AN OPEN LETTER TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
We wish to express our thanks to the European Parliament for the generous grant offered to "Solidarity" on the occasion of its 25th anniversary which falls in August and September 2005. We are convinced that the parliamentarians have awarded this subsidy to the first "Solidarity" in good faith, not knowing that the organisation ceased to exist long time ago, whereas the 2005 celebrations will be arranged by the second "Solidarity". This belief upholds the fundamental fallacy about the nature of the transformation of the Polish political system.
Up till now the history of "Solidarity" has not been thoroughly researched and, in fact, remains unknown even to the general public of Poland. No investigations have been carried out into the methods used to eliminate democracy within the Trade Union or to persecute, corrupt and coerce into emigrating those who tried to defend "Solidarity". Consciously or unconsciously, also the institutions of the western democracies let themselves be drawn into the game of the secret service. "Solidarity", the grass-roots initiative for self-organisation of almost the whole society, was as dangerous to the communist system as to the political option of the western democracies that gave precedence to the interest of the world of finance and narrowly interpreted economics over the needs of people. "Solidarity" was a continuation of the best European values and traditions. It was a mass movement, immune to extremities and doctrinal ideologies. While living up to principle, it managed to find its own methods of successful execution of realistic goals. The history of "Soli-darity" remains an important element of the history of Europe.
The Polish Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej) does not have sufficient means or resources to investigate the history of "Solidarity", the period of martial law or the political turning point of 1989 - all the time being overwhelmed by needs of the research into the yet unexplained Polish episodes of the Second World War and the history of the communist Poland. And yet, time goes by, people lose their memories, witnesses to important events pass away. We propose that your grant be used for a reliable research into the history of the Trade Union and for publication of its results. Let us postpone all the anniversary pomp and circumstance till we obtain the full knowledge of the history of the first "Solidarity" and of the reasons for its destruction.
History cannot be changed, neither can wrongs be undone; yet everybody has a right to know historical truths. Poles had waited for fifty years for the truths about the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty, the Katyn mass murder and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The main obstacle to revealing those truths had been the Yalta treaty and the fear western societies had of the Soviet Union, yet this obstacle is no longer... So what new obstructions and new fears still try to guard the lies of the perestroika period? Shall we have to wait for the historical truth about "Solidarity" for another fifty years?
We defend the honour and good name of those people who remained faithful to the first "Solidarity". We are not responsible for the errors of the organisation which, under the same name, has been in existence since 1989. Neither do we intend to take credit for its activities. If the European Parliament wishes to honour the second "Solidarity" with a grant, let it be known that the year 2005 marks the 16th anniversary of that union and let an appropriate correction be made in the proposal suggesting such an allocation of funds to assist the celebrations.
The Independent Self-Governing Trade Union (NSZZ) was formed as an implementation of the first clause of the agreement signed by the Inter-Company Strike Committee (MKS) and the Governmental Commission in Gdańsk on 31st August, 1980.The MKS transformed into the Inter-Company Founding Committee(MKZ). On 17th September, the delegates from particular regions of Poland decided to call into being a nationwide trade union named NSZZ "Solidarność". It was decreed that the supreme authority of the Union would be the Nationwide Liaison Commission (KKP). In order to realize the resolutions of the KKP, an executive com-mittee (Praesidium) was elected. Next, the delegates chose the KKP's chairman and two deputy chairmen (Lech Wałęsa, Andrzej Gwiazda and Ryszard Kalinowski, respectively). Validity of any document of the KKP required signatures of at least two of the above mentioned leaders. Such structure of the Union was intro-duced by the delegates to secure a democratic way of running its affairs. The KKP started to prepare the statute of "Solidarity" required at the registration of the Union. All the Union members participated in drawing up this document. The statute and the Trade Union were officially registered on 10th November,1980, under threat of a general strike.To the Union's members it was the first democratic constitution."Solidarity's" mem-bership was then 9,190,000. Its first congress was held in two separate rounds between 5th September and 7th October, 1981. As a follow-up of the Congress, a new Nationwide Commission (KK) took over from the KKP as a chief authority. On 13th December the same year General Jaruzelski placed the country under martial law as it had turned out to be impossible to crush democracy inside "Solidarity".
