Who is she, one might ask. I would have, too, before I recently watched a Polish Film called “Strike.”
She is the woman responsible for the Solidarity movement and the eventual overthrow of Communism in Poland. Her dedication and hard work took decades, and many sacrifices. She was originally a welder at a shipyard and couldn’t read. Her son taught her how to read so she could take the crane operators test – more money and better shifts. She was afraid of heights and threw up in her bag the first time up. She was a strong, fascinating woman. Her name was Anna Walentynowicz. She was the women’s labor rep at the Lenin Shipyard and a trouble-maker. She went to jail numerous times for her labor and anti-communist views and activities.
The Solidarity Movement started when the Shipyard fired her 4 months before her retirement. She was one of 7 leaders of the movement, one of whom was a male named Lech Kaczynski, later President of Poland. He wanted her to head the movement which started with her firing. She felt a male would be better, and she also felt he was the better public speaker, at least as portrayed in the movie. She died at the age of 80 in 2010 in a plane crash which also claimed Lech and his wife. She was a fascinating, hard-working woman who made a huge difference in the Labor Movement and also in her country. So today, I honor her.