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Poznanski Czerwiec

Today June 28 we commemorate the 65 anniversary of the Poznan June of 1956.

This was the first full scale protest-organized by plant/factory workers from the Cegielski company in Poznan (called Stalin's plant) Poland ever launched in communist oppressed East/Central Europe. Hipolit Cegielski founded his manufacturing company in 1846 and by the 1920's they produced ship engines, railroad cars and equipment, many other supplies for Poland's mining and steel industry. In 1956 the communist government in Poland announced price increases for basic goods like bread and tax hikes. In protest, Poznan workers sent delegations to the Ministry of Machine Industry in Warsaw for talks. When they returned to Poznan June 27 and officials retracted on promises made, Poznan workers went on strike. They demanded decreases in prices for basic goods, pay compensation, dignified work conditions. 100 thousand Poznan residents gathered at Poznan's Mickiewicz square in front of the imperial castle. This met with brutal and violent reaction from communist security forces. Many protestors were severely beaten, critically injured or killed. Among them Roman Strzalkowski, a 13 year school child, just 1 of 18 children to go down under a barrage of bullets fired by the military ordered to kill the protestors by Stanislav Poplavsky-a Polish/Soviet general sent by Konstantin Rokossovsky- Poland's Soviet Defense Minister. Armored personnel carriers surrounded the unarmed protestors. By June 30, the demonstrations were crushed and hundreds were detained and put on trial by communist prosecutors. Despite this tragic epilogue, the Poznan Protests of June 1956 were a decisive stepping stone towards an easing of Stalinist repressions in Poland. This period after 1956 was tagged "the Gomulka thaw". More importantly, the heroism and sacrifice of Poznan's working class served as a model and inspiration for the Polish October of 1968 as well as democratic movements in neighboring countries. And it paved the way for Poland's game changing 1980 Solidarity movement.

Beatrix Czerkawski

Photos display our PMA Poster Collection Poznan posters incl. one by Stefan Norblin.

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