Wladyslaw Gomulka, who passed on here Wednesday, was one of the few outstanding communist leaders in postwar Eastern Europe and the man who told Moscow ''no interference'' in Poland's internal affairs, Monitor correspondent Eric Bourne writes.
Mr. Gomulka led the party until 1970, when he fell amid general public censure for ordering food price increases that led to violent strikes in the Baltic ports of Szczecin and Gdansk.
The son of an oil-field worker, Mr. Gomulka was a founder of the Polish Workers' Party, forerunner of the present communist party. He became party secretary in occupied Poland in 1943.
His strength lay in the fact that he was not ''Moscow trained.'' His career was studded with disagreements with Moscow. The first was after the Soviet-Nazi partition of Poland in 1939, when he requested Moscow's approval for Polish Communists to join the resistance against the Germans in western Poland.
From then on the Soviets saw him as too much of a nationalist. They clearly regarded him that way in the initial postwar years, when he lost all his party posts under a wave of charges against the leadership of ''rightist and national deviations.''
His revenge came some seven years later when he was returned to power on the wave of ''liberal'' reformism that swept the country in 1956. The so-called Polish ''October'' sparked Soviet troop movements, but they were nipped in the bud by Gomulka when he indicated the Polish Army would block the way if they were not halted. Ironically, his second ''finest hour'' - the treaty with West Germany that finally placed Poland's long-contested western border beyond further challenge - was followed only a week later by his fall.