Emblem worn by LWP soldiers; the "Piast eagle" without the crown
Statute of the Polish United Workers' Party, 1956 edition
The Polish People's Republic in 1989
Polish troops, 1943
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".
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.
The Polish First Army on their way to Berlin, 1945
First Secretary of PZPR Edward Gierek (left) with Speaker of the House of Representatives Carl Albert (right), Washington D.C., 1974
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.
Polish flag raised on the top of Berlin Victory Column on 2 May 1945
PZPR's newspaper "Trybuna Ludu" issue 13 December 1981 reports martial law in Poland.
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.
T-55A tanks of the Polish People's Army (Martial law in Poland)
Dom Partii building in Warsaw, former headquarters of PZPR
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.
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.
Lech Wałęsa co-founded and headed the Solidarity movement which toppled Communism. He later became the President of Poland.
The 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard Strike and subsequent Summer 1981 Hunger Demonstrations were instrumental in strengthening the Solidarity movement's influence.
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 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.

- Polish United Workers' Party

The Polish People's Army (Ludowe Wojsko Polskie, LWP) constituted the second formation of the Polish Armed Forces in the East in 1943–1945, and in 1945–1989 the armed forces of the Polish communist state (from 1952, the Polish People's Republic), ruled by the Polish Workers' Party and then the Polish United Workers' Party.

- Polish People's Army

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 United Workers' Party

The Polish People's Republic was a socialist one-party state, with a unitary Marxist–Leninist government headed by the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR).

- Polish People's Republic

The Polish People's Republic maintained a large standing army.

- Polish People's Republic

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Draft of the Polish constitution, with revisions and annotations hand-written by Bolesław Bierut

Constitution of the Polish People's Republic

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Supreme law passed in communist-ruled Poland on 22 July 1952.

Supreme law passed in communist-ruled Poland on 22 July 1952.

Draft of the Polish constitution, with revisions and annotations hand-written by Bolesław Bierut
A meeting of the Polish Council of State during the 1960s

The 1952 constitution introduced a new name for the Polish state, the Polish People's Republic (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL), replacing the previously used Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska).

The real source of supreme state power, the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR), was not regulated by the constitution; it was ruled by its own statute.

The constitution legalized many practices that had been introduced in Poland, in the wake of the Soviet Red Army and the Polish People's Army defeat of Nazi Germany in 1944–1945, by Polish-communist governmental bodies, including the Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN) and its successors.

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 Polish People's Army, Citizens' Militia (MO), ZOMO special paramilitary units, and tanks were deployed on the streets to demoralize demonstrators, begin regular patrols, control strategic enterprises, and maintain curfew.

The sign reads "We demand bread!"

1956 Poznań protests

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The sign reads "We demand bread!"
Poznań 1956, Kochanowskiego Street; transporting one of the victims
Tanks on the empty Joseph Stalin Square in the center of Poznań
Trial of "the Nine" after riots June 1956
Funeral of one of the victims in June 1956

The 1956 Poznań protests, also known as Poznań June (Poznański Czerwiec), were the first of several massive protests against the communist government of the Polish People's Republic.

About 400 tanks and 10,000 soldiers of the Polish People's Army and the Internal Security Corps under the command of the Polish-Soviet general Stanislav Poplavsky were ordered to suppress the demonstration and during the pacification fired at the protesting civilians.

In Poland, in addition to the criticism of the cult of personality, popular topics of debate centered on the right to steer a more independent course of "local, national path to socialism" instead of following the Soviet model down to every little detail; such views were shared by many Polish United Workers' Party members in the discussion and critique of Stalin's execution of older Polish communists from the Communist Party of Poland during the Great Purge.