Poland: Back to the Precipice

Workers and government square off in the shadow of Soviet tanks

The factory sirens began to wail at 8 a.m., and for the next four hours all Poland held its breath. In Warsaw, trams and buses draped with red-and-white national flags sat idle in their barns. In Silesia, brawny coal miners folded their arms and refused to descend into the mines. In the Baltic port of Gdansk, where last summer's strikes first launched Poland on its present, breathtakingly dangerous course, shipyard workers laid down their welding torches and rivet guns.

Until noon, the country...

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