Polish People's Republic

The Polish People's Republic (Polish: Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL) was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989 as the predecessor of the modern Republic of Poland. With a population of approximately 37.9 million near the end of its existence, it was the second most-populous communist and Eastern Bloc country in Europe.[2] It was also one of the main signatories of the Warsaw Pact alliance. The largest city and official capital since 1947 was Warsaw, followed by the industrial city of Łódź and cultural city of Kraków. The country was bordered by the Baltic Sea to the north, the Soviet Union to the east, Czechoslovakia to the south, and East Germany to the west.

Republic of Poland
(1947–1952)
Rzeczpospolita Polska  (Polish)

Polish People’s Republic
(1952–1989)
Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa  (Polish)
1947–1989
Anthem: Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
"Poland Is Not Yet Lost"
The Polish People's Republic in 1989
StatusSoviet satellite
Warsaw Pact member
Capital
and largest city
Warsaw
52°13′N 21°02′E
Official languagesPolish
Religion
Roman Catholicism (de facto)
State atheism (de jure)
Demonym(s)Pole, Polish
GovernmentUnitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic (1947–90)
under a military junta (1981–83)
First Secretary and Leader 
 1947–1956 (first)
Bolesław Bierut
 1989–1990 (last)
Mieczysław Rakowski
Head of Council 
 1947–1952 (first)
Bolesław Bierut
 1985–1989 (last)
Wojciech Jaruzelski
Prime Minister 
 1944–1947 (first)
E. Osóbka-Morawski
 1989 (last)
Tadeusz Mazowiecki
LegislatureSejm
Historical eraCold War
19 February 1947
22 July 1952
21 October 1956
13 December 1981
4 June 1989
31 December 1989
Area
 Total
312,685 km2 (120,728 sq mi)
Population
 1989 estimate
37,970,155
HDI (1989)0.910[1]
very high · 33rd
CurrencyPolish złoty (PLZ)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 Summer (DST)
UTC+2 (CEST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+48
ISO 3166 codePL
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Provisional Government of National Unity
Third Polish Republic

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). The country's official name was the "Republic of Poland" (Rzeczpospolita Polska) between 1947 and 1952 in accordance with the transitional Small Constitution of 1947.[3] The name "People's Republic" was introduced and defined by the Constitution of 1952. Like other Eastern Bloc countries (East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania),[lower-alpha 1] Poland was regarded as a satellite state in the Soviet sphere of interest, but it was never a constituent republic part in the Soviet Union.[3][4][5]

Since its inception, the Polish People's Republic was characterized by constant internal struggles for democracy. Throughout its existence, economic hardships and social unrest were common in almost every decade. Despite this, some groundbreaking achievements were established during the tenure of the Polish People's Republic, such as improved living conditions, rapid industrialization, urbanization, access to universal health care, and free education. The Polish People's Republic also implemented policies that eliminated homelessness[6] and established a job guarantee. As a result Poland's population almost doubled between 1947 and 1989.

The Polish People's Republic maintained a large standing army. It also hosted Soviet troops in its territory.[4] Its chief intelligence agencies was the UB, which was succeeded by the SB. The official police organization, Citizens' Militia (MO), was also responsible for peacekeeping and suppression of protests. It committed various serious abuses to maintain, including the harsh treatment of protesters, arrest of opposition leaders and in some cases, murder.[7]


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