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Anna Walentynowicz (Polish pronunciation: [ˈanna valɛntɨˈnɔvʲit͡ʂ]; 15 August 1929 – 10 April 2010) was a Polish free trade union activist and co-founder of Solidarity, the first non-communist trade union in the Eastern Bloc. Her firing from her job at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk in August 1980 was the event that ignited the strike at the shipyard, set off a wave of strikes across Poland, and quickly paralyzed the Baltic coast. The Interfactory Strike Committee (MKS) based in the Gdańsk shipyard eventually transformed itself into Solidarity; by September, more than one million workers were on strike in support of the 21 demands of MKS, making it the largest strike ever.

Walentynowicz's arrest became an organizing slogan (Bring Anna Walentynowicz Back to Work!) in the early days of the Gdańsk strike. She is referred to by some as the "mother of independent Poland."[1] She was among the dignitaries killed in the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash near Smolensk in Russia, which also claimed the lives of the President of Poland and his wife, and the senior commanders of the Polish Armed Forces.

In 2006, she was awarded Poland's highest honour, the Order of the White Eagle.[2] In 2020, Time magazine included her on the list of 100 Women of the Year who influenced the world over the last 100 years.[3]

In 2003 she asked for compensation from the government for her 1980s persecuti

The 21 demands that we put up in 1980 are still relevant. Nothing was fulfilled. People still have to struggle to be treated with dignity. That's scandalous.[40]

In 2003 she asked for compensation from the government for her 1980s persecution, eventually receiving part of the sum. Walentynowicz cared little about herself and mostly donated all which she had to those who needed help. On 15 November 2004, Anna—along with other former strikers of 1980 activists from the first Solidarity and former political prisoners—an open letter prepared by Andrzej Gwiazda to the European Parliament about the development of Solidarity.[41] The European Parliament took note of the open letter in a motion for a resolution in 2005, deploring the fact that the new Solidarity, created in 1989, did not pursue the aims of the first Solidarity.[42]

Walentynowic

Walentynowicz was vocal pointing bad conduct of the Civic Platform political party in Poland.[43][44] On 11 December 2009 she organized in the Polish Sejm the conference "Poland after XX years 1989–2009".

On 13 December 2005 Walentynowicz accepted the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom in Washington on behalf of the first free trade union Solidarity and was personally honored along with John Paul II and General Edward Rowny,[45] Chief US Nuclear Arms Control Negotiator with the Soviets.[12] The columnist Georgie Anne Geyer called her the Rosa Parks of Solidarity and in the column, compared her to the likes of Indira Gandhi and Corazon Aquino. During her visit she met with vice president Linda Chavez Thompson and other leaders of AFL-CIO.[46][47]

Wer ist Anna Walentynowicz? ("Who is Anna Walentynowicz?", directed by Sylke Rene Meyer, 2002, winner of the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award), Musimy się na nowo policzyć ("We Have to Count Ourselves Anew", directed by Grzegorz W. Tomczak, 2014), Podwójne dno ("Double Bottom",[48] directed by Dariusz Małecki, 1994), Anna Proletariuszka ("Anna Proletarian", directed by Marek Ciecierski and Sławomir Grunberg, 1980/81) and Robotnicy '80 ("Workers '80",[49] 1980) are documentary films in which she is portrayed. Anna Walentynowicz is played by Frances Cox in Leslie Woodhead's docudrama Strike: The Birth of Solidarity (1981).[50][51] She appeared as herself in Man of Iron (1981), prompting some to call her "woman of iron."[52] She was critical about the Schlöndorff's movie Strike.[53][54][55]

Walentynowicz died in a plane crash near Smolensk on 10 April 2010, along with President Lech Kaczyński, First Lady Maria Kaczyńska, and many other prominent Polish leaders, while en route to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre during World War II.[56][7][57] A plaque on her house in Wrzeszcz, a borough of Gdańsk, has recently been dedicated and the city of Gdynia named an intersection after her.[58] Michael Szporer, Professor of Communications at University of Maryland wrote about her: "Her life was very much like Poland's, never nothing, but if you are not afraid to speak up for yourself and care for others, just look what you can become, Pani Ania, a worthier role model than most, because an honest one. Our caring and protective mother!"[52]

