To What Extent Was Solidarity To Blame

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To What Extent Was Solidarity To Blame For The Breakdown Of Communism In Poland? Essay, Research Paper On June 4th 1989, the trade union movement Solidarity won elections in Poland hands down. The first minority communist government in a former satellite state was formed.? The Round Table agreement had dramatically backfired and the assumptions that the Party had the legitimacy, the money and the organisational facilities to win a majority of seats had proved to be false.? From this point onwards, communism in Eastern Europe began to crumble.? The anti-communist feeling in Poland had been released in the formation of the mass ?trade-union? called Solidarity, and without Russian tanks to restore order the Party fell unceremoniously from power. Solidarity is often credited with

seizing the initiative and bringing about the breakdown of communism not only in Poland but also in Eastern Europe as a whole, but was this really the case. Solidarity sprung from a rebellious shipyard in Gdansk.? Gdansk had emerged as a bastion of communist resistance in December 1970, when, in response to the price hikes, workers had come out on strike and were shot by riot police and troops.? Many of the demands made by the workers in 1970 were replicated in 1980. In response to further price rises, introduced in July 1980 by Polish Premier Babuich, strikes broke out all over Poland.? However, government officials had little problem dealing with the individual uncoordinated strikes by offering pay increases.? Only in Lublin was there a coordinated strike, and this strike acted

as an inspiration for the Gdansk strike in August.? Led by agitator Lech Walesa, the Gdansk workers initially protesting over price rises began to demand free trade unions and other political changes.? Aided by Polish intellectuals, a compromise was reached known as the 21 points which essentially brought Solidarity into being.? The first free trade union had been formed. The coordination of the strike in 1980 was the essential factor in its success and in the emergence and survival of Solidarity. The government, terrified of mass uprising and civil war was content to play for time by agreeing to the 21 points.? Furthermore, the Polish government wished to avoid intervention by Moscow, and by reaching a reasonable compromise, the party was temporarily able to put and end to the

strikes. The intellectuals had played a key role in developing the working class consciousness of national interests, and by making reasonable demands on the communist government.? However, as early as 24th August 1980, Polish party leaders were already planning to crush Solidarity.? The movement owed as much to good fortune as to its own strength. As Solidarity membership rose to exceed 10 million by mid-1981 it quickly became a national movement.? It gained the support of the vast majority of Poles, and self-government became the call of a nation, oppressed for almost 50 years.? Solidarity also began to make demands on the government to introduce reforms in April 1981. These closely resembled those introduced by Gorbachev later in Russia and ?Glasnost? in the media quickly

became apparent.? However, Soviet troops began to amass on Poland?s eastern frontier and pressure was exerted from Moscow on Polish leaders to crush the movement. Although Western leaders put pressure on Moscow not to intervene, they could not prevent the threat of sanctions.? The loss of oil and gas supplies would be disasterous for Poland.? Furthermore, the threat of a referendum on the Jaruzelski government in December 1982 proved too much for the Soviet government.? At 6.00am on 13th December 1982, martial law was announced. Solidarity was outlawed and driven underground.? This could have meant the end for the Solidarity movement.? It had accomplished little in the way of improvements, in fact, economic conditions had worsened between August 1980 and December 1982.? However,