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1956 1.7: Soviet Sickles

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

01-02-2024 • 38 minutos

1956 Episode 1.7 examines the continuing deterioration of the Polish situation, as Polish citizens dared to ask more and more questions, and to criticise the Soviet order, on their lips was one figure above all – Vladislav Gomulka (pictured).


Gomulka was one figure among many who had been disgraced and imprisoned during Stalin’s numerous purges. Gomulka, it was said, was too vocal a critic, and too independent or nationalistically inclined to rule Poland in Moscow’s name. Now though, the Polish people were calling for him, and they were demonstrating on the streets in increasing numbers to do so.


Here we detail how the Soviets dealt with this challenge in one of their most sensitive satellites, and what the major concerns of Polish citizens were in light of the revelations of the secret speech. The story involved a face-off between Gomulka and Khrushchev, as the latter made a stormy visit to Warsaw to see for himself in late October exactly what had gone down in Poland. Khrushchev left not with Gomulka’s head, but with a tacit acceptance of that man’s leadership. The question of why this occurred holds several fascinating answers, so make sure you join us here as we attempt to unpack this incredible episode in Soviet-Polish relations.


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