1980: The Solidarity Movement in Poland

What was the Solidarity movement? 

Solidarity means unity or togetherness. It was the name used for an independent trade union that emerged in communist-controlled Poland in 1980. 

How did it begin? 

Solidarity began when workers in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk protested against food price rises. Its leader, Lech Walesa (pronounced Lek Fowensa), presented a list of 21 demands to the government which included the right to form trade unions and However, it soon grew into a national movement that campaigned for greater freedom, democracy and better living conditions. By January 1981, it had 9 million members. 

Why was solidarity so successful in Poland?

Support for Solidarity from inside Poland

Support for Solidarity from outside Poland

The Polish government were reluctant to take action against Solidarity

The Soviet government were reluctant to take action against Solidarity

Why did the Polish government eventually take action against Solidarity?

In February 1981, General Jaruzelski became the leader of Poland. He was a much more hard line leader who was willing to take action against the Solidarity movement.

Jaruzelski was willing to take action because:

What actions did Jaruzelski take against Solidarity?

What was the significance of the Solidarity movement in Poland?

Despite being crushed and banned, Solidarity was significant in the collapse of Soviet control in eastern Europe as it had shown: