Pacification of Wujek
|Pacification of Wujek|
|Part of Martial law in Poland|
The Wujek massacre memorial
|Location||Wujek Coal Mine
|Objective||Crackdown on the strike|
|Date||16 December 1981|
|Casualties||9 miners killed|
The Pacification of Wujek was a strike-breaking action by the Polish police and army at the Wujek Coal Mine in Katowice, Poland, culminating in the massacre of nine striking miners on December 16, 1981.
It was part of a large-scale action aimed to break the Solidarity free trade union after the introduction of martial law in Poland in 1981. Although the strike was suppressed, in a longer term, it turned out to be a milestone towards the collapse of the authoritarian system in Poland and, ultimately, to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. It was a site of numerous protests, including by Solidarity activist Anna Walentynowicz who commemorated a plaque to the murdered miners shortly after she left prison at Gołdap.
On December 16, three days after the introduction of the martial law in Poland, pro-Solidarity miners striking against the declaration of the martial law by General Wojciech Jaruzelski were dispersed by the troops of the Polish army and police. The forces used in the main thrust against the miners consisted of eight companies of riot police (ZOMO, supported by ORMO (police reservists) and NOMO) with seven water cannons, three companies of military infantry fighting vehicles (each of 10 vehicles) and one company of tanks. The miners repeatedly fought them off with their tools. During the brawl a number of strikers and 41 troops were injured, including 11 severely.
In the apex of the events, a commando-type special platoon of ZOMO opened the "shoot to kill" fire at the strikers, killing nine of them (Jan Stawisiński, Joachim Gnida, Józef Czekalski, Krzysztof Giza, Ryszard Gzik, Bogusław Kopczak, Andrzej Pełka, Zbigniew Wilk and Zenon Zając) and wounding 21 others. One of the deaths took place after 20 or more days in hospital with severe head-wounds.
The repressions after the pacification included sentencing of three miners to jail terms of three to four years in prison.
On June 1, 2007, more than two decades after the incident, 15 former members of the special platoon were sentenced to prison terms for their part in the killings. Most of them were sentenced to the terms of 2.5 to three years in prison, except their former platoon commander, Romuald Cieślak, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The court however failed to establish who sent the special platoon to Wujek (and thus acquitted the former vice-chief of communist police in Katowice, Marian Okrutny).
- The tragedy was portrayed in the 1994 feature film Śmierć jak kromka chleba (Death like daily bread) by Kazimierz Kutz and the 2006 graphic novel 1981: Kopalnia Wujek.
- 1981 warning strike in Poland
- August 31, 1982 demonstrations in Poland
- 1988 Polish strikes
- History of Solidarity
- Jastrzebie-Zdroj 1980 strikes
- Lublin 1980 strikes
- Summer 1981 hunger demonstrations in Poland
- 1981 strike at Piast Coal Mine in Bieruń