Letting Poland Be Poland
Seattle’s Polish Community and Its Support of Poland’s Underground, 1981–89
Zbigniew Adam Pietrzyk, Ph.D.

Translated from Polish by Ron Golubiec and Olga Owens
Edited by Maria and Ryszard Kott (Polish), and Olga Owens (English)
Seattle, 2005

Copyright © Zbigniew Adam Pietrzyk, 2005

FROM THE AUTHOR

My goal while working on this brochure was to describe, as objectively as possible, the events in the Washington state during the days of Solidarity and martial law in Poland, that is to say between 1980 and 1988. While working on it, I realized how difficult it is to recall events and actions from over twenty years ago. Frequently, we do not remember the details of events in which we participated, or we remember them differently, or sometimes not at all. It is therefore likely that some descriptions may not be quite accurate or complete.

Not all of the activities conducted by the Polish community in Seattle during those years are described here. Some did not seem important, others have faded from participants’ memories.  However, I would like to mention some of the more important ones here.

We interceded with local television stations on behalf of “Let Poland Be Poland,” a TV movie sponsored by the federal government. Local stations did not want to screen the film, arguing that it was propaganda. Although we were not successful in getting the film shown on local TV, despite significant efforts, one of the stations did sell us a copy which we then aired on cable TV.

We forwarded copies of underground publications, which we received directly from Poland, to influential people such as Zbigniew Brzezinski (National Security Advisor to President Carter) and Jan Nowak-Jezioranski (a WWII and Cold War hero, who advised US administrations on the situation in Poland). It is likely that they received copies of such publications from other sources as well, but we wanted to insure that they would receive them as soon as possible and additionally, the people from the Polish underground had requested that we do so.

Our members spoke in schools and at other venues, and gave radio and TV interviews. We lobbied our representatives in Congress to exert pressure on the Polish government to release political prisoners and legalize Solidarność.

We also maintained steady contact with the American Human Rights Commission.

In addition to describing the significant events of that time, this brochure features photographs of those particular events. I tried to limit them to one or two photographs for each event, and in cases where a larger number was available I selected those that were most visually striking. Copies of various documents, both local and those from Poland, are also provided as a reference.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to express my gratitude to all those who participated in the events of the 1980s, as well as to all who helped in the preparation of this brochure:

In particular I wish to thank all who prepared and participated in our television programs, “Friends of Solidarity.” Further, I wish to thank all those who transported smaller and larger packages and materials to Poland; unfortunately it is impossible to mention everyone by name. The list would be very long and yet undoubtedly incomplete.

I also wish to express my gratitude to my editors, Maria and Ryszard Kott, who translated my notes into a final Polish text. Without their tremendous effort the text would have been unreadable. I also would like to thank Olga Owens, the English-language editor, for making this text more accessible to American readers.

THE ROAD TO SOLIDARNOSC: AN OVERVIEW

The rise of Solidarnosc and the fall of Communism in Poland was the beginning of the end of the Iron Curtain dividing Eastern Europe from the West. The following brief historical overview aims to give the reader some context for the events of the turbulent 1980s, from the first rumblings of protest in the 1960s to the democratic elections of 1989.

REMEMBER THE OTHER SOLIDARITY

This text was written at the end of 2004, almost 25 years after the rise of Solidarity. It seems worthwhile to look back at the situation in Poland and the United States during that time.

In Poland Solidarity was something unique. The establishment of independent labor organizations in the Communist system, where every activity was supposed to be under party control, was so unprecedented that many could not comprehend it. In the Western world, it was hard to fathom such a development, since many people still believed that Communism was a good system for the working class, and that while errors had certainly been committed all would be well in the end.   Many, particularly those in academia’s socio-political fields, could not understand how workers could act “against their own interests.” And those Poles who arrived here after so many years under the Communist regime could not believe that Communist propaganda would reach so far: When they tried to speak about the situation in Poland, they were not believed. The assumption was that they were lying in order to justify staying in this country.

Immigrants from Europe (including Poland) to the United States prior to WWII came primarily in search of a better future. They were mainly peasants and workers. The popular “melting pot” concept meant that immigrants were welcome but were expected to conform and melt into the existing American society. In practice this resulted in pressure to use only English at home or work. Consequently, many children of even recent arrivals no longer spoke their native language.  Some Poles, mainly on the East Coast, encountered discrimination at work. On the West Coast this phenomenon was not as prevalent.

Two unusual events changed prevailing attitudes towards Poles (the phenomenon of “Polak jokes” provides a good idea of what those attitudes were). The first was the election of Karol Wojtyla to the Papacy in 1978, the first Polish Pope and a charismatic leader, known to the world as John Paul II. The other was the rise of Solidarnosc, or Solidarity. Both events had very positive effects, not only for Poland but also for the Polish diaspora, “Polonia,” in the United States, allowing it to become much more effective in its efforts to exert pressure on the federal government. Suddenly, it became apparent that there were many more Americans with Polish roots than expected, and they volunteered their assistance: Help came from people about whose Polish background we had no idea.

