Popiełuszko was a Roman Catholic priest who supported the anti-communist opposition. He was murdered by the Security Services "SB" of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
A demographics graph illustrating population growth between 1900 and 2010. The highest birth rate was during the Second Polish Republic and consequently under the Polish People's Republic.
A typical socialist apartment building in Warsaw representing the style of functionalism, built due to the ever-growing population and high birth rate at the time
Konstantin Rokossovsky, pictured in a Polish uniform, was Marshal of the Soviet Union and Marshal of Poland until being deposed during the Polish October in 1956.
Poland's old and new borders, 1945

The Ministry of Public Security (Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego), commonly known as UB or later SB, was the secret police, intelligence and counter-espionage agency operating in the Polish People's Republic.

- Ministry of Public Security (Poland)

Its chief intelligence agencies was the UB, which was succeeded by the SB.

- Polish People's Republic

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Polish United Workers' Party

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Statute of the Polish United Workers' Party, 1956 edition
Władysław Gomułka, at the height of his popularity, on 24 October 1956, addressing hundreds of thousands of people in Warsaw, asked for an end to demonstrations and a return to work. "United with the working class and the nation", he concluded, "the Party will lead Poland along a new way of socialism".
First Secretary of PZPR Edward Gierek (left) with Speaker of the House of Representatives Carl Albert (right), Washington D.C., 1974
PZPR's newspaper "Trybuna Ludu" issue 13 December 1981 reports martial law in Poland.
Dom Partii building in Warsaw, former headquarters of PZPR

The Polish United Workers' Party (Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza; ), commonly abbreviated to PZPR, was the communist party which ruled the Polish People's Republic as a one-party state from 1948 to 1989.

The Polish United Workers' Party had total control over public institutions in the country as well as the Polish People's Army, the UB-SB security agencies, the Citizens' Militia (MO) police force and the media.

Polish T-55 tanks enter the town of Zbąszyń while moving east towards Poznań, 13 December 1981

Martial law in Poland

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Martial law in Poland (Stan wojenny w Polsce) existed between 13 December 1981 and 22 July 1983.

Martial law in Poland (Stan wojenny w Polsce) existed between 13 December 1981 and 22 July 1983.

Polish T-55 tanks enter the town of Zbąszyń while moving east towards Poznań, 13 December 1981
Polish T-55 tanks enter the town of Zbąszyń while moving east towards Poznań, 13 December 1981
Gierek in the White House with President Gerald Ford, 1974
A ration card for sugar, 1976
Edward Gierek (right) with President Jimmy Carter (left) during his state visit to Warsaw, 1977. The loans and Solidarity were among the chief topics discussed
General Jaruzelski was determined to suppress any opposition along with the Solidarity Movement
A censored regional newspaper that reported about the Bydgoszcz events, in which the militia abused Solidarity members. The censorship was to prevent the slander of state services
The Military Council of National Salvation (WRON), which was founded on 13 December and presided over the military junta. Its Polish abbreviation "WRONa" means a crow bird, and members of the council were known to the opposition as evil "Crows"
ZOMO squads with police batons preparing to disperse and beat protesters. The sarcastic caption reads "outstretched hands of understanding" or "outstretched hands for agreement", with batons ironically symbolizing hands
The former PZPR headquarters in Gdańsk (right). ZOMO machine-gunned demonstrators from the rooftop
An intercity travel pass, 1981
A censored telegram, 1982
Food, alcohol, and cigarettes rationing card
Students in Edinburgh, Scotland collecting signatures for a petition in support of Solidarity in 1981
Jaruzelski in a TV studio announcing the introduction of martial law
Units of the Citizens' Militia and ZOMO race to disperse crowds of protesters

The government of the Polish People's Republic drastically restricted everyday life by introducing martial law and a military junta in an attempt to counter political opposition, in particular the Solidarity movement.

The secret services (SB) wiretapped phones in public booths and state institutions.

Poland's old and new borders, 1945

History of Poland (1945–1989)

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Poland's old and new borders, 1945
Map showing the different borders and territories of Poland and Germany during the 20th century, with the current areas of Germany and Poland in dark gray
Destroyed Warsaw, January 1945
The PKWN Manifesto, officially issued on 22 July 1944. In reality it was not finished until mid-August, after the Polish communist Moscow group was joined by the late-arriving Warsaw group, led by Gomułka and Bierut.
Postwar Polish communist propaganda poster depicting "The giant and the putrid reactionary midget", meaning the communist People's Army soldier and the pro-Western Home Army soldier, respectively
ORMO paramilitary police unit during street parade at the Victory Square, 9 June 1946, Warsaw
Logo of the Polish United Workers' Party
The show trial of Captain Witold Pilecki, sentenced to death and executed May 1948
The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, initially called the Stalin's Palace, was a controversial gift from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Avenue of the Roses, Nowa Huta
1951 East German stamp commemorative of the Treaty of Zgorzelec establishing the Oder–Neisse line as a "border of peace", featuring the presidents Wilhelm Pieck (GDR) and Bolesław Bierut (Poland)
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, Primate of Poland
Władysław Gomułka
The Fourth Congress of the Polish United Workers' Party, held in 1963
The Polski Fiat 125p, produced in Poland from the late 1960s, was based on technology purchased from Fiat
Standard-bearers of the 27 Tank Regiment, mid-1960s
Dziady, a theatrical event that spawned nationwide protests
Demonstrators in Gdynia carry the body of Zbigniew Godlewski, who was shot and killed during the protests of 1970
Edward Gierek
Queue line, a frequent scene at times of shortages of consumer goods in the 1970s and 1980s
Millions cheer Pope John Paul II in his first visit to Poland as pontiff in 1979
Lech Wałęsa speaks during the strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard, August 1980
25th anniversary of Solidarity, summer 2005 in Gdańsk
General Wojciech Jaruzelski led the People's Republic during its final decade and became one of the key players in the systemic transition of 1989–90
Apartment block residences built in People's Poland loom over the urban landscape of the entire country. In the past administratively distributed for permanent use, after 1989 most were sold to residents at discounted prices.
Adam Michnik, an influential leader in the transformation of Poland

The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 spans the period of communist rule imposed over Poland after the end of World War II.

