Reasons for the outbreak
In the mid-1950s, following Stalin's death, the communist system imposed on the Central and Eastern Europe ceased to be a monolith. The changes under way in the USSR have forced the communist authorities in Poland to review their policy. The first attempts at criticizing the "security", the much-hated pillar of the communist power in Poland led to loosening the grip of a psychosis of fear.
The contempt for Stalinism and willingness to overcome "the period of mistakes and perversions" coincided in Poznań with the dissatisfaction with both living and working conditions, which had been building up since early 1950s. Wielkopolska, like the rest of country, was subject to a mandatory adjustment of all spheres of life to the Soviet model. The traditional hospitality of Wielkopolska clashed in a brutal way with the practice of real socialism, which was accompanied by the atmosphere of blatant propaganda, class struggle and everyday life permeated with ideology to an extent unknown before. Each attempt at opposing the new reality was nipped in the bud and brutally repressed.
The sham of the planned socialist economy was especially severe for workers of large Poznań industrial plants. Workers used to pre-war arrangements, good work organisation and fair pay were finding it more and more difficult to support their families. The situation was further exacerbated by the bureaucratic handling of employees and complete incapacitation of trade unions. The workers had basically no chance of handing their postulates to the authorities. The improved living conditions, as announced in the economy development plan based on a Soviet model, turned out to be a myth. The shop supply was disastrous, wages were low, and huge housing problems in the city under reconstruction after war damages were strenuous.
The immediate reason of the outburst of dissatisfaction in Poznań was the issue of irregularities in calculating wages, unrealistic indicators of production growth and efficiency, as well as very poor working conditions in the plants. The place where the feelings of dissatisfaction converged were the former Hipolit Cegielski Poznań factories, renamed after the war to J. Stalin Poznań (ZISPO) factories. The staff of Cegielski had been since 1995 notifying their dissatisfaction with the irregularities in calculating taxes and wages. Workers also complained at bad work organisation. In the face of the fact that the management was unable to meet the workers' demands, representatives of ZISPO staff tried to contact relevant ministries and party authorities. They sent petitions, letters and delegations. The last one went to Warsaw on 26th June 1956 in order to present staff demands. Other plants in Poznań observed with great interest this active approach of HCP staff. The atmosphere was very tense. There were many guests from both Poland and abroad in the city at that time because the city was hosting Poznań International Fair. On the night of 26th June a delegation of workers came back to Poznań, confident that some of their postulates had been positively considered. The next morning, the minister of Machine Industry arrived at the factory and withdrew some of the Warsaw agreements with workers during a mass meeting. In such tense situation, the morning of 28th June witnessed workers' riots in Poznań....