Eyewitness to the Iron Curtain: Polish-American Remembers Solidarity Victory in Poland

December 18, 2009

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Former Polish President and leader of Poland's anti-Communist Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa.
The year 1989 brought a sea change of events to Europe, which led to the collapse of many communist regimes. As 2009 draws to a close, we're revisiting some of the milestones we explored in our Eyewitness to the Iron Curtain series, where we talk to Chicagoans who experienced these historic moments firsthand.

Today, we look at Poland. On June 4, 1989, the Solidarity party won in what were the first partially-free elections in the Communist bloc. A year later, the movement's leader Lech Walesa swept to power. Solidarity started as a loose federation of anti-communist unions, intellectuals and students.

Doctor Marek Rudnicki was a young physician in the early 80's working in the Silesia region of Poland. Today he is the Director of the Surgery Residency Program at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center and visiting professor at the Silesian Medical University in Poland. In this self-portrait, Doctor Rudnicki remembers his role in the nascent Solidarity movement and the events that led to the end of Communist rule in Poland.