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Under the state of martial law, Nowa Huta was the largest bastion of the independent, self-governing Labour Union “Solidarity”, that was operating underground at the time. Huge demonstrations took place here, often turning into dramatic clashes with the authorities. With the passing of time, however, the activity of the underground began to diminish, and it eventually restricted its actions to publishing underground newspapers and self-help. The situation didn't change before the late 1980s, when a new generation of activists came to the fore. Its core were the young workers and students most often belonging to such organizations as the Confederation of Independent Poland, Fighting Solidarity, the Freedom and Peace Movement, and the Federation of Fighting Youth.

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Under the state of martial law, Nowa Huta was the largest bastion of the independent, self-governing Labour Union “Solidarity”, that was operating underground at the time. Huge demonstrations took place here, often turning into dramatic clashes with the authorities. With the passing of time, however, the activity of the underground began to diminish, and it eventually restricted its actions to publishing underground newspapers and self-help. The situation didn't change before the late 1980s, when a new generation of activists came to the fore. Its core were the young workers and students most often belonging to such organizations as the Confederation of Independent Poland, Fighting Solidarity, the Freedom and Peace Movement, and the Federation of Fighting Youth.
In Nowa Huta and Kraków, there were once again demonstrations on the streets and confrontations with the militia, which did not end even after the formation of the first non-communist government of Tadeusz Mazowiecki. The picture of Stanisław Gawliński was taken at this exact time. In this picture, activists of the Federation of Fighting Youth demanded the removal of the monument of Lenin from Nowa Huta.
The action took place on 17 September 1989, on the anniversary of the invasion of Russian troops in Poland in 1939. Just three months later, on 10 December, three days before the anniversary of the introduction of martial law, the monument was dismantled and taken to the fort in Wróblowice. Soon after, Kraków City Council sold it to a private collector, Birg Bengt Erlandsonn, who keeps it in his private museum in Sweden to this day.

Elaborated by Maciej Miezian (Historical Museum of the City of Kraków), © all rights reserved

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Night assault on Lenin’s monument and the glaziers’ day

Despite the fact that in the picture from 17 September 1989, the seven-ton bronze-cast monument of Lenin stands solidly on the ground, less than three months later (10 December1989) it had disappeared from the landscape of Kraków’s Nowa Huta. Aleja Róż [Rose Avenue], with its monumental architecture, had been the decoration for the statue for 16 years (the monument was erected in 1973)...

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Despite the fact that in the picture from 17 September 1989, the seven-ton bronze-cast monument of Lenin stands solidly on the ground, less than three months later (10 December1989) it had disappeared from the landscape of Kraków’s Nowa Huta. Aleja Róż [Rose Avenue], with its monumental architecture, had been the decoration for the statue for 16 years (the monument was erected in 1973). During that time, the citizens of Nowa Huta tried to destroy it repeatedly.
On the night of 18 April 1979, the district was shaken by a huge explosion. Andrzej Szewczuwaniec planted and detonated explosives right at the feet of the monument. Despite the fact that the explosion broke all the windows in the surrounding buildings, it only slightly damaged its giant foot. The next day, the authorities – in order to quickly cover up the damage – brought glaziers to Aleja Róż, not only those from Nowa Huta, but also from all over Kraków, so that they could deal with all the broken windows in just one day. The feet of the monument were covered with a red material that was intended to mask the traces of the explosion.
Even today, on lazy Sunday mornings, you can meet citizens there who tell tourists the story of an unsuccessful coup.

Elaborated by Editorial team of Malopolska’s Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

 

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Photograph “Federation of Fighting Youth demonstration” by Stanisław Gawliński

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