1980: The Solidarity Movement in Poland

Solidarity means unity or togetherness. It was the name used for an independent trade union that emerged in communist-controlled Poland in 1980. Starting as an independent trade union, it sought to represent the interests of workers and advocate for their rights, though it quickly gained widespread support and attracted millions of members across the vectors of Polish society.

What was the Solidarity movement? 

It was founded in 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard by Lech Wałęsa and other labour activists. Wałęsa presented a list of 21 demands to the government which included the right to form trade unions. Solidarity soon expanded into a national movement that called for greater freedom, democracy and the improvement in living conditions. By January 1981, it had 9 million members. 

Why was solidarity so successful in Poland?

Support for Solidarity 

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: