General Wojciech Jaruzelski (6 July 1923 – 25 May 2014)
Former Polish Communist party prime minister who imposed martial law to crush the Solidarity democracy movement in 1981
Patriot, puppet or pragmatist? Reformer or orthodox communist? The jury remains out on the record of General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who has died aged 90. Living quietly in retirement from the end of 1990, Jaruzelski tried hard for the rest of his life to convince the world he had never been less than a Polish patriot, and that from 1989 he dismantled the apparatus of communist rule setting Poland firmly on the path to democracy and the free market. Opinion has swayed somewhat in his favour. But Jaruzelski remains an enigma and the debate over his actions is certain to continue.
The accusations against Jaruzelski remain that he betrayed Poland and was acting at Moscow's bidding when he declared martial law to crush the Solidarity movement, and that he turned to reform only because circumstances in the communist camp forced him to change course. Jaruzelski always insisted that he ordered Polish tanks on to the streets of Warsaw on 13 December 1981 because he believed it was the only way to prevent a Soviet invasion to put an end to the Solidarity-led strikes and demands for democratic reforms.
© The Guardian, Sunday 25 May 2014
Read full obituary: The Guardian - General Wojciech Jaruzelski
Obituary in The Financial Times