Massive food shipments arrived in Warsaw from East Germany yesterday in an apparent attempt to head off civil unrest, amid increasing indications that a Soviet command structure has been installed in the Polish capital to assist the one-week old martial-law government.
While Warsaw remained relatively quiet, reports of scattered strikes in other cities continued. Sources close to the government conceded that strikes were continuing in an undetermined number of coal mines in the vital industrial heartland of Silesia in the south.
Polish television quoted the Katowice Province military governor, Lt. Gen. Roman Paskowski, as saying that the province "continues to have flashpoints" and that "it has not so far been found possible to extinguish all hotbeds of conflicts."
Unconfirmed reports said that 66 miners have been killed in government efforts to end a strike at the Wujek mine near Katowice, The Associated Press said in a dispatch from Amsterdam. The government announced Thursday that seven miners in Katowice were killed the day before when troops attempting to rout the strikers fired in self-defense. Two Dutch truck drivers who were part of a food-aid convoy to Poland said yesterday that they were told by Solidarity members in Katowice that 10 miners had been clubbed to death Wednesday and 56 shot Thursday and Friday. They said the strike was continuing.
The official news agency PAP said authorities confiscated 500 rounds of ammunition, grenades, firearms and iron bars in the Szczecin repair shipyard, and a Warsaw Radio broadcast acknowledged strikes were continuing in Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia, AP also reported.
The British Broadcasting Corp. reported that troops were refusing to fire on strikers in the Silesia coalfields, according to United Press International.
A Warsaw Radio broadcast Friday reported that prosecutors are bringing charges for offenses including attempting to organize strikes. The broadcast said the prosecutors were taking action against "those who have committed particularly dangerous crimes while martial law is in force."
"More and more charges are being summarily brought to court," according to the broadcast, which was transcribed yesterday by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a U.S. agency. "The prosecutors' action has made it possible to avoid strikes in numerous other cases."
In the first indication that the new military government is going ahead with prosecutions against the hundreds of activists reportedly detained, the broadcast named 15 Solidarity members, many of whom held local or regional posts in the union, who are charged with organizing strikes and disseminating false information. The radio said the charges were being brought in cities that included Radom, Gdansk, Lublin, and Olsztyn.
Among those named by the radio were Jan Filipek, chairman of Solidarity's construction works commission in the village of Boleslawice, in southern Wroclaw Province, who was accused of calling a meeting on Dec. 14 of workers to proclaim a strike; Antoni Bimikowski, of the Solidarity section in Radom, charged with organizing a strike in the Radom leather factory, and Jerzy Lewcun, chairman of a commission in Nowy Sacz, accused of "continued union activity," including leading protest actions and calling for a strike "with the aid of posters."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Dean Fischer said that reports of more deaths than the Polish government has acknowledged have been received from a number of sources. A department statement called on "the Polish government to cease its repressive attacks on Polish workers."
"Increasingly," the statement said, "a pattern is emerging of using Polish Army forces to seal off public areas and work places from outside interference while the armed security forces of the Ministry of Interior engage in often violent acts of intimidation and repression against protesting workers, students and intellectuals." The statement repeated the Reagan administration's call for the release of "political prisoners" in Poland.
Meanwhile, Western intelligence sources confirmed yesterday that four planeloads of Soviet military officers landed at Warsaw's Okecie Airport Wednesday night, supporting the belief of reliable Polish sources that the Soviet Union has set up a military command structure in Warsaw to oversee the martial-law operation.
Although he is believed to have returned to Moscow, the Soviet commander-in-chief of the Warsaw Pact, Marshall Viktor Kulikov, was reported to have arrived in the Polish capital several days before the martial-law decree was issued. Neighbors report unusual activity around a guest house for high-ranking, visiting Soviet officers near the Soviet Embassy.
The government continued its exhortation to Polish civilians to work and increase production as a means of ending the current crisis. But the Communist Party newspaper, Trybuna Ludu, reported "unfortunately small deliveries" by farmers to state procurement centers in the wake of the government's declaration of martial law.