When martial law was lifted and there appeared a chance of an overt activity for the Union, 26 members of the KK sent the KK chairman a formal proposal to hold a meeting of "Solidarity's" supreme body. The chair-man of the KK, Lech Wałęsa (there had never been an office of a chairman of the whole trade union in "Sol-idarity"), refused to perform his statutory duty and absurdly prohibited the signatories of the letter from re-suming any union activity. Neither did "Solidarity" prepare its stance for the political talks with the authori-ties.During the round-table conference, the so-called "Solidarity" side included people appointed by Wałęsa, most of whom came from the 'elites' of the communist country, being deeply involved in the system. Of a hundred members of the "Solidarity's" Nationwide Commission, only four took part in the round-table talks. The teams of both sides included many covert collaborators of the Secret Service, which has been the main source of Polish problems with vetting and corruption up till now.
As early as in January 1989 Wałęsa announced that a 'new Solidarity' would be founded. His first public pronouncement was a perfect piece of social engineering as it was made during a TV "debate" between Wałęsa and Miodowicz, the chairman of a new trade union set up in the period of martial law. This context gave Wałęsa an opportunity to issue a public declaration: the new "Solidarity" would be radically different from its predecessor of 1980, it would enlist entirely new people and, a pledge, "we will work for peanuts". The TV viewers focused their attention on a typical red-herring issue of which of the contenders would come out better and, at the same time, did not give much thought to the crucial political declaration just being made, to their significance and consequences. On 17th April, the new "Solidarity" obtained formal registra-tion as a result of the round-table decisions.
What the first and the second "Solidarity" had in common was but the name.
A new altered statute was registered (changes affected Sections 5, 11, 19, 23, 24, 33 and 34). These infringements were kept back from the members of the new union. Even now it is not clear who made those changes. Wałęsa announced that the mandates of all "Solidarity" authorities (i.e. both of the Nationwide Commission and lower tiers) had expired during martial law with the exception of the mandate of the chair-man of the KK. The state administration granted the legal statute (eg. by allocating an office for the trade union activity) only to the structures controlled by activists appointed by Wałęsa. Those who refused to ac-cept the lack of democracy in a new union had only one choice - not to join it. Various estimates held that one fourth to one third of the first "Solidarity" members joined the second union. The members of the Nation-wide Commission and Control Board were not invited to the Congress of the new union [Section 18 of the Statute specified - "It lies within the competence of the Congress to examine the reports of the Nationwide Commission (KK) and the Control Board"].
No attempts were made at legalising the arbitrary actions of Wałęsa which would have maintained an appearance at least of continuity with the first "Solidarity". Yet the first Congress of the new organisation was called the Second Congress of "Solidarity". The popularity enjoyed by Wałęsa at the time and the sup-port he received from the communist authorities, the Church and western democracies gave him carte blanche to break the statute and ride roughshod over democracy in the union. "Solidarity" ceased to exist, though it had not even been formally dissolved as was required by the statute.
At first many "Solidarity" members were not aware of the manipulation. However, quite soon it transpired that the new "Solidarity" was not a continuation of the first one in more aspects than the formal one. The most important element of the statute, i.e. Section 4 stating that "The Union is independent of the state ad-ministration and political organisations", which embodied the first postulate of the strikers of August 1980, became flagrantly violated both in the letter and spirit. Poland's employees were deprived of defence during the difficult period of systemic transformation and their false representatives, armed with a known and trust-worthy name confused the society and hindered its self-organisation.
At present, the term "Solidarity" is generally identified with closures of industries, massive job cuts, waste of the national wealth by rigged sell-offs, corruption and governments of wimps and bunglers. The elderly generation say, "And we trusted you so much, we were ready to die for you". Young people, taught that the present "Solidarity" is a continuation of the first one, treat with disbelief the stories of total commitment and dedication of millions of Poles in the fight for freedom and democracy under this banner. Even most sump-tuous celebrations of the 25th anniversary of "Solidarity" will not be of much use. Young people can easily sense any false note.
In order not to live a lie, many former strikers of 1980, members and activists of "Solidarity", participants in the resistance movement during martial law - simply avoid any anniversary celebrations organised by the second "Solidarity".
