Solidarity logo
Poland's old and new borders, 1945
30th anniversary mural depicting the murdered priest Jerzy Popiełuszko who publicly supported Solidarity during the 1980s
The Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, where the Warsaw Pact was established and signed on 14 May 1955
Map showing the different borders and territories of Poland and Germany during the 20th century, with the current areas of Germany and Poland in dark gray
The logo of Solidarność painted on an overturned Soviet era T-55 in Prague in 1990
The Iron Curtain (black line)
Destroyed Warsaw, January 1945
Students in Scotland collect signatures for a petition in support of Solidarity in 1981
A "Soviet Big Seven" threats poster, displaying the equipment of the militaries of the Warsaw Pact
The PKWN Manifesto, officially issued on 22 July 1944. In reality it was not finished until mid-August, after the Polish communist Moscow group was joined by the late-arriving Warsaw group, led by Gomułka and Bierut.
Solidarity, ETUC Demonstration—Budapest 2011
A typical Soviet military jeep UAZ-469, used by most countries of the Warsaw Pact
Postwar Polish communist propaganda poster depicting "The giant and the putrid reactionary midget", meaning the communist People's Army soldier and the pro-Western Home Army soldier, respectively
Meeting of the seven representatives of the Warsaw Pact countries in East Berlin in May 1987. From left to right: Gustáv Husák, Todor Zhivkov, Erich Honecker, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Wojciech Jaruzelski, and János Kádár
ORMO paramilitary police unit during street parade at the Victory Square, 9 June 1946, Warsaw
Soviet tanks, marked with white crosses to distinguish them from Czechoslovak tanks, on the streets of Prague during the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, 1968
Logo of the Polish United Workers' Party
Protest in Amsterdam against the nuclear arms race between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, 1981
The show trial of Captain Witold Pilecki, sentenced to death and executed May 1948
The Pan-European Picnic took place on the Hungarian-Austrian border in 1989.
The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, initially called the Stalin's Palace, was a controversial gift from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
The Warsaw Pact before its 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, showing the Soviet Union and its satellites (red) and the two independent non-Soviet members: Romania and Albania (pink)
Avenue of the Roses, Nowa Huta
A Romanian TR-85 tank in December 1989 (Romania's TR-85 and TR-580 tanks were the only non-Soviet tanks in the Warsaw Pact on which restrictions were placed under the 1990 CFE Treaty )
1951 East German stamp commemorative of the Treaty of Zgorzelec establishing the Oder–Neisse line as a "border of peace", featuring the presidents Wilhelm Pieck (GDR) and Bolesław Bierut (Poland)
The Romanian IAR-93 Vultur was the only combat jet designed and built by a non-Soviet member of the Warsaw Pact.
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, Primate of Poland
Expansion of NATO before and after the collapse of communism throughout Central and Eastern Europe
Władysław Gomułka
The Fourth Congress of the Polish United Workers' Party, held in 1963
The Polski Fiat 125p, produced in Poland from the late 1960s, was based on technology purchased from Fiat
Standard-bearers of the 27 Tank Regiment, mid-1960s
Dziady, a theatrical event that spawned nationwide protests
Demonstrators in Gdynia carry the body of Zbigniew Godlewski, who was shot and killed during the protests of 1970
Edward Gierek
Queue line, a frequent scene at times of shortages of consumer goods in the 1970s and 1980s
Millions cheer Pope John Paul II in his first visit to Poland as pontiff in 1979
Lech Wałęsa speaks during the strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard, August 1980
25th anniversary of Solidarity, summer 2005 in Gdańsk
General Wojciech Jaruzelski led the People's Republic during its final decade and became one of the key players in the systemic transition of 1989–90
Apartment block residences built in People's Poland loom over the urban landscape of the entire country. In the past administratively distributed for permanent use, after 1989 most were sold to residents at discounted prices.
Adam Michnik, an influential leader in the transformation of Poland

Subsequently, it was the first independent trade union in a Warsaw Pact country to be recognised by the state.

- Solidarity (Polish trade union)

Solidarity's leader Lech Wałęsa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and the union is widely recognised as having played a central role in the Historyend of Communist rule in Poland.

- Solidarity (Polish trade union)

The Pact began to unravel with the spread of the Revolutions of 1989 through the Eastern Bloc, beginning with the Solidarity movement in Poland, its electoral success in June 1989 and the Pan-European Picnic in August 1989.

- Warsaw Pact

In early August 1980, a new wave of strikes resulted in the founding of the independent trade union "Solidarity" (Solidarność) led by Lech Wałęsa.

- History of Poland (1945–1989)

From 1989 to 1991, Communist governments were overthrown in Albania, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union.

- Warsaw Pact

On 14 May 1955, the Warsaw Pact was signed in the Polish capital, to counteract the earlier establishment of NATO.

