This dispatch is based on information arriving from Poland:
The senior leader of those Solidarity trade union activists still at large has issued a message appealing to soldiers and police officers to "listen to their conscience" and "not allow themselves to be used in the waging of war against the nation."
Zbigniew Bujak, the leader of Solidarity's Warsaw branch, issued the handwritten appeal from his hideout in the form of "holiday greetings" to union members and sympathizers and "to all our friends in Poland and abroad."
In censored dispatches from Warsaw, the Los Angeles Times and Reuter news services reported that the government announced proposed price increases that would raise the cost of basic foods and utilities between 200 and 500 percent.
It was not specified when the increases would take effect, and authorities said the proposals would be open to public discussion.
Bujak said Solidarity, which has been suspended by Poland's martial-law authorities, was still able to function because of acts of bravery and defiance by its members, and he predicted that "the final victory will be on the side of Solidarity, on the side of the nation."
Bujak, 27, a charismatic former paratrooper who frequently has been mentioned as a possible successor to Lech Walesa as the head of the national Solidarity organization, escaped arrest in the early morning of Dec. 13, when most of the Solidarity leadership was seized in Gdansk as martial law was declared throughout Poland. Walesa is in Warsaw, under a form of house arrest.
In his message, Bujak said preparations for martial law had taken at least nine months, which he called proof of the great role Solidarity had played in Poland's rebirth and of the fear the union instilled among its enemies.
Addressing himself to the families of "murdered workers," Bujak expressed hope that their pain and grief would lead to a new Poland in which people never again would be killed for demanding human rights.
The government has acknowledged that eight persons have died since martial law was imposed, but dissident sources have placed the toll much higher.
Turning to the families of those detained, including Walesa's pregnant wife and six children, Bujak said he believed "that out of your suffering will come a Poland without prisons and internment camps, a Poland without police roundups and without constant fear."
He said he hoped that soldiers and officers of the Polish Army and police would "listen to the voice of their conscience before that of their orders. "I hope you all remember that first you are human beings and Poles and only second the executors of orders, that none should allow themselves to be used for fratricide, when you have to pay the highest price," he continued.
"I wish the time will come when you will not be used against your own society, when instead of being tools in the hands of the criminal authorities waging war against the nation, you will become its real defenders."
Bujak added that the Solidarity movement was "the only path" for reaching "our highest hopes in more than 200 years."
Interviews with soldiers and Army sources indicated that the authorities are concerned about the Army's loyalty, with soldiers receiving frequent propaganda lectures, as well as extra food and other incentives.
A soldier on patrol in Warsaw said that even though troops are carrying rifles at the ready, the weapons generally are not loaded and that "the only aim is to scare people."
He said, "We carry rounds of ammunition in magazines, but the guns are empty. We can fire, but the fact that the ammunition is on our belts gives us time to consider the situation."
The soldier described conditions in the Army as "very hard" but with excellent food supplies. "We are asked every day how we feel, what out problems are and whether the food is good enough," he said. "Every remark regarding quality or quantity is quickly considered."
He said soldiers on patrol receive a daily ration of chocolate and "a lot of good-quality sausage."
The soldier said troops on patrol apparently were not trusted completely and, like police, were given frequent lectures. For the police, he said, the propaganda lectures emphasized that they were "the only hope and foundation of the nation."
Other Army sources said the officers received a holiday bonus in the form of Russian vodka and chocolate. An underground Solidarity bulletin, meanwhile, charged that the ruling military council made active attempts to convince soldiers that the people hate them and that they therefore should be vigilant.
More information also has started to become available about detainees and internment centers around the country. A leading Roman Catholic Church source described 50 such centers. He said some regions, including the area around Katowice in Silesia, where miners have opposed the military crackdown most openly, contain more than one camp while other regions such as Czestochowa had none.
The church source said one priest still was being detained, in Koszalin, and that many clerics had been held and questioned for shorter periods. The source said the church is engaged in talks with Jerzy Kuberski, the government official in charge of religious affairs, as well as with the Justice Ministry, to obtain the release of about 5,000 Poles the government says are still interned.
The source indicated that there had been little progress in the talks.
