WARSAW, AUG. 31 -- Communist leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski has denounced Soviet "repressions and deportations" of Polish civilians during World War II and the prewar purge of Polish communist leaders by Joseph Stalin in an apparent move to open public discussion of long-taboo issues in Polish-Soviet relations.
In an article for a Soviet journal summarized in today's Polish press, Jaruzelski, one of the strongest East Bloc supporters of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, touched on the 1939 invasion of Poland by Soviet troops and said Moscow's actions were "contradictory to Poland's right to independence."
He also recalled the 1938 purge by Stalin of the Central Committee of the Polish Communist Party, saying it was carried out "on groundless, provocative charges."
The statements represented one of the most frank public commentaries ever made by a Polish Communist leader on the Soviet actions, which continue to stir bitter emotions among a large part of Polish society. Western observers said Jaruzelski's article appeared designed to advance a nascent move by communist authorities in Warsaw and Moscow to air publicly some of the long-unacknowledged grudges between the two countries.
"Mutual relations" between Poland and the Soviet Union, Jaruzelski wrote, traditionally were "marked with lack of trust and animosity which frequently turned into outright conflicts. They gave birth to more than one tragedy and impressed their mark upon the consciences of both sides."
Jaruzelski and Gorbachev agreed at a meeting in Moscow last April to clear up the "blank spots" in Polish-Soviet history and named a joint commission of historians and party officials to study them. The action was described by Polish government officials as an important extension of Gorbachev's policy of glasnost, or openness, to the sensitive issues of Soviet-East European relations.
The appearance of Jaruzelski's article suggests that the historical clarifications are now emerging as a centerpiece of the government's strategy to extend Gorbachev's reforms to Poland. The general's critical comments in his essay are matched with effusive praise for current Soviet policies and an endorsement of Gorbachev's view of "the necessity of change."
Curiously, the 63-year-old general's article makes no reference to the common but unconfirmed conclusion of historians that Jaruzelski himself, together with his family, were among the thousands of Polish civilians deported to Siberia between 1939 and 1941. The episode has become one of the taboo topics of Soviet-Polish relations, with official histories saying only that Jaruzelski "found himself in the Soviet Union" in 1941.
Allegations of Soviet atrocities against Poland during and immediately after World War II remain an important political issue here.
Jaruzelski's article, which covers the broad subject of the development of communist rule in Poland and the Soviet Union, does not mention Soviet actions against Poland during the war that have yet to be acknowledged publicly by Moscow. These include the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop pact under which Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia agreed to partition Poland in 1939, and the alleged 1941 "Katyn massacre" by Soviet troops of thousands of captive Polish Army officers.