STRIKE FOR FREEDOM: The Story of Lech Walesa and Polish Solidarity by Robert Eringer

STRIKE FOR FREEDOM: The Story of Lech Walesa and Polish Solidarity

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A BBC reporter's compact and lively, if lightweight, account of the establishment of Solidarity, its brief history, and its demise in December 1981 with the introduction of martial law. The focus is squarely on determined union leader Loch Walesa, whom Eringer admires to the point of adulation. Since Eringer is also one of those who thinks that socialism was imposed on Poland by Soviet tanks (a view opposed recently by Neal Ascherson), Walesa's very visible Catholicism suits him well. He gives a lot of play, in addition, to Walesa's problems with the union's radical wing. Eringer identifies this group with KOR, the Jacek Kuron-led intellectuals who joined the shipyard workers during the 1980 strikes. It was the radicals' rise in influence, Eringer thinks, that led to the call for a referendum on Poland's Warsaw Pact membership which then triggered the union's suppression. (It's at least as likely that the vote wan supposed to show membership support for the Warsaw Pact--and that the government acted to prevent this propaganda coup.) The radicals' attack on Walesa's single-handed leadership is deemed not misdirected (he did try to be dictatorial) but foolish, since he holds the key to the union's success. Also: though Eringer doesn't regard the regime's roots as Polish, he sees the martial-law solution as a purely Polish affair; Soviet intervention was never a serious possibility. Good as a short narrative, but too thin to make the interpretations stick.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Dodd, Mead