Martial Law — Poland, US


September 26, 2007
by Lech Biegalski

Following are key details of the martial law implemented by General Jaruzelski in Poland on December 13, 1981.

The immediate reasons for the martial law were:

* Social unrest and opposition to the existing political system led by the “Solidarity” movement, culminating in a call to establish national self-government outside of the official government structures;

* Pressure put on Polish government by the Soviet Union and other communist governments in the Soviet Block to outlaw “Solidarity” and to minimize its influence on similar popular movements in other communist countries;

* Crashing economy, market shortages, and a resulting recession.

There are many similarities between the situation that led to the establishment of martial law in Poland and the current situation in the United States and other Western countries. Among these, the most relevant are:

* Expected popular protest and social unrest to oppose the corporate take over of the political system, the end of democracy, and the continental deep integration;

* Expected protests and organized action to oppose the war agenda;

* Crashing economy and a possibility of a market break down.

Due to these similarities, it can be expected that the organization and management of the martial law in the United States (and possibly in other western countries) will be similar to that in Poland two and a half decades ago. It is also possible that forces preparing the martial law today draw on experiences and conclusions from the “Jaruzelski’s War Against the Nation.” Therefore, it seems
to make sense to recall and to analyze the historical events of the 1980s. This may help us prepare for the “Bush’s War Against the Nation”, when it comes knocking on our doors.

Preparations for and Implementation of the Martial Law, Poland, 1981

* A list of about 10,000 persons to be interned (out of 36 million population) was prepared by authorities. The list included known “Solidarity” and opposition activists as well as several, mostly former, politicians expected to be critical of the government’s actions;

* A network of prisons was secretly prepared to serve as detention and internment centres;

* Martial Law was implemented on December 13, ahead of the coldest time of the winter, which made all outdoor protests and activities (including hiding) less likely;

* Martial Law was implemented at midnight and officially announced at 6:00 a.m. the following morning. Most pre-planned arrests were made within the first 24 hours;

* Militarization of key industries, transportation, communication, and services was implemented with the use of military “supervisors” assigned to each company. Consequently, participation in strikes was considered a desertion and a sabotage of national economy;

* The suspension of all trade unions and other organizations was implemented;

* The curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. was implemented;

* All public telephone / telegraph communications were disabled;

* Only one TV station, one radio station, and one major newspaper were militarized and remained in publication. All other media outlets were suspended;

* Publication and distribution of independent newspapers, flyers, and brochures were outlawed. A person caught in possession of two or more copies of an “illegally” published item was considered a “distributor” and could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. In addition, persons caught writing, printing, storing, or transporting larger quantities of “illegal literature” could lose their car, their house, or whatever possession was deemed a tool in the “crime” committed;

* A concentration of three or more adults standing or walking together on the street was considered an “illegal gathering” and was promptly dispersed by the police and army patrols;

* Police and army units of 3 to 12 officers patrolled the streets and frequently searched the bags and backpacks carried by people;

* All registered hunting guns were seized and stored in local police stations;

* The interned were first placed in detention centres and then moved to internment camps in initially undisclosed locations. They were sorted and placed in internment camps by regions in an attempt to make further invigilation and interrogation by local security services easier. Women were placed in a separate internment camp. Top opposition activists, as well as writers and intellectuals were also placed in separate internment camps;

* The number of interned was decreased by people who were initially arrested but later agreed to sign a declaration of loyalty to “the state and the communist system” and a commitment to obey the martial law regulations;

* The number of interned was also increased by people who were arrested later as a result of their participation in various forms of protest or publishing and distributing activities;

* To avoid accountability under international law, the authorities attempted to classify most new arrests as “criminal” and not “political” cases. To justify “criminal” classification, police used provocateurs and often planted evidence indicating alleged criminal activities;

* Travel restrictions were implemented. In order to travel to another town, people had to apply for permission and outline the details of their trip at special departments of local governments / city halls.

Public Reaction and Psychological Warfare

The first reaction of the people was spontaneous. Workers in several large manufacturing and mining companies went on strike. Workers in these companies began preparations for active resistance, including production of improvised weapons. One of the most successful weapons was “Harmonica”, a block of metal with 40 – 100 holes drilled through it in one direction. Loaded with bullets for hunting rifles, harmonicas were placed in the windows and passages inside the buildings occupied by striking workers. A worker hitting the back of the Harmonica with a hammer would cause the bullets to go off. There were no recorded cases of an actual use of Harmonicas, but authorities were aware of their existence and avoided brutal interventions that would cause an all-out, self-defensive response by the workers.

