Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact

Vojtech Mastny, Project Coordinator

PRESS RELEASE: 18 September 2002


Generals Jaruzelski, Siwicki, Tuczapski, and 6 other top-ranking Polish insiders of the Soviet military alliance reveal unprecedented details about its functioning and plans against NATO during the Cold War. 350 pages of interviews are made public today on the Zurich-based website of the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact (PHP), an international consortium of scholars dedicated to the study of the historical dimension of European security,

Interviewed in 1999-2001 by leading Polish military historians, the generals discuss the role of their strategically located country in planned Soviet military operations against Western Europe, their own loyalty to the Soviet alliance, their perceptions of the Western enemy, preparations for a nuclear war, and disputes between Moscow and its allies.

The main findings:

  1. Bound by their oath of loyalty to the former Polish communist state, the generals still refuse to reveal the details of the Warsaw Pact operational plans, which remain classified in Poland despite its NATO membership.
  2. The plans nevertheless appear in stark clarity from the interviews, supplemented by records of military exercises, showing the key role of the "Polish Front" in the Soviet-planned "liberation" of Denmark during a war against NATO.
  3. The orders were to be issued by the Soviet General Staff, relayed through the Polish command, and the generals believe they would have been obeyed.
  4. The plans envisaged an offensive operation in response to a NATO attack, which the planners improbably assumed would fail within a few days regardless of the enemy's use of nuclear weapons against dozens of Polish targets.
  5. In cooperation with Soviet and other Warsaw Pact armies, the Polish forces were also to participate in a thrust through northern Germany, aimed at occupying the Netherlands and Belgium within two weeks and preparing for further advance toward the English Channel.
  6. In the generals' opinion, the outcome of the offensive against Denmark was uncertain because of the lack of sufficient air transport and landing craft, as well as of NATO's superiority in the air.
  7. In the course of the operations planned by the Warsaw Pact, half a million Polish troops were expected to perish, mainly because of the massive use of nuclear weapons by both sides.
  8. The generals believe that membership in the Warsaw Pact was nevertheless in Poland's best interest under the circumstances of the time.

The collection is introduced by PHP coordinator Vojtech Mastny. The complete transcripts of the interviews, in Polish, are accompanied by a topical selection of the highlights in an annotated English translation, with references to the original texts. A "Discussion Forum" invites comments by readers in any language.

Visit the PHP website at to read the interviews, express your opinion, and find out more about the PHP's other activities. The website is part of the International Relations and Security Network (ISN), operated by the Swiss Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research at ETH Zurich.

For further information, contact Vojtech Mastny, PHP coordinator,, or Andrzej Paczkowski, Research Director at the Institute of Political Studies in Warsaw, at, or Pawel Piotrowski, military historian at the Institute of National Remembrance in Wrocław, at


Sponsored by the Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the National Security Archive at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, the Institute for Strategy and Security Politics in Vienna, the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies (CIMA) in Florence, and the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo
In association with the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC, Institute for Contemporary History, Munich, Federal Military Archives of Germany, Research Group for the Study of the Stasi Archives, Cold War Research Group, Sofia, Institute of International Relations, Prague, Cold War History Research Center, Budapest, Institute for Political Studies of Defense and Military History, Bucharest
Affiliated with the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes