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We are proud to welcome Speaker of the Polish Senate Bogdan Borusewicz to the Freedom Collection. This is the first interview we’ve released with a member of Poland’s Solidarity movement. Not only was Solidarity instrumental in defeating communism in Poland, it also inspired others across the region to challenge their Soviet oppressors.
Under communism, Borusewicz was an ardent democracy activist. His career as a dissident started in high school when he was arrested in 1968 for engaging with an opposition movement. From there, he rose to prominence as the architect of Gdansk’s Lenin Shipyard strike in August 1980, which led to the formation of Solidarity. Through this movement, Borusewicz demanded greater political and civil liberties for the Polish people. As civil unrest intensified, the regime declared martial law in 1981, outlawed Solidarity, and hunted down opposition leaders. Borusewicz went underground to evade capture during which time he married his fiancée in secret and attended his daughter’s baptism in disguise. He helped lead Poland’s transition to democracy and a market economy as a member of the lower house of parliament from 1990 to 2001. In 2005, he was elected to the Senate and chosen by his colleagues to serve as that body’s speaker, a position he holds to this day.
Meet Bogdan Borusewicz on the Freedom Collection, share in his experiences from a pivotal moment in history, and find inspiration for present day freedom movements:
- The Lenin Shipyard Strike - “So he (Lech Walesa) became the steam engine of sorts, pulling the strike.”
- Overcoming Fear - “We were afraid that the authorities would use force, the tanks would roll out, and then we would die.”
- A Normal Life in an Abnormal Time - “So they stood there for a half hour or more, contemplating their own powerlessness.”
- A Global Desire for Freedom - “The desire for freedom and democracy is a contagious thing.”
This post was written by Christopher Walsh, Program Coordinator for the Freedom Collection.
Christopher Walsh serves as Senior Program Manager for the Human Freedom and Women's 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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