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13. Approaching Open Conflict

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Chapter Summary

Solidarity leaders feared that strikes would turn people against the union. People grew increasingly angry at the government’s behaviour and suspicious that the shortages were created by government in order to undermine Solidarity. Within a few days after the Extraordinary Party Congress, Solidarity locals began to organise ‘hunger marches’. The constant daily difficulties made people angrier and more open to radical appeal. But while people rose on radical rhetoric, once in positions of authority, they often avoided conflict. By early September 1981, when the Solidarity Congress opened in Gdańsk, shortages of food and other commodities were substantial. To avoid strikes, Solidarity developed the idea of writing graffiti on the walls, like “TV lies”. The nomenklatura pressured the party-leadership to do away with Solidarity. By this time, there was general consensus among the party leaders for declaring martial law.

Keywords:conflict; military solution; Solidarity Congress

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