The Solidarity Movement in Poland

Topics: Eastern Bloc, Poland, Social class, Strike action, Trade union, Socialism / Pages: 10 (2303 words) / Published: Oct 9th, 1999
The Solidarity movement in Poland was one of the most dramatic developments in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. It was not a movement that began in 1980, but rather a continuation of a working class and Polish intelligentsia movement that began in 1956, and continued in two other risings, in 1970 and 1976. The most significant of these risings began in the shipyards of the 'Triple City', Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia in 1970. The first and by far the most violent and bloody of the workers revolts came in June of 1956, when at least 75 people died in the industrial city of Poznan. The third uprising took place in 1976 with workers striking in Warsaw, and rioting in the city of Radom. <br><br>What made the Solidarity movement peaceful and far more successful in comparison to that of the previous three? The Solidarity movement originated in the working class, but unlike the previous three risings it also worked with and was involved with the Polish intellectual community. Was this the reason behind its success? Or was it instead the result of the U.S.S.R. losing it's hold in the Eastern bloc, and the fledgling economy of Poland that made such a movement inevitable? While everyone of these points was a factor, the strongest and most compelling argument can be made for the unification and working together of Poland's most influential social classes, the Polish intelligentsia, the workers, and the Church. This strategy eventually led to the infamous 'roundtable' talks, and the collapse of communism itself in Poland.<br><br><b>The Beginnings of a Movement</b><br>The 'Polish October' of 1956 did not begin with Stalin's death in 1953, in fact Poland was quite calm, in stark contrast with other Eastern bloc countries. While demonstrations took place in Plzen, Czechoslovakia, and a revolt was taking place in East Germany in mid-June, Poland was slow to follow the 'New Course' that was being offered by neighboring countries. This was a result of a much slower relaxation than the

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