Skip to main content Accesibility Help
×
×
Home

Equality through Protection: The Politics of Women's Employment in Postwar Poland, 1945-1956

  • Malgorzata Fidelis
Abstract

In this article, Malgorzata Fidelis analyzes the role of gender in postwar Polish employment policies and shop floor culture and casts a new light on east European Stalinism and de-Stalinization. Focusing on the reconstruction and implementation of protective labor legislation for women, Fidelis argues that the communist definition of gender was a recast version of the western liberal notion of immutable sexual difference positioned in the body. At the same time, Polish society participated in defining gender at the site of production, most visibly in the de-Stalinization backlash against women, who had entered male-dominated skilled jobs in heavy industry under Stalinism. The party-state's use of women's reproductive function as a justification to remove women from men's jobs suggests that east European de-Stalinization needs to be reexamined in light of its different meaning for women and men.

Copyright
References
Hide All

Research for this article was assisted by a grant from the Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies at Stanford University: Earlier versions were presented at the Russian and Eastern European Workshop and European Workshop, both at Stanford University. I would like to thank all participants for their valuable comments. I also would like to thank Norman Naimark, Mary Louise Roberts, Basia Nowak, and the Slavic Review's anonymous readers for their constructive criticism and thoughtful suggestions.

1. Joanna Goven argues that, in the case of Hungary, the communists replaced the definition of gender roles embedded in the Enlightenment notion of “natural laws” with a definition based on the familialization and rationalization of women. Goven, Joanna, “Gender and Modernism in a Stalinist State,” Social Politics 9 (Spring 2002): 328. For a discussion of the Soviet embrace of traditional values as a way to further modern mobilization, see Hoffmann, David L., Stalinist Values: The Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity, 1917-1941 (Ithaca, 2003).

2. Lynne Haney warns against an oversimplified division of postwar east European history into two differing and opposing stages of state socialism and welfare capitalism. Haney, Lynne, Inventing the Needy: Gender and the Politics of Welfare in Hungary (Berkeley, 2002), 5. In the case of women, Goven shows that postcommunist trends, such as antifeminism, were a continuation of rather than a departure from the policies of state socialism. Joanna Goven, “The Gendered Foundations of Hungarian Socialism: State, Society, and the Anti-Politics of Anti-Feminism, 1948-1990” (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Berkeley, 1993).

3. Formed in 1942 with the help of the Soviet Union, the Polish Workers’ Party (Polska Partia Robotnicza), held the key ministries in Polish governments between 1945 and 1948. The other two dominant political parties were the Polish Agrarian Union (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe) and the Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna).

4. There is no agreement in historical literature on the definition and periodization of Stalinism in Poland. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Stalinism, the period of “total conformity” with the Soviet model, began in 1947 with the creation of the Cominform that put an end to the period of diversity among the political systems in eastern European countries. The main elements of Stalinism included state-party dictatorship, the use of secret police, purges, centralized economic planning, collectivization, and the cult of personality. Brzezinski traces the end of Stalinism to the death of Iosif Stalin in March 1953. For him, the period between 1953 and 1956 belongs to a distinct phase of de-Stalinization, a gradual return to diversity and elasticity in domestic policies within the Soviet Bloc. Brzezinski, Zbigniew, The Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict, 2d ed. (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), esp. 62, 91, and 155. According to Andrzej Paczkowski, the events of 1948 marked the beginning of Stalinism in eastern Europe. They included the Tito-Stalin split, the Prague coup, and the absorption of socialist parties by communist parties. In Poland, the leader of the “nationalist faction,” Władysław Gomulka, was expelled from the Polish Workers’ Party. According to Paczkowski, the de-Stalinization that occurred between 1953 and 1956 was still a part of the Stalinist system, although some of the Stalinist policies and institutions were reformed. Paczkowski, Andrzej, “Poland, the ‘Enemy Nation,'” in Courtois, Stephane et al., eds., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, trans. Murphy, Jonathan and Kramer, Mark (Cambridge, Mass., 1999), 363-93, esp. 380-84. Most Polish historians use similar periodization. See Dariuszjarosz, , Polacy a stalinizm, 1948-1956 (Warsaw, 2000), 6. Padraic Kenney, in contrast, places the beginning of Stalinism as late as 1949-1950. He defines Stalinism as the “vision of a participatory yet conflict-free society” and argues that full-fledged Stalinism did not emerge in Poland until the system of repression was established in 1949. Padraic Kenney, Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945-1950 (Ithaca, 1997), esp. 4 and 337. While acknowledging the gradual nature of the Polish transition to Stalinism, I place the beginning of the Stalinist era in late 1948 or early 1949. The merger of the Polish Workers’ Party and the Polish Socialist Party in December 1948 was a critical point that marked the emergence of one-party dictatorship (the party-state), an essential component of Stalinism. Also, the campaign for women in “new occupations” gradually began in early 1949. Following Brzezinski, I consider the period between Stalin's death and 1956 to be a distinct phase of de-Stalinization, when many aspects of Stalinist domestic policies were criticized and rejected.

