40th anniversary of the birth of Solidarity

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40th

ANNIVERSARY OF THE SOLIDARITY BIRTH

1. Photo: Mateusz SĹ‚odkowski

The Solidarity revolution of 1980 which eventually led to

the collapse of communism in 1989 had all the attributes of a national uprising conducted by peaceful methods. The great social movement embodied the hopes of millions of Poles for a more dignified and better life. Solidarity restored the society’s subjective character and awoke considerable aspirations for freedom and self-government. The union taught people how to organize themselves,

express their thoughts and desires. Negotiations, agreements, and arrangements had to become the new method of exercising power. The Solidarity message remained in the minds of Poles. It manifested itself in full force after nine years, in 1989, when Poland became the first country that managed to topple the communist system and was followed by other countries of the so-called Eastern bloc.


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Decisions made in February 1945 during the Yalta Conference destined Poland to

fall under Soviet domination. As soon as the communists took power, the country, its society, economy and culture began to feel increasing ideological pressure. Military men and advisers that came from Moscow had the decisive say. Democratic standards were disregarded, independent press abolished, and legal opposition parties hounded out of political life. The idea of escalating class struggle was used to suppress political opponents and deal a blow to entire divisions of society. The extreme effort of the entire society which rebuilt the country from ruins was attributed by the Polish Workers’ Party, posing as the ‘leading force of the nation’, to itself. 2. December 1970 demonstrations in Gdynia: the body of a worker Zbyszek Godlewski carried by the crowd on a door panel. Photo: Edmund Pepliński

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Post WWII attempts to impose a com-

munist regime on Poland met with resistance, which waxed or waned over time, but never died out. It was mainly founded on the position of the Catholic Church and the religious beliefs of a large majority of the population, the importance of private agriculture which the communists never dared to collectivize, and a long tradition of resistance to foreign powers. These features made Poland stand out among other Soviet bloc countries. Before 1980, the most important acts of protests included worker strikes in 1956, 1970 and 1976 and the revolt of the intelligentsia and student groups in 1968.

0 8 9 H 1 T R I B Y T I R A D I L S E H T F O Y R A S R E V I ANN The key moment was 1976, when for the

3. Pope John Paul II during his first pilgrimage to Poland in 1979. Photo: Janusz Bałanda Rydzewski

first time in a ‘people’s democracy’, mass worker protests violently suppressed by the authorities were supported by organized efforts of the intelligentsia. The Workers’ Defence Committee, established in Warsaw in September 1976, became the core and nucleus of Polish democratic opposition.

An important role in developing a social movement was the election

4 . Protest of Warsaw University students who demanded the liquidation of censorship and the restoration of the rule of law, March 1968, Photo: Krzysztof Wojciewski

THE ROOTS OF SOCIAL RESISTANCE

of Karol Wojtyła to the Holy See and the Pope’s visit to Poland in 1979 – an unprecedented event that overcame social isolation, broke down barriers in social discourse and revealed the ability of mobilizing tens of thousands of activists outside state structures. A potential for change was growing, and exploded powerfully in the summer of 1980.


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On 1 July 1980, in response to a price hike on meat, a strike erupted

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at the transport equipment factory in Mielec. Over the next few weeks, a wave of protests demanding salary increases rolled over Poland. The strikers in each province acted spontaneously without agreeing on or coordinating their actions.

5 . Empty shelves – shortages of basic products in Poland in the 1980s. Photo: Małgorzata Niezabitowska and Tomasz Tomaszewski

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6 . Crowd in front of the entrance to the Gdańsk Shipyard. Photo: Zenon Mirota

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Poland – governed by the

communists – was rapidly sinking into a social and economic crisis. Prices and living costs soared and people became increasingly disaffected. The dissonance between the ‘propaganda of success’ and everyday reality was galling. The democratic opposition, harassed by the Security Service, documented innumerable instances of violating the rights of citizens. The situation was ripe for a social revolt to explode, but the authorities seemed to disregard the writing on the wall.

