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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Exhibition about Polish Solidarity legend

26.08.2019 01:18
An exhibition about Solidarity trade union legend Anna Walentynowicz has opened in the central Polish city of Łódź. 
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a monument to Anna Walentynowicz in Gdańsk in 2018.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a monument to Anna Walentynowicz in Gdańsk in 2018. Photo: Prime Minister’s Office [Public domain]

It documents Walentynowicz's role in the formation of the free trade union movement during the communist period, her internment by the regime after the imposition of martial law, and her tragic death in the crash of the Polish presidential plane in Russia in 2010, at the age of 81.

In August 1980, Walentynowicz was as a crane-driver at the then Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, northern Poland.

She was sacked from her job just five months short of retirement. Workers demanded her reinstatement.

That was the beginning of a strike. Walentynowicz was a member of a workers’ committee which negotiated a deal with the communist regime that led to the birth of the Solidarity union.

Walentynowicz was critical of Solidarity’s 1989 accord with the communists on semi-free elections. She slammed the move as a betrayal of the union’s ideals and, as the years went by, she became an increasingly vocal critic of former union leader Lech Wałęsa.

In 2006, Anna Walentynowicz received the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish state distinction.

(mk/pk)