- Vladimir Tismaneanu: What source do you use in your classroom to help students understand the events of 1989?
- Vladimir Tismaneanu: How do you teach the letters found in Adam Michnik's book?
- Vladimir Tismaneanu: How do you teach Adam Michnik's book in the classroom?
- Vladimir Tismaneanu: How do you help your students interpret the passage you read about an independent, self-governing union?
- Bradley Abrams: How do you help students make sense of 1989?
- Bradley Abrams: What sources do you use to teach 1989?
- Bradley Abrams: What else is significant about the Declaration of the Creation of Charter 77?
- Bradley Abrams: How did the regime respond to Charter 77?
- Bradley Abrams: Why is the 28th of January remarkable?
- Bradley Abrams: How do you put the anti-Charter into context for students?
- Padraic Kenney: What is remarkable about the poem and the leaflet together?
- Padraic Kenney: How should students interpret the poem?
- Padraic Kenney: What is significant about the poem?
- Padraic Kenney: Does this poem help explain the strike?
- Padraic Kenney: How do you analyze the leaflet?
- Padraic Kenney: What is significant about the leaflet?
- Padraic Kenney: What sources help us understand the strikes?
- Maria Bucur: Is there a particular source that is important to study?
- Maria Bucur: How do students study 1989 in your classroom?
- Maria Bucur: What is difficult to understand about the "Common European Home" speech?
- Maria Bucur: What is important about Ceausescu's last speech?
- Maria Bucur: How do you help students understand Ceausescu's last speech?
- Maria Bucur: What is unique about viewing Ceausescu's last speech?
- Bradley Abrams: How do you use the Charter Declaration and the anti-Charter together with students?
Padraic Kenney: Does this poem help explain the strike?
It’s romantic in the sense of here’re these young people bringing about freedom. And that’s how I want to think about the revolution of 1988.
But then when I worked, sort of got deeper into the strikes of 1988, my thoughts about 1988 began to change. I went to the town of Jastrzębie Zdrój this mining town in southern Poland and I interviewed a lot of people talking about what had gone on during those strikes. And at one point I visited the Solidarity offices of the July Manifesto Mine and I found a collection of poems that had been composed during the strike and issued as a leaflet. The style and meaning could not be more different.
Let me read the beginning of one of these poems. It’s called "The Ballad of the Striking Miners." "On the other side of the fence there’s a large group of Smurfs,” which is the slang for policemen, “and on this side is faith. No one fears them. We will sit here from morning until the next morning. What’s going to happen to us, beloved fatherland? We sit and we wait and we have nothing in exchange but we will have something when we are victorious. The coal is just lying there. No one is mining it. It’s lying in huge piles. No one is carrying it. There are no ministers here. There’s no general. All of Poland waits for news from us. The newspapers are deceiving us. The radio is deceiving us. Tell us now, here, what is going wrong in Poland.” And—the ballad goes on, not particularly happy.
There are no anarchists here. There’s no sense of a movement either. We’re sitting. We’re waiting. We have faith and we’re alone. We’re isolated. Which, of course, is maybe more likely in a mine. This poem and some other poems in the leaflet are clearly directed to the outside—listen to us. But they’re not asking you to come and join us.
Pejot does end the poem with a call to those in Warsaw to go out and demonstrate, but it’s a feeble call. It’s a sense of, you know, things have passed us by and here we are stuck in the mine with the exception of that second line where he mentions the Smurfs. With that exception, we just don’t see the rest of Poland. We don’t see those social movements. We don’t see the new kinds of movements that were emerging.