Cold War

Cold War from the point of view of the Polish People’s Army

Right after World War 2, due to the necessity to rebuild the ruined country, Polish authorities cut down expenses on army and reduced its manpower. In 1948 it amounted to approx. 140,000 soldiers. However, from 1949, an opposite trend was observed – in connection with the increasing tensions related to the escalation of the Cold War, a plan was initiated to increase expenditure on army, extension of cadre, reorganisation and providing modern weapon.

Groupon-muzeum prlu-020

At the beginning of 1950, the lower house of the Polish parliament (Sejm) adopted a law extending the basic military service in land forces to two years, and in navy and air forces to three years. Also obligatory six-month long trainings in military training grounds (May-October) were introduced. Due to the outbreak of the Korean War, the existing plans were modified and the process of increasing manpower in the army speeded up. Ultimately, it was supposed to amount to 350,000 soldiers during peace time and 900,000 during war (as at 1 January 1953 – over 380,000 soldiers). In 1950-1954, also the number of officers more than doubled. As a result, over 15% of the Polish GDP in 1952 was spent on the army. In 1956, the Polish army owned 1,268 aircrafts, 2,188 tanks and assault guns, 3,688 anti-aircraft guns and cannons, 41 battleships, and 24,953 cars. In the course of modernisation, the number of military districts was reduced from 6 existing in 1948 to 3 in 1953 (Warsaw, Silesian and Pomeranian). The cost-intensive development of the army was halted only after the Korean War finished, reducing again the number of soldiers.

In the event of war, the Polish Army was supposed to form a “seaside front”, attacking Germany and Denmark under Soviet command. Subordination and lack of independence were symbolised by Soviet officers holding commanding positions in the Polish Army, starting with Konstanty Rokossowski who served as the minister of national defence since 1949. They were ironically called as being “temporary on duty of Poles”, as the official propaganda often underlined their Polish roots, even if their only connection to Poland and Polishness was the sound of their surnames. At the same time, any pre-war traditions were eradicated from the army and replaced with models drawn from the Soviet forces. The traditional asymmetrical, peaked, four-pointed military caps (rogatywka) were abandoned and the text of the oath gained a mention of an “alliance with the Soviet army and other allied armies”.

Groupon-muzeum prlu-021

In 1955, Polish People’s Republic, together with other countries of the Eastern Bloc, joined the Warsaw Pact, becoming the second military power in the alliance. A year later, Konstanty Rokossowski and most of the Soviet advisors left Poland, however it did not decrease the scale of Polish dependence. Until the end of the Eastern Bloc’s existence, the Polish People’s Army was doomed to a coalition with the Soviet Army and supplies of Soviet equipment, while preparing for both a conventional war with the NATO countries and a nuclear one. Contrary to declarations and propaganda campaigns, not only nuclear missile carriers were located in Poland, but also the missiles themselves. Additionally, during the entire period of the Polish People’s Republic, there were Soviet army troops stationing in the country. Last soldiers left Poland only on 17 September 1993.


Cold War – part 2

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