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The article is based on the published documents of the Voivodeship Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) in Olsztyn, unpublished archival material of the Warmia and Mazury University, and the documents of the Olsztyn-based Security Service, kept at the Institute of National Remembrance. The author reconstructs the incidents, which took place in Olsztyn at the time of the so-called March events. March '68 in Olsztyn spanned from 7 February to 25 September of that year, when leaflets and posters across Warmia and Mazuria and particularly in Olsztyn informed the local population about the course of the students' protests in Warsaw and other Polish academic centres. At the time, students of higher schools of learning and secondary school upper forms tried to rebel against the practices of the communist authorities, demanded freedom of speech, and expressed solidarity with their peers in the Polish capital. This was a period of heated discussions and the organisation at the Agricultural Academy and the Teachers' College in Olsztyn of students' meetings, at which the youthful contestants, on the one hand, and the activists of the PUWP, the Union of Socialist Youth (ZMS) and the Union of Rural Youth (ZMW), on the other hand, tried to win over the academic milieu. As in other parts of the country, March '68 was a time of meetings and mass-scale demonstrations, at which, inspired by the propaganda experts of the PUWP and the Security Service, workers from assorted enterprises in the voivodeship of Olsztyn passed resolutions condemning the 'troublemakers' and 'agitators' and expressed support for Wladyslaw Gomulka, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the PUWP. This was also a period of slogans warning against the 'Zionist fifth column', accused of exploiting naive young people for the purpose of its perfidious political objectives. The increasingly active Security Service and in particular Group IV of the Third Department at the Voivodeship Headquarters of the Citizens' Militia in Olsztyn, cooperating with the Voivodeship Committee of the PUWP and pro-regime youth organisations, made it impossible for the tide of students' protest to spread beyond the academic centre in Krotowo and the building of the Teachers' College. The Security Service constantly monitored the situation in the voivodeship of Olsztyn, protected various schools of higher learning, secondary schools and work places, and identified and detained the more active students. The pacification of contesting students involved the application of a wide gamut of means, especially secret collaborators within the academic and scientific circles of Olsztyn. As a result, student campaigns regarded as a threat for the authorities were hampered both in the voivodeship and its capital.
  • P. Kardela, Biuro Edukacji Publicznej Instytutu Pamieci Narodowej w Bialymstoku, Delegatura w Olsztynie, Olsztyn, Poland
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