7. Alina Pieńkowska - nurse, co-founder of Solidarity, one of the initiators of the strike, Senator between 1991-1993. Photo: Stefan Kraszewski

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GOING ON STRIKE

9. The Gdańsk Shipyard. Photo: Leonard Szmaglik

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8. Anna Walentynowicz - worker, co-founder of Solidarity, one of the initiators of the strike. Photo: Witold Górka

The situation changed radically when the Lenin Gdańsk Shipyard joined

the strike. The largest industrial facility on the Polish sea coast, a symbol of violently suppressed by the army and police worker protests in December 1970, had been also, since 1978, the breeding ground for the officially unrecognised and repressed Free Trade Unions (FTU). The strike was the brainchild of a group of FTU activists who enjoyed influence and authority among the facility staff, led by historian and essayist Bogdan Borusewicz, the engineering couple Andrzej and Joanna Gwiazda, nurse Alina Pieńkowska, serviceman Andrzej Kołodziej, and workers Lech Wałęsa and Anna Walentynowicz. The protest started on 14 August as a sitdown, when workers refused to leave the shipyard premises. Their initial demands were unassuming: rehire Anna Walentynowicz who was terminated without notice a few weeks earlier, raise salaries and grant an allowance to compensate for rising prices. A Strike Committee, headed by Wałęsa, was elected. The protesters then extended their expectations to granting safety guarantees for the strikers and erecting a monument to commemorate shipyard workers killed during the December 1970 protests. Regional strikes affected the entire country. On 30 August, the total number of strikers in 28 Polish provinces and 700 plants was 700,000.


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THE 21 DEMANDS

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10. The Gdańsk Shipyard’s gate with the wooden boards with 21 demands. Photo: Piotr Kwieciński

he eyes of the nation were fixed on Gdańsk, the centre of the confrontation with communist authorities. On 17 August, the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee formulated a list of twenty one demands common for all plants involved in the strike. It was put into a final form by Bogdan Borusewicz following discussions among strike leaders. The demands were not only economic in nature. The first of them was also the most important and essential: “acceptance of free trade unions independent of the communist party and employers…” Subsequent demands concerned respect for the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, including the freedom of speech and access to mass media which so far had been monopolised by the party. Claims were also made to restore the rights of those dismissed following worker strikers and students relegated from universities for their beliefs. Releasing all political prisoners and improving the living conditions of society was demanded as well. The strikers expected changes in the economy to bring the country out of crisis times, proposing to lower the retirement age and reform healthcare. Finally, the privileges of the police, security service and party officials were to be curtailed, and all Saturdays declared days of rest from work.

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11. Andrzej Gwiazda and Joanna Duda-Gwiazda– engineers, co-founders of Solidarity, one of the initiators of the strike. Photo: Jacek Awakumowski

The list of demands was formulated in a judicious and considerate manner. It was not an exposition of beliefs and contained

negotiable proposals rather than demagogic slogans. The force of the strike compelled authorities to enter into talks. The striking workers were supported by an Expert Commission of seven, whose work was supervised by Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Bronisław Geremek. Soon, the demands were chalked up on a huge wooden board hung on the shipyard’s gate which became one of the emblems of the August protest. In 2003, the board was placed on the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. It was considered a witness to events that had a ground-breaking influence on democratic reforms in communist bloc countries. 12. Boards presenting the 21 demands inscribed on the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, Photo: Mariusz Cieszewski

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The first point of the accords stated that the activities of trade unions in the PPR were not in line with the expectations of work-

ers and it was, therefore, expedient to establish new, independent unions as an authentic voice of the working class. The new unions were to observe the PPR constitution, respect the leading role of the Polish United Workers’ Party and refrain from questioning the system of international alliances. The authorities assured that sentences passed in political trials would be revised and imprisoned opposition activists released. They also guaranteed the gradual fulfilment of most of economic demands found on the 21 list of 17 August.

