Former Solidarity trade union activist Zofia Romeszewska is finding the adjustment to life after martial law slow and difficult.
Faced with a new array of restrictions on political, social and economic activity, she and other political prisoners being freed or coming out of hiding in Poland say it is hard to readjust.
Many are believed likely to reestablish their underground connections despite the penalties they suffered for their activism during more than 1 1/2 years of martial law.
It was just a year ago, on her 22nd wedding anniversary, that police burst into Romeszewska's hideaway apartment and arrested her. Her husband eluded capture, only to be imprisoned later.
Now out of jail under Poland's recently announced amnesty, Romeszewska has begun to chronicle her harsh prison experience in the underground press.
"I'm still a little bit unconscious," she said, back in her Warsaw home, a place she abandoned to go underground on the cold December night more than 19 months ago when martial law was declared. "I think it will be difficult for me to adjust to the stabilization that I'm supposed to. All these new rules."
Like hundreds of other political activists being freed, Romeszewska emerges into a Poland rid of the stigma of military rule but burdened with a new set of stringent penalties for opposition activities and extended controls on economic and social behavior. The people in power are the same people who jailed Romeszewska and her fellow activists after crushing the once-independent Solidarity trade union movement.
Romeszewska worries about her husband, Zbigniew, who remains in prison. At a trial with Zofia and seven others in February, he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in jail for organizing Radio Solidarity, the underground operation whose broadcasts in mid-1982 broke the communist government's monopoly on the airwaves and bolstered the morale of Poland's opposition.
More seriously, Zbigniew has been charged with planning to overthrow the state, a crime not covered by the amnesty decree. A physicist by profession, he was a key strategist of the Committee for Social Self-Defense (KOR) and will be involved in a trial of the KOR leadership expected later this year.
"Those of us who have left prison have done so with a heavy price on our backs," said Zofia. "We thought there would be a general amnesty. There wasn't. We also have failed to clear the status of political prisoners, who are still being regarded as criminals."
Denied their old jobs and finding certain professions--notably journalism and large segments of academia--closed to them because of their political sentiments, the released activists are likely to sink roots again in Poland's flourishing underground operation. A lively collection of clandestine news bulletins and artistic publications circulates these days. Numerous groups of Poles are also known to meet in private apartments for political discussions, uncensored literary readings and satirical cabaret-style entertainment.
One of the aims of the amnesty is to break these underground networks by inviting those involved to come out of hiding without facing legal repercussions. The many not in hiding but engaged in secretive opposition work under the cover of seemingly normal lives are also being urged, as part of the pardon process, to confess.
A handful of activists came forward recently to claim the amnesty offer, according to Poland's official press, which has played up the instances in hopes of drawing others out. But other opposition partisans say these cases result from police blackmail, manipulation or, in one case, lying.
That case involves Krzyszstof Wyszkowski, one-time managing editor of Solidarity's weekly paper and a partner of former Solidarity chairman Lech Walesa in founding a movement for free trade unions in Gdansk in the 1970s. After escaping from internment last August, Wyszkowski was caught by police on July 22, the day martial law was formally lifted, when he went for a rendezvous with another Solidarity partisan in the countryside outside Gdansk.
The Polish press agency announced last weekend that Wyszkowski was among the first to ask for amnesty, but he says that is not true.
"For 20 hours after they caught me," he said in an interview he sought with The Washington Post, "police tried to pressure me into signing the amnesty documents. They said it was the only way to save myself from prison. I refused, but they let me go anyway, announcing I had given myself up."
Under the terms of the amnesty, a fugitive coming out of hiding is promised freedom provided he lists for police the criminal actions he committed while underground. Wyszkowski calls this condition "morally humiliating" for Solidarity activists, who do not regard as criminal what they did out of ideological opposition to the regime.
"The people who are being said to give themselves up are really those who have been caught and manipulated by police," Wyszkowski said. "Or the government is just lying about people surrendering, as in my case."
Asked if he was at least relieved to have come above ground again, Wyszkowski replied: "No, no, things have become more complicated because I don't feel free. The amnesty places everyone who is let go on a rubber band. At any time until the probation period ends in 1985 you can go back to prison if you are accused of committing the same political crime for which you have been pardoned."
Wyszkowski estimated that 300 activists are still in hiding, about twice the number mentioned last week by government spokesman Jerzy Urban. They are supported by many more who appear to be living law-abiding lives, Wyszkowski said.
Any chance of reconciliation between the underground and the regime of Wojciech Jaruzelski seems to have been dashed by the government's recent actions.
"During martial law there was the hope at least of a return to some kind of dialogue, especially since the authorities always promised this kind of thing was possible," Wyszkowski said. "Now these new legal measures are a sign of the Sovietization of Polish life. They make this dialogue impossible even for the most moderate-minded people in society.
"The scale of the regulations is greater than anyone expected, against factories, cultural associations, trade union pluralism and university self-management.
"The first step of opposition activity now will be to corrode the pincers that society has been placed in. But the petrification of the government's hard-line position means that a breakthrough can only come with hard-line measures, some kind of crisis or social outburst, which is what everyone had been trying to avoid."
For some critics of the regime, like journalist Jacek Kalabinski, who stayed out of prison and out of hiding during martial law, the new political era is also beginning with a bad omen. Kalabinski was mugged in Warsaw last week while waiting for a bus, and although he does not suspect political motivation for the attack, the event is not without relevance to the general situation.
The police who wrote out the report of the incident told Kalabinski that fewer militiamen are assigned these days to control common criminals, reflecting a concentrated drive instead against the political underground.
"After the pope's visit," said Kalabinksi, referring to Pope John Paul II's pilgrimage to Poland in June, "the government had a chance to make an opening. The visit lowered the level of hatred. A lot of people were expecting something. After all, the pope met with Jaruzelski twice then.
"But it seems Jaruzelski doesn't understand what society's feelings are. It seems he is looking at society as a military unit: you issue a regulation and that's that."
It is not only opposition activists who regard the government as having gone too far toward permanently codifying many of the restrictions in effect under military rule. An establishment lawyer who serves on the government's penal law reform commission said privately that the new penalties for belonging to a banned organization or organizing protest action are unnecessary.
Attributing their introduction to "nervous lawyers," he said the new rules reinforce a trend toward excessive severe punishment that has run through the modern Polish penal system since its inception in 1945.
As the third anniversary of the workers' strikes that led to Solidarity nears later this month, many in Poland seem to have gone on exceptionally early and stretched-out summer vacations to lake, coastal and mountain districts--places removed from the tedium and repression of Jaruzelski's socialism. Warsaw's streets appear deserted. The level of general activity, like the general mood, is depressed.
One concrete improvement, however, has come with the ending of martial law. This is an easing of passport rules, theoretically permitting more Poles to travel abroad.
The Internal Affairs Ministry has issued new regulations providing that anyone with an invitation from someone abroad may apply for a passport. Hordes did so last Monday, crowding into passport offices clutching invitations that many had saved for months. But there turned out to be a catch.
On Tuesday, the government announced that only invitations dated after July 22 would be honored. This means delays of weeks for people here, whose mail to and from the West travels slowly.