It is seen as the beginning of the end of communism. Poland has been remembering the seminal moment, 25 years ago, when the country’s totalitarian regime signed an agreement with the striking shipyard workers of Gdansk. The accord formally accepted the independent Solidarnosc Trade Union. Today, the man who has come to symbolise that political struggle was at the commemoration in the northern Polish port city.
The International Solidarity Centre is to be built in Gdansk, Lech Walesa said he hoped it would help convey to younger generations the spirit and emotion of the movement. In its hey day Solidarity counted some 10 million members, about a quarter of the population. Some twenty world leaders gathered for the ceremony in Gdansk where a charter for the Solidarity Centre was signed. The late Pope played a central role for the Solidarity Trade Union – Walesa described him as the detonator which liberated the spirit of the nation. Today he used the same pen featuring a picture of Pope John Paul as he did to sign the Gdansk accords a quarter of a century ago.