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Bolesław Bierut ([bɔˈlɛswaf ˈbjɛrut] (About this sound listen); 18 April 1892 – 12 March 1956) was a Polish Communist leader, NKVD agent,[1] and a hard-line Stalinist who became President of Poland after the Soviet takeover of the country in the aftermath of World War II.

Bolesław Bierut
PL Bolesław Bierut (1892-1956).jpg
Bolesław Bierut
11th President of Poland
President of the Republic of Poland
In office
5 February 1947 – 21 November 1952
Prime Minister Józef Cyrankiewicz
Preceded by Himself
as President of the Popular Council
Succeeded by Office abolished
Aleksander Zawadzki (as Chairman of the Council of State)
Wojciech Jaruzelski (After office was restored)
President of the Popular Council
In office
31 December 1944 – 4 February 1947
Prime Minister Edward Osóbka-Morawski
Preceded by Władysław Raczkiewicz
as President in Exile
Succeeded by Himself as President of Poland
Secretary General of the Central Committee of the PUWP
In office
22 December 1948 – 12 March 1956
Preceded by Władysław Gomułka
as Secretary of PWP
Succeeded by Edward Ochab
as First Secretary
47th Prime Minister of Poland
3rd Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Poland
In office
21 November 1952 – 18 March 1954
Preceded by Józef Cyrankiewicz
Succeeded by Józef Cyrankiewicz
Personal details
Born (1892-04-18)18 April 1892
Rury, Lublin Governorate, Congress Poland
Died 12 March 1956(1956-03-12) (aged 63)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Political party Communist Party of Poland
Polish Workers' Party
Polish United Workers' Party
Spouse(s) Wanda Górska (1903-1983)



Partly damaged old monument to Bierut formerly in Lublin, now in Kozłówka museum, 2007
Polish authorities isuued an order to Germans to force them to immediately leave Poland after the Second World War.
1951 East German stamp commemorative of the Treaty of Zgorzelec establishing the Oder-Neisse line as a “border of peace”, featuring the presidents Wilhelm Pieck (GDR) and Bolesław Bierut shaking hands over the new border

Bierut was born in Rury, now a part of Lublin, to Wojciech Bierut, a village teacher, and his wife Maria (née Biernacka). In 1918 he took courses at the Warsaw School of Economics. From 1924–30, he was in Moscow for training at the school of the Communist International.

In 1930–31, he was sent by the Comintern to Austria, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. In 1933, he became an agent of Soviet military intelligence, the GRU, and was subsequently sentenced in Poland to 10 years in prison for "anti-state activities" (incarcerated between 1933–1938). The pro-Soviet Communist Party of Poland was dissolved by Joseph Stalin in 1938. Bierut avoided being caught in the Great Purge, which led to the execution of many leaders of the Communist Party of Poland in the USSR. After an amnesty from the Polish government in 1938, Bierut settled in Warsaw and worked as a bookkeeper in a cooperative.[citation needed]

After the outbreak of World War II, Bierut left Warsaw and via Lublin went to eastern Poland, which was soon occupied by the Red Army. Bierut spent part of the war in the Soviet Union, but was sent to Poland to join the leadership of the new Polish Workers' Party (PPR) in 1943. He headed the State National Council (Krajowa Rada Narodowa), a communist quasi-parliament established by Władysław Gomułka and the PPR, from 1944 to 1947. With Gomułka and others, Bierut played a leading role in the establishment of communist Poland.[2]

From 1947 to 1952, he served as President and then (after the abolition of the Presidency with the creation of the People's Republic of Poland) Prime Minister. He was also the first Secretary General of the ruling Polish United Workers Party from 1948 to 1956.


Bierut's grave in Powązki Military Cemetery, 2004

Bierut died under mysterious circumstances in Moscow on 12 March 1956 during a visit to the Soviet Union, shortly after attending the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during which Nikita Khrushchev delivered his "Secret Speech", denouncing Stalin's cult of personality. His death gave rise to speculation about poisoning or suicide.[citation needed]

Speculations about identityEdit

Polish historian Paweł Wieczorkiewicz posited that Bierut might have had a Soviet double (an NKVD agent) posing as Bierut from 1943 onwards with his full knowledge. Wieczorkiewicz referred to an account by Piotr Jaroszewicz made soon before his death, and published by Bohdan Roliński. The Polish President's double was supposedly shot dead by an unidentified assassin – likely another agent wearing an NKVD uniform and killed at the scene – at the Hotel Francuski in Kraków, Poland in 1947. The real "Bierut" showed up half an hour later and calmed the security according to a statement made by one of them. The assassination attempt was kept secret by the authorities. Wieczorkiewicz himself referred to this theory as an urban legend.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Błażyński, Zbigniew (2003). Mówi Józef Światło. Za kulisami bezpieki i partii, 1940-1955. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo LTW. pp. 20–21, 27. ISBN 83-88736-34-5. 
  2. ^ Jerzy Eisler, Siedmiu wspaniałych. Poczet pierwszych sekretarzy KC PZPR [The Magnificent Seven: first secretaries of the PZPR], Wydawnictwo Czerwone i Czarne, Warszawa 2014, ISBN 978-83-7700-042-7, pp. 48–82
  3. ^ "Wieczorkiewicz: Mimo wszystko Stalin nas szanował." Interview with prof. Paweł Wieczorkiewicz by Robert Mazurek,, 5 November 2007. (in Polish)
Political offices
Preceded by
Władysław Raczkiewicz
(President of the Polish Republic in Exile)
Chairman of the State National Council
31 December 1944–4 February 1947
Succeeded by
Himself as President
Preceded by
Himself as Chairman
President of Poland
5 February 1947–21 November 1952
Succeeded by
Aleksander Zawadzki
(Chairman of the Council of State)
Preceded by
Józef Cyrankiewicz
Prime Minister of Poland
20 November 1952–18 March 1954
Succeeded by
Józef Cyrankiewicz
Party political offices
Preceded by
Władysław Gomułka
(as general secretary of the Polish Workers' Party)
General Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party
22 December 1948–12 March 1956
Succeeded by
Edward Ochab