Overview of the Jakub Berman papers

Processed by Hoover Institution Archives Staff.
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Phone: (650) 723-3563
Fax: (650) 725-3445
Email: hooverarchives@stanford.edu
© 2009
Hoover Institution Archives. All rights reserved.

Overview of the Jakub Berman papers

Hoover Institution Archives

Stanford University

Stanford, California
Processed by:
Hoover Institution Archives Staff
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
Machine-readable finding aid derived from MARC record by David Sun.
© 2009 Hoover Institution Archives. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Title: Jakub Berman papers
Dates: 1941-1983
Collection Number: 2008C88
Creator: Berman, Jakub, 1901-1984.
Collection Size: 2 manuscript boxes (0.8 linear feet)
Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: Memoirs, other speeches and writings, notes, correspondence, and photographs, relating to the Polish communist movement, and to post-World War II political conditions in Poland.
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
Languages: Polish

Administrative Information


Collection is open for research.
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

Publication Rights

For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Jakub Berman papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

Acquisition Information

Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2008.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog Socrates at http://library.stanford.edu/webcat . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in Socrates is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jakub Berman was one of the most powerful Polish communist politicians of the 1944-56 period, during which he was a member of the Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza Biuro Polityczne. Berman's name is associated with the Sovietization of Poland following World War II and repressions against the opponents of the communist regime.
Berman was born in 1901 in Warsaw into a Jewish middle-class family. He completed a degree in law at Warsaw University in 1925. Three years later he joined the Polish Communist Party (KPP). After the Nazi-Soviet attack and partition of Poland in September 1939, Berman moved to the Soviet side of Poland. Initially, he worked as a newspaper editor and later became an instructor in the Comintern school, which trained activists for Josef Stalin's new party for Polish communists, the Polish Workers' Party. Stalin was favorably impressed with Berman's intellectual abilities and political commitment during meetings in the Kremlin in 1943. In the summer of 1944, as the Soviet armies were driving the Germans out of occupied Poland, Berman became a Politburo member, second only to Boleslaw Bierut, an ethnic Pole of peasant origin, chosen by Stalin to lead the new Polish state. Between 1944 and 1956, Berman's responsibilities in the Politburo included oversight of the Security Office (UB), ideology, and propaganda. During his tenure at least 200,000 people were imprisoned for real or imagined political offenses, of whom some 6,000 were executed. During the relative political "thaw" following the deaths of Stalin in 1953 and Bierut in 1956, Berman was forced to resign from the Politburo and the Central Committee. He was officially blamed for "Stalinist errors and deviations" but never prosecuted. He died in retirement in Warsaw in 1984.

Scope and Content of Collection

The papers acquired by the Hoover Archives include selected correspondence, reminiscences, speeches, notes, and photographs. The collection is modest in size, but, along with several similar private collections of key Polish Communists and "fellow travelers" acquired during the past decade--such as Stefan Jedrychowski's, Roman Zambrowski's, Henryk Jablonski's, and Edward Osobka-Morawski's--it significantly broadens Hoover's holdings on the origins and the early years of the Polish People's Republic and the Sovietization of Eastern Europe.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza.
Poland--Politics and government--1945-1980.