23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism

23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism

Jacob Miller - July 22, 2017

Solidarność, the Polish Solidarity Movement, a labor union founded on September 17, 1980 at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk. The movement, led by Lech Wałęsa, was the first trade union in a Soviet Union block state. The union reached 9.5 million members, representing one third of the total working age population of Poland. Solidarność was a broad anti-bureaucratic civil resistance movement to advance the causes of workers’ rights and social change.

After years of Polish citizens suffering under an oppressive government based in economically fruitless policy, the underground trade union was developing. Anna Walentynowicz, a worker at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, was fired on August 7, 1980, 5 moths before her retirement date, for her participation in the illegal union. On August 14, a large scale strike at the shipyard began, demanding Walentynowicz’s return. The strike transformed into a symbol of anti-communist unity. On November 10, 1980, Solidarność became an officially registered group.

The communist government sought to destroy the union by imposing martial law, which lasted from December, 1981 until July 1983. The Pope John Paul II, and the USA provided significant financial support as well as supplies and technical assistance.

The Reagan administration supported the Polish Solidarity Movement and waged a public relations campaign. Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, a senior officer on the Polish General Staff secretly sent reports to the CIA. The CIA transferred $10 million over five years in addition to clandestine newspapers, broadcasting, propaganda, money, organizational help and advice.

The round table talks, from February 6, to April 5, 1989, between the government and Solidarity-led opposition set the ground work to a semi-free election in 1989. In December 1990, Wałęsa was elected President of Poland, signifying the end of communism in Poland.

23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Gdynia, 17.12.1970. Gdynia shipyard workers carrying on a door the body of Zbigniew Godlewski, shot during the riots. This photo was taken from a window above the street, from a private appartment, photo: Edmund Peplinski / Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Karol Wojtyła (John Paul II) during his first pilgrimage to Poland, Kraków, 1979, photo: Jan Morek /Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Karol Wojtyła after his election as Pope, Vatican, 1978, photo: Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Lech Wałęsa, Polish workers’ union activist and leader, as well as Poland’s future first democratic President, during a speech to the strikers of the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk. August 31st, 1980, photo: © Rue des Archives / AGIP / Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Gdansk Shipyard 1980. Protesting workers, photo: Erazm Ciolek / Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
General Wojciech Jaruzelski announces the martial law on. 13.12.1981, photo: Chris Niedenthal / Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Army checkpoint during martial law, Poland, Warsaw, 1982 , photo: Chris Niedenthal / Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Demonstration of the Independent Students’ Union pacified by ZOMO (special political police forces). Secret service undercover agent (holding a camera) helps the apprehension of a student, photo: Jaroslaw Stachowicz / Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Martial law, 3rd of May 1982, Warsaw, ZOMO fighting the protesters, photo: Chris Niedenthal / Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
10th Polish United Workers’ Party assembly, Gorbachev and Jaruzelski, photo: Jan Morek / Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Gdańsk, 1988. Strike at the Gdańsk Lenin Shipyard, photo: Jerzy Kosnik/Forum
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
1989. Round Table Talks, photo: Jaroslaw Stachowicz / Forum

23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Semi-free election in Poland, 8th of June, 1989, photo: SIPA / EAST NEWS
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Lech Wałęsa, 1989, photo:Tomasz Wierzejski / AG
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Polish demonstrators carrying banners with the name of the trade union Solidarność (“Solidarity”). Pinterest
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Lech Wałęsa being carried by the crowd of protesters. Strikers
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Walesa (left) speaks to workers during a strike at the Gdansk shipyard on August 8, 1980. wiadomosci.dziennik
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
The Gate of the Gdańsk Shipyard, December 16th, 1981. Archive of the Institute of National Remembrance
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Crowd in front of the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk. Strike
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Lech Walesa on the gate of the Gdansk shipyard reading a speech. August, 1980. Pinterest
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Anna Walentynowicz was fired for participating in the illegal trade union five months before her retirement. The strikes began demanding her return to work 20.10.1980. PAPCAFStanisław
23 Photographs of the Polish Solidarity Movement That Helped Bring About the End of Communism
Anna Walentynowicz and Lech Wałęsa attend a mass at the Lenin Shipyard in August 1980. Wikipedia

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