Jaruzelski, Wojciech Witold
Jaruzelski, Wojciech Witold(vōĭ`chĕkh vē`tōld yäro͞ozĕl`o͞oskē), 1923–2014, Polish military and political leader. His family fled the 1939 German invasion to Lithuania, and were deported to Siberia after Russia invaded the Baltic States. He subsequently fought in World War II in Polish infantry aligned with the Red Army, became a general in 1956, and began his rise in the Communist party in 1960. He was elected to Poland's parliament the following year, and later became minister of defense (1968–83) and a full general (1973).
During the 1981 crisis involving the trade union 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. , Jaruzelski became prime minister and then party leader. Known as a moderate, he sought a compromise but finally ordered a military crackdown, placed Poland under martial law (Dec., 1981), outlawed Solidarity, and ordered the arrest of Solidarity leaders, including Lech WałęsaWałęsa, Lech
, 1943–, Polish labor and political leader. He worked as an electrician at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk but was dismissed in 1976 for his antigovernment protests.
..... Click the link for more information. . By the end of 1982, Solidarity had been suppressed; martial law was lifted, and Wałęsa was released.
In 1987, Jaruzelski found his attempts at economic reform thwarted by Solidarity, and subsequently a series of crippling nationwide strikes forced him to open a dialogue with Solidarity. In Apr., 1989, Solidarity was legalized and granted the right to campaign for the upcoming elections. In June, Solidarity members won almost every seat in the upper house of the parliament, but the party was restricted to competing for only 35% of the seats in the lower house, all of which they won. The restriction allowed Jaruzelski to be elected president by a one-vote margin in the national assembly. Unable to maintain a Communist-led government, however, he was forced in September to agree to a Solidarity prime minister. Jaruzelski was succeeded as president by Wałęsa in Dec., 1990.
In 1993, Jaruzelski was charged with criminal conduct in a 1970 incident in which demonstrating workers were killed after he allegedly ordered soldiers to fire on them, but court proceedings, which began in 1996, became entangled in disputes and delays. Additional criminal charges against him, relating to the imposition of martial law and internment of Solidarity leaders and others, were filed in 2006; trial on those charges began in 2008 but was suspended in 2011 because of illness.