Labor Day, in honor of Anna Walentynowicz

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.

4 thoughts on “Labor Day, in honor of Anna Walentynowicz

  1. Fine memorializing, Kate. We need to remember the heroic. I was in NYC when solidarity was underway. The city and its boroughs have large Polish populations, and bridges named after Polish war heroes (still hard to pronounce). The Poles rose up magnificently, the city cheered their bravery, the cold war was faced with dramatic, potent resistance from a small country whose history is rife with invading conquerers. Lech Walesa’s picture filled stores and streets and parades (1970-’89) and the Polish Pope came back to his home to bless his old country. They were fabulous. Demanding liberty and doing the right thing has an astounding spread effect on the entire world. All the Polish jokes stopped overnight. Although in 1976, America’s 200th anniversary the tall ships gathered in NY harbors and the Polish clipper was the only one going the wrong way. But by God they were loved. Thanks for the well-deserved tribute.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.