5. See, for example, Brzezinski, The Soviet Bloc, 155-75 and 239-68; Simons, Thomas W. Jr., Eastern Europe in the Postwar World (New York, 1991), 85105; and Paczkowski, Andrzej, Pót wieku dziejów Polski, 1939-1989 (Warsaw, 1995), 289304.

6. For a discussion of gender and de-Stalinization at the Nowa Huta socialist steel plant.in Poland, see Katherine Anne Lebow, “Nowa Huta, 1949-1957: Stalinism and the Transformation of Everyday Life in Poland's ‘First Socialist City'” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 2002), chap. 3.

7. This argument might be relevant to other east European countries. For a discussion of de-Stalinization in Hungary, see Mark David Pittaway, “Industrial Workers, Socialist Industrialization and the State in Hungary, 1948-1958” (Ph.D. diss., University of Liverpool, 1998); and Goven, “Gendered Foundations,” esp. chap. 3. More research is needed, however, to compare gender aspects of de-Stalinization across eastern Europe. In the case of Hungary, for example, scholars associated the backlash against women in men's jobs with Kádárism in the 1960s rather than with the earlier de-Stalinization efforts between 1953 and 1956. See Goven, “Gendered Foundations,” 118-19; and Haney, Inventing the Needy, 99-130.

8. Many scholars point to women's double or triple burden under communism as mothers, workers, and activists. See, for example, Einhorn, Barbara, Cinderella Goes to Market: Citizenship, Gender and Women's Movements in East Central Europe (London, 1993); Jancar, Barbara Wolfe, Women under Communism (Baltimore, 1978); and Wolchik, Sharon L. and Meyer, Alfred G., eds., Women, State, and Party in Europe (Durham, Eng., 1985).

9. Haney, Inventing the Needy, 246. Haney's argument refers to the welfare system in socialist Hungary.

10. See, for example, Moeller, Robert G., Protecting Motherhood: Women and theFamily in the Politics of Postwar West Germany (Berkeley, 1993); Heineman, Elizabeth D., What Difference Does a Husband Make? Women and Marital Status in Nazi and Postwar Germany (Berkeley, 1999); Duchen, Claire and Bandhauer-Schöffmann, Irene, eds., When the War Was Over: Women, War and Peace in Europe, 1940-1956 (London, 2000); and May, Elaine Tyler, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (New York, 1988). On the similarities between Stalinist and west European family policies, see Hoffmann, David L., “Mothers in the Motherland: Stalinist Pronatalism in Its Pan-European Context,” Journal of Social History 34, no. 1 (Fall 2000): 3554.

11. See, for example, Scott, Joan Wallach, Gender and the Politics of History, rev. ed. (New York, 1999), esp. 139-63; Coffin, Judith G., The Politics of Women's Work: The Paris Garment Trades, 1750-1915 (Princeton, 1996); and Canning, Kathleen, Languages of Labor and Gender: Female Factory Workin Germany, 1850-1914 (Ithaca, 1996).

