Often called the conscience of her country, Anna Walentynowicz, a shipyard worker whose firing made her a central figure in Poland’s Solidarity movement, which broke the communist grip on the country in the 1980s, died April 10 in the airplane crash near Smolensk, Russia.
Ms. Walentynowicz became a heroic symbol of freedom in her homeland after she was dismissed from her job at the Gdansk shipyard in August 1980, just five months before she was scheduled to retire. She had been harassed for years by authorities, who considered her a troublemaker for launching an underground newspaper and helping organize the budding Solidarity movement in the 1970s.
Her firing prompted a strike at the shipyard and the spread of the Solidarity movement, which quickly attracted millions of followers across Poland. It was the first successful labor revolt in a communist country and resulted, less than a decade later, in the downfall of Poland’s communist regime.
"I was the drop that caused the cup of bitterness to overflow," Ms. Walentynowicz (pronounced val-en-teen-OH-vitch) once said.
Repeatedly jailed, reinstated to her job and jailed again, Ms. Walentynowicz became known as the "mother of Solidarity."
Read full article about Anna Walentynowicz at The Washington Post.