In 31 August 1980, at 4:40 p.m., the Gdańsk Shipyard saw the

signing of an agreement that became a milestone of contemporary Polish history and heralded the future downfall of the communist system, though none of those present were as yet aware of these developments. The deputy prime minister of the Polish People's Republic (PPR) Mieczysław Jagielski and strike leader Lech Wałęsa were sitting at a table overshadowed by Poland's then coat of arms, a crownless white eagle, and the plaster bust of the shipyard’s patron, Vladimir Lenin. Jagielski, wearing a suit and thick-rimmed glasses, stood in contrast to Wałęsa dressed in a sweater and jacket and holding a large ballpen bearing the image of Pope John Paul II. It was a Sunday afternoon; the signing ceremony was broadcast live and glued all Polish citizens to TV sets. Many of them had their first look at Wałęsa, the man who was soon to embody the entire Solidarity movement.

THE AUGUST ACCORDS

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13. Negotiations of the August Accords at the Gdańsk Shipyard. Photo: Witold Górka

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15. Deputy Prime Minister Mieczysław Jagielski (left) and Lech Wałęsa (right) sign the August Accords. Photo: Witold Górka

14. Lech Wałęsa- chairman of the strike committee in the Gdańsk Shipyard announces signing of the August Accords; in 1990 he was the first democratically elected president of Poland. Photo: Witold Górka

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In a short speech, Wałęsa summarised the results of the negotia-

tions. “Have we achieved everything we wanted, desired, dreamed of? You know I am always frank and open in everything I say. So now I will say frankly – not everything, but we all know that we have achieved a lot. You have trusted me all this time, so believe in what I am going to say: we have achieved everything we could have achieved in these circumstances. We will achieve the rest as well, because we have the most important thing: our independent, self-governing trade unions. This is our guarantee for the future. (...) I declare the strike finished.”


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16. World’s press reaction on the birth of Solidarity, Photo: Justyna Rojek

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The strike and the subsequent signing of the August Accords sparked considerable interest and

impassioned reactions worldwide. Never before in the area dominated by the Soviet Union were authorities challenged by such a large scale, well-organised action of workers. The developments in Gdańsk were followed by scores of Western journalists, while press agencies and TV stations made events on the Polish coast their headline news. For several hours every day, the strike situation was reported by Radio Free Europe and BBC.

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17. Italian poster refering to the birth of Solidarity

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In most Western countries the nascent Polish

movement met with affection, hope, and enthusiasm. Reactions to the forming Solidarity movement were especially vigorous among foreign trade unions. Already on 18 August, the Italian CISL (Confederazione Italiana Sindicati dei Lavoratori), CGIL (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro) and UIL (Unione Italiana del Lavoro) central trade unions announced their joint declaration supporting the striking Polish workers and later sent an official delegation to Warsaw. In September, on the initiative of AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations), a special account holding contributions to Solidarity was opened. At the same time, visits to Poland were paid by the Belgian central trade union ICTFU (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions), while a group of activists from the French CDT (Confédération Démocratique du Travail) invited Lech Wałęsa to come to France. One of the largest contributors to the Solidarity Fund established on the initiative of AFL-CIO were Japanese central trade unions.


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The process of transformation that led to the Solidarity revolution was greatly supported by

the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II. Poland remembered well the words of the homilyspoken on Warsaw’s Victory Square during the Pope’s first pilgrimage to his fatherland in 1979: “Let Your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land!” They were commonly understood not only as an appeal for religious revival, but also encouragement and call to build a new social reality. The events that took place in August 1980 seemed to many Poles a response to the papal plea.

AN ALLY IN THE VATICAN

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19. Father Jerzy Popiełuszko - chaplain of Solidarity, beatified in 2010; Photo: Wojciech Kryński

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In a society so deeply connected to religious values, looking for support from the Church in the tense days accompanying the August strikes was obvious and understandable; it helped to get through trying times and was an important integrating factor. A symbol of the spiritual needs of protesting Gdańsk workers was their request for saying masses on the shipyard premises. No one of those who flocked to the facility's gate could overlook the portrait of John Paul II displayed there.

