Cover Osteuropa 5-6/2013

In Osteuropa 5-6/2013

Revolution instead of Revolution
Effect and Perception of the Solidarity Movement

Burkhard Olschowsky

Deutsche Fassung


In 1980, a revolution began in Poland. For the first time in the history of the communist bloc, workers established a free trade union. For the ruling communists in Poland and the fraternal parties from the Soviet Union to East Germany, the mere existence of Solidarity was an attack on their ideological self-perception and their monopoly on power. Solidarity grew into a broad-based freedom movement. With its commitment to non-violence and self-restraint, Solidarity revolutionized the concept of revolution. It broke with the tradition of Polish uprisings and helped form the Round Table. Here, expertise and negotiating skills were in greater demand than revolutionary fervor. The negotiated transition from an authoritarian socialist system to a democratic order in 1989 completed a revolution of a special kind.

(Osteuropa 5-6/2013, pp. 271–282)