Strike for Freedom! The Story of Lech Walesa and Polish Solidarity: Rafal Brzeski, Robert Eringer: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
Right after Ronald Reagan was elected president, a British radio show had me on to talk about my forecast of what Reagan's administration would look like based on his Bohemian Grove affiliations.
Sure enough, just like with Jimmy Carter and the Trilateral Commission, I was spot on.
A Polish journalist based in Warsaw had seen The Global Manipulators advertised in The Economist, ordered it, and also heard my radio chat about the prospective Reagan Administration, on which I scored 100 percent.
He sent me a letter inviting me to Poland to collaborate with him on a book about the burgeoning Solidarity Movement.
So that summer (1981), I traveled to Poland and immersed myself in Solidarity, including a visit to Wysokie, the small village in eastern Poland from which my paternal grandparents emigrated to the United States in 1913.
There I discovered that Solidarity was not a big city movement, was not a student rebellion, but a countrywide revolution that would likely result in the dismantling of the Iron Curtain.
We wrote Strike for Freedom!, which Dodd, Mead published in 1982, the very first such book on Solidarity and its leader, Lech Walesa.
In it, I wrote about my visit to my ancestral homeland:
Wysokie Mazowieckie, the birth place of the author’s paternal grandparents, lies eighty miles northeast of Warsaw, not far from the Soviet border. It is a sleepy agricultural community with a population of approximately fifty-five hundred.
Like everywhere else in Poland, Wysokie was plagued with drastic shortages when the author visited the town in July 1981. Its sole restaurant had no food, only tea. More than 75 percent of its business was conducted through bartering, a system popularly known as “friends-connections.”
Wysokie’s farmers grow their crops without fertilizer, pesticides, cement, steel, wood, or machinery. In 1980 they were in a crisis situation. Their wheat harvest was catastrophic; their potato harvest down by 75 percent, and they produced only one-half their normal quota of sugar beets. Despite their excellent soil, agricultural factories were never built in Wysokie. Polish patriots fought Soviet soldiers in the forests around Wysokie until 1951, and consequently, Wysokie and its neighboring towns have been refused state funds ever since. Theirs is a punished area.
But almost incredibly, morale in Wysokie was strong in early summer 1981. Its Solidarity branch had been formed in October 1980. It had a nine-member Executive Committee and half of Wysokie’s population had joined.
Before then, the local Party administration had run everything in Wysokie. Corruption was widespread among the privileged Party elite. The union openly challenged that system. If someone was unfairly dismissed from their job, as was a hospital nurse who refused to permit a Party bigwig to cut into a line for treatment, Solidarity intervened.
Explained an official of Wysokie’s church, himself a union member: “The Party governs the stomach [it controls jobs and wages]; the Church governs the soul; Solidarity tries to minimize the Party’s governance of the stomach.”
The union’s most active campaign in Wysokie was to combat alcoholism, one of Poland’s foremost social problems. In June 1981, the local Solidarity executive demanded that authorities shut down a notorious tavern known as Szatan (Devil’s Bar). By August, Szatan had been converted to a milk bar.
The union’s executive demanded that the ground floor and basement of the local Party building be transformed into a kindergarten. The Party acquiesced with barely a whimper, fearful of a strike.
Another union project was the resurrection of an important monument in Wysokie’s main square. Erected originally in 1928 to commemorate ten years of Polish independence, the monument had been torn down and buried in the town square during the Stalin era. Inspired by the new freedom Solidarity assured them, Wysokie’s citizens had become intent on “digging up the history of Poland.”