Workers using motorized pumps installed on the roofs of the shipyard buildings to spray gasoline on advancing riot police units successfully defended the main gate of the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk. Mobile tanks, parked behind the buildings, provided gasoline to the pumps using fire-fighting hoses. Thousands of pikes were manufactured and placed on roofs and in open areas in anticipation of a commando-style attack with parachutes. Cases of sabotage were rare but were feared by the authorities, especially in refineries, chemical companies, and military industries. Railway and power line sabotage cases were attempted but did not prevail as means of resisting the martial law.

Demonstrations that started during the day grew rapidly as they moved through the city. Usually, the riot police would set up a blockade and confront the demonstrators at a specific location. At this point, demonstrators would break into several smaller groups, would spread in different directions, and would continue fights with police into late night hours. These fights were especially successful in old parts of cities, where narrow streets and various passages between buildings made the fight easier and the hunt more difficult. Weapons used by demonstrators included stones, broken bricks, and nuts from railway tracks shot with improvised slings.

As time passed by, the frequency of spontaneous demonstrations decreased. To bypass the necessity of an “illegal gathering,” the demonstration usually started at places where people were allowed to gather in large numbers, for example, after Sunday masses, when people were leaving churches. Some major demonstrations, called across the country, took place on major anniversaries celebrated by the opposition.

Authorities tried to scare people into submission by using direct force, by introducing summary convictions and court-martial procedures, and by using psychological warfare. Examples of psychological warfare included:

* Keeping locations of the internment camps secret during the first days of martial law to create an impression that the arrested were taken to the Soviet Union and/or exterminated;

* Holding people waiting for interrogations in basement cells with walls and ceilings sprayed with animal blood from butcher shops;

* Removing bodies of agents pretending dead victims of torture in front of people waiting for interrogation;

* Creating acoustic effects (screaming, gun shots) to be heard by prisoners and people waiting for interrogation;

* Using huge mobile speakers mounted on military trucks during long night curfew hours to create a constant sound of passing military convoys and/or landing helicopters;

* Suggesting “between the lines” that Polish army had to implement martial law to avoid Soviet invasion and military intervention.

Organized Resistance

Following are the most common strategies used by population under the martial law in Poland in 1981 – 1983 and how they may apply to a potential martial law in U.S., and Canada:

* Compile and constantly update lists of persons arrested and interned, to keep the authorities accountable for all political prisoners.

* Collect pictures, statements, and other documented evidence of crimes and incidents involving abuse of power by the authorities, including names of persons responsible, publish the information and share it with international organizations such as Red Cross and Amnesty International. Pass this information to foreign journalists, foreign embassies, etc.

* Demand access to political prisoners by Red Cross, Amnesty International, and families of persons interned.

* Organize help (including material support) for families of persons arrested and interned.

* Organize legal help for political prisoners and popular awareness of their cases.

* Organize small, independently working groups of writers, publishers, and distributors of independent newspapers, brochures, and flyers. (Internet will most certainly be shut down.)

* Print and distribute independent books (these will be outlawed).

* Work in small groups with people that you know well and trust. Avoid extensive contacts with other groups. Avoid people who try to infiltrate your group from outside.

* Use nicknames, even between people who work together. Use messengers. Use contact places that cannot be easily observed or infiltrated (places with large numbers of people randomly contacting each other and frequently moving.)

* Build transmitters and organize “illegal” radio programs. These can be transmitted locally, within a radius of a few kilometres, using a tape deck, a transmitting circuit, a wire antennae, and a couple of 9V batteries. Use two or three twin transmitters on high points in the neighbourhood, for example on the roofs of apartment buildings or local plazas. Have a remote-control that allows you to switch the transmitters on and off in sequence in order to confuse military units with directional tracking devices. These remote controls can be adopted from remote-control toys, especially boats and planes (these have longer range than cars.) Distribute information about the program shortly before its transmission by dropping it in places where large numbers of people gather (malls, churches, etc.)

