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Dates That Matter

December 9, 1990

Lech Walesa, an electrician and leader of Solidarity, a Polish trade union, becomes President of Poland.

 Why does it matter?

Lech Walesa, a worker in a Polish shipyard, began trying to organize a trade union to lobby for workers' rights. His actions brought him under surveillance from the Communist government in Poland at the time. In 1981, he was elected President of Solidarity, a trade union. The government declared martial law and banned the trade union, but Walesa continued to work underground for workers' rights, and in 1983 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. After the Communist regime fell, he was elected President of the new Republic of Poland in 1990.

For more information...

Lech Walesa- Biography
Walesa's biography from the Nobel Prize website.

Commanding Heights: Poland's Solidarity
A video clip explaining the history of the Solidarity movement in Poland.

BBC News: In Pictures: Solidarity in Poland
Brief slide show with captions that describe the history of Solidarity in Poland.