The Lenin shipyards in Gdansk were overrun at dawn yesterday by crack Polish troops who crashed their way through the gates but found only passive resistance from workers who had been occupying the yard where the Solidarity trade union movement was born last year.

There was no certain report of injuries or deaths, but a number of workers who were in the yard at the time said they feared casualties among those workers who had been sitting in rail cars to keep warm when the military assault suddenly began and armored vehicles overturned several of the cars.

As the martial law government that seized power Sunday continued its efforts to break strike activity in the nation's factories and mines with its wave of arrests, Poland's Catholic Church released a statement that accused authorities of turning the country into a "nation terrorized by military force," and demanded that the ban on the trade union's activities be lifted and that prisoners, including Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, be freed.

"The uncertainty and powerlessness of the workers," said the church communique, released yesterday and signed by Archbishop Jozef Glemp and the council of Polish bishops, "have caused emotions, bitterness and disgust." The martial law decision "constitutes a blow applied to the hopes and expectations of society that long-term problems could be solved by means of a national understanding."

Reports reaching Washington from Poland indicated, however, that resistance remains fierce in spots.

According to eyewitness accounts from Gdansk, as word of yesterday morning's assault spread through the city, hundreds of leaflets fluttered down on a crowd gathered outside the shipyard. The single-paged message, signed simply "Solidarity members" appealed to workers not to give up their fight until the martial law ordered is cancelled.

"Do not resign," it said. "If we resign today, we'll bury our hopes for freedom for many years to come. We must fight for the freedom of those imprisoned. Several thousand people cannot destroy 10 million."

Later yesterday, a crowd that had gathered outside the shipyard gates for a mass demonstration called for 5 p.m. was pushed back by police dressed in riot gear and using tear gas. The police cleared demonstrators from around the base of the Three Crosses Monument, erected exactly one year ago to commemorate those who died in December 1970, when Polish police opened fire on protesting workers.

There were also reports of force being used to break strikes at other shipyards and factories along the Baltic Coast. On the outskirts of Gdansk, what appeared to be a full armored contingent, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, fuel and communications trucks, was seen encircling the city's oil refinery. Although the roads to the refinery were blocked, eyewitnesses reported no evidence of hostile activity.

In defiance, the red and white Polish flag was hung from the top parts of the oil plant..

Meanwhile, in Warsaw, shoppers venturing out into bitter cold found newly plentiful quantities of food on store shelves -- such as smoked fish that have not been seen in Polish cities for more than six months -- as the government sought to rally public opinion to its side. A Dutch truck driver who arrived as part of a 150-vehicle convoy to deliver food aid from Western Europe said he was directed to a warehouse with "more butter than I've seen in my entire life."

"Where has it all been?" asked one elderly shopper.

As Poland's overall financial crisis worsened, a martial-law decree froze all hard currency accounts in private banks, and Finance Minister Marian Krzak summoned 12 Western ambassadors to request an urgent loan of $350 million by next week to meet immediate debt service payments due on the $27 billion the country owes to Western banks. See details from Western capitals, Page D14.

Some of the ambassadors replied that they would be unable to contact their capitals to pass along the request because of a communications blackout.

Major military movements were reported in different areas of the country, including a convoy of about 300 police trucks, tanks, armored personnel carriers and trucks mounted with water cannon moving southward along Warsaw's main thoroughfare during the late afternoon rush hour yesterday.

Foot patrols of armed soldiers and police were stepped up and supplemented by units of plainclothed police officers who checked identity papers on the street and searched automobile trunks. In at least one case observed by Western journalists, soldiers in an armored personnel carrier stopped two young Poles and took them away in the vehicle.

Several major strikes were reported broken yesterday, including those at the Warski shipyard in Szczecin, a radical Solidarity bastion; several mines in the industrial region of Silesia, and a student strike at Wroclaw Polytechnic.

A Communist Party source said there were injuries in the Wroclaw incident, but no shootings. Rumors of killings could not be substantiated. The Polish media reported the ending of several other strikes but remained silent on the situation in Gdansk.

The party source said that strikes were continuing in at least five mines, and students and Solidarity sources reported other ongoing strikes.

