Warsaw, Winter 1981: a Child Walks Among the Bayonets

updated 01/11/1982 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/11/1982 01:00AM

The New Year came to Warsaw with the thunder of jackboots, and the frigid Polish winter deepened under the chill of fear. One young girl learned the meaning of martial law on a Christmas-tide stroll through the capital city with her father. Bayonet-carrying militiamen like these, dispatched by General Jaruzelski in the service of his sponsors in the Kremlin, had taken military control of the nation at a cost in their countrymen's blood that the West can only estimate. By last week the few remaining outposts of open resistance among Solidarity dockworkers and miners had been overwhelmed, or nearly so. But messages smuggled out by travelers suggested that even the most cruel repression has its limits—and hope endured among the Polish people that this child and millions like her would someday know the meaning of freedom again.

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