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H T R I B Y T I R A D I L O S E H T F O Y R A S R E V I N N A 40th 22. Occupational strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard. People prayingin front of the portrait of the Pope John Paul II. Photo: Zbigniew Trybek

Hope and strength in civic resistance against injustice spreading in the country ruled by com-

munists were also given to people by priests called ‘Solidarity chaplains’. One of them was Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, who acted guided by the biblical maxim: "Do not be overcome by evil, but 20. The first pilgrimage to Poland of Pope John Paul II in June 1979. Photo: Janusz Bałanda Rydzewski 21. Pope John Paul II - born in Poland as Karol Wojtyła, head of the Catolic Church (1978 – 2005), canonized in 2014 Photo: Janusz Uklejewski overcome evil with good". His best known form of support for oppositionists was to celebrate An event to which the union’s leadership attached the highest priority and importance was the visit paid by a Solidarity ’Masses for the Homeland’ every month. He paid the highest price for his activities. In October delegation to John Paul II at the Vatican in January 1981. One of the most extraordinary official documents of the First 1984 he was abducted and murdered by officers of the Security Service. In 2010, Pope Benedict National Congress of Solidarity Delegates was the text of a sermon entitled “The Independence of Labour”, addressed on XVI beatified Father Popiełuszko, recognizing him as a martyr. 6 September 1981 to congress participants by Father Józef Tischner.


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Signing the August Accords and the rise of

Solidarity was accompanied by an all-pervading feeling of freedom. The society was enthralled not only by the possibility of establishing trade union organizations. The fervour manifested itself in various other forms of social activity, such as cultural initiatives, education efforts, spontaneous associations, and unrestrained expression of opinions. The statements of authors and artists were of particular importance. While the shipyard strike was still raging, Gdańsk was visited by Andrzej Wajda, a director of The Man of Marble (1976), a picture telling the story of a young worker in the 1950s. The shipyard protesters then encouraged him to use the unfolding events as a canvas for another feature film showing the real face of contemporary labour world in Poland.

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over just a few months, in an exceptional hurry, The Man of Iron was enthusiastically received on the 34th International Film Festival in Cannes and won the Golden Palm for the first time in the history of Polish film-making. In the autumn of 1981, taking advantage of loosened censorship, Krzysztof Kieślowski directed Blind Chance, a picture discussing alternative uses of freedom. The work was not allowed to be screened until 1987.

24. Promotion of the film ‘The Man of Iron’, awarded the Golden Palm in Cannes in 1981. Photo: Jacek Awakumowski

23. Photo: Witold Górka

THE EXPLOSION OF FREEDOM

ANNIVERSARY OF TH E SOLIDARITY RAEN VO NLIVUET4 RIOS0 N ARtYhOF THE

26. Strikers writing the slogan: "Freedom for political prisoners!" Photo: Jacek Awakumowski

25. Czesław Miłosz, a Polish poet, receives the Nobel Prize (1980). Photo: Tomasz Abramowicz

27. Andrzej Wajda - Polish film director, recipient of an Honorary Oscar, senator between 1989-1991. Photo: Jarosław Tarań

The feeling of post-August freedom mingled with joy when Czesław Miłosz, an emi-

nent poet whose name has for years been suppressed by censors in all publications, received the Nobel prize in literature for 1980. The August arrangements provided that the authorities would consent to uphold the constitutional freedoms of speech, printing, and publication. The total number of uncensored titles published in 1981 was over 3000. After prolonged negotiations, the authorities agreed for a weekly Tygodnik Solidarność to be published, the first issue of which appeared on 3 April 1981. The post of editor-in-chief was taken by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, one of the main advisers of the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee during the August protest, later – Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland.


