65th Anniversary of Poznan June 1956 Uprising

Ceremonies related to the 65th anniversary of the workers' uprising lasted throughout Monday. Their culmination took place at 7 pm on the Adam Mickiewicz Square, where flowers were laid at the Monument of Poznan's June. On this important day to the capital of Wielkopolska arrived local government officials from across the country.

The culmination of the Poznan June '56 ceremonies took place at Adam Mickiewicz Square - grafika artykułu
The culmination of the Poznan June '56 ceremonies took place at Adam Mickiewicz Square

65 years ago, on June 28, 1956, in Poznan, the workers' protests, which turned into street fights, started. It was the first Polish workers' revolt against the injustice of the communist system. The authorities used the army to suppress the protests, which led to the deaths of at least 58 people plus several hundred injured.

At 7 p.m., sirens sounded throughout the city. When they fell silent, the Poznan residents and guests gathered at Adam Mickiewicz Square sang together the national anthem.

- June in Poznan was victorious. It was the heroism of the Poznan workers that made socialism stumble for the first time in its most horrible, Stalinist form. It was you who won, not the people's power," said Jacek Jaśkowiak, Mayor of the City, to the participants in the Uprising. - The effects of the Poznan events were manifold. The state propaganda lost its credibility and strength. The political thaw, which was tentatively coming to an end, became a necessity as a result of the Poznan June. Soon there was a change of power in Poland, censorship was relaxed for a while, borders opened a bit wider, culture revived. Thanks to you, we could breathe more freely for a while. True democracy was still a long way off, but the first steps towards freedom were taken - here, in Poznań.

The letter from Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, was read by Andrzej Dera, Secretary of State at the President's Chancellery, and the letter from Elżbieta Witek, Speaker of the Sejm, was read by Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Marcin Bosacki spoke on behalf of the Speaker of the Senate, who read out a resolution adopted by the Senate on June 16 to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Poznan's June 1956.

- On 28 June 1956, at 6.30 in the morning, the sirens of the Hipolit Cegielski factory, then called the Jozef Stalin factory, were the signal for the biggest revolt against communist power in Poland since 1944", Marcin Bosacki recalled. - The Cegielski factory workers marching towards the city center were joined by tens of thousands of Poznan citizens, including employees of other companies and institutions, students and pupils. The protest, triggered mainly by worsening living and working conditions, and especially by economic discrimination of Wielkopolska during the Stalinist period, quickly turned into a political statement. The slogans "We want bread for our children" and "Down with the standards" were joined by "We want freedom", "Down with the censorship", "Down with the communists".

Then Andrzej Sporny, chairman of the Association of Poznan June 1956 Insurgents "Niepokonani" spoke on behalf of the participants of the freedom uprising.

- Here, in Poznan 65 years ago, due to the deteriorating living conditions, work, wages and the prevailing repressive regime, for the first time after the war they decided to express their bitterness so massively and strongly - he said. - The central place where all workers, residents of Poznań, young people and myself gathered was the square where we are today and the adjacent streets. A crowd of many thousands demanded a dignified life.

A letter from the Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, was read by the Governor of Wielkopolska, Michał Zieliński. Jarosław Lange, chairman of the NSZZ Solidarność Regional Board, also spoke.

-The workers took to the streets in 1956," he said. - They did so because the communist authorities had degraded the worker and the working man, stripped them of their dignity. They took to the streets not for political reasons, but to defend the dignity of the working man. Today we want to pay tribute to them and thank them for that first step. Over 10,000 soldiers came out to meet them, almost 400 tanks and armored vehicles. There were also casualties - today we know that at least 58. Every fourth victim of those terrible days was under the age of 18. Such was the price of the first step towards freedom.

During the ceremony the Governor of Wielkopolska Province, Michal Zielinski, presented the "Pro Patria" medals. They were given to the participants of the Uprising: the late Boguslaw Stanislaw Kruszona, Kazimierz Jerzy Olejniczak and Marian Sworek, a veteran of Poznan's June 1956. A letter to the participants of the ceremony was also sent by the head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Repression, Minister Jan Jozef Kasprzyk. It was read by Aneta Niestrawska. Deputy Voivode of Wielkopolska.

The celebrations at Adam Mickiewicz Square ended with an appeal in memory of the heroes of June '56 and the laying of flowers at the Monument of Poznan's June. On behalf of the residents of the capital of Wielkopolska lay a wreath: Jacek Jaskowiak, mayor, Grzegorz Ganowicz, chairman of the city council, and Mariusz Wisniewski, deputy mayor of Poznan.

In addition to the participants of the Poznan Uprising and representatives of local and provincial authorities, the ceremony in front of the crosses was attended by local government officials from all over Poland: including Rafal Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw, Tadeusz Truskolaski, Mayor of Bialystok and President of the Board of the Union of Polish Metropolises, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, Mayor of Gdansk and Jacek Sutryk, Mayor of Wroclaw. The memory of the victims of June '56 was also commemorated by the representatives of the Solidarity Trade Union, Hungarian ambassador, parliamentarians, Poznan and Wielkopolska city councilors, as well as representatives of the army and uniformed services. American soldiers stationed in Wielkopolska also paid tribute to the victims of June '56.

After the ceremony a concert of songs from the musical play "Kombinat" began. The greatest hits with music and lyrics by Citizen GC and Republic were presented by the Musical Theatre ensemble.

Poznan June '56 - ceremonies throughout the city

The celebrations of the 65th anniversary of Poznan June '56 began on Monday already at 6 am - then the representatives of the city and province authorities and veterans laid flowers at the memorial plaque at the gate of the H. Cegielski Railway Vehicles Factory. Poznan citizens were represented by Jędrzej Solarski, deputy mayor.

At 9 a.m. Jacek Jaskowiak, the city president, together with the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group countries and of the Western Balkans laid flowers at the Poznañ Crosses. Wreaths were also placed before noon under the plaque commemorating students killed in June '56, under the commemorative plaques by ZNTK S.A, by the former MPK depot on Gajowa Street, on the Three Trams square, at the Monument to the Fallen in Poznan Uprising and under the commemorative plaque on the Provincial Police Headquarters in Poznan. The main ceremonies were preceded by a mass in the Dominican Church.

At 2.15 p.m. a company siren was blown at the Main Gate of H. Cegielski-Poznań S.A. There, the representatives of the voivodship and the city laid flowers. On behalf of the residents of Poznań Mariusz Wiśniewski, Deputy Mayor, and Dominika Król, Deputy Chairwoman of the City Council, laid flowers.

- The Polish road to freedom began in Poznań on June 28, 1956 - said Mariusz Wiśniewski, deputy mayor of Poznań. - Ceglorz workers took to the streets to manifest their growing dissatisfaction with the working conditions and low standard of living. They were spontaneously joined by Poznań residents. They opposed the communist government which limited citizens' rights. June in Poznan was the first step towards realization of the vision of Poland as a sovereign and democratic country, belonging to the Western world in terms of civilization. However, when the dreams of our ancestors became reality, we begin to see how easy it is to lose what they shed their blood for. Let us learn from history and use freedom wisely. Let us try to create an authentic community and respect each other as fellow citizens! We owe this to those who fought for bread, dignity and our freedom.

The citizens of Poznan were the first in the then reality of the People's Republic of Poland to protest against the communist government in June 1956. The street protest of the workers turned into a demonstration of many thousands. The communist authorities used the army to pacify the revolt - at least 58 people were killed and several hundred injured in the clashes.

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