Solidarity in Poland

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Solidarity in Poland

  • The ruling Communist regime in Poland began to have real problems in keeping control of the country by the late 1970s as people became increasingly sick of both the poverty they had to live in and a lack of freedom to protest against it. 
  • Illegal protest movements began to organize themselves to try and fight against the regime.
  • In July 1980, the Polish government announced yet another increase in food prices.
  •  This very unpopular move caused a massive wave of strikes, especially on Poland’s Baltic Coast. 
  • The strikers came together in a trade-union movement called Solidarity, led by a worker called Lech Walesa.
  •  The strikers didn’t just demand economic improvements, but more political freedoms, such as legal trade unions.
  • On 31st August 1931, Solidarity signed an agreement with the government which promised to bring in democratic representation into Poland’s communist system.
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Solidarity in Poland

  • Unfortunately, this move didn’t go down well in Moscow, where the Polish  communists were seen as weak. 
  • Under pressure from the Soviet Union, the Polish communists installed a new Prime Minister at the end of 1981, Wojicech Jaruzelski. 
  • He attempted to reverse the movement towards democracy by introducing martial law, making Solidarity illegal and crushing any protest movements.
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How far was solidarity significant for the decline of soviet influence in eastern Europe? (10 marks)

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