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Thatcher considered backing communists against Solidarity?

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 27.02.2012 16:12
In 1981, then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher considered supporting the communist regime in Warsaw in suppressing the Solidarity trade union, a previously confidential German Foreign Ministry document reveals.

Not so Iron Lady? photo - wikicommons

The Der Spiegel magazine writes that Thatcher's foreign secretary at the time, Lord Peter Carrington, told diplomats in New York that year, as the communist regime contiplated a crackdown against Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement, that the British Conservative government only backed Solidarity out of “respect for public opinion”, but from a more rational position, they would actually be, "on the side of the Polish [communist] government".

Thatcher's government was apparently concerned that too radical demands by Solidarity could trigger a Soviet invasion of Poland and destabilise the region.

Observers have note4d that, if true, then the revelation that Thatcher was suspicious of Solidarity and Walesa and considered backing a communist regime in suppressing the movement would be a severe dent to her 'Iron Lady' image, which inspired the Oscar winning film of the same name.

In 2009 it was revealed that Prime Minister Thatcher was “deeply impressed” by the courage and patriotism that General Jaruzelski showed as the communist fell from power in 1989.

Previously classified Soviet documents showed that Thatcher had a positive attitude to Polish communist leader General Jaruzelski, who imposed martial law in Poland in December 1981, describing him as a “Polish patriot”.

The papers, previously part of the Mikhail Gorbachov foundation’s collection, reported that the then British prime minister, in a meeting with Gorbachov in the autumn of 1989, expressed her admiration for how calmly the Russian leader had taken the June elections in Poland, which brought the Mazowiecki government to power and toppled communism.

There has been a long running debate as to whether Jaruzelski was a “Polish traitor” by introducing martial law, with opinion polls frequently split down the middle on the issue even to this day.

Jaruzelski has always maintained that if he had not ordered the crackdown then a Soviet invasion was a real threat.

Documents declassified by NATO on the 30th anniversary of martial law last December, however, reveal that it did not believe there was a threat of Soviet military intervention in Poland.

There is no information about a [Soviet military] decision, or troop movements,” one of the freshly released documents declares. (pg)

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