Socialist Worker

Poland timeline

Issue No. 2112

Lech Wallesa addresses Solidarity members in 1980

Lech Wallesa addresses Solidarity members in 1980


  • 1945 Poland falls under Russia’s sphere of influence following the Second World War. A dictatorship modeled on Joseph Stalin’s Russia is imposed on the country.
  • 1956 A workers’ uprising breaks out in the city of Poznan involving over 100,000 people. It is brutally put down by troops but inspires the creation of workers’ councils in factories in other parts of Poland. It is two years before the movement is crushed.
  • 1980 A strike movement sweeps the country in response to an increase in food prices. The Solidarity trade union is formed. It wins massive support and becomes the main opposition to the regime, which is fatally damaged by the strikes and the growth of Solidarity.
  • 1989 Years of crisis and opposition forces the regime to call elections. Solidarity, which now backs the free market, wins them.

    It launches a programme of economic shock therapy, which leads to a rise in unemployment.

  • 2004 Poland joins the European Union, following on from joining the Nato military alliance in 1999.


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