Forsvarsstudier no. 2/1991
Title: Challenge and retreat. The erosion of Soviet power in Poland 1970-1989.
Author: Sven G. Holtsmark
This study examines the erosion of Soviet influence and control in Poland in the 1870s and 1980s as the ultimate outcomeof the inability of the communist regime in Warsaw to arrive at a modus vivendu with Polish society. The regime's attempts to achieve popular legitimacy served only to strengthen independent social and political initiatives and structures, while legitimacy itself dwindled. Thus the ground was prepared for the eventual take-over of political power by the forces of the former opposition. The same process was mirrored on the level of Soviet-Polish relations. The Soviets were forced to grant the Polish government increased autonomy in domestic, and to some degree even foreign, affairs, in a vain attempt to strengthen its domestic position. This Soviet strategy led to a gradual loosening of Soviet control and prepared the groun for the Soviet capitulation in the summer of 1989.
Sven G. Holtsmark is a senior fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies.