31 August is considered the holiday of Solidarity (NZSS Solidarność) and the Gdańsk Accord signed on that day its founding act. However, the shape of the union was being ‘forged’ throughout the following several days. In August, there was no talk of a Polish nationwide organisation and a path towards it turned out a winding one. The uncertainty as to the possibility of setting up independent unions in the country’s other regions led to a new wave of strikes: in September they involved at least 650 plants and 350,000 persons.
It is generally believed that the accords with the state authorities were signed on 31 August 1980 in Gdańsk and nowhere else. The fact that similar agreements were signed the day before in Szczecin, and after Gdańsk also in Wałbrzych, Jastrzębie-Zdrój and Dąbrowa Górnicza, is largely unknown to the public. Yet it was all of them together that were at the origin of the difficult birth of the NSZZ ‘Solidarność’ (Independent Self-governing Trade Union ‘Solidarity’).
The cult of Divine Mercy, which has its roots in Poland, is one of the most important and widespread forms of Catholic devotion both at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. The character of the cult is undoubtedly universal – whether in Latin America or Japan, Australia or Poland – 3 p.m. is the hour of Divine Mercy and that is when believers say the chaplet prayer left by Faustina Kowalska, a Polish religious nun belonging to the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Images of Merciful Jesus inspired by her visions can also be found in churches around the world.
Jan Olszewski was born on 20 August 1930 to a railway family that has been strongly associated with the tradition of Polish independence ever since. One of his grandfather’s brothers was killed in the January Uprising of 1863-1864 against the Russian invader. Stefan Okrzeja, the brother of his grandmother, formed the Combat Organization of the Polish Socialist Party at the beginning of the 20th century.
‘What Can Poland Do? Questions Concerning the International Significance of the Polish–Soviet War and its Outcome in 1920’ is an article by Professor Andrzej Nowak lifted from the book titled The Polish Victory of 1920 published by the Polish History Museum.
An inscrutable face, a short moustache, today bringing no good associations yet a century ago almost a classic feature of an officer’s image, and original service ribbons on his distinctions – from the Silesian Cross of Valour to the Order of the Rising Sun. The phrase ‘He took many secrets to his grave’ sounds like taken from an old-fashioned detective novel, yet Lieutenant Colonel Jan Kowalewski, a linguist and cryptologist, really did. Before that, however, he would reveal a host of them. Those most important secrets that were decisive in ensuring the victory in the Battle of Warsaw.
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