Lech Walesa played the role of a charismatic leader in his struggles to defeat communism. His leadership role spans two significant periods, the first as a non-constituted leader where he was the head of the Solidarity Movement responsible for the downfall of the communist government and the second was later as a constituted leader where he was the elected President of Poland. His success in these various roles will be discussed later but first the context, or situation will be discussed to provide a framework for the analysis of the successes and failures. Pre-Communism
Poland was a major player in European power and politics from 966-1772 AD after which it was subdivided by the Russians, Prussians (now Germans) and Austrians. Poland did exist again as a country, with the exception of a 20 year period between World Wars I & II, until 1945. Despite the almost constant foreign occupation of the past 150 years, the Polish people were able to maintain their language, culture and desire for freedom . Communist Period
After the conclusion of the Second World War, Poland was reborn as a nation, but with a communist government that was heavily influenced by the Soviet Union and 50,000 Soviet troops stationed on Polish soil. It was therefore commonly understood that the communist government of Poland (PZPR) was a spokesman of the Soviet government and did not represent the Polish people . Furthermore, communism was officially atheist, while Poland was a deeply religious country with strong ties to the Roman Catholic Church, further ostracizing the PZPR. Lech Walesa was born in a small town in Poland in 1943. His father was a resistance fighter who was captured during the war and died in 1945 due to mistreatment shortly after returning home. His mother then married his father’s brother, with whom Lech had a strained relationship. Lech’s childhood consisted of working on the family farm, attending school and church. After finishing school, Lech trained as an...
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