Poland to demote communist-era generals to rank of privates
By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA
Mar. 01, 2018
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's right-wing government paved the way Thursday to strip the nation's last communist leader, the late Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, and other communist-era officers of their ranks, calling it "restoring moral order."
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki argued that the draft law adopted by his Cabinet takes the side of the victims of more than four decades of communism in Poland. It was intentionally adopted on the day Poland honors anti-communist fighters who were killed and persecuted by the regime imposed on Poland after World War II.
"Through this draft law, we want to restore the basic moral order. We want to say that evil is evil and good is good, that betrayal is a betrayal and heroism is heroism," Morawiecki said in announcing the decision.
"We are taking the side of the victims against evil," he said.
Under the law, which still needs approval from parliament and President Andrzej Duda, high-ranking communist-era officers would be demoted to the rank of privates for their roles since 1944 in the oppressive Moscow-imposed regime and in the anti-freedom 1981 martial law military clampdown imposed by Jaruzelski. Some 100 opponents were killed under martial law.
The government argues it is targeting those who violated the rights of individuals and turned the army against their own nation in the service of communism.
Later Thursday, 200 members of far-right groups marched through downtown Warsaw with torches in memory of the anti-communist fighters.
The law would affect army and secret security officers, including Jaruzelski and former interior minister Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak, also deceased, as well as Poland's only cosmonaut, Gen. Miroslaw Hermaszewski, 76.
They were all members of a military body that ran Poland during almost three years of martial law and which democratic Poland, established in 1989, has declared unconstitutional.
The draft has drawn criticism, also from members of the ruling party.
Hermaszewski's outspoken son-in-law, Ryszard Czarnecki, who is a member of the European Parliament, said Hermaszewski is a "decent man" and a "Polish patriot."
"Putting him together with Jaruzelski and Kiszczak is unfair," Czarnecki told broadcaster TVN24.