12. For a discussion of protective labor policies for women in the west, see, for example, Koven, Seth and Michel, Sonya, eds., Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (New York, 1993); Bock, Gisela and Thane, Pat, eds., Maternity and Gender Policies: Women and the Rise of the European Welfare States, 1880s-1950s (London, 1991); Wikander, Ulla, Kessler-Harris, Alice, and Jane Lewis, , eds., Protecting Women: Labor Legislation in Europe, United States, and Australia, 1880-1920 (Urbana, 1995); Stewart, Mary Lynn, Women, Work and IheFrench State: Labour Protection and Social Patriarchy, 1879-1919 (Kingston, Ont., 1989); Malone, Carolyn, “Gendered Discourses and the Making of Protective Labor Legislation in England, 1830-1914,” Journal of British Studies 37, no. 2 (April 1998): 166-91; and Lehrer, Susan, Origins of Protective Labor Legislation for Women, 1905-1925 (Albany, 1987).

13. Hilden, Patricia, Working Women and Socialist Politics in France, 1880-1914: A Regional Study (Oxford, 1986), 3339 ; and Canning, Languages of Labor and Gender, 264. For nineteenth-century Polish industrial centers, see Kempa, Grazyna, “Szanse kobiet na rynku pracy na Śląsku,” in Żarnowska, Anna and Szwarc, Andrzej, eds., Kobieta i praca: Wiek XIX i XX (Warsaw, 2000), 153-65, esp. 163; and Sikorska-Kowalska, Marta, Wizerunek kobiety łodzkiej przełomu XIX i XX wieku (Łódź, 2001), 1821.

14. Recently Melanie IliČ provided a thorough account of specific legal provisions, administration, and Soviet medical research regarding women workers in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. Melanie IliČ, Women Workers in the Soviet InterwarEconomy: From “Protection” to “Equality” (New York, 1999). For a general discussion of protective labor legislation in the Soviet Union, see, for example, Lapidus, Gail, Women in Soviet Society: Equality, Development, and Social Change (Berkeley, 1978), esp. 124-35; and Dodge, Norton T., Women in the Soviet Economy: Their Role in Economic, Scientific, and Technical Development (Baltimore, 1966), esp. 5275. For a detailed study of women's employment under Stalinism in the Soviet Union, see Goldman, Wendy, Women at the Gates: Gender and Industry in Stalin's Russia (Cambridge, Eng., 2002). For a discussion of protective legislation in eastern Europe, see, for example, Heitlinger, Alena, Reproduction, Medicine and the Socialist State (London, 1987); and Łobodzióiska, Barbara, ed., Family, Women, and Employment in Central-Eastern Europe (Westport, Conn., 1995). For Poland, see Jacqueline Heinen, “Femmes en reserve: Les travailleuses Polonaises entre la famille et le travail” (Ph.D. diss., Paris VII, 1989).

15. For propaganda and didactic literature, see, for example, Strzelbicki, Stanislaw, Przywileje pracownicze kobiet (Warsaw, 1947); Kłuszyóiska, Dorota, Co Polska Ludotua data kobietom (Warsaw, 1950); and Winiarz, Jan, Ochrona praw matki, dziecka i rodziny (Warsaw, 1954). For scholarly works, see, for example, Joóiczyk, Jan, Ochrona pracy kobiet i mtodocianych w polskim przemyśle xu latach, 1918-1939 (Warsaw, 1961); Danuta Graniewska, ed., Socjalne i prawne środki ochrony macierzyóstwa i rodziny (Warsaw, 1976); and Śliwa, Michał, “Kobiety w Parlamencie Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej,” in Żarnowska, Anna and Szwarc, Andrzej, eds., Kobieta i świat polityki w niepodległej Polsce, 1918-1939 (Warsaw, 1996), 5369, esp. 62.

16. Dariusz Jarosz, “Kobieta a praca zawodowa w Polsce w latach 1944-1956 (główne problemy w świetle nowych badaó žrodlowych),” in Żarnowska and Szwarc, eds., Kobieta i praca, 217-41. For modified versions of this article, see Jarosz, Dariusz, “Glówne problemy pracy zawodowej kobiet w latach 1948-56,” Roczniki Dziejów Społecznych i Gospodarczych 59 (1999): 4565 ; and Jarosz, Polacy a stalinizm, 16-44.

17. Norman Naimark talks about labor inspectors’ efforts to alleviate the appalling conditions in which women and children worked in nineteenth-century Poland. Naimark, Norman, The History of the “Proletariat“: The Emergence of Marxism in the Kingdom of Poland, 1870-1887 (Boulder, Colo., 1979), 2526.

