Bolesław Bierut (April 18th, 1892 – March 12th 1956) was a Polish Communist leader, NKVD agent, and a hard-line Stalinist who became President of Poland after the defeat of the Nazi forces in World War II. He mysteriously died in 1956, leaving theories that he may have committed suicide or been poisoned.
On 30 June 1946, the Polish people's referendum took place. It was done in preparation for the Yalta-mandated national elections; affirmative answers to the three questions given were supposed to demonstrate public support for the issues promoted by the communists. The results were falsified.
On 22 September 1946, the KRN passed the electoral rules and in November set the date; the delayed legislative elections were held on 19 January 1947. The PPR-led coalition, running as the Democratic Bloc, was opposed by the PSL led by Mikołajczyk. The campaign was conducted in an atmosphere of terror and intimidation. Over 80% of the vote was falsely reported to have been cast for the Democratic Bloc and the PSL was practically eliminated as the legal opposition.
The newly-elected Sejm convened on 4 February 1947 and on the following day it elected Bierut President of the Republic of Poland. The installation ceremony was done in a traditional format and ended with the new president uttering the words "so help me God".
On 16 November 1947, during the opening ceremony of the Polish Radio broadcasting station in Wrocław, President Bierut made a speech entitled For the dissemination of culture. "The artistic and cultural creative process should reflect the great breakthrough that the nation is experiencing. It should, but so far it isn't", he said. Bierut called for greater centralization and planning in culture and art, which, according to him, should form, educate and engross society. The speech was a harbinger of the upcoming norm of socialist realism in Poland.
Sometimes, Bierut on his own undertook special interventions with Stalin. He repeatedly and at different times asked Stalin and Lavrentiy Beria about the whereabouts of the missing Polish communists (former members of the disbanded KPP), many of whom were murdered in the Great Purge in the 1930s, but others may have survived. He also kept looking for the missing family of Fornalska. While Stalin and Lavrentiy Beria discouraged and ridiculed Bierut's efforts, in some cases his exertions brought positive results.
Bierut was a gallant man, generally liked by women. His wife Janina did not live with him and was not known to many of his associates. She occasionally visited him in his offices and seemed intimidated by the surroundings and her husband's position. On the other hand, his son and two daughters had seen Bierut frequently; they spent with him holidays and vacations and he appeared to genuinely enjoy their company. Bierut's actual female partner, after Fornalska's arrest, was Wanda Górska. She worked as his secretary and in other capacities, controlled access to him and visitors often thought of her as Bierut's wife.
Bierut was the first general secretary of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party from 1948 to 1956.
During the lifetime of Stalin, Bierut was strictly subservient to the Soviet leader, routinely received from him instructions over the phone or was summoned to Moscow for consultations. Bierut still had incomparably more power in Poland than any of his successors, first secretaries of the PZPR. He ruled jointly with his two closest associates, Jakub Berman and Hilary Minc.
Bierut, hospitalized in Moscow with pneumonia, died on 12 March 1956, allegedly of a heart attack although it has been theorised that he was poisoned or committed suicide. Before he died, he had apparently read the text of Nikita Khrushchev's "Secret Speech", in which Khrushchev criticized Stalin's cult of personality.