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On 5 September 1981, the Solidarity’s First National Congress commenced, lasting with a break until 7 October. The sessions took place in Gdańsk’s Olivia arena, the only facility in the city able to hold the 896 delegates representing almost 10 million union members. 30. Lech Wałęsa elected a chair of the Solidarity National Commission. Photo: Anna Pietuszko

The congress proved a huge success of union

democracy. The fact that it was preceded by nationwide free election of delegates and became a forum of casual and unrestrained – though occasionally tiring and arduous – discussion, laid bare the weaknesses of the Polish People's Republic power system in which authentic elections and free debate hardly existed. Even though almost nine hundred delegates engaged in sharp debate, they managed to adopt a bold programme of political and social reform and elect the union’s national leadership. The National Commission was headed by Lech Wałęsa, chosen in democratic elections from among four prominent and colourful candidates.

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28. Photo: Małgorzata Lewandowska.

29. The first Solidarity Congress. Photo: Leonard Szmaglik

One

of the most important, and certainly most known worldwide, documents passed during the first round of the Solidarity congress was the “Message to the Working People of Eastern Europe”. Many Solidarity activists considered the Message as unwisely provoking the Soviet Union and challenging the Soviet empire. The resolution violated Solidarity's earlier self-imposed restraints to limit the ongoing changes to Poland and refrain from “exporting the revolution.” Nevertheless, in the present view of historians, the Message was one of the most important ideological communication which years later helped to build good relations with Polish neighbours when they regained their freedom. The response of state authorities in Warsaw and Moscow was not long delayed. On 16 September the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party warned that “the agreements were replaced by a programme of political opposition that threatens the essential interests of the Polish state and nation and sets a course towards bloodshed (...) We will defend socialism as one who has to defend the independence of Poland,” while the Soviet TASS news agency called the congress “an anti-Soviet orgy”.

THE FIRST SOLIDARITY CONGRESS

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In the autumn of 1981, the mood of

Polish society changed for the worse. The country was moving towards an economic catastrophe. Many of those who believed that establishing the union in August 1980 would give them wider citizen rights, but also improve their livelihoods, felt exhausted and disillusioned. They demanded that the authorities improve the supply situation, heaping accusations of unwillingness to reform and dogged defence of their privileges.

31. The martial law in Poland. Photo: Piotr Jędrzejewski

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THE DECEMBER 0 2 0 2 / 0 8 9 1 CONFRONTATION

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On 13 December, the Council of State introduced martial law on the entire territory

of Poland. 1,750 tanks and 1,400 armoured vehicles roamed city streets and military patrols sprouted everywhere. The decree suspended the activity of all organisations, associations and trade unions, including Solidarity, prohibiting strikes and protest activities and the convoking of assemblies and manifestations of any kind. Over 1,100 works were to be managed by the military, and a large number of reservists called for military service. A total of 10,131 Solidarity activists were interned in 52 detention centres. Thousands were imprisoned, including Lech Wałęsa. Many paid with their life and health while fighting to defend the values that Solidarity brought into Polish life. A curfew was declared from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and staying outside one's place of residence for more than 48 hours was prohibited. Mail was censored and the phone network shut down. All trips of Polish citizens abroad were put on hold. The newspapers, except for the party-controlled ones, ceased publication. Sales of petrol for private cars were stopped. On 16 December 1981, while suppressing a strike at the Wujek coal mine in Katowice, police troops shot dead nine miners.

The union tried to prevent the mood from be-

coming radical by requesting that the authorities comply with minimum conditions. Polish United Workers’ Party leaders, however, had no intention of sharing their power. The authorities had already drafted the final versions of legal instruments which would be used to keep Solidarity, the society and domestic situation firmly under their thumb. These efforts, of which few Poles were aware, were no secret for the narrow circle of Western leaders. They were notified by dispatches from Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, an officer at the Polish Army General Staff who has been collaborating with the CIA for years. His warnings never reached the Solidarity leaders. 32. Ryszard Kukliński - colonel of the Polish People’s Army who collaborated with the CIA and informed them about the intention to introduce martial law in Poland as well as about Soviet strategies to use nuclear weapons; President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzeziński described him as "the first Polish officer in NATO”, Photo: Janusz Bałanda Rydzewski

