Warsaw: Despite crackdowns, a movement spreading.

Despite crackdowns, a movement spreading.
Warsaw: Despite crackdowns, a movement spreading.

– News for December 14, 1981 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

News for this day in 1981 had to do with the growing protest movement in Poland known as Solidarity. Begun as a Dock Workers strike in the Port city of Gdansk, the movement gained steam and momentum, prompting numerous attempts at crackdowns from the Militarty government of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski . On this particular day, another crackdown was taking place. Each time a crackdown happened, it was hoped, in Warsaw and Moscow, that this would signal the end of movement. But it only served to bolster sentiment throughout the country to continue.

On Dec. 13, 1981, authorities in Warsaw imposed martial law in a crackdown on the pro-democracy Solidarity labor movement, which had made numerous strikes since August 1980 that challenged the Communist Polish government.

The government brought thousands of Solidarity members into custody, including its leader, Lech Walesa, who would spend the next 11 months in prison. It suspended Solidarity, outlawed “All strikes, demonstrations, protests, meetings and public gatherings other than those for religious services,” and imposed a 10 p.m. curfew, according to The Times. Tanks patrolled city streets to impose the orders. Martial law officially remained in place throughout Warsaw and the rest of Poland until 1983, though even then, many civil liberties were not restored.

The declaration did little to slow the Solidarity movement, which went underground and continued to organize pro-democracy demonstrations. Solidarity gained international support and Mr. Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. The Warsaw government was condemned internationally and the United States imposed economic sanctions against it.

And that’s what happened, along with a lot of other news, via CBS News On The Hour for December 14, 1981


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