Cyrankiewicz, Józef (yōˈzĕf tsĭränkyāˈvĭch) [key], 1911–89, Polish political leader. Active in the Polish resistance after the German invasion in 1939, he was arrested in 1941 and spent the remainder of the war in concentration camps. He was a member of the Polish Socialist party from 1932 and became secretary-general of its central executive committee in 1946. In 1947 he became premier. Upon the formal merger of the Socialists and Communists in 1948, Cyrankiewicz was named secretary of the central committee of the new United Polish Workers' party. Vice premier (1952–54), he held the premiership again from 1954 to 1970, proving himself flexible under both Stalinist and anti-Stalinist regimes. He was instrumental in quelling the 1956 Poznań uprising but remained in power even during the more tolerant regime of Władysław Gomułka. In 1970, however, he resigned in the wake of serious riots over inflation. Cyrankiewicz was made titular head of state, and in 1972 he was removed from all important political positions.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.