* Continue suspended activities of trade unions and other organizations in underground. Make sure that communication with members and organization of members is possible. If necessary, select / elect / appoint new governing bodies. This should be done confidentially and with limited number of people involved. Take over old structures, if they are inactive and useless.

* Refuse to use private transportation. Be ready to work but demand that the government provides sufficient public transportation for everybody to go to and from work. They cannot force you to use your private car to travel to and from work.

* Be prepared for and support a general strike. Exclude from general strike companies and services essential for the survival of the population.

* Prepare for sharing of essential needs (food, drinks, medications, clothing.) In critical situation, when the general strike takes a long time, sharing should replace buying. Goods essential for survival of families should be shared everywhere, (store chains and warehouses included.) Ideally, this will be the first step towards establishing local self-governments.

* Support your local self-government in everything they ask for but allow them to work in secrecy. Volunteer your time and your possessions. Respond to their appeals and calls.

* Organize public disobedience and peaceful protests at every occasion possible.

* Organize private meetings and workshops.

* Whenever and wherever strikes are not possible, SLOW DOWN and COMPLICATE the work.

* Ignore and socially isolate people who support the system and the martial law.

Ideology of Resistance

It is necessary to provide people with convincing reasons for resistance. These must be political and must hit home. People must be aware of all consequences of accepting the political agenda of the current government, including the illegal global war for resources, the risk of nuclear pollution of the environment, and the criminal depopulation policy. People must understand that this is a war for survival with a criminal oligarchy and corrupted politicians that serve it. This is an ideological war for the kind of political system we will have in the future. This is a war for our freedom and our liberties. This is a war for democracy and justice. In this war there will be no compromise, it’s either them or us. It’s serious.

We want all our resources, our land, our markets, our banks, our monetary and fiscal systems nationalized. We want private armies, operating mafia-style outside of any democratic control, outlawed. We want the politicians to represent the people and the military to protect the people. We want to lead the world to a better future. If we do nothing, we all will soon live like Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. People must understand that this is not a conspiracy theory. This is real.

Ideal Solution

Let me now tell you about my imaginary ideal solution. We have moved so far away from the path given to us by God or the path of peace and justice (chose one that is closer to your heart) that it is difficult to see how we can ever repair the damage done. We have become the thief and the bandit of the world. We have become the global liar and killer. We have become the fascist state and the war criminal. We have become the Hitler of the world and the Stalin of America. We have teamed up with a fascist, apartheid-style, and criminal state of Israel. We have rejected international law, human rights, and God’s teaching. We should be doomed. There is no excuse, there is no justification for the injustice and suffering that was done in our name and with our consent.

Given the gravity of the situation, there is only one way out of this mess. The solution must come from within the United States and it must come from within the United States Army. I strongly believe that there are many decent people among the officers of the U.S. Army, including many of the active field generals. In my dream solution, these generals establish a secret military organization with the aim of saving the world and saving America. In my dream, secret preparations are being made and secret plans drawn to take over the situation and to restore law and order in the United States. In my dream, the minute Bush and Cheney give an order to implement the Martial Law against the Nation, the United States Army will overthrow the government, arrest the real criminals and the elites behind them, nationalize our resources, markets, and banks, restore international justice, and appeal to the world for moral and political support. People who are guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the Constitution, will be tried and severely punished to discourage anyone from ever following in their footsteps. This is the only way the damage can be repaired and we only have one chance at it. If we miss it, the world will submerge into dark ages, maybe forever.

After a few years of martial law, normalization of the political landscape, and reorganization of the economy, the Military Government will lead the way to democratic elections, and will consequently pass the authority to the newly elected civilian government.

Just imagine the reaction of the world, if my dream solution were to come true. All damage done to America and America’s global leadership would be repaired in one week. People would support the Army. People across the world would support America. Nobody inside or outside the United States would challenge the leaders of the Second American Revolution. The solution is simple and it is realistic, it is possible. The American Army is the only power in the world that can restore law and order in the United States. It has the capability and the patriotic duty to do so. Will it? We will see. In the past, some of my dreams did come true.

Lech Biegalski is one of the original 108 members of the first National Council of the “Solidarity” movement in Poland. He was also a memberof the Initiating Committee and a chairman of one of the original “Solidarity” regions. On December 13, 1981, he avoided internment and continued independent publishing work in hiding until the end of Martial law in 1983. Currently, he lives in Canada and publishes the Canada Watch website at

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