18. In 1931, domestic servants constituted 46.1 percent of all employed women. Mierzecki, Władysław, “Praca zarobkowa kobiet w środowisku robotniczym w Polsce Międzywojennej,” in Żarnowska, Anna and Szwarc, Andrzej, eds., Rowne prawa i nieroxone. szanse: Kobiety w Polsce miedzywojennej (Warsaw, 2000), 109-33, esp. 111. See also Janusz Zarnowski, “Praca zawodowa kobiet w Polsce miedzywojennej,” in Żarnowska and Szwarc, eds., Kobieta ipraca, 119-40, esp. 121.

19. Śliwa, “Kobiety w Parlamencie Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej,” 61-62.

20. Roman Korolec, “Wzmożona ochrona pracy kobiet i ich macierzyóstwa (zagadnienia prawne),” in Socjalne i prawne środki ochrony acierzyóstwa i rodziny, 167-200, esp. 170. For a description of protective labor laws for women and youths in interwar Poland, see Bamforth, May, trans., The Protection of Women Workers and Minors in Poland: Report of the Chief Inspector of Women Labour in Poland (Bombay, India, 1945).

21. The index of jobs women were prohibited from holding is provided as an appendix in Strzelbicki, Przywileje pracownicze, 34-48. For an explanation of these jobs, see Krahelska, Halina, Praca kobiet w przemyśle współczesnym (Warsaw, 1932), 80.

22. See paragraphs 78 and 79 of the index in Strzelbicki, Przywileje pracownicze, 46.

23. For an explanation of this paragraph, see the Main Inspectorate of Labor to the Main Directorate of the Trade Union of Food Industry Workers, Warsaw, 31 July 1955, Archiwum Ruchu Zawodowego (Archive of the trade unions movement in Warsaw, ARZ), Protection of Women's and Youths’ Labor (OPKM) 485/21, unnumbered pages.

24. These provisions appear as numbers 67 and 68 under prohibited jobs in the food industry. Women could, however, work at night in railroad station cafés and snack bars. Strzelbicki, Przywileje pracownicze, 45.

25. “Zagadnienia zmiany stosunku zatrudnienia kobiet do męzczyzn zakładach pracy,” ARZ Trade Unions Central Commission (KCZZ) Economic Section (WE) 149, unnumbered pages.

26. On attempts to socialize domestic labor in early Soviet Russia, see Goldman, Wendy, Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936 (Cambridge, Eng., 1993), 4348.

27. See Duby, Georges and Perrot, Michelle, eds., A History of Women in the West, vol. 3, Renaissance and Enlightenment Paradoxes, ed. Davis, Natalie Zemon and Farge, Arlette (Cambridge, Mass., 1993).

28. Goldman, Women, the State and Revolution.

29. Goven, “Gender and Modernism,” 17.

30. For a discussion of nineteenth-century images of Matka Polka, see, for example, Einhorn, Cinderella Goes to Market, 216-55; Hauser, Ewa, “Traditions of Patriotism, Questions of Gender: The Case of Poland,” Genders 22 (Fall 1995): 78105 ; Fidelis, Malgorzata, “'Participation in the Creative Work of the Nation:’ Polish Women Intellectuals in the Cultural Construction of Female Gender Roles, 1864-1890,” Journal of Women's History 13 (Spring 2001): 108-31; Jolluck, Katherine R., Exile and Identity: Polish Women in the Soviet Union during World War II (Pittsburgh, 2002), 8898.

31. On the limited impact of the Matka Polka model on workers’ families, see Crago, Laura A., “The ‘Polishness’ of Production: Factory Politics and the Reinvention of Working-Class National and Political Identities in Russian Poland's Textile Industry, 1880-1910,” Slavic Review 59, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 1641, esp. 19. In the interwar period, the popular Catholic weekly, Rycerz Niepokalanej (The knight of the Virgin), promoted self-sacrificing motherhood among the lower social classes. Jolluck, Exile and Identity, 52-53. In 1945, Rycerz Niepokalanej proposed a dual task for women: bearing children for the nation and enhancing the morality of men, who were “enchanted with erroneous slogans and broken by the experience of the war.” J. D., “Odrodzenie i powotanie Polki,” Rycerz Niepokalanej (September 1945): 37.

