The Work Ethics in Poland; New Class System build by Communists (C-I)

What was a work ethics during the communism in Poland? Rather poor. The good work was not considered one of the most important virtues partly because of historical reasons. Poland was erased from the maps of Europe since the end of XVIII until the War World I and partitioned by Austria, Prussia and Russia. After about twenty years of independence the World War II hit Poland hard not only in human but also in economical losses. The consequence of the last war was a communistic system imposed by Soviet Union. During all this time it was not work but rather sabotage that was in value. Acting against the occupant or even against the communistic government was considered an act of courage.

Here is what a British historian, Norman Davies, author of a renowned book God's Playground- A History of Poland had to say about Poles and their work ethics during communism:

The Poles, above all, are patriots. It has been proved time and again that they will readily die for their country; but few will work for it. As the authorities periodically confess, 'labour problems' continually disrupt the smooth flow of economic progress. The workers feel little sense of identity with the state enterprises for which they labour, and in whose management they have no real voice. "Czy sie stoi, czy sie lezy, dwa tysiace sie nalezy" (Two thousand zloties are your due, whether you stand up, or whether you lie down), is the best known jingle in the land. Absenteeism and alcoholism are rife. The workers pilfer heartily and expertly, and use their winnings toto support thriving private concerns. Anyone who has tried to build a private house in Poland knows that bricks, mortar, and cement are virtually unobtainable on the
open market. But in most suburban areas, even casual visitors can see just how many private houses are actually built.

It is a public secret that the new houses were built frequently near the big construction areas where one could obtain the needed bricks, cements etc. easily.

Since the communism was based from ideological reasons on industry workers and farmers - it was giving special privileges to some representatives of blue-collar workers, especially in heavy industry, steelworks or mining industry. The new after-war generation of industry workers consisted mainly of the children of pauperized farmers from overcrowded villages. For them having a full-time job in the city was a chance for a better life. Communists saw it as an opportunity to build a class of people who would be devoted to the new system. It was not that difficult to indoctrinate somebody without any real education especially if this person see the profits of the system for himself and his family and a chance for a better life and education for his children. The before-war intelligentsia was treated with suspicions since it was a source of freethinkers and people who opposed the new system. The effort was made to build new industry centers near the old cities. The new big steelwork and a town around it, Nowa Huta (meaning "New Steelwork") was built near Krakow. Krakow is a historical city with ancient history and the old university, one of the ten oldest universities in Europe - Jagiellonian University.
The communists wanted to dominate Krakow with their supporters so that the "old" class would lose its support and will be gradually eliminated.

Central Square in Nowa Huta. Read more about Nowa Huta here

This was a sudden change of the structure of Polish society, which was giving much more power to the new working class on the expense of the old intelligentsia. It changed the whole system of values. The career depended on the ideological attitude rather than on the experience and education and it did certainly not affect working habits in a positive way.

Please, read the continuation of this article entitled The Work Ethics in Poland (II) - Work Heroes and Party Actions .

Excerpt from Norman Davies,
God's Playground, Volume 1
, Columbia University Press, New York 1982.

Read also a second part:
God's Playground, Volume 2

written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn, article #62

The SITE MAP contains all articles classified according to the topic.