The main room in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister to be named Anna Walentynowicz room

“Anna Walentynowicz wanted ordinary citizens to be Poland’s elite. The government will do everything to make sure ordinary citizens have thier representatives in the government” – Prime Minister Beata Szydło said. On Sunday, 13 December, the head of the government took part in a ceremony of giving the Column Room in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister the name of Anna Walentynowicz – an activist of democratic opposition, August ’80 and legend of Solidarity.

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Photo: P. Tracz / Chancellery of the Prime Minister

Memory of martial law heroes and ideals of Solidarity

Today we are commemorating victims of martial law. We recall these days when the elites of that time acted against their citizens. All of us associate that day with people who refused to be dominated and those who stood up for everything which the Solidarity movement carried, i.e. freedom, democracy and sense of citizens’ dignity – Prime Minister Szydło said.

The head of the government emphasised that we need to remember about the people who refused to be dominated at that time. We should think whether we have learnt the lesson which Solidarity gave to Poland, and whether we can put these ideals into practice - she said. Prime Minister Szydło pointed out that we should ask ourselves whether Poland after 1998 has not forgotten about those who might not have been able to adapt to the new reality.

Prime minister on Anna Walentynowicz: Symbol of fight for human dignity

On this day we commemorate an ordinary woman who became great thanks to her ordinariness and normality. She has become a symbol of fight for common citizen’s dignity. Fight for restoration of the sense of belief that together we can achieve a lot. Fight with injustice – she said. She added that Anna Walentynowicz was called Anna Solidarity, although in the new Poland, the one she dreamt about, life wasn’t easier for her.

The prime minister pointed out that we need to emphasise what Anna Walentynowicz meant. We have to think whether we have come to the right conclusions in connection with her and other similar people’s fight, and can translate them into reality today – she stressed.

Prime Minister Szydło: We should remember about those who fought for free Poland

Isn’t it true that such people as Anna Walentynowicz, who were able to fight for their Homeland, have been forgotten today or live in poverty? We need to talk about it, we need to remember about it, and, first of all, we need to notice these people – Prime Minister Szydło pointed out.

Anna Solidarity knew that a moment will come when we will be able to differ in Poland. Today we can organise demonstrations and marches, and everybody can express their demands. That’s the essence of democracy. It’s important that these are not empty declarations and empty words – the head of the government said. She emphasised that the point is to “translate words into deeds and actions for citizens”.

The ceremony was attended, among others, by Anna Walentynowicz’s grandson Piotr Walentynowicz, and representatives of top-level state authorities.

Anna Walentynowicz - biography

In December 1970, she took part in workers’ protests together with her husband. In 1978, she joined the Free Trade Unions of the Coast. On 7 August 1980, she was dismissed on disciplinary grounds for her activity. A strike at Gdańsk Shipyard started in her defence on 14 August 1980. She joined the Inter-Factory Strike Committee. She was interned during the martial law. After the killing of rev. Jerzy Popiełuszko in 1985 she started a huger protest.

On 3 May 2006, President Lech Kaczyński awarded her the White Eagle Order “for activity aimed at democratic transformations and free Poland”.

In 2009 she received Paweł Włodkowic award, which the Commissioner for Civil Rights awarded to her for “courage in defending fundamental rights and truths even in defiance of opinions and beliefs of the majority”.

She died in the disaster near Smoleńsk on 10 April 2010.

The ceremony is accompanied by exhibition “Anna Walentynowicz. Legend of Solidarity 1929-2010”

The exhibition was prepared on the 32nd anniversary of creation of NSZZ “Solidarity”. It presents the life and activity of Anna Walentynowicz in the chronological order. The biographical materials used to prepare the exhibition come from archives (IPN, NSZZ “Solidarity” National Commission, state archives, Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland and others), museums, libraries as well as private collections, including those of Anna Walentynowicz’s family.

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