Poznan protests of 1956 a symbol of struggle for everyday freedom - PM

The Poznan 1956 protests, also known as the Poznan 1956 uprising or Poznan June, were the first of several massive protests against the People's Republic of Poland government. PAP

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Twitter on Sunday that "64 years ago, workers, citizens took to the streets in Poznan," and that "the Poznan June is a symbol of the struggle for basic freedoms - the right of every human being to a dignified life."

"Sixty-four years ago, workers, citizens, as well as fathers and mothers fighting for a better present and future of their children, took to the streets in Poznan," he added.

The main observances marking the 64th anniversary of the tragic events of June 1956 were held in Poznan, western Poland, on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, addressing the observances, Poznan mayor Jacek Jaskowiak said that "we will always be proud that Poznan, western Poland, was the first city to show that it is possible to oppose the tyranny of power."

The Poznan mayor recalled that the protest of June 1956 had been caused by economic conditions, and added that it had been a spontaneous outburst of people against the authorities, which were unable to satisfy the basic material needs of citizens.

"This was a protest against the abuse of power, but also a struggle for diversity and democracy in a time, when there was only one 'right' party in power, and when the only acceptable ideology was binding. Anyone, who disagreed with it, was destroyed," Jaskowiak said.

The Poznan 1956 events broke out on June 28, 1956, in the city's renowned Cegielski engineering plant, at that time called the Stalin plant, as the first mass protests against Poland's post-war communist regime. Demanding better working conditions, about 100,000 protesters, mainly workers, rallied in the city's downtown section near the local security ministry building, where they were confronted by 400 army tanks and a 10,000-strong force of military and security police units under the Polish-Soviet general Stanislav Poplavsky.

Ordered to suppress the protests at all costs, soldiers and security units opened fire on the demonstrators, killing 58 people, including a 13-year-old boy, and injuring hundreds. According to some accounts, the death toll was much higher and reached over one hundred.

The Poznan protests were a major step towards the so-called Polish October of that year, which brought the weakening of hardline Stalinism in Poland and the installation of a less Soviet-dependent government.