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Bodo Hombach: “Poland is down but not out”, 1982

Klaus Staeck “Poland is down but not out”, poster and portfolio cover page, 1982
Klaus Staeck “Poland is down but not out”, poster and portfolio cover page, 1982

On 9 March 1982, in my position as Executive of SPD-NRW, I wrote to all elected officials in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the letter, I announced that an exhibition entitled “Spuren des Freiheitswillens” [“Signs of the desire for freedom”] would be opened on 12 March 1982 in the offices of the SPD regional office for NRW. The exhibition showed posters, flyers, forbidden literature, photos and other materials of the Polish Solidarność movement. Also on 12 March 1982, I introduced to the public the portfolio of posters “Poland is down but not out” that had been published by the Heidelberger graphic artist Klaus Staeck and myself. In the circular, I gave notice that Solidarność activists would be meeting in Düsseldorf on 13 and 14 March 1982. I had organised this meeting with the German Trade Union Association.

After the meeting on 15 March 1982, I held a press conference with representatives of the Solidarność movement in the exhibition rooms. The dpa communication based on this stated that: “In his cover letter, the SPD General Secretary Bodo Hombach appealed to the party officials: ‘Display these posters, make them accessible to many, make a political demonstration out of them’. At the opening of the Düsseldorf exhibition, he went on to say that his SPD Regional Association had collected 250 addresses of Polish families whose fathers were interned and who desperately needed help. The SPD would now organise sponsorships. The works council at the Mannesmann Röhrenwerke had already taken over the sponsorships of 50 families.”

 

Poster collection

 

After its public presentation, the poster collection was sent to all local SPD associations in NRW. The SPD aimed to express their solidarity with the Solidarność activists through campaigns based on local activities and exhibitions. The following quotes came from a circular that I sent to the elected officials:

 

“… German social democracy is always on the side of freedom. This is also documented by the North Rhine-Westphalian SPD with an exhibition of Polish trade union posters, flyers, forbidden literature, photos and other ‘signs of the desire for freedom’. The exhibition should extend across the country. This portfolio with its collection of important posters of the Solidarność movement will be used to achieve this goal. The prints are authentic, right up to the quality of the paper. That is why, for example, the reproduction of one of the first posters ever published by Solidarność is also printed on packing paper.

I implore you: Display these posters, make them accessible to many, make a political demonstration out of them, sell as many portfolios as possible. All the profits will be used for the benefit of Solidarność. …

We would like to thank those who have helped make the poster portfolio possible: Above all our thanks go to the graphic artist Klaus Staeck and his friend Gerhard Steidl. They are responsible for the typographical design of the portfolio and declined to take a fee. …”

 

Acquiring the posters

 

With the help of a German diplomat, I was able to bring most of the posters we used back with me from Poland on my various trips, during which I was able to observe Solidarność activities and to speak with activists. The actions of the Regional Association of North Rhine-Westphalia, which Johannes Rau was across, were viewed critically and commented on by political realists within the federal SPD. Nevertheless, the NRW SPD implemented the campaign in a number of places and mobilised funds to support the Solidarność movement and the families of those who had been interned.

 

Bodo Hombach, March 2021

 

Poland is down but not out

 

41 reprinted Polish posters (1980-1981) and a poster by Klaus Staeck

Published by Klaus Staeck and Bodo Hombach with a foreword by Johannes Rau

Reproduction and printing: Gerhard Steidl, Göttingen

Publisher: Edition Staeck in cooperation with the SPD Regional Association of North Rhine-Westphalia

Mediathek Sorted

Mediathek
  • Klaus Staeck “Poland is down but not out”

    Klaus Staeck “Poland is down but not out”, poster and portfolio cover page, 1982
  • Foreword by Johannes Rau

    Foreword by Johannes Rau, former Chair of the SPD in North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Descriptions of the individual posters from the portfolio

    Descriptions of the individual posters from the portfolio
  • Memorial to the fallen shipyard workers of 1970

    Memorial to the fallen shipyard workers of 1970, unveiled in Gdańsk in December 1980
  • Document

    Document “One and half of the dramatic years. The most important events in Poland since the strikes of July 1980” from the portfolio.
  • Maciej Pietrzyk, Solidarność poster, 1981

    Maciej Pietrzyk, Solidarność poster, 1981, Wydawnictwo im. Konstytucji 3-maja, Warsaw, 1981
  • Paweł Udorowiecki, Poznań, czerwiec 1956 (Poznań, June 1956), poster, 1981

    Paweł Udorowiecki, Poznań, czerwiec 1956 (Poznań, June 1956), poster, 1981
  • Michał Więckowski, workers promote the film “Workers ‘80” in all cinemas, poster, 1980

    Michał Więckowski, workers promote the film “Workers ‘80” in all cinemas, poster, 1980
  • From August to August, Solidarność poster

    From August to August, Solidarność poster for the photographic exhibition in the ZPAF Gallery in Kraków, 1981
  • Call to protest

    Call to protest against the power apparatus on 29 November 1981, Solidarność poster from Łódź, 1980
  • First anniversary of August 80

    First anniversary of August 80, Solidarność poster from the Oppeln region, 1981
  • Bread!

    Bread!, Solidarność poster from Łódź, probably 1981
  • Farmers for the workers

    Farmers for the workers, Solidarność poster for the folk festival on 6-7 June 1981 in Jastrzębie (Upper Silesia), 1981
  • Call and poster

    Call to free political prisoners in Wrocław (top) and poster of country Solidarność from Rzeszów, 1981
  • Call and poster

    Call to join the independent union of farmers in Warsaw (left ) and poster of country Solidarność, probably 1980
  • Announcement and poster

    Announcement to suspend a strike on 3 February 1981 and call to register country Solidarność (top), poster, 1981; freedom for political prisoners, poster, 1981
  • Jan Michał Fabich, Solidarność poster

    Jan Michał Fabich, Solidarność poster from the Słupsk region, 1981
  • Michał Więckowski, Solidarność poster

    Michał Więckowski, Solidarność poster to remember the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, 1981
  • H. Furkowski, Solidarność poster

    H. Furkowski, Solidarność poster, probably 1981
  • Solidarność poster 10,000,000 (members)

    Solidarność poster 10,000,000 (members), Gdańsk 31 August 1980 - Poland 31 August 1981, 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    200 grams meat, Solidarność poster, probably 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność is still waiting for those guilty of the incidents in Badgoszcz on 19 March 1981 to be punished, Solidarność poster, 1981
  • 4 small-format Solidarność posters

    4 small-format Solidarność posters (top right: “Proletarians from all countries, forgive me, Karl Marx” by D. Gomper), 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność poster for the marathon from Gdańsk to Gdynia on 18 August 1981, 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność poster with the request to adopt the status without changes, probably 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność poster (handprinted) for the general strike on 27 March 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność poster for the Mayday festival, probably 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    You decide, Solidarność posters for the regional elections 1981
  • Eugeniusz Get-Stankiewicz, poster for the Solidarność union

    Eugeniusz Get-Stankiewicz, poster for the Solidarność union of individual farmers, 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność poster for the elections of April-May 1981 in the Łódź region, 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność poster “First anniversary of August 80”, 1981
  • Wiesław Gołuch, Solidarność poster

    Wiesław Gołuch, Solidarność poster “Simple effect of nodding assent”, Wrocław 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność poster for the strike at the Polish airline LOT on 24 July 1981
  • Solidarność poster

    Solidarność poster (illegible signature), 1981
  • Bodo Hombach, 2018

    Bodo Hombach, chair of the Brost Foundation