Exhumation in 2012 revealed that a different person – Teresa Walewska-Przyjałkowska – was buried in Anna Walentynowicz's grave. Upon the discovery, the bodies were reburied in the correct graves.Exhumation in 2012 revealed that a different person – Teresa Walewska-Przyjałkowska – was buried in Anna Walentynowicz's grave. Upon the discovery, the bodies were reburied in the correct graves.[59][60][61][62][63]

In 2015 trial began over attempted poisoning of Anna Walentynowicz in 1981.[64]

In 2011, a commemorative plaque dedicated to Anna Walentynowicz was unveiled in the city of Gdańsk. It was designed by artist Sławoj Ostrowski.

In 2013, the Anna Walentynowicz Square was ceremonially opened in Wrocław in order to commemorate her role in bringing an end to communism in Poland.

In 2015, a statue of Walentynowicz was

In 2013, the Anna Walentynowicz Square was ceremonially opened in Wrocław in order to commemorate her role in bringing an end to communism in Poland.

In 2015, a statue of Walentynowicz was unveiled at the Pantheon of National Heroes of the Cemetery of the Fallen at the Battle of Warsaw in Ossów.[65]

In December 2015 the main room (The Column Room) in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland was named after Anna Walentynowicz.[66]

In 2017, a street in Szczecin was re-named from General Berling to Anna Walentynowicz. A street bearing her name was also established in Lublin.

In 2018, the Sejm passed a resolution establishing 2019 as the "Year of Anna Walentynowicz".[67]

On 12 October 2020, President of Poland Andrzej Duda officially unveiled a monument dedicated to Walentynowicz in Kiev, Ukraine, and said that she is "a symbol of the Solidarity movement, a woman who, among all the men who were there at that time, was an element contributing to the female way of thinking about Poland and Polish affairs".[68]

To the workers of the Gdansk Shipyard

We turn to YOU colleagues of Anna Walentynowicz. She has worked at the shipyard since 1950. Sixteen years as a welder, later as crane operator in W-2 section, awarded bronze, silver and in 1979 Gold Cross of Merit (Krzyz zaslugi). She had always been a model worker, what is more, one who reacted to every wrong and injustice.

This has resulted in her activism in independence of management trade union movement. Walentynowicz received a disciplinary notice of firing on 7 August for "major infraction of worker's responsibilities." We would like to remind you that Anna Walentynowicz has only five mon

We turn to YOU colleagues of Anna Walentynowicz. She has worked at the shipyard since 1950. Sixteen years as a welder, later as crane operator in W-2 section, awarded bronze, silver and in 1979 Gold Cross of Merit (Krzyz zaslugi). She had always been a model worker, what is more, one who reacted to every wrong and injustice.

This has resulted in her activism in independence of management trade union movement. Walentynowicz received a disciplinary notice of firing on 7 August for "major infraction of worker's responsibilities." We would like to remind you that Anna Walentynowicz has only five months to retirement. This matter demonstrates that the administration of the shipyard does not care about public opinion or legal procedure, which it violates forcing people to bend with its whims. Anna Walentynowicz has been a thorn in their side, because she is a model activist devoted to others. She is a thorn in their side because she defends others and is capable of organizing her colleagues... We appeal to you, defend the crane operator Walentynowicz. If you don't, many of you may find themselves in the same miserable situation.

Signed Founding Committee of Independent Trade Unions and the editorial board of THE COASTAL WORKER: Bogdan Borusewicz, Joanna Duda-Gwiazda, Andrzej Gwiazda, Jan Karandziej, Maryla Płońska, Alina Pienkowska, Lech Wałęsa