Żywiec Brewery

Established in the middle of the 19th century on the initiative of the Duke of Cieszyn; it belonged to the Habsburg family; it was nationalised after the Second World War; privatised at the beginning of the 1990s, and taken over by Heineken (1994).

Górażdże Cement Works

The plant was commissioned in the 1970s on the basis of local lime factories. At the beginning of the 1990s it was transformed into a sole shareholder company of the State Treasury and privatised with the participation of the Belgian company CBR. Since its acquisition by HeildelbergCement (1993), it has been operating within this concern; it has been merged into one company with the cement works in Strzelce Opolskie and registered under the name Górażdże Cement S.A. (2000).


Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych, FSO (Passenger Vehicle Factory)

The most important Polish car manufacturer in socialist times. The main factory in Żerań in Warsaw was built at the turn of the 1950s, producing cars licensed by Soviet Pobieda and Italian Fiat. Privatised in the mid-1990s, it was taken over by Daewoo, and after its bankruptcy by the Ukrainian AvtoZAZ (2005). After the economic crisis of 2008, the company started to collapse and it ceased operations in 2011.

Warsaw Steelworks

The steelworks was built in the 1950s as one of the most important projects in the Stalinist modernisation of the country. The site of large strikes in the 1980s and 1990s. It was privatised, and functioned successively as Lucchini Steelworks (1992), Arcelor Huta Warszawa (2005), and ArcelorMittal Warszawa (2006 – to the present day).

Pabianicka Fabryka Żarówek (Pabianice Lightbulb Factory)

Founded in 1921 as the joint-stock company Polska Żarówka "Osram". After the Second World War it was nationalised, and from 1962 it operated under the name Pabianicka Fabryka Żarówek POLAM. In the 1990s, it was sold under the General Privatisation Programme, and since 1997 it has been operating as Philips Lighting Pabianice.

Polfa Rzeszów

One of the several pharmaceutical companies that co-founded the Polfa Union of the Pharmaceutical Industry in socialist Poland (1947-1982), with a monopoly on the production of medicines and disposable medical devices. The Rzeszów Polfa plant was established in 1951, and was expanded in the 1970s. Privatised in the 1990s, it functioned first as part of ICN Pharmaceuticals (1997), and then Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

Pollena Racibórz

A chemical products factory belonging to the Hoffmann and Blaschko families since the end of the 19th century. After World War II, it was taken over by the Polish state and opened as the Racibórz Soap Factory (1945). In socialist times, the factory operated under various names, including since 1969 as the Racibórz Business Chemistry Plant POLLENA. Privatised in the early 1990s, it became part of the Henkel Group and the second largest manufacturer of washing powders of that company.

Stomil Olsztyn

Manufacturer of tyres for cars and agricultural machinery. Built in the 1960s on former German lands, the factory was one of the most important employers in the region in the times of socialist industrialisation. Privatised and sold to Michelin (1995), it has become one of the largest Michelin Group plants in the world.


A food processing plant founded during World War II near Kalisz by Alfred Nowacki, a German manufacturer of Polish origin. An important plant in the food industry in the People's Republic of Poland. After privatisation, it became part of the Nestlé Group (1995). It produces spices, instant dishes, jellies, kissels, and mayonnaise.

Cellulose-paper industry plant in Świecie

Built in the 1960s, it was one of the most important developments in the pulp industry in Eastern Europe, and produced beech and pine pulp, pasteboard and cardboard. Privatised in the 1990s and sold to Framondi, it operated successively as Frantschach Świecie (1997), Mondi Packaging Paper Świecie (2004), and Mondi Świecie (since 2008).


Wedel Factory

One of the oldest producers of chocolate products. The history of the family business dates back to the middle of the 19th century. The firm was developed in the interwar period, and nationalised in 1949. During the post-socialist transformation, it became one of the first privatised companies, sold to PepsiCo (1991) and then taken over by Cadbury (1999), Kraft (2010), and Lotte Group (2010).



Institute of Sociology at the University of Warsaw in cooperation with the Archives of Oral History of the History Meeting House and KARTA Centre in Warsaw

Project financed by the Minister of Science and Higher Education in Poland in the framework of the National Programme for the Development of the Humanities in 2013-2018. No 0103/NPRH2/H11/81/2013.

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