25 Years On featuring Marek Chodakiewicz (Academic Dean and Professor of History, Institute of World Politics) and H.E. Janusz Reiter (Ambassador of the Republic of Poland).
On December 13, 1981 Poland awoke to find itself under Martial Law. Imposed by Prime Minister Jaruzelski to "defend socialism" from Solidarity, the first independent trade union in Eastern Europe during the Soviet era, all travel, outside communications, economic activity and media reports were put under military administration. Solidarity's leaders and activists were arrested and imprisoned without sentence, and active resistance was brutally crushed. Martial Law was eventually suspended on December 31, 1982 although much of the restrictive legislation continued throughout the 1980s.
At a state dinner in Warsaw in November 1988, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called for "personal and political liberty," joining growing international pressure from the Pope and President Reagan. On June 5, 1989, Solidarity won the first free elections in Poland after WWII by a land-slide.
What was it like to wake up to the sight of tanks and armed military units on the street? And what are the longer-lasting consequences of this event? Successive polls show that around 50% of Poles consider Jaruzelski's decision to impose martial law as justified, although prosecutors filed charges against Gen. Jaruzelski this March, to prosecute the unconstitutional imposition of martial law.
The panelists reflect on their direct experiences of martial law in Poland, what happened afterwards, and analyze the residual effects on modern Poland today.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is academic dean and professor of history at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. He was formerly assistant professor of history of the Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. He has authored numerous works in both Polish and English.
Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs, Margaret Thatcher Center For Freedom
Formerly the director of international relations for the American Legislative Exchange Council, McNamara will now concentrate on American relations with the European Union, with particular focus on economic reform policy, trade issues and the war on terror. She also will analyze NATO's evolving role in post-Cold War Europe.
Before coming to this country two years ago, McNamara served as a Parliamentary aide to Roger Helmer, a member of the European Parliament in Brussels.
A native of Nottingham, England, McNamara holds an honors degree in politics from Loughborough University. She has even held elective office, winning two campaigns to serve on the Nottingham City Council. She now resides in Washington, D.C.
Janusz Reiter, diplomat, foreign policy expert and political writer, was born in 1952 in Koscierzyna, Poland. In 1976 he graduated from the Warsaw University in German philology. From 1977 he worked for the daily Życie Warszawy but was dismissed during martial law. He was among the founders and editors of a number of opposition magazines. In the years 1984-1989 he was a commentator of the independent weekly, Przegląd Katolicki.
From 1990 to 1995 Janusz Reiter served as Polish Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1996 he founded the Warsaw-based Center for International Relations and was its President until October 2005.
He was a founding member of the Foreign Policy Council, member of the National European Integration Council, and other Polish and international institutions. Ambassador Reiter served also on several boards i.e. Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, DaimlerChrysler International Advisory Board and Presspublica Publishing House. He was also the co-chairman of the Polish-German Forum.
Mr. Reiter is the author of reports and policy papers published in Poland, Germany, United Kingdom and USA. He was also a commentator for the daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita and Polish Public TV.
On October 3, 2005 Janusz Reiter was sworn in as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to the United States of America.
Janusz Reiter was awarded with the German Great Cross of Merit with the Star and Ribbon.