A special lecture on “Poland and Solidarity Movement that has changed Europe” held on Friday, February 10, 2012 from 9.30 – 12.00 AM at Maha Chulalongkorn Building, Room 105, Chulalongkorn University. The event was conducted in English by H.E Dr. Jerzy Bayer, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Bangkok.
It doesn’t go too far to say that when the wheel of history had turned, it dramatically changed our life forever, and without doubt, the solidarity movement, which emerged 31 years ago at the Gdańsk Shipyard under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa, had an enormous impact and inspired similar social resistance movements, for example, the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia or in Hungary to rise up causing the domino effect on the rest of Eastern bloc.
The Solidarity movement which originated in the 80s is a very meaningful and fruitful period in Poland’s contemporary history. And it still provokes many discussions and opinions on its role in dismantling the communist system in Europe and in establishing democracy in our country. One of the leading thesis of our lecture is that Poland played a leading role in the collapse of communism in central Europe and that Solidarity movement in Poland inspired similar anti-communist movement in the rest of Europe.
One of the most famous contemporary historians specialising in the history of Poland, Norman Davies, a British living in Poland, says that most of the things in Poland starts very deeply in history so also the sources of Solidarity are deeply rooted in the Polish tradition and national character.
The Polish nation has always had a very strong feeling of individuality, as well as a need of freedom and independence. A long time ago the Poles had started repeated insurections against any authority which would threaten their feeling of a „golden freedom”. Confederations initiated by citizens when they believed, rightly or wrongly, that political authorities have broken the law were very common. When in the 18th century Poland lost her independence, politically conscious classes wanted to fight for freedom by arm means. Every single generation during 19 and 20th centurie took up arms: 1830, 1863, 1905 .The last violent insurrection took place in 1944 in Warsaw.
Solidarity cycles in the series of risings but it took different form: it was nonviolent and peaceful movement chich lead to the bloodless transformation of the exisiting system of power.The uniqueness of the Polish transformation lies in its democratic character.Solidarity movement initiated fundamental changes in the political architecture of Europe like e.g. the disappearing of the SU, the emergence of the new states in the Baltics, reunifiaction of Germany.