The history of Solidarity, a Polish non-governmentaltrade union, began in August 1980 at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk where it was started by Lech Wałęsa and his co-workers. In the early 1980s, it became the first independent labor union in a Soviet-bloc country. Solidarity gave rise to a broad anti-communist nonviolent social movement that, at its height, united some 10 million members and vastly contributed to the fall of communism. Poland's communist government attempted to destroy it by imposing martial law in 1981, followed by several years of political repression, but it was ultimately forced to begin negotiating with the union. Round Table Talks between the weakened government and the Solidarity-led opposition resulted in a semi-free parliamentary election in 1989. By the end of August 1989, a Solidarity-led coalition government had been formed and, in December 1990, Wałęsa was electedpresident. This was soon followed by the dismantling of the communist governmental system and by Poland's transformation into a modern democratic state. Solidarity's example led to the spread of anti-communist ideas and movements throughout the countries of the Eastern Bloc, weakening their communist governments; a process known as the Revolutions of 1989, or the Autumn of Nations.
Jews captured by SS and SD troops during the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising are forced to leave their shelter and march to the Umschlagplatz for deportation. The SD trooper pictured second from the right is Josef Blösche, who was identified by Polish authorities using this photograph. Blösche was tried for war crimes in Erfurt, East Germany, in 1969, sentenced to death and executed in July of that year.
Mieczysław Jagielski (1924–1997) was a Polish politician and economist. During the times of the People's Republic of Poland he was the last leading politician from the former eastern regions of pre-World War II Poland. Jagielski became a communist member of parliament in 1957 and he would continue to serve in that capacity for seven consecutive terms until 1985. In 1959, he was posted to be a member of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party and appointed minister of agriculture. After he left the latter position in 1970, Jagielski became a deputy prime minister, and the next year, a member of the party's politburo. In August 1980, Jagielski represented the government during talks with striking workers in Gdańsk. He negotiated the agreement which recognized the Solidarity trade union as the first independent trade union within the Eastern Bloc. In late July 1981, Jagielski was fired from the deputy premiership, reportedly because he failed to produce a recovery program for the economic crisis Poland was experiencing at that time. The same year, he renounced his membership in the Politburo and the Central Committee.