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1980s Poland: Dazzling Color Pictures Show Life In Polish People’s Republic

In the 1980s, Poland was called the Polish People’s Republic. The foreign debt was over US$23 billion, and the country was forced to export everything it could, particularly food and coal, to service its massive debt. Inflation was very high, because the government was forced the raise the prices, which led to further large-scale social unrest and formation of the Solidarity movement. Rationing and queuing became a way of life, even to a buy toilet paper, people had to wait for hours in the queue. Access to luxury goods was nearly impossible because people were running out of the basic necessities. The socialist system influenced every sphere of life. The socialist food distribution system barely functioned, tanks rolled along the streets.

The following pictures show Poland in the early 1980s when it was under the communist regime. These photographs were captured by Chris Niedenthal.

#1 Meat shop, Warsaw, 1980s.

Meat shop, Warsaw, 1980s.

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#2 Wedding couple in the Main Square, Wroclaw, 1982.

Wedding couple in the Main Square, Wroclaw, 1982.

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#3 Lech Wałęsa, Pope John Paul II and Fr. Henryk Jankowski at Wałęsa’a home in Gdańsk, 1982.

Lech Wałęsa, Pope John Paul II and Fr. Henryk Jankowski at Wałęsa'a home in Gdańsk, 1982.

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#4 Warsaw, Solidarity supporters, martial law, 1982.

Warsaw, Solidarity supporters, martial law, 1982.

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#5 A Wroclaw boy, 1982.

A Wroclaw boy, 1982.

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#6 Live carp; preparing for Christmas Eve dinner, 1980s.

Live carp; preparing for Christmas Eve dinner, 1980s.

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#7 Palm Sunday, Kurpie, 1980s.

Palm Sunday, Kurpie, 1980s.

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#8 Pilgrimage for men winds its way to Piekary Śląskie, 1982.

Pilgrimage for men winds its way to Piekary Śląskie, 1982.

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#9 Lech Wałęsa in Solidarity’s office, in Gdansk-Wrzeszcz, 1980.

Lech Wałęsa in Solidarity's office, in Gdansk-Wrzeszcz, 1980.

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#10 Perfect” rock band at a concert in Konin, 1983.

Perfect" rock band at a concert in Konin, 1983.

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#11 The Kiss” Lech Walesa with his wife Danuta before heading off to work, 1980.

The Kiss" Lech Walesa with his wife Danuta before heading off to work, 1980.

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#12 Lech Walesa arriving for registration of Solidarity trade union, Warsaw, 1980.

Lech Walesa arriving for registration of Solidarity trade union, Warsaw, 1980.

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#13 Predom-Polar refrigerator factory, Wroclaw, 1982.

Predom-Polar refrigerator factory, Wroclaw, 1982.

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#14 Wrocław kids, 1982.

Wrocław kids, 1982.

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#15 Swimming area near Wrocław, 1982.

Swimming area near Wrocław, 1982.

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#16 Young boys rearing chicks at home, Leszno, martial law, 1982.

Young boys rearing chicks at home, Leszno, martial law, 1982.

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#17 Crisis in Bydgoszcz, 1981.

Crisis in Bydgoszcz, 1981.

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#18 Food stamps, Warsaw, 1980s.

Food stamps, Warsaw, 1980s.

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#19 Karlino, where an explosion rocked oil drilling installations, 1981.

Karlino, where an explosion rocked oil drilling installations, 1981.

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#20 Walking the pig home in a small village, 1980s.

Walking the pig home in a small village, 1980s.

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#21 Tadeusz Konwicki, Polish author, film director, 1982.

Tadeusz Konwicki, Polish author, film director, 1982.

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#22 Used car market, Poznań, 1980s.

Used car market, Poznań, 1980s.

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#23 Food shop, 1982.

Food shop, 1982.

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#24 End of strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, 1980.

End of strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, 1980.

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#25 Family at work in the fields, 1980s.

Family at work in the fields, 1980s.

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#26 Sickle without the hammer, near Wrocław, 1982.

Sickle without the hammer, near Wrocław, 1982.

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#27 Young pilgrims on the way to Jasna Gora, 1982.

Young pilgrims on the way to Jasna Gora, 1982.

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#28 Cracow, 300th anniversary of victory over Turks, 1983.

Cracow, 300th anniversary of victory over Turks, 1983.

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#29 Learning English at a language school, Warsaw, 1982.

Learning English at a language school, Warsaw, 1982.

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#30 Jasna Góra, papal pilgrimage, Czestochowa, 1983.

Jasna Góra, papal pilgrimage, Czestochowa, 1983.

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#31 Pewex foreign currency store, Warsaw, 1982.

Pewex foreign currency store, Warsaw, 1982.

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#32 Village kids near Wrocław, 1982.

Village kids near Wrocław, 1982.

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#33 Prayers after assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, Cracow, 1981.

Prayers after assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, Cracow, 1981.

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#34 Vistula” textile factory, Cracow, 1982.

Vistula" textile factory, Cracow, 1982.

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#35 Cardinal Glemp, 1981.

Cardinal Glemp, 1981.

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#36 Peace” graffiti on Sopot Pier, 1984.

Peace" graffiti on Sopot Pier, 1984.

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#37 Kids, Wroclaw, 1982.

Kids, Wroclaw, 1982.

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#38 Woman at swimming pool near Wrocław, 1982.

Woman at swimming pool near Wrocław, 1982.

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#39 Swimming area outside Wroclaw, 1982.

Swimming area outside Wroclaw, 1982.

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#40 Holy Mass at opening of 1st Convention of Solidarity, Oliwa, 1981.

Holy Mass at opening of 1st Convention of Solidarity, Oliwa, 1981.

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#41 Kids with guns, Wroclaw, 1982.

Kids with guns, Wroclaw, 1982.

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#42 Poznań girls, 1981.

Poznań girls, 1981.

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#43 Horseback pilgrimage during Easter at Pietrowice Śląskie, 1984.

Horseback pilgrimage during Easter at Pietrowice Śląskie, 1984.

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#44 A Wrocław girl, 1982.

A Wrocław girl, 1982.

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#45 Market in Grójec, martial law, February, 1982.

Market in Grójec, martial law, February, 1982.

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#46 Used car market, Poznań, 1980s.

Used car market, Poznań, 1980s.

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#47 Outdoor market in Grójec, during martial law, 1982.

Outdoor market in Grójec, during martial law, 1982.

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#48 Tired young boy during pilgrimage on foot Warsaw-Czestochowa, 1982.

Tired young boy during pilgrimage on foot Warsaw-Czestochowa, 1982.

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#49 Ząbkowska Street, Warsaw, 1982.

Ząbkowska Street, Warsaw, 1982.

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#50 Guard of honour during visit of Mikhail Gorbachev in Sofia, 1980s.

Guard of honour during visit of Mikhail Gorbachev in Sofia, 1980s.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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10 Comments

  1. A new wave of strikes in early August 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union Solidarity (Solidarność) led by Lech Wałęsa. The government of Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in December 1981 in response to the growing strength and activity of the opposition.