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Information from Warsaw affected the situation in schools of higher learning in Gdansk and Sopot. In order to alleviate the tension, Party and academic authorities hastily consented to a meeting held on 12 March in the hall of the Gdansk Polytechnic. Stanislaw Kociolek, the First Secretary of the Voivodeship Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party, who was booed out of the hall, later admitted that the Party authorities had not correctly grasped the prevailing mood. The meeting was attended by 3 000 -5 000 students and members of the academic staff. The participants passed a resolution supporting the students of Warsaw and calling for an expansion of democratic liberties. In the afternoon, a demonstration organised next to the Students' Club , where the student activists met with Adam Rapacki, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, was dispelled by order keeping forces. A meeting at the Gdansk Polytechnic, originally planned for 15 March, was called off a day earlier, but this information did not reach all the academic and secondary school students and other persons interested in attending it. Groups of young people started gathering around the Polytechnic building, and at 3 p.m. the militia, ORMO (Voluntary Workers' Militia) and Polish Army officers dressed in civilian clothes commenced their first assault. The disturbances lasted for several hours, and during the climax they involved, either actively or passively, some 20 000 persons. In March 1968 this was one the largest street clashes in the country, with a considerable number of detained demonstrators and casualties. Characteristically, the majority of the detainees were young workers, showing that contrary to the propaganda meetings held in assorted work places, numerous workers actually supported student demonstrations. Another noteworthy fact is the presence of secondary school students; in May, one of the demonstrators from Gdynia, Bogdan Borusewicz, was arrested and sentenced to one and a half year imprisonment.
  • M. Andrzejewski, Uniwersytet Gdanski, Instytut Historii, ul. W. Stwosza 55, 80-952 Gdansk, Poland
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