Priests are allowed to visit internees to celebrate mass, the church source said, but there is "practically no contact" with those arrested and actually charged with martial-law violations.
The government distinguishes those actually arrested from internees, who it says are being held to isolate them from society.
Several Solidarity members, including two of Bujak's colleagues in the top union leadership, have already been sentenced by martial-law courts to three years or more in prison for organizing or taking part in strikes and demonstrations since Dec. 13. Two members of Solidarity's national commission from Lodz, Andrzej Slowik and Jerzy Kropiwnicki, were sentenced to 4 1/2 years apiece.
News services reported the following:
The Polish authorities announced a series of proposed price increases in which the cost of many basic foodstuffs would be more than tripled.
The proposed increases were listed and covered food, raw material and fuel.
The announcement said the proposals would be open to public discussion and did not specify when the price rises would go into effect.
Publication of the proposed increases indicated that Poland's martial-law authorities were determined to go ahead with unpopular aspects of economic reform. Reaction to government price increases on meat in July 1980 led to the worker unrest that triggered a wave of strikes and ultimately spawned the independent trade union movement.
The Communist Party daily Trybuna Ludu quoted the State Price Commission as saying that price rises were an integral part of economic reform and through them it hoped to reduce the gap between supply and demand and eliminate black marketeering.
This has been an aim of successive Polish administrations, and the emergence of Solidarity in August 1980 brought hopes that prices could be adjusted in Poland through dialogue with the authorities and without sparking major protest.
Under the published proposals one kilo (2.2 pounds) of sugar would go up from 33 cents to $1.40, one kilo of salt from 7 cents to 22 cents, yellow cheese from $1.60 to $6.10.
Butter would go up from 54 cents to $1.90, one kilo of pork from $2.90 to $11.60, one kilo of bacon from 96 cents to $3.50, one kilo of quality ham from $5.80 to $17.70.
According to new reports reaching the West, martial-law troops have been called in to contain a workers' rebellion at an ammunition factory near the Polish industrial city of Radom, a Solidarity stronghold 55 miles south of Warsaw.
Radom has been completely cut off since martial law was declared on Dec. 13. But reports from travelers reaching the West said soldiers and militiamen surrounded the ammunition factory, indicating that its workers had mounted a rebellion against military authority.
The reports did not say when the military operation was mounted or whether the siege, at the AVN works at Pionkow near Radom, was still under way. The account appeared to conflict with official Polish statements that the country had been completely peaceful since Dec. 29.
Radio Warsaw said the Internal Affairs Ministry authorized families to have New Year's Eve parties without a permit, but that bigger New Year's Eve parties, even if held in private residences, required a permit under martial law regulations. The restrictions apparently were aimed at preventing gatherings of Solidarity activists under the guise of New Year's celebrations.
Poland's president, in a New Year's speech broadcast by Warsaw Radio, said the Polish military declared martial law in the name of patriotism, and he appealed for understanding from restive youths.
The president, Henryk Jablonski, also called on Poles to put aside their differences and unite to restore the nation, which he pledged would see continued reforms after calm is assured.
"No one has a monopoly on patriotism," Jablonski said, referring to the Dec. 13 declaration of martial law. "The Polish soldier stood in defense of order. He did not stand against the nation but in defense of it."
Jablonski made a special appeal to Polish young people, many of whom had been supporters of the now-suspended trade union, Solidarity, and have been reported by Warsaw Radio to be urging "passive resistance" to martial law.
"I understand your discontent. Socialist Poland needs you all . . . Poland will use your good and bad experience, as well as your need for justice.
"It will take much effort to brighten our homeland. But we can do that if we eliminate that which divides and weakens us."
The president lauded the changes of the past year that have come to be called socialist renewal, saying there has been a "profound and bold reform" of the management of Poland's economy.
In New York, CARE, the international aid and development organization, said in a release that its executive director, Phillip Johnston, will fly to Poland over the New Year weekend to meet with Polish government officials concerning continued emergency food aid for the elderly and children. Johnston has been granted a visa and is scheduled to arrive in Warsaw on Monday. He will meet with officials at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to discuss the continuation of Care's activities in Poland.