Browse Items: Poland
The image here is a picture taken of one of the circulated copies of the "Ballad of the Striking Workers." Referenced in Padraic Kenney's scholarly interview segment "Does This Poem Explain the Strike?," this ballad (and many others like it) were used effectively by Solidarity in its campaign to popularize its anti-governmental….
One of the most famous and powerful images of the Solidarity campaign was the combination of this iconic American figure (Gary Cooper in the western movie, "High Noon") with Solidarity text and images. Note that the image as Cooper wearing a Solidarity badge on his chest and carrying Solidarity ballot in his hand. The attraction of this figure lies in its ability to combine an American image,….
These brief excerpts from a longer report by the environmental organization Greenpeace highlight the ecological collapse that was taking place all across Eastern Europe by the early 1980s. As extreme as the Polish case sounds, it was unfortunately typical rather than exceptional. All across the region, life expectancies were dropping rapidly, especially for men who were exposed to industrial….
One of the most important indicators of a societies transition to what economists often call “modern industrial society” is a decline in infant mortality rates. As you might imagine, declines in infant mortality rates are also very important to individual citizens, because it means that their children are much more likely to live to adulthood. This rate reflects the number of children who….
A poster distributed by the Polish opposition party Solidarity, urging Poles to vote with them against the Communists in the election on June 4, 1989. Solidarity won the election in a landslide inaugurating the first non-communist government in East Central Europe in more than four….
On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan delivered a major speech on the Cold War with the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall as a back drop. In staging this speech, President Reagan hoped to draw a parallel with the historic speech delivered in Berlin by President John F. Kennedy in July 1963. It was in this speech that President Kennedy spoke the famous phrase: "All free men, wherever they….
When Pope John Paul II arrived in Warsaw during his 1987 "pilgrimage" he drove from the airport to the Primate's palace. A huge crowd turned out to greet him and flowers were laid out along the street that he was scheduled to travel. This pattern was repeated throughout his visit, wherever he went. Though tens of thousands of people lined the roads just to see him pass by, and millions attended….
Filmed just after Solidarity’s initial spectacular rise in 1980, Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Iron was won immediate global acclaim. Whereas Wajda’s earlier award-winning film, Man of Marble, had focused on the lonely struggle of an idealistic young film student to uncover the truth about the disillusionments and betrayals of the early communist era in Poland, the individual characters in Man….
This is probably the most famous image circulated by Solidarity in the run-up to the June 4 elections. Gary Cooper, the actor who starred in the film “High Noon,” is shown with a Solidarity insignia on his badge and a ballot in hand. In addition to playfully appealing to the popularity of American Westerns—and the popularity of American in general—the “High Noon” theme hammered home….
The flier above, directed at voters in the town of Żoliborz, illustrates the complexity of the elections held on June 4, 1989. Looking at the sample ballots from left to right, Polish voters faced: 1) a “national list” for the Sejm (Lower House of parliament) made up of leading dignitaries running unopposed; 2) candidates for those seats in the Sejm that were reserved….
In the fall of 1988, Alfred Miodowicz, the head of the official union OPZZ (All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions), challenged Lech Wałesa, the leader of the outlawed Solidarity trade union, to a televised debate. The offer signaled the growing willingness of many party leaders to compromise with opposition groups, but it was also a sign of the party’s continued self-confidence. Miodowicz, a….
A medieval historian by training, Bronisław Geremek had emerged by the 1980s as one of the Solidarity movement’s leading strategists. At the Round Table talks between Solidarity and the Communist leadership and in the critical months that followed, he was arguably Lech Wałęsa’s most influential advisor. In this interview, published in 1990, a young Solidarity-affiliated journalist asks….
Between February and April 1989 in Poland, Communist Party leaders and Solidarity activists engaged in negotiations during the historic roundtable talks. Several days after these talks commenced, Andrzej Slowik, a Solidarity activist in the city of Łódż who was not asked to participate in the talks, wrote this letter to Wladyslaw Findeisen, the roundtable chair for Solidarity. In this….
Minutes No. 64 from an Expanded Meeting of the PZPR CC [Central Committee of the Communist Party] Secretariat, June 5, 1989
The following are excerpts from a meeting of the leadership of Poland’s communist party held the day after the June 4, 1989 elections, when the magnitude of the party’s electoral defeat was just becoming clear. Particularly embarrassing was the fate of the 35 candidates on the so-called “national list,” well-known dignitaries who were running unopposed. Almost all were simply crossed….
President George H.W. Bush and Solidarity Leader Lech Walesa in Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following a Luncheon in Gdansk, 11 July 1989
The transition to a Solidarity-led government in Poland was closely associated with the introduction of market-oriented economic reforms. Many Poles hoped that this might lead to a dramatic improvement in the country’s economy, not only through the stimulation of domestic growth but also through the attraction of investment and outright financial aid from the West. In this brief exchange with….
In December 1988, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev delivered what he called a “watershed” address at the United Nations, announcing that he planned unilaterally to reduce Soviet military forces by 500,000, cut conventional armaments massively, and withdraw substantial numbers of armaments and troops from Eastern European countries. Even with the proposed cutbacks, Soviet conventional forces….
As President George H. W. Bush took office in January 1989, factions within his administration disagreed concerning the approach to take with regard to US-Soviet relations. In December 1988, Gorbachev had delivered what he called a “watershed” address at the United Nations, announcing that he planned unilaterally to reduce Soviet military forces by 500,000, cut conventional armaments….
In early June 1989, Poland held its first semi-free elections since the inception of Communist Party rule in the post-World War II era. The elections resulted in a solid defeat of Communism and a sound victory for the Solidarity opposition. Following the election, at the advice of Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, president Wojciech Jaruzelski, a Communist Party leader and president of Poland at….
As a result of the intensifying public demonstrations in the first half of 1989, the Czechoslovak Communist Party increased its surveillance and suppression of independent and opposition groups, particularly in anticipation of politically-charged anniversaries. This Secret Police (StB) memorandum details preparations by various groups to commemorate the August 21st anniversary of the 1968….
Following the historic semi-free elections in Poland in June 1989, which resulted in a near total defeat of the Communist regime, Polish Communist and Solidarity leaders engaged in ongoing and significant negotiations in the hope of establishing stability in Poland. On August 24, 1989, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, journalist and Solidarity activist, became the first non-Communist prime minister in….