REVOLUTION 40th ANNIVERS

34. First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party General Wojciech Jaruzelski announces the introduction of martial law. Photo: Romuald Broniarek

Yet

33. The martial law in Poland. Photo: Janusz Bałanda Rydzewski

despite violent repressive measures, Solidarity remained unconquered. Its message remained in the minds of Poles and manifested itself in full force after eight years, in 1989, when Poland became the first country that managed to topple the communist system.


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Meanwhile, the economic crisis in Poland was reaching new lows. The authorities realized that attempts to overcome

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it without introducing reforms dismantling the fossilized interests of the party, without Western assistance and without resolving the Solidarity issue were doomed to failure. The conditions for political transformation were ripe with the coming of perestroika in the Soviet Union, when Mikhail Gorbachev, looking for détente and collaboration with the West, encouraged the leaders of Kremlin-dependent parties to liberalize their internal policies. The strikes that took place in May and August 1988 demonstrated to the Polish government that it had to enter into dialogue with Solidarity or risk a social outburst with unknown consequences. The state apparatus, torn by internal struggles, grew weaker.

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N O I T U L O V E R Y T I R A D I L O S E H T F O Y R A RS 35. A poster encouraging to vote for Solidarity in June 1989 elections – first partly free elections in the Eastern block, presenting the American actor Gary Cooper in the movie "High Noon"; recognized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as one of the most important posters of the 20th century, Photo: Chris Niedentahl

36. Danuta Wałęsa (wife) and Bogdan Wałęsa (son) receive the Nobel Peace Prize for Lech Wałęsa.

The blow dealt by the authorities to Solidarity and society on 13 December was painful, but

those in power enjoyed only an illusionary victory. While the leaders and members of the union were decimated, underground structures quickly recovered. The Solidarity was significantly strengthened by the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Lech Wałęsa. The Nobel Committee considered him the advocate of longing for freedom and peace and acknowledged efforts to ensure the workers’ right to establish their own organisations to be an important contribution to the campaign for universal human rights. The award was handed to Lech Wałęsa’s wife Danuta and his son during the Oslo gala on December 10, 1983. The Laureate made the decision not to pick up the award personally since he feared the possibility of being forbidden to reenter Poland by the communist authorities.

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37. Polish Round Table Agreement initiated political changes in Poland. Photo: Anna Pietuszko

The talks commenced by union leaders and top

Polish United Workers’ Party officials in the presence of Catholic Church intermediaries in the autumn of 1988 soon resulted in the Round Table negotiations. The inaugural session on 6 February 1989 was attended by 54 delegates from the government and opposition and three observing churchmen. The outcome of two months of debates was the agreement to re-legalize Solidarity, establish the second chamber of parliament and the office of the President of the Republic of Poland, and to hold general elections in which 35% of seats in the Sejm and all seats in the Senate were to be elected freely. The elections held on 4 June 1989 were a severe debacle for the ruling party. Candidates supported by Solidarity won 99 out of 100 Senate seats and all Sejm seats available for non-party members. On 12 September 1989, the new Sejm nominated Tadeusz Mazowiecki as the first non-communist prime minister in Poland’s post-war history.