Emergency food aid had been urgently requested from all Soviet Bloc countries several days ago by the martial-law government. Yesterday, police cars with lights flashing led a convoy of at least 30 semi-trailer trucks through a blizzard into central Warsaw past crowds who stared silently. Some of the trucks had banners saying the food came from East Germany.
The convoy of food-bearing trucks ended at the freshly plowed Victory Square, as small groups of passers-by clustered around.
The East German news agency, ADN, reported yesterday that a convoy of 15 trucks with goods for Poland had left the city of Karl-Marx-Stadt in the early morning hours headed for Lodz, "in an expression of solidarity." The report said an additional transport would leave for Poland Sunday night.
The authorities clearly are hoping to blame the suspended union Solidarity for the severe economic deprivations of the past year and to convince people that their economic lot will be better despite the curtailment of civil liberties. Already, store shelves that were empty only a week ago are being stocked with meat, smoked fish, cabbage, carrots, beans, honey, cheese and pickled mushrooms.
The foodstuffs appeared so quickly that many Poles believe the government had been hoarding it and reacted with anger rather than gratitude.
"It was there all along," said one Polish grandmother waiting in a long line outside a grocery store. "Solidarity was right all along."
Long lines remain, however, because of panic buying.
Semiofficial sources said the food that appeared right after the military takeover came from military supply depots. Observers had reported hundreds of Army trucks during last fall's harvest carting away tons of vegetables and grain.
The food supply situation was part of a growing body of evidence indicating that the martial law takeover had been in preparation for months.
Western diplomatic sources said that a military television station was set up outside Warsaw in early October and technicians had been in training since that time. Since the morning of Dec. 13, when the military took control, all radio and television broadcasts have emanated from that station.
There was again no word on the condition of Solidarity leader Lech Walesa. For the past several days a pamphlet, signed by Walesa, has been circulating in the capital calling on strikers to continue occupying major factories, but advising them to offer no resistance to troops that storm them.
Since Walesa is believed to be held incommunicado at a government guest house south of Warsaw, however, many people doubted the validity of the appeal.
Trybuna Ludu reported new arrests of Solidarity factory activists for organizing strikes or opposing martial law authorities, and reliable academic sources said the heads of two universities had been arrested and replaced with military officers. One of the them, the rector of at the Marie Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, reportedly had refused to order striking students to leave a building they were occupying.
Among the many thousands of people detained was Marek Edelmann, the deputy commander of the Warsaw Jewish ghetto uprising against the Nazis in 1943. Edelmann, a Solidarity official in Lodz, eluded arrest throughout World War II. On Friday, Trybuna Ludu carried an article attacking two prominent Solidarity advisers, Bronislaw Geremek and Adam Michnik, for "Zionist sympathies."
Former activists of the Warsaw region of Solidarity were reliably reported to have gone on a hunger strike two or more days ago. They are being held at an overcrowded prison in the capital. The report was given by one of several former Solidarity employes who were released on condition that they report to the police weekly.
In short messages to their families, other Solidarity detainees have been able to smuggle out descriptions of overcrowded conditions in the jails. Church officials are drawing up lists of imprisoned activists whose release they regard as a matter of priority.
By contrast, former senior Communist Party officials are reported to be under house arrest in luxury vacation villas. Former party leader Edward Gierek is said to be detained in a military rest home on the Hel Peninsula, in the Bay of Gdansk.
The official media, meanwhile, have printed the recantations of a number of Solidarity activists, including three regional union leaders.
Early yesterday in Warsaw, hundreds of people trudged through the snow to Powazki Cemetery for the funeral of a prominent Polish journalist, Jerzy Zielinski, who was in line as editor of a new weekly newspaper that would have been published by the Warsaw Solidarity chapter. He threw himself out of a hospital window early last Sunday after learning of the military takeover and the arrests of Solidarity's top leaders.
The funeral procession took place in complete silence, and there was no eulogy, but friends described him as the "first victim of martial law."