Wojciech Jaruzelski

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Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski (pronounced [ˈvɔjtɕɛx jaruˈzɛlskʲi]  ( listen); born 6 July 1923) was the last commander-in-chief of the communist Polish People's Army (LWP) and the chairman of the Polish United Workers Party from 1981 to 1989, Prime Minister from 1981 to 1985 and the country's head of state from 1985 to 1990. He was the country's last communist leader and dictator and resigned from power after the Polish Round Table Agreement in 1989 led to democratic elections in Poland.

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Early life and military career

Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski was born on 6 July 1923 in Kurów,[1] into a family of gentry.[1][2] He was raised on the family estate near Wysokie (in the vicinity of Białystok). He was educated in a Catholic school during the 1930s.[1]

On 1 September 1939, the September Campaign started when Poland was invaded by Germany, with the latter country aided by another invasion begun sixteen days later by the Soviet Union. The invasions resulted in the defeat of Poland by the following month, and its partition between Soviet and German control. During the campaign, Jaruzelski and his family were captured by the army of the Soviet Union, and deported to that country.[1] In 1940 at the age of sixteen,[3] Jaruzelski was sent to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic,[1] where he performed forced labour in the Karaganda coal mines. During his labour work, he became an orphan, and having experienced snow blindness, developed permanent damage to his eyes and back.[2] He was later selected for enrollment into the Soviet Officer Training School by the Soviet authorities.[1] During his time in the Kazakh Republic, Jaruzelski wanted to join the non-Soviet controlled Polish exile army led by Władysław Anders,[3] but in 1943,[4] by which time the Soviet Union was fighting in Europe against Germany in the Soviet-German War, he joined the Polish army units being formed under Soviet command.[2] He served in the Soviet-sponsored First Polish Army during the war.[1] He participated in the Soviet military takeover of Warsaw and the Battle of Berlin,[1] both of which occurred in 1945. By the time the war ended that year, he had gained the rank of lieutenant.[2] He "further credited himself in Soviet eyes"[1] by engaging in combat with the Polish Home Army, an anti-communist organization, from 1945 to 1947.[1]

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