38. Cannes Film Festival 1989 - American actress Jane 39. Solidarity electoral office in Warsaw in May 1989 - American Fonda poses with a Solidarity badge. Photo: Jerzy Kośnik Singer Stevie Wonder supports Solidarity in parliamentary elections. Photo: Aleksander Keplicz


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Bringing the Round Table talks to a close, the recognition of the results of June

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40. Protests in Prague

elections by Polish and Soviet authorities and the emergence of the Mazowiecki government caused a domino effect in the entire bloc of European communist states. Their societies saw Polish success as a sign that it was possible to leavethe Moscow-dominated bloc peacefully, that local regimes were not backed by Soviet troops any more, and that Gorbachev had really abandoned the Brezhnev doctrine that justified intervention of ‘fellow armies’ to defend socialism. The model produced by Polish negotiators paved the way to agreements that legitimized the opposition, free media, and free elections in other countries.

mber 1989. Photo: Fa

usto Giaccone

Already in 1989, the Hungarian

Republic was proclaimed as sove reign, Berlin inhab itants started to tear dow n the Berlin Wall that symbolized the divis ion of Europe, and V áclav Havel, leading the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, decl ared the independen ce of the Czechs and Slova ks. Bulgaria, too, follo wed in the footsteps of Po land with a round tab le of her own, leading to f ree elections in the s pring of 1990. In May, fre e elections took pla ce in Romania as well, bu t not without bloody riots whose victim were the communist dict ator Nicolae Ceaușescu an d his wife. The agony o f the Soviet empire lasted for two more years. It took the unsuccessful Mos cow coup and the coll apse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 to recognize that the l ast domino stone in the global communist sy stem was toppled.

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41. Berlin Wall, November 1989. Photo: Jerzy Patan

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42. Protests in Sofia (B

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Polish Aid for Kenia, Photo: Jacob Orwa

Polish Aid for Palestine: Photo: E. Halabi

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Solidarity is rightly associated with

the freedom movement born in 1980. However, the need to manifest solidarity has been visible throughout the Polish history both before the trade union was established and afterwards - in the modern, independent Poland which is part of the EU and NATO.

The Western Balkans Summit Poznań 2019, Photo: Tymon Markowski

THE POLISH GENE OF SOLIDARITY

Poland is actively engaged in expanding the area of security and prosperity far beyond

Polish Aid for Belarus during COVID-19 pandemics: Photo: Tymon Markowski

the EU borders by sharing its experience of transformation with countries which aspire to become EU members. It was on the initiative of Poland and Sweden that the EU policy of Eastern Partnership was established. Warsaw’s solidarity also takes the form of active participation in the so-called Berlin Process which aims to draw the Western Balkans closer to the EU, including organization of the Western Balkans Summit in Poznań in 2019.

Poland as a member of the EU, UN, OSCE and NATO takes part in civilian and military missions

and operations deployed in the world’s unstable regions and hotspots. It contributes to building stability, peace, and security not only in its vicinity but also all over the world.

As

part of the development aid, Poland supports Belarus, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kenya, Lebanon, Myanmar, Moldova, Palestine, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ukraine. Polish humanitarian assistance is directed towards countries affected by natural disasters or war all over the world without any geographical limitations. Supporting countries in the fight against COVID-19, Poland sent significant amounts of medical supplies to Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Hercegovina,Italy, Georgia, Kosovo, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, San Marino, Serbia, Spain, and Ukraine. Polish doctors and paramedics took part in medical missions in Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Slovenia, Tajikistan and the US, fighting against the pandemic.

All the people who engaged in helping others and supporting those in need were guided

by the idea of SOLIDARITY which is still alive.

Polish Aid for Senegal, Photo: Łukasz Sokół

Polish soldiers at the EU military operation in the Central African Republic, Photo from the Polish MoD archives

Photo no 1 is provided by courtesy of the Zuma Press/Forum Photos no: 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33 are provided by courtesy of the European Solidarity Centre (www.ecs.gda.pl) Photos no: 4, 23, 35, 38, 39 are provided by courtesy of the Forum Polska Agencja Fotografów Sp. z o.o. (www.forum.com.pl) Photos no: 5, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 22, 25, 27, 30, 34, 37, 41 are provided by courtesy of The KARTA Center Foundation (www.karta.org.pl) Photo no 16 is provided by courtesy of the East News (www.eastnews.pl) Photo no 36 is provided by courtesy of the SCANPIX/Forum Photos no: 40, 42 are provided by courtesy of the Anzenberger / Forum


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