1968: Polish Student Riots II

Introduction: A Moment in Time, 1968: A special series on the 40th anniversary of a year of upheaval, in a world seemingly out of control.

Content: In early 1968 the University of Warsaw came alive with protests. Discontent had been simmering among the intellectuals and students, many of whom were Jews. The government’s anti-Semitic policies along with the repression of personal freedoms intensified long-term Polish disillusionment with Communism.

In January, the government banned a play by Polish patriot and poet - Adam Mickiewicz, called Dziady, meaning “Forefathers.” Mickiewicz was a proponent of Polish national freedom and the play had a nationalist message. The director of the play was expelled from the Communist party and fired. After the last performance on January 30th, there was a march and demonstration against the ban, and in the days that followed letters of protest and petitions, including one with three thousand signatures, were presented to government officials. In early March a writer’s union and actor’s union condemned the ban, and two student leaders were expelled from the university.

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1968: Polish Student Riots I

Introduction: A Moment in Time, 1968: A special series on the 40th anniversary of a year of upheaval, in a world seemingly out of control.

Content: In the late 1960s, student protests circled the globe and often had no unifying theme other than an assault on the status quo. While student protests on college campuses in the United States were aimed primarily at U.S. involvement in Vietnam, in Eastern Europe students protested against Soviet repression. This was something new to the autocratic regimes of the East, particularly the ultra hard-line regime in Poland. There had been occasional minor outbursts on college campuses in Poland during the early 1960s, but these were quickly suppressed.

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