32. Jolluck, Exile and Identity, 46.

33. See Krahelska, Praca kobiet, 136-38; and Kalwa, Dobrochna, Kobieta aktywna w Polsce międzywojennej: Dylematy środowisk kobiecych (Kraków, 2001), 30.

34. Prewar social reformers interested in protective labor regulations included women of diverse ideological persuasions—for example, nationalist Wanda Ładzina and Gabriela Balicka as well as socialist Zofia Moraczewska and Dorota Kłuszyóska. See Śliwa, “Kobiety w Parlamencie Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej,” 53-69. Most of the interwar women's organizations continued their activity until 1949, when the party-state dissolved all women's associations except for the Social and Civil League of Women (Społeczno-Obywatelska Liga Kobiet), the League of Women for short, which now became the official women's organization. See Sokół, Zofia, Prasa kobieca w Polsce IU latach 1945-1995 (Rzeszów, 1998), 6669.

35. Irena Krzywicka, “Kryzys małżeóstwa? Ale jakiego?” Nowa Kultura, 8 January 1956, 2. In the interwar period, Krzywicka was best known for her support of birth control and female sexual emancipation. See Tuszyóska, Agata, Długie życie gorszycielki: Losy i świat Ireny Krzywickiej (Warsaw, 1999).

36. The war caused immense population losses and profoundly changed the ethnic composition of Poland, making it over 97 percent Polish and Catholic. For a further discussion of the effects of die war on eastern Europe, see Gross, Jan T., “Themes for a Social History of War Experience and Collaboration,” in Deak, Istvan, Gross, Jan T., and Judt, Tony, eds., The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath (Princeton, 2000), 1535.

37. In Polish cities in 1945, for every 100 men, there were 128 women. Jarosz, “Kobiety a praca,” 219.

38. “Produktywizacja kobiet na tie obecnej sytuacji gospodarczej,” 21 February 1947, Archiwum Akt Nowych (New documents archive in Warsaw, AAN), Polish Workers’ Party (PPR) Central Committee (KC) Women's Section (WK) 295/XVI/2, microfilm 2451/1, kk. 37-43, esp. 37-38.

39. Jędruszczak, Hanna, “Employment in Poland in 1930-1960: Dynamics and Structure,” A eta Poloniae Historica 18 (1968): 250-63, esp. 255. A significant increase in women's employment took place during the Six-Year Plan (1950-1955), when the state sought to increase women's employment in state industry by 200,000 per year. See “Sprawa realizacji planu 6-letniego na odcinku zatrudnienia kobiet,” 23 March 1951, AAN State Commission for Economic Planning (PKPG) 3121, kk. 1-4.

40. On the changing patterns of women's employment in communist Poland, see Adam Kurzynowski, “Przemiany wzorów karier zawodowych kobiet wlatach 1950-1989,” in Żarnowska and Szwarc, eds., Kobieta i praca, 189-215.

41. Jędruszczak estimates that in the category of “mining, industry, and housing” female employment increased from 20.4 percent in 1931 to 26.7 percent in 1950. Jędruszczak, “Employment in Poland,” 255. In 1949, the Polish Politburo recorded a less significant increase, which estimated that the percentage of industrial women workers changed from 25 percent in 1935 to 26.7 percent in 1949. Political Bureau Resolution, AAN Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR) KC WK 237/XV/8, k.l.

42. Kurzynowski, Adam, “Macierzyóstwo a praca kobiet zameznych (poza rolnictwem),” in Socjalne i prawne środki, 130-51, esp. 130-35; and Piotrowski, Jerzy, Praca zawodowa kobiety a rodzina (Warsaw, 1963), 203-69.

43. Report on the action for economic independence of unemployed women in 1947-1950, AAN Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MPOS) 561, kk. 2-5; Protocol from the conference on the action “AZ,” 13 November 1950, AAN MPOS 561, kk. 58-62; and Circular letter of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Employment Department to the Employment Office Director, Warsaw, 28 February 1950, AAN MPOS 561, k. 52.

44. In Poland, prewar production levels were achieved in 1950. Stanisław Jankowski, Odbudowa i rozwój przemysłu polskiego w latach 1944-49 (Warsaw, 1989), esp. 229.

45. The subcommission dealing with the issue of women's employment was part of a larger project concerning employment policy in general. Włodzimierz Polak, director of the Survey Commission Bureau, to Józef Kofman, KCZZ representative, Warsaw, 20 July 1948, ARZ KCZZ WE 149.

