The Black Market in Poland 1944–1989
This book analyzes the history of the black market in Poland before the 1940s and the development of black-market phenomena in post-war Poland. The author evaluates the interrelation between black-market phenomena and historical and geographical conditions. At first, the black market stabilized the system by making it more flexible and creating a margin of freedom, albeit in the short term. In the long run, the informal economic activities of the people ran counter to and undermined the official ideology of the state. The author concludes that in post-war Poland, owing to a singular coincidence of historical, political, economic and social factors, the second economy had its own unique character and an endemic presence that loomed large in the Soviet Bloc.
Currency depends on your shipping address
- Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 436 pp., 30 b/w ill., 6 b/w tables
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- 1. Terms and Methods
- 1.1 What Color was the Black Market?
- 1.1.1 Legal Markets
- 1.1.2 Semi-legal Markets
- 1.1.3 Illegal Markets
- 1.2 The Black Market in Communist Poland: Problems with Definition
- 1.3 Literature, Sources, Method
- 2. Shortage, Greed, Protest: A Short Course in the History of the Black Market in the First Half of the 20th Century
- 2.1 The Beginnings
- 2.2 The First World War and the Interwar Period
- 2.3 Second World War
- 2.4 After the War
- 3. The Polish (anti) Speculation Curve: 1944–1989
- 3.1 Commission I: 1945–1950/54
- 3.1.1 Trial Period: 1944–1947
- 3.1.2 “We Have Won the Trade War”: 1947–1950
- 3.2 Intermedium I: 1950–1956
- 3.3 Team I (and II): 1957 (and Later)
- 3.3.1 Excursus: Team II
- 3.4 Intermedium II: The 1960s and 1970s
- 3.4.1 The 1960s
- 3.4.2 The 1970s
- 3.5 Commission II: 1981–1987
- 3.5.1 The Road to “Speculation Hell”
- 3.5.2 Provisorium: The Extraordinary Commission: August 10 – October 12, 1981
- 3.5.3 The Front Line of the War on Speculation: The Central Commission
- 4. The (Historical) Geography of the Black Market in the Polish People’s Republic
- 4.1 General Remarks
- 4.2 Center – Periphery
- 4.2.1 Center – Big Cities
- 4.2.2 Periphery: Municipal and District Poland
- 4.3 The North versus the South
- 4.3.1 The South: It Is Impossible to Bring Socialism to the Polish Highlands!
- 4.3.2 The North: “The Land Fills Your Belly, the Sea Fills Your Pockets”
- 4.4 East–West
- 5. Meat
- 5.1 “Meat Is Problem Number One”: But Why?
- 5.2 Meat on the Black Market: Between Repression and Consent
- 5.2.1 “The Great Battle for Meat”: 1944–1950
- 5.2.2 “State Ribs Will Taste Better…” 1950–1956
- 5.2.3 “In Gomułka’s Times, There Are Only Crumbs…”: 1956–1970
- 5.2.4 “When There Are Pigs, There Will Be Smart Ideas…”: 1971–1980
- 5.2.5 “They Slaughter a Pig, Because They Have to Eat …”: 1980–1989
- 184.108.40.206 Meat Industry or (Creative) Relapse into Crime
- 220.127.116.11 “The Veal Woman”: A Retrospective Portrait
- 18.104.22.168 “Legalize the Illegal Just a Little”: 1984–1989
- 6. Alcohol
- 6.1 A National Hobby: Illegal Alcohol Production
- 6.1.1 The Clandestine Distilleries: Moonshine and the Authorities
- 6.1.2 “He Has a Drinking Habit but Not a Lot of Money”: Determinants, Technology, Geography
- 6.2 “Buy a Bottle, Mister!” Illegal Trading in Legal Alcohol
- 6.3 Excursus: The 1980s
- 7. Gasoline
- 7.1 Driving on Bootleg: From the 1950s to the 1970s
- 7.2 “The As-good-as Private Pump”: The 1980s
- 8. Dollar and Gold
- 8.1 Dollar and Gold: A Panacea for Tough Times
- 8.2 Power, Dollar, Gold
- 8.2.1 1945–1950–1956
- 8.2.2 1956–1981
- 8.2.3 1981–1989
- 8.3 The Greenback Game: Mechanisms and Players
- 8.3.1 Motivation
- 8.3.2 Transfer
- 8.3.3 Money Changers: A Portrait Study
- 9. The Tourist Trade in Communist Poland
- 9.1 Trading Tourism: Introduction
- 9.2 The 1950s and the 1960s: “We Are Too Poor to Vacation in Our Own Country…”
- 9.3 The 1970s: “Who Are the Smugglers? Every Single Person that Travels Abroad!”
- 9.4 The 1980s: “The Phoenicians Are on the Move!”
- Closing Remarks: Through the Back Door – or the Front?
- Index of names
1. Terms and Methods
← 12 | 13 →
1. Terms and Methods
“During the war one could get anything at all”, reminisced the Polish painter Franciszek Starowieyski, “but once the socialist shambles began its reign, even trivial things became unavailable. Very quickly people realized that socialism was a force of “desertification.” “What will happen in the Sahara once the socialists arrive? They will run out of sand,” ran a popular joke that did the rounds in 1945, when it became clear how quickly everything was disappearing and falling apart, once socialism took hold.”1 This book is dedicated to all the efforts undertaken by post-war Polish society to irrigate the “socialist desert” and squeeze from it as much as possible. Bearing in mind that most of the oases and water reserves and oases had been nationalized; Poles were obliged to engage in a complicated, and usually illegal, game playing with the state. This went on for almost half a century.
1.1 What Color was the Black Market?
This book does not aspire to be an economic, sociological or anthropological analysis. It aims at an interdisciplinary (albeit history-focused) reconstruction of various behaviors, mechanisms, phenomena, practices, processes and strategies united under the shared umbrella of the term “black market”. These mechanisms and strategies were unusually multilayered; they varied in time and geography. They reacted instantly to external and internal circumstances. Black market players spoke their own language and had a distinct set of values. They were involved in the black...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.