Lech Walesa - December 1980

Solidarity and its leader Lech Walesa. Four months in and they were already a pain in Brezhnev's ass.

December 3, 1980 – Solidarity: A Warning To The West And The Pushing Of Envelopes

Lech Walesa - December 1980
Solidarity and its leader Lech Walesa. Four months in and they were already a pain in Brezhnev’s ass.
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A little goes a long way:

December 3, 1980 – A busy day for Poland and new word for the rest of the world to learn: Solidarity. Begun as a trade union movement in September, Solidarity had gained very much in stature as a movement towards democracy, starting with the workplace. At its head was Lech Walesa (pronounced Va-Wenza).

While working at the Lenin Shipyard (now Gdańsk Shipyard), Wałęsa, an electrician, became a trade-union activist, for which he was persecuted by the Communist authorities, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980 he was instrumental in political negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government. He co-founded the Solidarity trade-union movement which membership rose to over ten million people.

With that much popularity and a growing movement towards freeing up the vice-grip under the Soviet-backed Polish government, Moscow was taking notice – and so was Washington and Europe.

Britain’s Lord Carrington told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House Of Commons that the consequences of a Soviet intervention in Poland would be “much more serious than those which followed the moves into Czechoslovakia in 1968 and into Afghanistan in 1979. “It would ruin detente, invite economic reprisals from the West and spark a dangerous arms race”. There was no talk of aiding Poland in any military way or by helping the Poles to resist it. Carrington spoke of help to Poland only in terms of economic relief, such as dealing with food shortages over the Winter. The U.S. and the other members of the EU registered grave disapproval, but did not go as far as threatening anything more than economic or political consequences.

And after some 11 years after eluding the law, former student radical Bernadine Dorn surrendered to authorities in Chicago. Dorn faced aggravated battery charges, stemming from a series of violent demonstrations in Chicago in 1969.

And that’s a little of what went on, this December 3, 1980 as reported by CBS Radio News.

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