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Would you gamble personal freedom in the struggle for national liberty? Like many of those who organized the 1980 Lenin Shipyard strike and founded Solidarity, Andrzej Celinski answered affirmatively. Celinski was a founding member of Solidarity, the first independent trade union in the communist bloc. As an opposition leader, he experienced bad days, being a prisoner of conscience, and good days, being elected to the senate on June 4, 1989 in a stunning rebuke of Poland’s Communist Party. The Freedom Collection is honored to welcome another founding member of Solidarity, Andrzej Celinski.
Celinski was born on February 26, 1950, in Warsaw, Poland. He began organizing protests against Poland’s communist regime at an early age. As a teenager in 1966, he rallied thousands of people gathered for a High Holy Mass at Saint John’s Cathedral for a peaceful, anti-government march to the Communist Party headquarters in Warsaw. In later years, he became active in opposition groups like the Workers’ Defense Committee, one of Solidarity’s predecessors.
Following the 1980 Lenin Shipyard strike in Gdansk, Celinski was tapped as an expert advisor to the Founding Committee of Solidarity. The members of the committee recognized his ability for organization and appointed him the secretary of the board of the Founding Committee. When authorities declared martial law and officially banned Solidarity in December 1981, Celinski was arrested for his activism and spent a year in prison. After the fall of communism in Poland, Celinski was elected as a senator from Solidarity and served from 1989 to 1993. Celinski was then elected to parliament where he served for over a decade, including a stint as minister of culture from 2001 to 2002.
Meet Andrzej Celinski on the Freedom Collection and learn more about his efforts to defeat Poland’s communist dictatorship:
- A Teenage Dissident – Defying the communist regime as a teenager.
- Opposition in the 1960s and 1970s – How disparate groups united to oppose communist rule.
- The 1970s: Helsinki, Civil Society and Stagnation – “For communists, a self-organizing society is an abomination.”
Christopher Walsh is Program Coordinator, Freedom Collection.
Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
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