46. “Zagadnienia zmiany stosunku zatrudnienia kobiet do męzczyzn zakładach pracy,” ARZ KCZZ WE 149.

47. Ibid.

48. Goldman, Women at the Gates, 144. In Poland, the Three-Year Plan (1947-1949), the Six-Year Plan (1950-1955), and the Five-Year Plan (1955-1960) provided an index of jobs reserved or recommended for women as well as specified quotas for female employees in selected positions. Those provisions, however, were only partially implemented. On problems with implementation, see Evaluation of the implementation of the Government's Presidium's resolution #620, January 1954, AAN PKPG 3282, kk. 98-99.

49. On the policy regarding women's employment in the Six-Year Plan, see Witalis Talejko, “Problem kobiet w planie sześcioletnim,” Praca i opieka społeczna (November-December 1950): 53-70.

50. Council of Ministers’ Decree of 28 February 1951 regarding work prohibited to women, AAN Council of Ministers Office (URM) 6/348, kk. 292-301.

51. In 1949, the party-state reduced the number of professional labor inspectors in the Panstwowa Inspekcja Pracy (State Inspectorate of Labor). A year later, the State Inspectorate of Labor was incorporated into the local administrative structures, and in 1954, the inspectorate was abolished and its functions transferred to the trade unions. Jarosz, “Kobiety a praca,” 231.

52. Report of the PZPR Provincial Committee Women's Section, 20 September 1951, Archiwum Panótwowe w Katowicach (The state archive in Katowice, APKa), Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR) Provincial Committee (KW) Plenum Meeting (PP) 301/V/93, kk. 14-27, esp. 15; and Wigura, Krystyna, Nowe kadry rosną (Warsaw, 1951), 41.

53. For example, see “Fabryka to jej drugi dom,” Trybuna Ludu, 8 March 1950, 5; “Krystyna Draga kocha swój zawód,” Trybuna Ludu, 13 March 1950, 5; and Maria Jarochowska, “Stasia—traktorzystka,” Trybuna Ludu, 25 December 1952, 4. For a discussion of the images and identities of women under Stalinism in other countries, see, for example, Attwood, Lynne, Creating the New Soviet Woman: Women's Magazines as Engineers of Female Identity, 1922-53 (New York, 1999); Lampland, Martha, “Unthinkable Subjects: Women and Labor in Socialist Hungary,” East European Quarterly 23, no. 4 (Winter 1989): 389-98; and Merkel, Ina, … und Du, Frau an der Werkbank: die DDR in den 50er Jahren (Berlin, 1990).

54. Kluszyóska, Co Polska Ludowa, 37.

55. Report on the National Conference of urban and rural women leaders in Łódž, 19 December 1952, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/24, kk. 54-69, esp. 64. In a similar manner, Soviet women frequently identified male prejudice as the greatest obstacle to their advancement in the workplace. Goldman, Women at the Gates, 207-31.

56. Report on the National Conference, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/24, k. 64.

57. Ibid., k. 68.

58. Zofia Wasilkowska, “Udział kobiet w walce narodu polskiego o pokój i plan sześcioletni,” AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/37, kk., 22-43, esp. 29-32. Zofia Wasilkowska, born in 1910, was one of the highest ranking women in communist Poland. She was a member of the Supreme Court between 1948 and 1955 and between 1958 and 1981; Minister of Justice between February 1956 and 1957; in 1981 she joined the anticommunist opposition. See Mołdawa, Tadeusz, Ludzie Władzy, 1944-1991: Władze pańshvowe i polityczne według stanu na dzień 28 lutego 1991 (Warsaw, 1991), 437.

59. Report on the work among women in the mines overseen by the PZPR City Committee in Bytom, Katowice, 17 January 1951, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/12, kk. 110-20, esp. 117-19.

60. Protocol from the workshop on the incorporation of women into industrial production, Katowice, 10 April 1952, AAN PZPR KC WK237/XV/12, kk. 11-18, 15.

