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Martial Law in Poland 1981–1983 (59 objects)

On 13th December 1981, just as the rest of Poles, the inhabitants of Gdynia woke up in a new reality. The First Secretary of Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski announced the introduction of martial law. Based on this decision, which was illegal even according to the law of the Polish People’s Republic, the military seized power. Thousands of Solidarity activists were interned. A curfew was introduced, the economy was militarized and censorship was tightened. It is estimated that during the martial law and the following years about 100 people were killed due to the use of weapons, persecutions by the secret police and assassinations.

Some of the banned Solidarity members continued their activity in underground structures. Until the end of the 80s, Gdynia was a strong opposition centre. Anticommunist demonstrations on the anniversaries of the 3rd May, 31st August and 11th November were a permanent element of the city’s landscape, until the political transformations of 1989.

In the collection, there are photographs which present anticommunist manifestations in Gdynia in the 80s of the 20th century. The collection of twenty photographs (MMG/HM/II/2075/1-20) is a photographic account of the Polish riot police (ZOMO) intervention during the second anniversary of the Gdańsk Agreement, on 31st August 1982. They were taken from the windows of the buildings in 76/77 Bema Street.

The set of 40 black and white photos presents the anti-government protests of the inhabitants of Gdynia in its streets. Unfortunately, we do not know the author or authors of these photographs. According to the person from whom the photographs were purchased, they were found in the garbage.