- History of Poland (1945–1989)
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3 related topics with Alpha


Communist states in Europe before the Tito–Stalin split of 1948

Eastern Bloc

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The group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America under the influence of the Soviet Union that existed during the Cold War .

The group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America under the influence of the Soviet Union that existed during the Cold War .

Communist states in Europe before the Tito–Stalin split of 1948
Soviet Union stamp of 1950, depicting the flags and peoples of the Eastern Bloc.
The Big Three (British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Premier of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin) at the Yalta Conference, February 1945
World War II Polish Prime Minister Stanisław Mikołajczyk fled Poland in 1947 after facing arrest and persecution
Political situation in Europe during the Cold War
Germans watching Western supply planes at Berlin Tempelhof Airport during the Berlin Airlift
Countries which once had overtly Marxist–Leninist governments in bright red and countries the USSR considered at one point to be "moving toward socialism" in dark red
Communist countries and Soviet republics in Europe with their representative flags (1950s)
Trybuna Ludu 14 December 1981 reports martial law in Poland
Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, once the most dominant landmark in Baku, was demolished in the 1930s under Stalin
Berlin Wall in 1975
Prominent examples of urban design included Marszałkowska Housing Estate (MDM) in Warsaw
During World War II, 85% of buildings in Warsaw were destroyed by German troops
A line for the distribution of cooking oil in Bucharest, Romania in May 1986
Reconstruction of a typical working class flat interior of the khrushchyovka
Propaganda poster showing increased agricultural production from 1981 to 1983 and 1986 in East Germany
A Robotron KC 87 home computer made in East Germany between 1987 and 1989
Per capita GDP in the Eastern Bloc from 1950 to 2003 (1990 base Geary-Khamis dollars) according to Angus Maddison
GDP per capita of the Eastern Bloc in relations with GDPpc of United States during 1900–2010
East German Plattenbau apartment blocks
Czechoslovaks carry their national flag past a burning Soviet tank in Prague
The Cold War in 1980 before the Iran–Iraq War
Otto von Habsburg, who played a leading role in opening the Iron Curtain
Erich Honecker
Changes in national boundaries after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc
European countries by total wealth (billions USD), Credit Suisse, 2018
A map of communist states (1993–present)
The "three worlds" of the Cold War era between April–August 1975:
1st World: Western Bloc led by the United States and its allies
2nd World: Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union, China and their allies
3rd World: Non-Aligned and neutral countries

Post-1991 usage of the term "Eastern Bloc" may be more limited in referring to the states forming the Warsaw Pact (1955–1991) and Mongolia (1924–1992), which are no longer communist states.

In addition to emigration restrictions, civil society, defined as a domain of political action outside the party's state control, was not allowed to firmly take root, with the possible exception of Poland in the 1980s.

The Soviet–Afghan War nominally expanded the Eastern Bloc, but the war proved unwinnable and too costly for the Soviets, challenged in Eastern Europe by the civil resistance of Solidarity.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989

Revolutions of 1989

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The Revolutions of 1989 formed part of a revolutionary wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond.

The Revolutions of 1989 formed part of a revolutionary wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989
Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Red Square, Moscow, 1988
An animated series of maps showing the fall of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which later led to conflicts in the post-Soviet space
The 20–21 March 1981 issue of Wieczór Wrocławia (This Evening in Wrocław) shows blank spaces remaining after the government censor pulled articles from page 1 (right, "What happened at Bydgoszcz?") and from the last page (left, "Country-wide strike alert"), leaving only their titles as the printers—Solidarity-trade-union members—decided to run the newspaper with blank spaces intact. The bottom of page 1 of this master copy bears the hand-written Solidarity confirmation of that decision.
Queue waiting to enter a store, a typical view in Poland in the 1980s
Solidarity Chairman Lech Wałęsa (center) with President George H. W. Bush (right) and Barbara Bush (left) in Warsaw, July 1989
Magyars demonstrate at state TV headquarters, 15 March 1989
Otto von Habsburg, who played a leading role in opening the Iron Curtain
Erich Honecker lost control in summer 1989.
Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate, 10 November 1989
Berlin Wall, October 1990, saying "Thank You, Gorbi"
Protests beneath the monument in Wenceslas Square, in Prague
Memorial of the Velvet Revolution in Bratislava (Námestie SNP), Slovakia
Armed civilians during the Romanian Revolution. The revolution was the only violent overthrow of a Communist state in the Warsaw Pact.
Ethnic groups in Yugoslavia in 1991
Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H. W. Bush on board the Soviet cruise ship Maxim Gorky, Marsaxlokk Harbour
Tanks in Moscow's Red Square during the 1991 coup attempt
Changes in national boundaries after the end of the Cold War
Baltic Way was a human chain of approximately two million people demanding independence of the Baltic states from the Soviet Union.
Photos of 9 April 1989 victims of the Tbilisi massacre on a billboard in Tbilisi
Following Georgia's declaration of independence in 1991, South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared their desire to leave Georgia and remain part of the Soviet Union/Russia.
Chechen women praying for Russian troops not to advance towards Grozny during the First Chechen War, December 1994.
Georgian Civil War and the War in Abkhazia in August–October 1993
Current military situation in separatist Nagorno-Karabakh
Eritrean War of Independence against Ethiopia ended in 1991
Global effect of 1988-1992 Revolutions.
Russian GDP since the end of the Soviet Union (from 2014 are forecasts)
NATO has added 13 new members since the German reunification and the end of the Cold War.
The facade of the Grand Kremlin Palace was restored to its original form after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. The State Emblem of the USSR and the embedded letters forming the abbreviation of the USSR (CCCP) were both removed and replaced by five Russian double-headed eagles. An additional restoration of the coat of arms of the various territories of the Russian Empire were placed above the eagles.

