Censorship in the Polish People's Republic

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"Censorship in Poland" redirects here. There is no censorship in present day Poland. This article is about historical censorship in the communist People's Republic of Poland (1944-1990).

Censorship in the Polish People's Republic was primarily performed by the Polish Main Office of Control of Press, Publications and Shows (Główny Urząd Kontroli Prasy, Publikacji i Widowisk), a governmental institution created in 1946 by the pro-Soviet Provisional Government of National Unity with Stalin's approval and backing, and renamed in 1981 as the Główny Urząd Kontroli Publikacji i Widowisk. The bureau was liquidated after the fall of communism in Poland, in April 1990.[1]

A list of prohibited publications and black-listed writers was created in 1950 during the darkest years of Stalinism in Poland with some 1,682 items, and subsequently modified many times by the communist authorities in the Polish People's Republic. Some writers popular before World War II, like Wacław Kostek-Biernacki sentenced to death on fake charges as the enemy of the state in 1953, had their books not only removed from libraries, but also meticulously and deliberately destroyed.[2]

Colophons (imprints) in three books published during Polish People's Republic era. Identifiers of censors are underlined.

After the rise of Solidarity movement in 1980, the Polish censors were forced by the public to begin indicating clearly in text parts that were censored rather than hiding their deletions or rejecting entire work. The decades of relentless censorship gave rise to the large supply of underground press and publications in Poland (bibuła), know also as Samizdat, an activity fraught with job discrimination and punishment.

In addition to the censorship of the publications, the state also supported jamming of foreign radio and television stations, such as Radio Free Europe and Voice of America among others.

Defection of censor Tomasz Strzyżewski[edit]

In 1977 one of the Polish censors, Tomasz Strzyżewski, defected to Sweden with stolen classified documents which he published in the Black Book of Censorship (pl). The book was based on one of two copies of guidelines in the safe of every censorship department of GUKPPiW (Główny Urząd Kontroli Prasy, Publikacji i Widowisk). The official name of the guidelines in Polish was "Książka Zapisów i Zaleceń GUKPPiW" (The Book of Records and Recommendations GUKPPiW). The materials which he took included photocopies of originals mainly done by him, and personal notes in notebooks. No-one at the office was allowed to take them out of the building or reprint them. The operation Bureau censors were allowed only to remove guidelines from safe and read them on site. Document was generally a direct, topic and names related base than word-to-word was telling which is not allowed for publication. For example it covered topics like: "It's forbidden to write about any info on disaster in X and there". "It's forbidden to write about any increase in deaths from xy ". Generally from info about related catastrophes, or even increased illness because of using Asbestos, or fact that plastic which was made nearly every artificial single Christmas tree, sold even in main shops in state city Warsaw. was dangerous to health because the electric lamps when turned on interacted heavily with plastic and it made some dangerous smoke. Moving to topics like "It's forbidden to publish works from people xx(e.g. that defected, were at time political incorrect with updates, removing and adding to list to just some scientists)", in some cases the names were allowed "But is allowed to publish any work that discuss with them, giving negative arguments about they works". Ending even with "It's forbidden to publish statistical data about coffee drinking in whole Poland. Because this may give negative views on exporting this product from Poland(in Poland there were times of great lacks of basic products, despite even exporting or re-exporting just to sell and have $ from income)." In 1990s when after dissolution bureau was giving back their archives, all of book copies were not reported, like even existence of it. However years after, former censors of Bureau generally in interviews, mainly without showing their faces agreed that they had it in safes located in their departments, and used it as a reference book. [3] Existence of it was provided by intelligence service papers about Strzyżewski, which were mainly about tracing his activity after defection and possible operations with impact that releasing it in 1970s and 1980s made in Western media, and Polish opposition.[4][5][6]

See also[edit]

Other Eastern Bloc states:

Notes and references[edit]