The Free Trade Unions of Upper Silesia: The security service and the free trade unions of Upper Silesia

The operational launch of the Workers’ Committee of the Free Trade Unions was accompanied by multiple insults and reprisals against its members. Harassment, dissolution, obstruction, and surveillance were a daily occurrence.

The activity of the WZZ Committee in Katowice was under close surveillance of the Security Service (Służba Bezpieczeństwa, SB). The functionaries used various methods: observation, wiretaps and correspondence control. Secret collaborators took part in meetings in order to inform the SB about the actions of the WZZ Committee members and also cause their disintegration. The repressions sometimes made the WZZ give up its official activity in workplaces and resort to underground structures.

Members of the Committee of Free Trade Unions in Katowice assembled in Kazimierz Świtoń’s flat, where they wrote proclamations, appeals and open letters which they then distributed. They also maintained contacts with other opposition groups and distributed their own periodicals. They also provided help for workers.

The repressions of the Security Service effectively hindered the development of the WZZ in Upper Silesia and contributed to the split in the Committee in 1979. Kazimierz Świtoń and Roman Kściuczek discontinued their activity while Władysław Sulecki emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany.

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