61. Wasilkowska, “Udział kobiet,” AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/37, k. 33.

62. Report of the Commission for the inspection of women's underground work in mining (15 April-21 June 1951), AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/6, kk. 53-60, esp. 53. As of July 1951, the coal mining industry employed 257,325 workers; 35,485 (13.8 percent) of them were women; 791 (2.2 percent) of these women worked underground. See Women's Section report on women's employment in new occupations in the key industries of the Katowice province, 4July 1951, APKa PZPR KW Executive Meeting (PE) 301/IV/64, kk. 32- 41, esp. 32-33.

63. Pregnant women could not work underground. Report on the inspection of the Lower Silesia mines regarding women's employment underground, 18 and 19 April 1951, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/6, kk. 50-52, esp. 53.

64. Report of the Commission, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/6, k. 55.

65. Gertruda M. and Jadwiga Ł., interview, tape recording, Studziennice, 22 November 2002; Halina W., interview, tape recording, Tychy, 22 November 2002; and Teresa R., interview, Bojszowy Stary, 27 November 2002.

66. Halina W., interview, tape recording, Tychy, 22 November 2002.

67. Teresa R., interview, Bojszowy Stary, 27 November 2002.

68. Marianna M., interview, Zabrze, 2 May 2003.

69. Report of the Commission, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/6, kk. 54-55.

70. Report on the inspection of the Lower Silesia mines, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/ XV/6, k. 51.

71. Report of the Commission, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/6, kk. 56-58.

72. Report on the inspection of the Lower Silesia mines, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/ XV/6, k. 52.

73. For an analysis of Silesian gender roles, see Górnikowska-Zwolak, Elżbieta, Szkic do portretu Ślązaczki: Refleksja feministyczna (Katowice, 2000).

74. Report on the inspection of the Upper Silesia mines regarding women's employment underground, 16-18 April 1951, AAN PZPRKCWK237/XV/6, kk. 47-49a, esp. 47.

75. Report of the Commission, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/XV/6, k. 55.

76. Ibid.

77. Report on the inspection of the Upper Silesia mines, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/ XV/6, k. 48a.

78. Report on the inspection of the Lower Silesia mines, AAN PZPR KC WK 237/ XV/6, k. 51.

79. Poland adopted de-Stalinization policies in October 1953, later than other east European countries. Anti-Stalinist public discussions did not begin until 1955. See Brzezinski, The Soviet Bloc, 165-67 and 243.

80. Zofia Krzyżanowska, “Problem, którego nie ma,” Po Prostu, 10 April 1956, 2; and Information regarding women's employment, Warsaw, October 1955, ARZ OPKM 485/21.

81. Goven makes a similar observation about socialist Hungary, where “the attempt to reconfigure gender, with women as the perceived intended beneficiaries of that reconfiguration, produced a cultural trope of the ‘emancipated woman’ as ally and agent of an oppressive, intrusive state.” Goven, “Gender and Modernism,” 22.

82. Desperate fathers of families to Bolesław Bierut, no date, AAN PZPR KC First Secretary Office 237/V/299, k. 73. The trade unions and press editors received similar letters from male workers. See Jarosz, “Kobiety a praca,” 241-42; and Leszczyński, Adam, Sprmuy do zalatwienia: Listy do ‘Po Prostu’ 1955-57 (Warsaw, 2000), 120. Attitudes hostile to women's employment were noted by female readers of the women's weekly Kobieta i Życie (Woman and life), who complained that the management at some workplaces expected all women to quit their jobs. “Czy Murzyn ma odejść?” Kobieta i Życie, 10 December 1956, 3.

83. Report on women's employment in prohibited jobs in industrial production and on transfers and dismissals of women in steel and chemical industries, 18 January 1956, ARZOPKM 485/21.

84. Zuzanna Ćwiklińska, Report of the Women's and Youths’ Labor Inspector of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, November 1953-19 March 1954, ARZ OPKM 470/14.

85. Ibid.

86. Pelagia Bortkiewicz, Janina Madeyska, and Zuzanna Ćwiklińska, Report on the inspection of the “Hajduki” chemical plant in Chorzów Batory, Stalinogród, September 1955, ARZ OPKM 485/21. According to the legal provisions, pregnant women had to be moved to lighter work after the sixth month of pregnancy and were to receive the average of their wage from the last three months.

