The Polish trade union, Solidarność | DW Documentary

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Workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Danzig went on strike in the summer of 1980. To oppose government oppression, they founded the first independent trade union in Communist Poland, Solidarność, known in English as Solidarity.

The event marked the start of the fall of the Iron Curtain between Eastern and Western Europe.
The Communist People’s Republic of Poland was firmly anchored in the Soviet camp, yet when the country’s people began to deviate from that course, it began to test the strength of the state. Encouraged by a visit from the first Polish-born Pope, John Paull II, the workers at Lenin shipyard broke the law in the summer of 1980 and downed tools. This documentary examines how Solidarity, an independent union, emerged from a banned workers’ movement to challenge the Communist regime. Supported by the Catholic church and dissident intellectuals, Solidarity began a battle for the rights of economically struggling workers. Fearing loss of control, the regime ordered heavy surveillance of the population. Solidarity, meanwhile, sought aid from independent documentary filmmakers and foreign journalists. Solidarity emerged the victor in this clash of ideologies because the whole world was watching, and the party was forced to give in to the workers’ demands. Even the imposition of martial law could no longer halt the progress of change in Poland.
This documentary talks to Solidarity members and others who were there - cameramen, a party member back then, the famous Polish director Agnieszka Holland and Basil Kerski, the Director of the European Solidarity Center in Danzig - about how events unfolding in Poland went on to change Europe forever.


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