At the same time, there was speculation by Western diplomatic sources that party activities had been low, with some meetings canceled, and that the party itself may be subjected to some "restructuring."

Poles appeared to grudgingly and fearfully adjust their lifestyles to crushing limits on all basic freedoms, which many compared with the country's World War II occupation by Germany. "They've taken away all our rights," complained one woman. "You can't go out at night, and they can come and search your house at any time. I could understand it when they were Germans. But these are Poles."

"It used to be that the people respected the soldiers," added another Warsaw woman. "People used to let them go first in line and treated them with respect. But overnight that has changed to hate."

According to sources in Gdansk, armored military equipment and Polish soldiers began to appear outside the shipyard during the night Monday. At least one early forceful attempt to remove striking workers from the huge construction area was tried then. But on Tuesday, the sit-in continued.

Last night, some of the soldiers who were surrounding the shipyard were reported by workers to have mixed with those staging the sit-in, sharing coal fires to stay warm. But early yesterday morning, special armored units from the ministry of the interior, along with Poland's elite Red Berets forces, arrived to carry out the decisive attack as six helicopters circled overhead.

Workers said the soldiers seemed surprised when they put up no resistence. After their identities were recorded by the authorities, many of the strikers were released, one by one, to walk away from the yard at 100-yard intervals.

It was reported that Bogdan Borusewicz, 33, the strike leader in the Gdansk area, managed to escape before the plan. Several workers from the yard said later that the escape was planned to avoid a further loss of Solidarity's leaders.

The shipyard workers were told not to return to the job until Monday. In the meantime, they are said to be considering two basic strategies to continue their resistance -- striking again and forcing authorities to oust them, or pretend to go back to work but engage in production sabotage.

The total number of arrests and detentions nationwide since the crackdown began Sunday, including a wide range of Solidarity activists and sympathizers, intellectuals, journalists, academicians and students, was impossible to estimate with any precision, but certainly climbed into the thousands. One source close to Warsaw police said that "all the jails and prisons in the Warsaw region are full."

The government-controlled television news released what it called a "first list" of 57 detained members of Solidarity and dissident groups, including prominent dissident leader Jacek Kuron, dissident underground press head Miroslaw Chojecki, and former union national spokesman Janusz Onyszkiewicz

A Solidarity adviser said that Walesa was being held in a government guest house in Chylice, just south of Warsaw, and that it was inconceivable that he would agree to negotiate with the government as long as he was not free to consult with his advisers.

The trade union leader met Monday with Bronislaw Dabrowski, the secretary of the Polish episcopate, or council of Catholic bishops, and in its statement yesterday the church demanded that Walesa and other high Solidarity officials be permitted "free activity."

"Solidarity," the statement said, "by defending the rights of the workers is indispensable in returning the balance to society's life."

The eloquently worded church communique was addressed to "the faithful of the Catholic Church," who comprise 90 percent of Poland's population.

"Our suffering is that of the entire nation terrorized by military force," it said. Citing "available information," it said that "numerous activists of the labor movement have been interned. The internments are extensive and concern workers, people of letters, of science and students. In numerous enterprises strikes have been proclaimed."

While noting that the church's mission is to defend the state, "seen as a common good," as well as "human rights and human dignity," the statement noted obliquely that "the time will come when we shall know the entire truth about the reasons for having introduced martial law."

Describing the church as "jointly responsible," with the state, for the nation, the statement said, "beginning today, we must undertake some positive action."

" . . . the general council of the Polish episcopate does not renounce the basic rights and achievements of the entire society -- these are an irreversible truth," the communique continued. "We are convinced that the nation will not take a step backward and cannot give up the democratic renewal that has been announced in the country."

"Only somber reflection can reformulate a program of national well- being and sovereignty," it said. In an indirect message to the government it continued: "For that purpose we wish the church and society to concentrate" on the freeing of prisoners and "the revival of the labor union and above all of Solidarity to . . . statutory activity. This implies that one permit the free activity of the president and the presidium of the labor union."

The communique also said, "The general council of the Polish espiscopate calls on all the faithful to pray ardently for national unity of the nation and peace in the country . . . . May every day of prayer and of confidence in God bring us further from the danger of blood flowing and of violence. May each day bring us closer to Christ's peace along the difficult road of renewal."