Communist Party of Poland

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Communist Party of Poland

 

(Komunistyczna Partia Polski, CPP; prior to 1925, Communist Workers’ Party of Poland, CWPP), founded on Dec. 16, 1918, during an upsurge in the revolutionary movement, which had intensified under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The party was established at the Unification Congress through the merger of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPIL) and the PPS-Leftist (the left wing of the Polish Socialist Party). The congress adopted a political platform and manifesto (To the Polish Proletariat) and temporary rules. It declared the task of the party to be the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat and for the victory of socialism and called for expansion of the network of Soviets of Workers’ Deputies in Poland. The congress also affirmed the party’s solidarity with Soviet Russia and resolved to join the Comintern. The Central Committee of the party included A. Warski (from 1919), W. Kostrzewa, F. Grzelszczak, and S. Królikowski.

The CWPP was the only party in Poland to struggle for the attainment of power by the working class. However, largely owing to the party’s political and ideological immaturity—as expressed in the erroneous conceptions of both the SDKPIL and the PPS-Leftist, particularly on the peasant and national questions—the Polish working class was unable to exercise fully its role as leader of the working masses. The bourgeoisie and the landlords succeeded in crushing the revolutionary movement in Poland in 1919, abolishing the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, and seizing power. During Poland’s war against Soviet Russia in 1920, the CWPP, then in the underground, came to the defense of the world’s first socialist state and protested Poland’s seizure of Ukrainian and Byelorussian territory. The Second Congress of the CWPP (September and October 1923), which took the Leninist position on the peasant and national questions, was of great importance in the history of the party. The Third Congress, held in January and February 1925, elaborated organizational principles, the party structure, and party norms. The party took the name of the CPP.

The Fourth Congress of the CPP, held from May to August 1927, analyzed the foreign and domestic factors that had led to J. Pilsudski’s coup d’etat in 1926 and the mistakes of the party, which had initially supported the coup. The congress defined the CPP’s tasks in the struggle against Piłsudski’s sanacja regime (the “moral cleansing” of state and society). A new party leadership was elected in 1929 headed by J. Leński, general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPP. The sixth congress, held in October 1932, adopted a new party program.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s the CPP mobilized the workers and peasants for struggle against the sanacja regime and organized many strikes and militant demonstrations, for example, the general strikes of textile workers in Łódź in 1928, 1933, and 1936. In the Sejm elections of 1928, despite terror and the tampering with election results, Communist candidates received about 1 million votes. From 1935 to 1937 the CPP, following the decisions of the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, took the lead in the struggle for united action by Communists and Socialists and for the unification of all patriotic and democratic forces in the common struggle against fascism. Several thousand Polish Communists fought in the J. Dabrowski International Brigade in Spain from 1936 to 1938. The Communist Parties of the Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia became autonomous parts of the CPP in 1923. The CPP had a deputies’ caucus in the Sejm from 1921 to 1935, and the party numbered about 20,000 members in the 1930’s. Many Communists were imprisoned: 3,775 Communists were arrested in 1930; 3,507 in 1931; and 6,982 in 1932. The CPP initiated the creation of an extensive network of legal left-wing newspapers (over 300) in Poland. Its central organs were the underground newspaper Czerwony sztandar and the magazine Nowy przeglad.

In 1938 the Executive Committee of the Comintern adopted a resolution disbanding the CPP, based on accusations brought against the party that were later proved to be without foundation. The dissolution of the party was a severe blow to the Polish Communist movement. After the CPP was disbanded, Communists continued to work in trade unions and other public organizations. In September 1939 the Communists headed the liberation struggle of the Polish people against the fascist German invaders. In January 1942 former members of the CPP, led by M. Nowotko and P. Finder, founded the Polish Workers’ Party. In 1956 the CPSU, the Communist Parties of Italy, Bulgaria, and Finland, and the Polish United Workers’ Party recognized in a joint declaration that the disbanding of the CPP in 1938 had been unjustified.

SOURCES

II zjazd Komunistycznej Partii Robotniczej Polski. (19.IX.-2.X.1923):Protokoty obrad i uchwaty. [Warsaw] 1968.
Dokumenty Komunistycznej Partii Polski, 1935–1938. [Warsaw] 1968.
W 40 Rocznice powstania Komunistycznej Partii Polski: Tezy Komitetu centralnego PZPR. [Warsaw, 1958].
Komuniści: Wspomnienia o Komunistycznej Partii Polski. Warsaw, 1969.

IU. V. BERNOV

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