Solidarity was not only a trade union, but above all, an opposition movement against communist totalitarianism. The bipolar world had a great impact on the whole system of international relations as well as on the domestic life of the people, who lived in the socialist countries.
In the s and s, the initial success of Solidarity in particular, and of dissident movements in general, was fed by a deepening crisis within Soviet-influenced societies. There was declining morale, worsening economic conditions a shortage economyand growing stress from the Cold War.
A year later, during his first pilgrimage to Poland, his masses were attended by hundreds of thousands of his countrymen.
The Pope called for the respecting of national and religious traditions and advocated for freedom and human rights, while denouncing violence.
To many Poles, he represented a spiritual and moral force that could be set against brute material forces, he was a bellwether of change, and became an important symbol—and supporter—of changes to come.
In JulyEdward Gierek 's government, facing economic crisis, decided to raise prices while slowing the growth of wages. At once there ensued a wave of strikes and factory occupations with the biggest strikes taking place in the area of Lublin. Although the strike movement had no coordinating center, the workers had developed an information network to spread news of their struggle.
A "dissident" group, the Workers' Defence Committee KORwhich had originally been set up in Poland and the role of solidarity organize aid for victimized workers, attracted small groups of working-class militants in major industrial centers.
In addition, they called for the raising of a monument to the shipyard workers who had been killed in and for the legalization of independent trade unions. The list went beyond purely local matters, beginning with a demand for new, independent trade unions and going on to call for a relaxation of the censorshipa right to strike, new rights for the Church, the freeing of political prisoners, and improvements in the national health service.
A tidal wave of strikes swept the coast, closing ports and bringing the economy to a halt. With KOR assistance and support from many intellectuals, workers occupying factories, mines and shipyards across Poland joined forces. Within days, over factories and enterprises had joined the strike committee.
More and more new unions were formed, and joined the federation. On August 30 and 31, and on September 3, representatives of the workers and the government signed an agreement ratifying many of the workers' demands, including the right to strike.
Though concerned with labor-union matters, the agreement enabled citizens to introduce democratic changes within the communist political structure and was regarded as a first step toward dismantling the Party's monopoly of power.
Workers' needs would now receive clear representation. The place where the first national Congress was held.
Blank spaces remain after the government censor has pulled articles from page 1 right, "What happened at Bydgoszcz? The printers— Solidarity-trade-union members—have decided to run the newspaper as is, with blank spaces intact.
The bottom of page 1 of this master copy bears the hand-written Solidarity confirmation of that decision. Meanwhile, Solidarity had been transforming itself from a trade union into a social movement  or more specifically, a revolutionary movement.
Using strikes and other protest actions, Solidarity sought to force a change in government policies. At the same time, it was careful never to use force or violence, so as to avoid giving the government any excuse to bring security forces into play. The atmosphere was increasingly tense, with various local chapters conducting a growing number of uncoordinated strikes as well as street protests, such as the Summer hunger demonstrations in Polandin response to the worsening economic situation.
Martial law — [ edit ] Further information: Wojciech Jaruzelskiwho adopted a strong-arm policy. One of the largest demonstrations, on December 16,took place at the Wujek Coal Minewhere government forces opened fire on demonstrators, killing 9  and seriously injuring By December 28,strikes had ceased, and Solidarity appeared crippled.
It was the longest underground strike in the history of Poland, lasting 14 days. Some miners began it on December 14, going meters underground. Out of the initialhalf remained until the last day. Starving, they gave up after military authorities promised they would not be prosecuted.
Yet Solidarity was far from broken: Two days later, two additional demonstrators were killed in Warsaw. On July 22,martial law was lifted, and amnesty was granted to many imprisoned Solidarity members, who were released.
The government attempted to smooth over the situation by releasing thousands of political prisoners ;  a year later, however, there followed a new wave of arrests. The worsening economic situation in the entire Eastern Bloc, including the Soviet Union, together with other factors, forced Gorbachev to carry out a number of reforms, not only in the field of economics uskoreniye but in the political and social realms glasnost and perestroika.Jul 29, · THE BIRTH OF SOLIDARITY.
The Solidarity movement emerged out of a much longer history of worker discontent, strikes and protest that had characterised tensions between the state and society in communist Poland since the end of WWII.
The history of Solidarity (Polish: Solidarność, pronounced [sɔliˈdarnɔɕt͡ɕ] (listen)), a Polish non-governmental trade union, began on August 14, , at the Lenin Shipyards (now Gdańsk Shipyards) at its founding by Lech Wałęsa and others.
Nowadays, the Polish Solidarity movement of the s is often considered to be the first step in the downfall of the Soviet empire. Solidarity was not only a trade union, but above all, an opposition movement against communist totalitarianism.
“Catalyst for Revolution Pope John Paul II’s Pilgrimage to Poland and Its Effects on Solidarity and the Fall of Communism.” The Polish Review 57, no. 4 (): This article places Pope John II as the catalyst and one of the main factors that caused the fall of Communism in Poland.
Jul 29, · THE BIRTH OF SOLIDARITY. The Solidarity movement emerged out of a much longer history of worker discontent, strikes and protest that had characterised tensions between the state and society in communist Poland since the end of WWII.
Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland Shana Penn The University of Michigan Press.
Pages. $ Poland’s success in getting rid of Soviet-imposed Communism and in remaking itself as a Western democratic country remains a puzzle to many folks.