Central Europeans reflect on life before the fall of the Berlin Wall
Participants AboutPartners

Bogdan Borusewicz

Freedom and democracy, is now in Poland a little bit at risk

Gdańsk, Poland, 2019
Polish English

Bogdan Borusewicz, Democratic Opposition member and point of contact in Communist Poland, former Marshall of Polish Senate, acting President of Poland, 2010

In the 1970s Borusewicz was part of the Workers’ Defense Committee in the city of Radom. In 1977 - 1978 he co-organized the Free Trade Unions of the Coast, was the point of contact for the opposition in Gdasńk, where he helped to organize the August 1980 strike in the Gdańsk Shipyard, which led to the formation of the Solidarity Trade Union. After the institution of martial law by the Polish regime in December 1981, he spent more than four years hiding from the authorities and worked underground to organize the then-outlawed Solidarity. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1986 and released under an amnesty in 1988. In Democratic Poland, Boursuwicz has been Deputy chairman of the Solidarity trade union movement 1990–1991 and was a member of parliament from 1991 to 2001.

In Poland in the 1970s and 1980s, you could see or sense that political and social change was coming  from the activities of the youth and the people based in the Solidarity movement.  There were 10 million people acting in the Solidarity movement, not just workers in the union, but all kinds of people aligned with the movement. Solidarity was open and transparent for everyone to see, at the same time there was an underground movement of elites was working against communism. These two points of opposition working in parallel were key to the end of communism.    

However, the period of Solidarity is over and for me it is more important to focus on the present and contemporary problems In Poland. I am a candidate for the Senate because I am willing to protect freedom and democracy, which is now in Poland a little bit at risk. My hope and the goal of my work is to keep Poland as a democratic country and not to completely lose what has been established. We need heroes when the dictator needs to be destroyed, but when the democratic system that is running and it relatively good shape, then you need strong politics. 

In Poland there are career politicians and politicians that care about, or are motivated by, the well-being of people in a democratic society. I am part of he later group.  We currently have two groups of activities, which are the most important. The first one is the activities in the Polish Parliament to preserve and strengthen democracy that are led by the opposition party. The second is the activities led by opposition party activists, which are not inside the Parliament. For example, the demonstrations in cities across Poland in protest against the government’s effort to take control of Poland’s Constitutional Court. [The protests took place in cities inside and outside of Poland. Nearly 20,0000 people protested in front of the Parliament Building in Warsaw, according to a Reuters report citing city officials.] These outside protests and actions, and the work being done simultaneously on the inside of parliament by the opposition party are both critical to the preservation of democracy.  

This conversation wa in Polish with the aid of a translator
Photo by Mona  Rena Górska

Previous interview
Next interview
Ideology Suppression Revolution Freedom Hope Values Identity