In early 1968, the Polish
National Theater in Warsaw decided to stage a production of “Dziady,” a classic
Polish play by the revered 19th century writer Adam Modzelewski. The
production’s director, Kazmierz Dejmek, choose to highlight the text’s
connection to early Christianity as well as the story of Poland’s struggle for
liberation. Although the communist government rejected religion, no pundits
viewed the play’s content as an exceptional departure from the guidelines of
In the late 1980’s, Poland was nearing the end of almost 40 years of postwar communism as part of the Soviet Eastern Bloc. Out of labor organizing earlier in the decade emerged Solidarność (Solidarity), the first non-communist party-controlled trade union federation in a Warsaw Pact country (see Polish workers general strike for economic rights, 1980). Shortly after the rise of Solidarity, the organization expanded into a larger social movement, appealing for economic reforms, free elections, and increased political participation of trade unions.
The Soviet forces that liberated Poland from Nazi occupation after World War II installed a government under which workers, employed by state-owned businesses, could not organize or represent themselves. During the 1970s, frustration with the one-party system grew and by the end of the decade, the Polish economy was near collapse.
On June 30, 1980, the government announced a 'reorganization of meat distribution' which resulted in an immediate 60% price increase and greater difficulty in obtaining meat.