“Solidarity” in the Eyes of the Youngest Generation
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Polish Academy of Sciences
Publication date: 2006-03-30
Polish Sociological Review 2006;153(1):91-99
In autumn 1980 Swiat Młodych, a newspaper addressed to teenagers, announced a competition called “MyWorld 80–81.” By early 1981 hundreds of letters had come in. This unique source of information allows us to get a glimpse of teenagers’ perception of the birth of the “Solidarity” movement. Thanks to these letters, we can take a closer look at school discussions, conversations at the family table or disputes during school intervals. Everyday life is also reflected in these letters: queues, crowded public transport, fatigue and uncertainty. The vast majority of the letter writers sympathised with “Solidarity” although the prospect of confrontation between the regime and the inchoate movement was a source of anxiety. The authorities were largely perceived as a degenerate oligarchy. The quoted letters are also a testimony of discovery of the past and withheld historical facts and also of the search for new authorities (e.g., Czesław Miłosz). The young generation’s declarations suggest that it wanted to participate in public life with previously unparalleled gusto. Martial law nipped this positive energy in the bud.
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