On 4 June 1989, the trade union Solidarity won an overwhelming victory in a partially free election in Poland, leading to the peaceful fall of Communism in that country.

The Warsaw Pact was dissolved on 1 July 1991.

Polish People's Republic

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Country in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989 as the predecessor of the modern Republic of Poland.

Country in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989 as the predecessor of the modern Republic of Poland.

The Polish People's Republic in 1989
Poland's fate was heavily discussed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Joseph Stalin, whose Red Army occupied the entire country, presented several alternatives which granted Poland industrialized territories in the west whilst the Red Army simultaneously permanently annexed Polish territories in the east, resulting in Poland losing over 20% of its pre-war borders - areas primarily inhabited by ethnic Belarusians or Ukrainians. Soviet-backed Polish communists came to power and oversaw the country's entry into the Warsaw Pact in 1955.
Border changes of Poland after World War II. The eastern territories (Kresy) were annexed by the Soviets. The western territories, referred to as the "Recovered Territories", were granted as war reparations. Despite the western lands being more industrialized, Poland lost 77,035 km2 (29,743 sq mi) and major cities like Lviv and Vilnius.
The 1970 Polish protests were put down by the Communist authorities and Citizens' Militia. The riots resulted in the deaths of 42 people and over 1,000 injured.
Queues waiting to enter grocery stores in Warsaw and other Polish cities and towns were typical in the late 1980s. The availability of food and goods varied at times, and the most sought after basic item was toilet paper.
The new Warszawa Centralna railway station in Warsaw had automatic doors and escalators. It was a flagship project during the 1970s economic boom and was dubbed the most modern station in Europe at the time of its completion in 1975.
Lech Wałęsa co-founded and headed the Solidarity movement which toppled Communism. He later became the President of Poland.
The 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard Strike and subsequent Summer 1981 Hunger Demonstrations were instrumental in strengthening the Solidarity movement's influence.
Logo of the Polish United Workers' Party
Władysław Gomułka and Leonid Brezhnev in East Berlin, 1967
An abandoned State Agricultural Farm in south-eastern Poland. State farms were a form of collective farming created in 1949.
Łódź was Poland's largest city after the destruction of Warsaw during World War II. It was also a major industrial centre in Europe and served as the temporary capital due to its economic significance in the 1940s.
Female textile workers in a state-run factory, Łódź, 1950s
Supersam Warsaw, the first self-serve shopping centre in Poland, 1969
Pewex, a chain of hard currency stores which sold unobtainable Western goods and items
Ration cards for sugar, 1977
Bar mleczny, a former milk bar in Gdynia. These canteens offered value meals to citizens throughout Communist Poland.
Trybuna Ludu (People's Tribune) was a government-sponsored newspaper and propaganda outlet
Andrzej Wajda was a key figure in Polish cinematography during and after the fall of communism
Allegory of communist censorship, Poland, 1989. Newspapers visible are from all Eastern Bloc countries including East Germany, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia
The 237-meter Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, constructed in 1955. At the time of its completion it was one of the tallest buildings in Europe
Smyk Department Store, 1960s
Polish university students during lecture, 1964
One of many schools constructed in central Warsaw in the 1960s
Jerzy Popiełuszko was a Roman Catholic priest who supported the anti-communist opposition. He was murdered by the Security Services "SB" of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
A demographics graph illustrating population growth between 1900 and 2010. The highest birth rate was during the Second Polish Republic and consequently under the Polish People's Republic.
A typical socialist apartment building in Warsaw representing the style of functionalism, built due to the ever-growing population and high birth rate at the time
Konstantin Rokossovsky, pictured in a Polish uniform, was Marshal of the Soviet Union and Marshal of Poland until being deposed during the Polish October in 1956.
Poland's old and new borders, 1945

It was also one of the main signatories of the Warsaw Pact alliance.

Labour turmoil led to the formation of the independent trade union Solidarity (Solidarność) in September 1980, originally led by Lech Wałęsa.

During the Gierek era, Poland borrowed large sums from Western creditors in exchange for promise of social and economic reforms.