It was a cold and snowy Sunday morning on December 13, 1981. I woke up to find my country under Martial Law (literally - The State of War or "stan wojenny").
Thousands of Solidarity leadership and activists were arrested and imprisoned without court sentence. The borders were sealed, airports were closed and road access to main cities was restricted. Travel between cities required permission. Curfew was imposed between 10 pm and 6 am. Telephone lines were disconnected. Mail was subject to censorship. All trade union and other independent organizations were de-legalized. All TV and radio transmissions were suspended (except one government TV channel and one government radio station). Public administration, health services, power generation stations, coal mines, sea ports, train stations, and most of the key factories were placed under military management. The employees had to follow military orders or face a court martial. Classes in schools and at universities were suspended.
From the early morning hours the only TV channel and the only radio station transmitted Gen. Jaruzelski's(our prime minister at that time) address . The anchors wore military uniforms. Only newspapers controlled by the Communist Party or the military were published.
And there were tanks on the streets and soldiers... they were wearing Polish uniforms but could not speak Polish. (I know because one day I was pretending that I'm lost and asked for directions. The soldier look at me like a space cadet with cold eyes of a shark and said nothing. I swear he was Russian.)
A few days later there was no food in the grocery stores. Can you imagine walking into Safeway or Stop and Shop and see only vinegar on shelves? Well, that's what I saw. And I had two little children at that time...
My memories are so fresh, just as all events happened yesterday. My eyes are dry but hands clenched into fists.
I remember smuggling food from farms, even making my own booze! The life was so hard but we tried to make the best of it. Despite curfew hours the social life was booming, we just had to be careful not to get cut.
The Martial Law was suspended in the summer of 1983.
So long my friends, I hope tomorrow I'll be in the lighter mood (today I can blame the full moon for my state of mind)