`Solidarity and its effect on the fall of European Communist Regimes
The rise of the Polish Solidarity Trade Union in the 1980’s was historically significant because of its continued persistency for social change. Solidarity’s ability to develop and persevere through years of political oppression led to substantial changes within the Polish Government and its influence led to the eventual collapse of Eastern European Communist regimes. Although Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany would receive more attention and recognition for their roles in the demise of communism, Poland with its labor and inflation problems throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s would be the catalyst that ignites the movement towards democracy throughout Eastern Europe including the former Soviet Union. Solidarity’s roots can be traced from its meager beginnings escalating from the ashes of Polish labor strikes of 1970 and 1976 to its origins as a trade union in the Lenin Shipyards of Gdansk in 1980. The Solidarity Trade Union, at its highest point of popularity, would include almost 10 million Polish citizens, about one quarter of the total Polish population. Solidarity would rise from the first non-communist independent trade union to becoming a full-fledged political party that would take all but one seat in the Polish Parliament during the election of 1989. In 1990, the leader of the Solidarity Party, Lech Walesa would become the first freely elected president of Poland since the Communist Party took control of the government in 1947. Poland experienced many social and economic issues in the 1970’s, continuing on through the 1980’s. From the shipyard strike of 1970, in which over 200 people were killed, to the work stoppages of 1980 that would eventually spread across the nation, the Polish Government continuously raised prices on basic domestic commodities while lowering worker wage. This was partially because of Poland’s acquisition of investment from western banks which ran in direct...
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