Studies in the Relations between Politics and Culture in Polish History
Books in the Hands of Stalinists (1948–1956): Policies, their Implementation, and Results
The year 1948 is generally treated as the first important watershed in the post-World War II history of Poland. It was precisely during that year that the communists, having previously assured their hold on all major state institutions, initiated the battle to subdue Polish society as a whole. The so-called “system of people’s democracy”, which allowed for a limited presence of private enterprise in the economy and put up with elements of authentic life in the organisational and social functioning of the nation, was replaced with the omnipresence of centralised power, which embarked on the shortest possible course towards totalitarianism. One of the major components of this new destiny was the ideological vision of creating the “new man”. To make this vision real, the communists decided to launch intensive propaganda and persuasion actions, which required changes in the system of book production and distribution. Books had to deliver ideologically “correct” contents. And to assure the “correctness” of the printed materials, communists used the state censorship bureau, established as one of the first agencies of the new authorities.1
The first general elections in post-war Poland were held in January 1947. Their results were falsified so that the communists could claim legality of power. During the same year, President Bolesław Bierut announced that there would be changes with regard to the treatment of artists, and that planning would be introduced also in culture: “[…] in the sphere of cultural creativity there should be introduced the same relationship between...
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