Józef Cyrankiewicz

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Józef Cyrankiewicz
Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland
2nd Prime Minister of Communist Poland
In office
February 6, 1947 – November 20, 1952
President Bolesław Bierut
Preceded by Edward Osóbka-Morawski
Succeeded by Bolesław Bierut
Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Poland
4th Premier of Communist Poland,
2nd Premier under People's Constitution
In office
March 18, 1954 – December 23, 1970
Preceded by Bolesław Bierut
Succeeded by Piotr Jaroszewicz
4th Chairman of the Council of State of the People's Republic of Poland
In office
December 23, 1970 – March 28, 1972
Preceded by Marian Spychalski
Succeeded by Henryk Jabłoński
Personal details
Born 23 April 1911
Tarnów, Austro-Hungary (now Poland)
Died 20 January 1989(1989-01-20) (aged 77)
Religion none

Józef Cyrankiewicz [ˈjuzɛf t͡sɨranˈkʲɛvit͡ʂ] ( ) (April 23, 1911 – January 20, 1989) was a Polish Socialist and after 1948 Communist politician. He served as premier of the People's Republic of Poland between 1947 and 1952, and again between 1954 and 1970. He also served as Chairman of the Polish Council of State from 1970 to 1972.

Early life[edit]

Born in Tarnów, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Cyrankiewicz attended Kraków's Jagiellonian University. He became the secretary of the local branch of the Polish Socialist Party in 1935.

World War II[edit]

Active in the Union of Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej, later renamed into Armia Krajowa), the Polish resistance organization, from the beginning of Poland's 1939 defeat at the start of World War II, Cyrankiewicz was captured by the Gestapo in the spring of 1941 and after imprisonment at Montelupich sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. He arrived on September 4, 1942, and received registration number 62,933.

While there, he contacted other socialists and tried to organize resistance. He worked on bringing international prisoners' groups together. The organization that was formed struggled to pass the message about what was happening in the camp to the outside. Cyrankiewicz, along with other Auschwitz prisoners, was transferred to Mauthausen as the front approached Auschwitz. He was eventually liberated by the US Army.

Rise to power[edit]

Following the end of the war, he became secretary-general of the Polish Socialist Party's central executive committee in 1946. minister (pl. premier). However, soon there was factional infighting in the Party and eventually it split in two: one faction led by Cyrankiewicz, the other by Edward Osóbka-Morawski, who was also prime minister.

Osóbka-Morawski thought that the PSP should join with the other non-communist party in Poland, the Polish Peasant Party, to form a united front against communism. Cyrankiewicz argued that the PSP should support the communists (who held most of the posts in the government) in carrying through a socialist programme, while opposing the imposition of one party rule. The communists played on this division in the PSP, dismissing Osóbka-Morawski and making Cyrankiewicz prime minister.

Upon the formal merger of the Polish Socialist and Communist Parties in 1948, Cyrankiewicz was named secretary of the central committee of the new Polish United Workers' Party. He gave up the prime minister's post in 1952 because party boss Bolesław Bierut wanted the post for himself.

However, in 1954, after Poland returned to "collective leadership," Cyrankiewicz returned to the premiership, a post he would hold until 1970. By this time, there was little left of Cyrankiewicz the socialist, as evidenced during the 1956 upheaval following Nikita Khrushchev's "secret speech." He tried to repress the rioting that erupted across the country at first, threatening that "any provocateur or lunatic who raises his hand against the people's government may be sure that this hand will be chopped off." Cyrankiewicz also gave the order for soldiers to fire on the protesters during the 1970 demonstrations on the coast in which 42 people were killed and more than a thousand wounded. A few months after these demonstrations, Cyrankiewicz went into semi-retirement and was named chairman of the Council of State--a post equivalent to that of president. He held this post until he retired altogether in 1972.

Cyrankiewicz died in 1989, a few months before the collapse of the regime.

See also[edit]


Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Osóbka-Morawski
Prime Minister of Poland
Succeeded by
Bolesław Bierut
Preceded by
Bolesław Bierut
Prime Minister of Poland
Succeeded by
Piotr Jaroszewicz
Preceded by
Marian Spychalski
Chairman of the Polish Council of State
Succeeded by
Henryk Jabłoński