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1981 - Solidarnosc Protests

1981 Solidarnosc_min.JPG

Title: 1981 - Solidarnosc Protests

About: Polish Solidarnosc was the first independent labor union in a Soviet-bloc country, which transformed into a broad, non-violent, anti-communist social movement.


Led by striking dockworkers in Gdansk, the Solidarnosc movement started out with demands for better working conditions. However, the leaders realized something greater was possible, and steered their colleagues away from mere wage demands towards the idea of creating a trade union movement to represent the workers and fight injustice.  


The  audacious strikers were successful, and got the government to agree to their 21 demands, thereby marking the first peaceful victory over communism.  The movement grew to 10 million strong, and under the leadership of Lech Walesa, continued to lobby and protest on the streets for reforms, free elections and a referendum on Poland's alliance with the Soviet Union. 

This infuriated the Kremlin, who declared a state of martial law in Poland on 13 December 1981.  Tanks and troops were on the streets,  civic rights and freedoms were suspended, and Solidarnosc was forced underground. Overnight, the police and security services seized all the headquarters of Solidarnosc and interned approximately 10,000 opposition activists.


In the long, dark period leading up to the radical changes of 1989, Solidarnosc continued to organize, agitate and protest in the shadows, but it never wavered from one its key principles - nonviolence. 

Decade: 1980s

Year: 1981

Region: Europe

Country: Poland + USSR

Politics: Protest
Conflict: Cold War
Society: Economic

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 8

Artist: Jaroslaw Marcinek


Group: Genesis

Number: 81/100

Price: 0.8 ETH


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