Gierek, Edward(gyĕ`rĕk), 1913–2001, Polish politician, b. Porąbka. His family emigrated to France, where he was raised. He joined the French Communist party in 1931 and was later deported to Poland for organizing a strike. He went to Belgium, joining the Communist party there. He returned to Poland in 1948 and rose through the party ranks to become by 1957 a member of the Polish parliament. In 1959 he regained the politburo seat that he had occupied briefly in 1956. As first secretary of the Katowice city party organization (1957–70), Gierek created a personal power base and became the recognized leader of the young technocrat faction of the party.
When rioting over economic conditions broke out in late 1970, Gierek replaced Władysław GomułkaGomułka, Władysław
, 1905–82, Polish Communist leader. Long a Communist, he helped establish the Polish Workers' party and was (1943–49) secretary of its central committee. After World War II, he served (1945–49) as deputy premier of Poland.
..... Click the link for more information. as party first secretary. Gierek promised economic reform and, with the aid of foreign loans, instituted a program to modernize industry and increase the availability of consumer goods. The economy, however, began to falter during the 1973 oil crisis, and by 1976 price increases became necessary. New riots broke out, and although they were forcibly suppressed, the increases were rescinded. High foreign debts, food shortages, and an outmoded industrial base compelled a new round of economic reforms in 1980. Once again, price increases set off protests across the country, and Gierek was forced to grant legal status to SolidaritySolidarity,
Polish independent trade union federation formed in Sept., 1980. Led by Lech Wałęsa, it grew rapidly in size and political power and soon posed a threat to Poland's Communist government by its sponsorship of labor strikes and other forms of public protest.
..... Click the link for more information. and to concede the right to strike. Shortly thereafter, he was replaced as party leader by Stanisław KaniaKania, Stanisław
, 1927–, Polish political leader. He joined the Communist party in 1945, becoming a member of the Central Committee in 1968 and of the Politburo in 1975.
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Born Jan. 6, 1913, in the village of Porabka, Katowice Województwo. Politician and statesman of the Polish People’s Republic. Mining engineer by training.
Gierek was born into a miner’s family. In 1923 he emigrated with his mother to France, where he worked in coal mines from 1926 to 1934. In 1931 he joined the French Communist Party. In 1934 he was arrested for participating in a miners’ strike and was deported to Poland, where he was soon drafted into the army. In 1937 he emigrated to Belgium and worked as a coal miner, and that same year he joined the Belgian Communist Party. During the occupation of Belgium by fascist German troops (1940-44), Gierek was active in the resistance movement and was responsible for the publications of the Polish underground press. After World War II, Gierek participated in uniting the Polish Workers’ Party with the Union of Polish Patriots in Belgium in 1945. He was a leader of the National Council of Poles in Belgium and its chairman for more than two years. In 1948 he returned to Poland and worked in the party apparatus of the Central Committee of the Polish Workers’ Party. From 1949 to 1954 he was engaged in party work in Silesia, and from 1951 to 1954 he was secretary of the Katowice Województwo Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PUWP). At the Second Congress of the PUWP in 1954, Gierek was elected a member of the Central Committee of the PUWP (CC PUWP) and directed to work in the Central Committee as head of the heavy industry section. In March 1956 he was elected Secretary of the CC PUWP. From July to October 1956 and after March 1959 he was a member of the Politburo of the CC PUWP. From March 1956 to June 1964 he was secretary of the CC PUWP and from March 1957 to December 1970, first secretary of the Katowice Województwo Committee of the PUWP. In December 1970 at the Seventh Plenum of the CC PUWP, he was elected first secretary of the CC PUWP. Since 1952 Gierek has been a deputy to the Sejm of the Polish People’s Republic. Gierek has been awarded the Order of Lenin (1937), the Order of Builder of People’s Poland, the Order of the Banner of Labor First Class, and other orders.