Born on 6 July 1923 in Kurow near Pulawy in a family of landowners. After the outbreak of the Second World War he was in Lithuania and was then deported to Siberia. Jaruzelski did not find his way to the Polish Army in the USSR being formed by General Wladyslaw Anders; he enlisted with the forces being organised by the communist Union of Polish Patriots. He graduated from the Soviet Officers’ School in Riazan. He returned to Poland with the Army commended by General Zygmunt Berling.
In the years 1945-1947 he took part in combating the independence-oriented underground and Ukrainian nationalist guerrillas. In 1947 Jaruzelski joined the Polish Workers’ Party, which led to his rapid promotion in the ranks of the Polish Peoples’ Army. In 1956 he became the youngest PPA General. In 1960-1965 he was Chief of Central Political Board of the Polish Military, Chief of General Staff in 1965-1968 and at the same time from 1962 until 1968 the Deputy Minister of National Defence. Member of the Polish United Workers’ Party Central Committee since 1964.
In 1968 Jaruzelski became Minister of National Defence; he was responsible for participation of the Polish Peoples’ Army in the invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968); accused of complicity in the bloody quashing of workers’ protests on the Coast (1970). After Edward Gierek assumed the function of First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party Central Committee Jaruzelski became a member of the Politburo.
In 1981 he became Head of Government, in the same year he also became First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party Central Committee. On 13 December 1981 Jaruzelski declared martial law and headed the Military Council for National Salvation.
In 1985 he resigned from the office of Prime Minister and assumed the function of Chairman of Council of State. In 1989 in result of changes occurring in the USSR and fearing an outbreak of public protests he decided to sit at the Roundtable talks where agreement was reached inter alia regarding restoration of the office of President. In 1989 he was elected President of the Republic of Poland (by a majority of one vote) by the National Assembly. He was the only candidate. He remained in office until December 1990, until election of Lech Walesa for President of the Republic of Poland.
In 2006 the National Remembrance Institute charged him with communist crimes in connection with declaration of martial law.