Although the ongoing persecution of the former anti-Nazi and right-wing organizations by state security kept some partisans in the forests, the actions of the Ministry of Public Security (known as the UB, Department of Security), NKVD and the Red Army steadily diminished their numbers.

Bierut in 1950

Bolesław Bierut

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Bierut in 1950
Bierut in around 1927
Bolesław Bierut in 1933, after his arrest by Polish Police
After World War II, based in part on the Potsdam Conference Allied determinations, the Polish authorities ordered the remaining Germans to leave Poland.
Bolesław Bierut inspecting members of the Union of Polish Youth, 1946
Bierut decorating the most productive workers on the rebuilt Poniatowski Bridge in Warsaw, 1946
Bierut in 1948
Bolesław Bierut, President of Poland and General Secretary of the PZPR
1951 East German stamp commemorative of the Treaty of Zgorzelec, which established the Oder–Neisse line as a "border of peace"; presidents Wilhelm Pieck (GDR) and Bolesław Bierut are featured shaking hands over the border
Bierut was often photographed with children, which was meant to contribute to his cult of personality
Bierut reading Trybuna Ludu ('The People's Tribune'), the official newspaper of the Polish United Workers' Party
Bierut's funeral bier attended by Józef Cyrankiewicz, Edward Ochab and Aleksander Zawadzki
Bierut's tomb at Powązki Military Cemetery
Bolesław Bierut and Józef Cyrankiewicz during the opening of the Warsaw W-Z Route, 2 July 1949

Bolesław Bierut (18 April 1892 – 12 March 1956) was a Polish communist activist and politician, leader of the Polish People's Republic from 1947 until 1956.

His regime was marked by a silent terror – he presided over the hunting down of armed opposition members and their eventual murder at the hands of the Ministry of Public Security (UB), including some former members of the Home Army.

Wałęsa in October 2019

Lech Wałęsa

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Polish statesman, dissident, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who served as the President of Poland between 1990 and 1995.

Polish statesman, dissident, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who served as the President of Poland between 1990 and 1995.

Wałęsa in October 2019
Wałęsa during the strike at the Lenin Shipyard, August 1980
Wałęsa signs autographs during the strike in August 1980
President Bush meets privately with Wałęsa, November 1989
Wałęsa speaks at a tourism trade fair in Berlin, 2011
Wałęsa speaks on VIII European Economic Forum, 2015
Signature Lech Wałęsa-Bolek on the collaboration agreement with Security Service from the Kiszczak archives
Wałęsa receiving the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, 2011
Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport
Shooting of Walesa. Man of Hope on the Solidarity Square in Gdańsk
Premiere of Walesa. Man of Hope in Warsaw, 2013

A shipyard electrician by trade, Wałęsa became the leader of the Solidarity movement, and led a successful pro-democratic effort which in 1989 ended the Communist rule in Poland and ushered in the end of the Cold War.

Wałęsa and his family were under constant surveillance by the Polish secret police; his home and workplace were always bugged.

Milicja Obywatelska

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Militia shields from 1980s, display at the European Solidarity Centre
An actor dressed in a militiaman's uniform
FSO Warszawa MO car
Restored Polski Fiat 125p and Nysa 522 RSD Milicja Obywatelska vehicles
FSO Polonez MR'78 militia car in Poznan 2011
Restored FSO Polonez MR'83 and Nysa 522 RSD of Citizens' Militia of Polish People's Republic (from the reenactment group milicja.waw.pl)
Nysa 522 RSD
Star 200 truckbus

Milicja Obywatelska, in English known as the Citizens' Militia and commonly abbreviated to MO, was the national police organization of the Polish People's Republic.

The militia was then subordinated to Ministry of Public Security, and from 1955 to Ministry of Internal Affairs.

UPA members caught by soldiers of the Polish Army

Operation Vistula

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UPA members caught by soldiers of the Polish Army
The city of Bukowsko burned down by the UPA in 1946
Monument to Polish soldiers killed by UPA in Jasiel, south-eastern Poland, in 1946
Signature page of Polish-Ukrainian repatriation agreement signed by Khrushchev, 1944
Resettlement of Ukrainians in 1947
Lemko house in Nowica
Inscription in Polish and Ukrainian at a church in Beskid Niski, Poland: "In memory of those expelled from Lemkivshchyna, on the 50th anniversary of Operation Vistula, 1947–1997"

Operation Vistula (Akcja Wisła; Опера́ція «Ві́сла») was a codename for the 1947 forced resettlement of 150,000 Ukrainians(Boykos and Lemkos) from the south-eastern provinces of post-war Poland, to the Recovered Territories in the west of the country.

The group included soldiers of the Polish People's Army and the Internal Security Corps, as well as functionaries of the police Milicja Obywatelska and the Security Service Urząd Bezpieczeństwa.