Gdańsk, 15 November 2004
Andrzej Gwiazda, Praesidium of the Inter-Company Strike Committee (MKS) and Inter-Company Founding Committee (MKZ), Nationwide Liaison Commission (KKP) - deputy chairman, Gdańsk Regional Board, Nationwide Commission (KK), former political prisoner (3 years in jail), electronics engineer, tel. +48 58 556 28 26
Joanna Duda Gwiazda, Praesidium of MKS, MKZ, Gdańsk Regional Board, former political prisoner (7 months in jail), naval architect, tel. +48 58 556 28 26
Lech Sobieszek, Praesidium of MKS, MKZ, Control Board of KKP - secretary, former political prisoner (6 months in jail), locksmith-metalworker, mobile 617 669 84 19 (USA)
Anna Walentynowicz, Praesidium of MKS, MKZ, former political prisoner (19 months in jail), welder, tel. +48 58 341 04 54
Stefan Lewandowski, Praesidium of MKS, MKZ, Control Board in Port of Gdańsk, former political prisoner (11 months in jail), cargo-handling gear operator, tel. +48 58 682 12 89
Jadwiga Chmielowska, Board of MKZ Katowice, Silesian Regional Board, a warrant issued for her arrest in martial law was valid till August 1, 1990, electronics engineer and journalist, tel. +48 32 294 20 23
Ewa Kubasiewicz-Houee, representative of Nautical College of Gdynia in MKS, Gdańsk Regional Board, former political prisoner (17 months in jail, sentenced to 10 years), Polish teacher, tel. (0033) 296 73 70 70
Roman Urbański, Gdańsk Regional Board, former political prisoner (12 months in jail), health and safety
inspector, tel. +48 58 687 33 21
Anna Kurska, Gdańsk Regional Board, judge, senator of the Republic of Poland, tel. +48 58 344 97 28
Wiesława Kwiatkowska, history section of KKP, KK, former political prisoner (15 months in jail, sentenced
to 5 years), journalist, tel. +48 58 663 86 82
Joanna Radecka, Company Commission in Gdańsk Town Council, former political prisoner (9 months in
jail), urban planner, tel. +48 58 661 67 74
Janusz Golichowski, Strike Commission and Company Commission at University of Gdańsk - deputy chair-
man, historian of philosophy, tel. +48 58 552 24 59
Magdalena Czachor, representative of University of Gdańsk in MKS, former political prisoner,
tel. +48 58 341 54 41
Stanisław Bławat, "Solidarity", clandestine Radio "Solidarity" in Gdańsk, university English teacher,
tel. +48 58 629 94 31
Marianna Szreder, "Solidarity", clandestine Radio "Solidarity" in Gdańsk, midwife, tel. +48 58 345 61 70
Marek Czachor, one of the founders of the Independent Students' Association (1980), former political
prisoner (12 months in jail), theoretical physicist, professor at Gdańsk University of Technology,
tel. +48 58 341 54 41
Krystyna Friedel, representative of co-operative movement in MKS, MKZ and at the Congress of Gdańsk
Region, accountant, tel. +48 58 556 01 79
Eliza Jadczak, editor of the bulletin of the Płock Regional Board, former political prisoner (7 months in
jail), withdrew from the second "Solidarity", economist, tel. +48 24 263 15 93
Teresa Piechocka, Company Commission at Polam, Gostynin, former political prisoner (3.5 months in
jail), chemist, tel. +48 24 268 45 75
Maria Hrabowska, "Solidarity", pathomorphologist, professor at Medical Academy of Gdańsk,
tel. +48 58 624 89 56
Teresa Grabińska, "Solidarity", professor at University of Zielona Góra, tel. +48 71 794 95 98
Mirosław Zabierowski, "Solidarity", professor in the Institute of Social Sciences, Technical University of
Wrocław, tel +48 58 71 794 95 98
The list is still open - new signatures are added on the daily basis.
On behalf of the signatories of the letter,
Andrzej Gwiazda, retired
ul. Wejhera 3 C, m.118
home tel. 556 28 26
14 marzec 2005
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