Poland marks 52nd anniversary of tragic anti-communist protests

Marcin Bielecki/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's prime minister, has paid homage to those killed, wounded and persecuted by communist security forces during protests against state-imposed price increases in December 1970.

"The December Revolt of 1970 is an inseparable part of the Polish heritage of freedom," Mateusz Morawiecki wrote in a letter to the participants of the observances held in the coastal city of Szczecin on Saturday.

"Here, in front of the shipyard gate, from where 52 years ago... protesting workers took to the city streets, as every year, we pay tribute to the heroes of those days," he wrote.

"The bloody sacrifice became the beginning of a truly new Poland - a free and solidary Poland... in which we are fortunate to live today," Morawiecki wrote.

On December 14, 1970 protests erupted along the Baltic coast over planned increases in food prices and culminated on December 17, when police opened fire on shipyard workers, killing many people as they were on their way to work.

According to official data, in December 1970, 44 people were killed in Poland's northern cities of Gdansk, Gdynia, Szczecin and Elblag. Over 1,160 were wounded.

During the protests, Poland's communist government deployed 5,000 militia officers, 27,000 soldiers, 550 tanks, 700 armoured personnel carriers as well as over 100 helicopters.