Gdansk – 5

Other events are not well known but are of equal significance in the gradual breaking down of the Communist system under the control of the Soviet Union. On 16th June 1953, three months after the death of Stalin, 300 East Berlin construction workers went on strike and marched down Stalinallee towards government buildings after their superiors announced a pay cut if they did not meet their work quota. On the following day, these demands soon escalated into an outcry for a General Strike and the resignation of the East German government. The authorities decided to crush the uprising and turned to the Soviet Union for military support. 

In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev’s address to the 20th Convention of the USSR’s Communist Party spoke of strengthening socialism’s grip on the East, and of the dangers of individualism. In Poznan, already simmering with discontent, the Polish media stirred local discord and on June 28th a strike started in the Stalin brick factory (later the ‘Hipolita Cegielskiego Factory’), before spreading to the city’s other major industrial plants. An estimated 100,000 workers descended on the Municipal National Council, chanting slogans like ‘Bread and Freedom’ and ‘Out with Bolshevism,’ while demanding lower prices, higher wages, and a reduction in work quotas.

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