Banner marking 40 years of Solidarity in Poland unveiled in city centre

by Sylvia Pownall

A commemorative banner marking 40 years of ‘Solidarity’ in Poland was unveiled at Liberty Hall in Dublin earlier this week.

The country’s mass civic movement which contributed to the collapse of communism and an end to the world’s cold war division started four decades ago this week.

On 31 August, 1981, the August Agreements were signed and the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarity” was established.

To mark the anniversary the façade of the Liberty Hall was lit up with a projection of the Solidarity logo on Monday.

Historian Professor Timothy Snyder describes the creation of Solidarity as “one of the most important events in the history of Poland and the world at the end of the 20th century”.

It became a moment that changed the essence of the Leninist system. Before that, the communist party functioning in this system had a monopoly on power. This changed when “Solidarity” was founded.

Prof Snyder said: “It was then that a generation of activists took form, who later sat down to negotiate at the Round Table, and then played a key role in democratic Poland.

“Without the August Agreements and “Solidarity” that was then born, the elections on 4 June 1989 would not have taken place.”

Legalising Solidarity was a signal that communism did not last forever; that a new, post-war Poland had been born; and that there was a real civil society in Poland.

The full text is published simultaneously in the Polish monthly magazine „Wszystko Co Najważniejsze” (“Everything What is Most Important”).

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