** Cold War Poland: The Hippie

Cold War Poland: The Hippies

Figure 1.-- This is ascene at the Hippies commune in Ozarow, 1968.

The counterculture movement emerged in the United States, partly associated with the Vietnam War (1960s). The Hippes were the most obvious manifestation. The issues involved resomated in many other countries, especially the democracies of Western Europe which had consttitutiinal guarantees for free expression and personal belavior. This was not the sort of bedhvior that went well in the Soviet Uniion and the Soviet controlled peoples democracies of Eastern Europe. This all changed somewhat when Stalin died (1953) and Khruschev denomved Stalin and launched his de-Stalinization policy. Communist officials in the Soviet satellites were not that entralled about this as they basically relied on the Soviet Union to keep them in power. Some continued Atalinmist policies. Other like Poland maintained their police state, but toletated a level of librtrailzation. [Tracz] It is in this context that Poland had their own Hippy experience. A HBC readers provides a description of what occurred in Poland. The Polish Hippy subculture was not anythinh like the West, but it did exist. This is especially interesting because it is in Poland that the Eastern European Communism and eventually the Soviet Unioin began. Of course it was Polish workers that began the process, but Hippies were part of the Polish cultural millieu.

"A few days ago I bought access to your website. As for hairstyles - I remember a little old times. After World War II, boys wore short hair. In the 1950s (which I don't remember) some boys still had shaved heads, but by the the 1960s it was very rare, at least in big cities. The Hippie movement began in the 1960s. Small groups began gathering around International Press and Books (EMPIK). it was a network of bookstores and reading rooms / cafes / clubs where you could buy or read foreign newspapers, books, and also gramophone records. This included material from the West. The first EMPIK was established in Warsaw (1948). Eventually there was one in every big city, several in Warsaw. The first hippies used to gather in these cafes. They already had long hair, sometimes very long. One EMPIK was directly opposite the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Warsaw. At first, the Hippies were tolerated. When the numbers grew, attacks in the press began. Sometimes an overzealous militia (the police - as they are called today) caught such people and sheared them forcibly. It was illegal, and therefore these actions were ridiculed in the liberal press. (In the 1960s and 70s there was quite a clear division into liberal and conservative weeklies. I read liberal Polityka. Then, by the late-1960, sthe the fashion for long hair spread like wildfire. It became a real war in the schools and often in families. I remember at my school one boy (14 years old) was shaved to his skin by his parents. But he was from a not very normal home. As an adult, he developed alcoholism. I think he's dead already. After all, I think in 1972, the Minister of Education issued an official order - boys are allowed to wear long hair, but they must be clean! I remember reading this order at a meeting of all the students. Then this fashion gradually faded away. A few of the former Hippies are very conservative politicians today. EMPIK is the largest bookstore chain in Poland. Private, not public. This is how the world changes."


Tracz, Bogusław. "Hippiesi, kudłacze, chwasty: Hipisi w Polsce w latach 1967–1975" [Hippies, mopheads, weeds: Hippies in Poland between 1967 and 1975] The Polish Review Vol. 61, No. 3 (2016), pp. 114-18.

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Created: 9:01 PM 6/6/2021
Last updated: 9:01 PM 6/6/2021