The pro-Solidarność movement in Germany

Solidarność z Polską. Ruch wsparcia "Solidarności" w Niemczech, Berlin 2012 r.
Solidarność z Polską. Ruch wsparcia "Solidarności" w Niemczech, Berlin 2012 r.

The martial law imposed by the Communist regime in Poland on 13 December 1981 triggered a strong citizens’ movement throughout the world, which manifested itself in many supporter groups for Solidarność, which was working underground. Their first coordination meeting was held on 13 and 14 March 1982 in Düsseldorf and was attended by representatives of Solidarność who were in the Federal Republic at that time. At the meeting, the “Solidarność” working groups (SWG) decided to set up an Information and Coordination Office for Solidarność in Bremen, whose role it was to coordinate the activities of the pro-Solidarność movement in the Federal Republic and in West Berlin and to provide information about them. The office was involved in all initiatives of Solidarność in exile and maintained contacts with the trade unions of the DGB and with the SPD and CDU/CSU parties. From 1983, the office published a bulletin that appeared regularly in German. However, when board members Marek Mikołajczyk, Henryk Jagielski, Adam Dembowski and Bogdan Felski willingly declared their resignation in the Polish Embassy on 21 and 22 September 1983, the DGB stopped its financial support, as a result of which the Mayor of Bremen gave notice on the office premises.


The “Solidarność” Mainz e. V. aid committee, which had been founded in 1982 by husband and wife Jolanta and Andrzej Wirga to pursue the registration of persecuted Solidarność activists, then took over the roles of the central office in Bremen, and particularly the coordination of the actions taken by the Solidarność supporter organisations in the Federal Republic and in West Berlin. In 1983, the card index contained more than 8,000 names of people who were persecuted, under arrest or had been let go from work, over 1,400 of which were supported within the framework of a “patronage campaign”. The Committee also published the German-language version of the “Information Bulletin of the NSZZ Solidarność Trade Union”, which was issued in Paris. It then later distributed its own bulletin in which reprints of articles from the Polish underground press could be read. This newsletter was addressed to the delegates of the German Federal Parliament, the political groups in parliament and leading German politicians. Andrzej Wirga represented Solidarność Walcząca (Crusading Solidarity) in the Federal Republic and was responsible, in the Conference of Solidarity Support Organisations (CSSO) to which his aid organisation belonged, for bringing technical equipment to Poland for the underground trade union. Other than that, he was also involved in organising demonstrations and protests. He also gave a lot of interviews to the press, the radio stations and German TV companies within the context of the committee’s large-scale communication campaign, and he provided the Polish service of the Radio Freies Europa station with information. On top of this, he arranged meetings with German politicians and trade unionists. In 1985, a photo exhibition, which he had curated, was held at the DGB headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. To mark the fifth anniversary of the Solidarność Walcząca, pictures from the independent photo agency “DEMENTI” were exhibited in the Konrad Adenauer House in Bonn. The exhibition was opened by the Minister for Employment at the time Norbert Blüm.

The “Solidarność” West-Berlin working group was created in December 1981. Its key figures included Krzysztof Wcisło, Krzysztof Kasprzyk, Barbara Nowakowska-Drozdek and Wojciech Drozdek. The association published its own monthly magazine “Przekazy” (“Messages”), whose editor in chief was Krzysztof Kasprzyk until Wojtek Drozdek took over. In 1984, the magazine was declared the voice of the “Solidarność” working groups in West Berlin, Cologne, Eschweiler – Aachen and of the "Solidarność" aid committee in Mainz. The Berlin office was officially opened in August 1982 with an exhibition to mark the two-year anniversary of the “Solidarność” trade union, with this type of event following a typical format. They showed works by Andrzej Krauz, for example, and they provided a space for artists from the GDR, both those who had left for the Federal Republic, as well as those who remained behind the “Iron Curtain”. A special edition of the magazine “Przekazy”, which was dedicated to the opposition in East Germany,  was published for this exhibition. In 1984, the SWG West Berlin ceased its activities.

Media library