Gomułka, Władysław (Poland)
Władysław Gomułka was first secretary of the Polish Communist Party between 1956 and 1970. He became a member of the Politburo after World War II but was expelled from the party following a rift with Joseph Stalin. As discontent with Stalinism spread throughout Poland in 1956, he was re-instated and made First Secretary in the hope that he might appease a population that saw him as an enemy of Stalin and a liberal reformer. However, he failed to carry out the expected reforms and resigned his post following popular protests.
Gomułka was born on 6 Feb. 1905 in Białbrzegi, near Krosno (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now part of Poland). His father, an oil-worker, was a fervent socialist. Gomułka left school at 12 to be employed as a locksmith’s apprentice and joined a socialist youth organization by 1921. Five years later he was a member of the underground Polish Communist Party and was soon arrested. It was to be the first of many arrests and in...