Book Discussion: From Solidarity to Martial Law: The Polish Crisis of 1980-1981
5th Floor Conference Room
Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
Malcolm Byrne, Deputy Director and Director of Research, National Security Archive, and commentary from Douglas MacEachin, former head of Soviet Analysis, Central Intelligence Agency. CWIHP Director Christian Ostermann will chair.
Just over 25 years ago, on December 13, 1981, a uniquely Polish experiment in popular democracy came to a brutal end with the invocation of martial law. For 16 months, a nation-wide movement spearheaded by the Solidarity trade union pushed back with unprecedented effect at Poland's communist authorities' efforts to wipe out or at least to limit the growing threat to their rule. What began as an internal movement immediately and inevitably took on international dimensions as the Soviet Union applied intensive pressure on the Polish communists to crush the union, and Western powers maneuvered to prevent an outright invasion.
Now, a new compilation of previously secret materials from Soviet, Polish, East European and American archives presents a fresh account of that extraordinary period from a variety of national and institutional perspectives. Soviet and Polish Politburo minutes, transcripts of top-level meetings between Soviet bloc officials, White House and CIA records describe the unfolding of a crisis that most observers believed could spin out of control and lead to a superpower conflict. Many of these materials were made available during the course of a major international cooperative project coordinated by the National Security Archive and with leading participation by the Institute of Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and the Cold War International History Project in Washington.
Malcolm Byrne, Deputy Director and Director of Research at the National Security Archive, currently directs the Openness in Russia and Eastern Europe Project, among other international-oriented activities. His edited publications include A Cardboard Castle: An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1989 (CEU Press, 2005) and The 1956 Hungarian Revolution: A History in Documents (CEU Press, 2002). He is series editor of "The National Security Archive Cold War Reader" series, in which the above volumes appear. His articles have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Columbia Journalism Review, and other publications. He is a graduate of Tufts University and earned his M.A. in Soviet studies and economics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. In 1977, he taught English language and literature at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.
Douglas J. MacEachin joined the CIA in 1965. In the early 1980s he was Director of the office that ran the CIA's 24-hour Operations Center and prepared the daily current intelligence product for the President and other senior U.S. policy officials. He was the senior CIA officer overseeing the Polish crisis on a daily basis. From 1984 to 1989, he was Director of the CIA Office of Soviet Analysis, then served as Chief of the Intelligence Community's Arms Control Intelligence Staff until early 1993. From 1993 to 1995 he was Deputy Director for Intelligence, overseeing the Agency's all-source analysis. Since retiring in 1997, he has served as Intelligence Officer in Residence and Senior Research Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and been affiliated with Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, among other scholarly activities. His publications include "U.S. Intelligence and the Polish Crisis: 1980-1981" (Center for the Study of Intelligence, 2000). MacEachin attended Miami University of Ohio on a Navy (Holloway) Scholarship, receiving a B.A. in Economics in 1959, at which time he was commissioned as regular officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1964 he received his M.A. in Economics from Miami University. In 1966 he received a Mershon Fellowship at Ohio State University to complete a doctorate in National Security Studies, but elected to join the CIA instead.