Coal mine massacre during Solidarity-era Poland to go public

One of the darkest events in the martial-law era of Poland in the early 1980s will soon be available to the public.

Radio Poland reports that the criminal cases against police accused of killing nine mine workers and wounding dozens more at the Wujek and Manifest Lipcowy mines, will pass to the archives at the Institute of National Remembrance.

On December 16, 1981, communist security police were dispatched to the mines to quell the upstart Solidarity-led opposition, three days after martial law was declared. The miners were striking against the imposition of martial law.

As Radio Poland describes it:

The forces used against the miners consisted of eight companies of riot police (ZOMO), supported by ORMO (police reservists) and NOMO with seven water cannons, three companies of military infantry fighting vehicles (each of 10 vehicles) and one company of tanks. A commando-type special platoon of ZOMO opened fire at the strikers, killing nine and wounding 21 others. The subsequent repressions included sentencing of three miners to three to four years in prison.

In 2007, 15 former members of the special platoon were sentenced to prison terms for their part in the killings, with most receiving 2.5 to three years incarceration, according to the news outlet.

The Wujek massacre is seen as an important historical event. While the strike at the mines was suppressed by authorities, it was a key milestone towards the collapse of communist Poland and eventually the entire Eastern Bloc, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Image "Kopalnia Węgla Kamiennego Wujek" by Sir IwanOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.