Transition and Continuity: The Polish Army’s March into the Third Republic and into NATO, 1989–1999

Jens Boysen


Poland’s transition from an authoritarian communist regime to a liberal democracy and market economy and from an army controlled by the country’s only party, the Communist Party, to actual civilian control started at the end of 1989, in particular after Lech Walęsa was elected president. Unlike many other postcommunist states, especially Germany, Poland regards the army as an institution that is the nation’s school, the bearer of national unity and the guarantee of the state’s existence. The Armia Ludowa – people’s army – of communist Poland took over many national traditions of the Polish army, combined them with Marxist and pro-Soviet ideology, and stayed out of political games despite being controlled by the political main directorate of the party. Both the party and the army derived their legitimacy from the people. After the declaration of martial law in 1981, the army unexpectedly found itself with all the power and this was a serious blow to the prestige of the army in the eyes of the people.


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Kirjastaja / Published by:

ISSN 2228-0669 (trükis / print)