Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Polish Solidarity in Minnesota

About two weeks ago a notice came from the Minnesota Polish-American Association announcing there would be an exhibit about Solidarity at the State Capitol. Today is my first day of holiday break so I took off for the Capitol, not realizing it was raining -- an unusual occurrence for Minnesota in December.  I was lucky to get a parking space right in front of the Capitol.

 The rotunda is decorated quite beautifully for the holidays. I wondered how to find the exhibit and it was right in front of me.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance. It covers the two years of 1980 and 1981.

Here are photos of photos that took my special interest.

This photo, by Boguslaw Nieznalski, shows people looking into the Gdansk shipyards while a mass is being said for the striking workers. The faces are so haunting. On this day of despair could they ever have believe the Poland we know is 2011?

This photo shows Anna Walenlynowicz, the worker who was dismissed at the Gdansk Shipyard, and whose dismissal was the apparently the straw the broke the camel's back. I have heard about her, but never before have I seen a photograph of her. (Sorry, I didn't get the name of the photographer.)

The final photo comes the Ursus factory in Warsaw.
This shows Lech Walesa addressing the workers. This caught my interest because as a child in Iowa I was familiar with the Ursus tractors. I didn't know where they came from until I went to visit one of my former students who now lives in the Ursus area of Warsaw. When I went there the first time he explained to me that the Ursus tractor factory used to be there and I was amazed for we had always thought the Ursus tractors came from Russia. (This photo was taken by Tomasz Listopadzki.)

It is quite unusual for such an exhibit to make its way to Minnesota -- everyone is hoping more Polish exhibits will come here.

The Capitol is a very beautiful building; that will be a topic for another time.

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