Poland photographed by Bruno Barbey in the year 1981. Part ¾:

  1. Kraków. Woman reading newspaper in the editorial office of the weekly newspaper Solidarność, banned later that year.
  2. Monastery in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. People praying in a little chapel.
  3. Town of Częstochowa. Annual pilgrimage to the Black Madonna a Franciscan Shrine dedicated to Blessed Mother Mary, revered as the Queen of Peace and Mercy. Pilgrims having reached the national sactuary after a 7 day journay on foot.
  4. Silesia region. The changing room in a local mine.
  5. In the city of Gdańsk.
  6. Huta Katowice - steel and ironworks, Silesia region.
  7. Warsaw. Memorial to the victims of the Katyń massacre (series of mass executions carried out by the Russian Soviet forces in 1940, when around 22.000 Polish high rank officers and intelligentsia were executed).
  8. Praga district of Warsaw. Controversial monument “in glory of the Polish Army and the Red Army” - in 1944 the Soviet troops remained at Praga for 63 days without helping the Polish troops during the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis just at the opposite bank of the Vistula river.
  9. Town of Chełmno. Delivered coal being collected from the street.
  10. Bodzentyn, near the city of Kielce. People waiting for bread.

Later that year, in December, the authoritarian communist government imposed the martial law in an attempt to crush political opposition - e.g. the growing support for Solidarność movement, which had reached 10 milion members by September - but as a result only strengthening the support for the opposition that evetually led to the fall of the Soviet Bloc years later. 1981 was a year leading towards major social and political changes in Poland.

Photographs © Bruno Barbey / Magnum Photos

[more shots from the postwar / communist era of Poland under my PRL tag]


City of Warsaw, Poland between 1973-1983 photographed by Chris Niedenthal [source].

Most of the shots above show the situation before and after the imposition of martial law in Poland. Click [here] to see a set of photographs taken by Niedenthal during the 1981/2 protests in Warsaw.

On the last picture you can see a contrasting Pewex - which was chain of hard currency shops selling imported goods:

The emergence of Pewex stores made it possible to for natives to obtain the unobtainable; a familiar sight to any foreigner in Poland at the time, these special ‘tourist shops’ offered a wide range of goods, but only in return for hard currency. The Pewex chain of stores, and their coastal equivalent Baltona, were open to the general public. Stocking the cult goods of the time, such as the dangerously named Derek aftershave, these shops became a constant reminder to Poles of what was available in the West, and more painfully, to those in power. But with rationing in operation in the ordinary stores, Pewex shopping became a necessity, not just a luxury, for the everyday Pole. The scheming involved to get hard currency became an art form, and it was for this reason sailors, taxi drivers and others who had regular contact with foreigners were envied by the common worker. [source / read more]