Poland's last communist leader dies
May 26, 2014
General Wojciech Jaruzelski
General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland's last communist leader who imposed martial law in Poland in 1981, died Sunday in Warsaw at the age of 91.
Jaruzelski ascended in military ranks in the 1960, rising to the position of Defense Minister shortly before the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. He rose to power in 1981, shortly after the establishment of the Solidarity ("Solidarnosc") free trade union, when he accumulated the posts of Defense Minister, First Secretary of the communist party and Prime Minister before introducing Martial Law on December 13, 1981 in an attempt to crack down on the Solidarnosc movement.
Jaruzelski continues to spur controversy in the country: he is viewed as a dictator responsible for killings of civilians but his supporters claim that Jaruzelski's Martial Law prevented a Soviet invasion in the country and underline his participation in Poland's peaceful transition from a communist state to a democracy.
Jaruzelski stood trials for massacres of workers in December 1970 and December 1981, but neither trial was concluded. The politician himself was unable to attend court due to poor health.