Solidarity

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Solidarity was an independent trade union in Communist-dominated Poland. Its courageous struggle for freedom ultimately helped bring about the collapse of Communism in Poland and eastern Europe.

Solidarity was founded in September 1980 during a strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, on Poland's Baltic Sea coast. Its first leader was a shipyard electrician, Lech Walesa. In 1981 the Polish government imposed martial law to suppress industrial and political unrest, and Walesa was interned; the union was forced underground for several years, but the Communist Party eventually had to negotiate. Elections held in 1989 led to a coalition government of which Solidarity formed part, and Walesa became Polish president. During the 1981-1989 period when the Solidarity party was outlawed, the communist government tended to see its local Roman Catholic church as a far more conservative and reasonable social force than the Solidarity party.

See also