87. Pelagia Bortkiewicz, Report on the official trip, 11-14 October 1955, ARZ OPKM 485/21.

88. Ćwiklińska, Report of the Women's and Youths’ Labor Inspector,” ARZ OPKM 470/14.

89. Some activists pointed to “the lack of any protection for mothers” at the workplace immediately after the war but readily explained that this was a necessary sacrifice for the economic reconstruction of the country. See, for example, Elżbieta Rutkowska, “Ochrona pracy kobiet i młodocianych,” Praca i opieka społeczna (July-September 1947): 201.

90. In 1956, women began to be gradually removed from underground jobs. After 31 May 1957, they could no longer work underground. In 1959, the Council of Ministers formally reenacted the ban on women working underground. See Protocol from the Executive Meeting, 8 April 1957, APKa PZPRKWPE 301/IV/285, kk. 1-14, esp. 9; andjarosz, “Kobiety a praca,” 230-31.

91. Main Inspectorate for Protection of Labor, Trade Unions Central Council to the Directorate for Labor Force Reserves, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Warsaw, March 1956, ARZ OPKM 485/21.

92. “O sprawach ważnych a niezałatwionych nigdy nie dość jest mówić,” Nasza praca (November-December 1956): 13.

93. “Czy spełniłyśmy swoje zadania jako reprezentantki mas kobiecych?” Nasza praca (November-December 1956): 12.

94. “Wokół nielatwych problemów zatrudnienia,” Nasza praca (November-December 1956): 31-32. During de-Stalinization, the league changed its discourse, but not its leaders. Women who were acdve during Stalinism, such as Zofia Wasilkowska or Alicja Musialowa (the head of the organization since 1950), remained acdve in the era of de-Stalinization and later. For a history of the League of Women, see Basia A. Nowak, “Women's Organizadonal Lives under Communism: The League of Women in Poland” (Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, in progress).

95. Z.P., “Czy kobieta istotnie może pracować na każdym odcinku życia gospodarczego?” Nasza praca (July-August 1956): 14.

96. Ibid.

97. Ibid., 15.

98. On difficulties in enforcing labor law by the Work Inspectorate of the Trade Unions, seejarosz, “Kobieta a praca,” 231.

99. On women's protests against their release from coal mines, see Z.P., “Czy kobieta istotnie może pracować,” 11-15. On women's protests against their release from other branches of industry, see, for example, Protocol from the inspection of the Sulfuric Acid Factory in Gliwice conducted on 25 June 1955, ARZ OPKM 479/21. In this case, the Trade Unions ordered a medical examination of women workers at the factory. The examination showed that the women did not suffer health problems resulting from their employment. Unlike women miners, the women at the Gliwice Factory were allowed to keep their jobs.

100. Poland's Trade Unions Association to Main Directorate of the Trade Union of the Ground and Air Transportation Industry Workers, October 1956, ARZ OPKM 485/21.

101. This is a reference to the decree of the Ministry of Health, which reduced the load limit on vehicles that women were allowed to drive.

102. Teresa Tołkacz and Helena Kubicka to Trade Unions Central Council in Warsaw, Kraków, 3 November 1955, ARZ OPKM 479/21. For a women's protest featuring a similar socialist rhetoric, see Krystyna Mikuła to the editorial board of Po prostu, Debica, 8 April 1957, Warsaw University Library, Manuscript Division 4119 [2].

103. The strategy of pointing out contradictions in socialist policies was not unlike the one used by nineteenth-century French feminists regarding liberal theory. “Feminists engaged with the foundational assumptions of their respective ages in a most disquieting way—not in their guise as moral or scientific certainties, but as ambiguous and contested attempts to impose order on human social organization. They made the link between these concepts and their quest for political rights by seizing on contrary implications in ordinary usage and making disagreements about meaning work to support their own cause.” Scott, Joan Wallach, Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (Cambridge, Mass., 1996), 12.

104. Katherine Canning points to the significance of the working woman's body as “a key site of intervention” for both social reformers and the state. Canning, Languages of Labor and Gender, 326.

105. On the role of gender in post-Stalinist Poland, see Kenney, Padraic, “The Gender of Resistance in Communist Poland,” American Historical Reviexo 104, no. 2 (April 1999): 399425.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Slavic Review
  • ISSN: 0037-6779
  • EISSN: 2325-7784
  • URL: /core/journals/slavic-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed