The Letter of 59
(also known as the Memorial
or Memorandum of 59
) was an open letter
signed by 66 (or 59 at first, hence the name) Polish intellectuals
who protested against the changes of the Constitution of the People's Republic of Poland
. The letter was issued in 1975. Additional people signed it in January 1976.
The letter was closely related to Helsinki Accords
. On September 1, 1975 Polish socialist government signed "The Blue Book" of CSCE (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
) committing to, among other things, the respect for human rights
and refraining from the threat or use of force. Meanwhile, the new changes to Polish constitution proposed by the Polish communist
after the Helsinki Accords, included the new ideological clauses
pronouncing and reaffirming the "steering role of the Party in the nation", "socialist character of the nation", "permanent and unbreakable alliance with the Soviet Union", and most of all, that "the government obligation to respect the rights of the citizens" is conditional
only, and "dependent on the citizens fulfilling their obligations towards the country".
The communist government criticized the letter of protest publicly, with Edward Gierek
calling the signatories "furious anticommunists, politically blind". Eventually, although the constitution was changed, the above fragments were redrafted to sound more neutral:
- steering role of......