At the moment, in 2005, Solidarnosc no longer has the huge support it once had: it has become “just” a trade union. Let us remember that it was different not too long ago, let us remember that first, great Solidarnosc from 1980. Without it, Communism in Poland would not have fallen, the Cold War would have continued, and Poland would not have become a member of the European Common Market or NATO.

Let us remember John Paul II, the spark of Solidarity
Let us remember that other Solidarity

THE POLISH COMMUNITY IN WASHINGTON STATE

Washington state can record three separate waves of Polish immigrants. Groups arrived in the early 1900s, then during the post-WWII period, and lastly in the 1980s, when the so-called “Solidarity immigrants” started coming to Seattle and vicinity. Seattle’s Polish Home (Dom Polski) was established in 1918 by the first group of immigrants. The Solidarity immigrants were, for the most part, forced to leave Poland by Communist authorities, and once in the U.S. most of them joined the opposition to the Communist regime.

Before the events of 1980, the local Polish community of the post-WWII wave did not have a very good understanding of the situation in post-war Poland. To remedy this, the decorated Polish Navy commander Wilhelm Pacewicz proposed a series of informative evening meetings, called “What Was, What Is, What Will Be.” These lectures were organized by Martha Golubiec, a longstanding leader of the Polish community, with the help of Cdr. Pacewicz and Dr. Z.A. Pietrzyk, a research professor at the University of Washington.

The meetings covered:

As the situation in Poland grew increasingly intense, the Polish community in Seattle chose Roman Golubiec to be the community’s media representative. Roman and his wife Martha ran the Polyways Travel agency, which acted as a meeting spot and unofficial headquarters for the aid efforts. (Their son, John, manages the business today. Among local Poles, virtually everyone who travels to Poland goes through Polyways, and it certainly seems that everyone knows Ron and Martha.)

After martial law was declared, the Polish Home Association elected Dr. Pietrzyk to the newly created post of vice-president of Solidarity activities. When a large number of Solidarity activists arrived from Poland, they established their own organization at the suggestion of Martha Golubiec. The activities of what was known as the “Solidarity Association” are discussed in a later chapter.

AUGUST 1980

The local Polish community followed the events surrounding the Gdansk shipyard strike of August 1980 with great apprehension. Those who did not know Communism first-hand were more optimistic, but those who fled from it were very fearful. It must be remembered that in those days Communism dominated all the countries that it ruled. Earlier examples of heavy-handed actions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia filled everybody with foreboding, and the bloody suppression of previous strikes in 1970 at the Gdansk and Szczecin shipyards did not allow for much optimism that this shipyard strike would reach a successful end. For these reasons, the Polish Home Association decided to organize a demonstration supporting the demands of the Gdansk strikers.  Its purpose was to inform the community at large about the situation in Poland. We also hoped that a large demonstration would help us win the support of state leaders

FIRST LOCAL DEMONSTRATION

The date for the demonstration was set for August 31, 1980. The time difference between Seattle and Gdansk is nine hours. By the time we gathered together for the demonstration, we already knew that a successful agreement between Solidarity and the regime had been signed that day.  Some of us questioned the sense of staging the demonstration, however the majority decided that it was necessary to continue to show our solidarity with those in Poland and to congratulate Solidarity on the successful negotiations. And this is what we did. We marched, as we would many times again, along the waterfront to the Federal Office Building (now the Jackson Federal Building) on Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. Dr. Pietrzyk gave an official speech. The TV stations had been notified in advance, and the event was covered on the evening news.

One must realize that the demonstration was not as important as its TV coverage: Only a few hundred people will see a march on city streets, but perhaps a hundred thousand can view it on local news.

STATE SENATOR SUPPORTS SOLIDARITY EFFORTS

The Baltic Countries Organization (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) in Seattle presented Senator Jackson with a Peace Medal in recognition of his efforts supporting independence for the Baltic countries. Several representatives from the Polish community were invited to the event. Interestingly, Senator Jackson spoke mostly about Solidarity and the new Pope. The Senator, who was very anti-Soviet, may have been trying to encourage the populations of the other countries to follow the example of Solidarity. We were not sure what the Baltic community thought of these remarks, but we were very pleased by them.

MARTIAL LAW

The introduction of martial law on December 13, 1981, was not really a complete surprise to us. It was unrealistic to expect that the Polish Communists or the Communists in the USSR would give up so easily.

Several events before the imposition of martial law, such as police beatings of local Solidarity leaders in Bydgoszcz and increasly difficult negotiations between the government and Solidarity, indicated that something was going on, that something was going to happen. We did not know what would happen, nor did we expect that the prime minister, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, would be used as a tool of the USSR.

PETITION TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

After December 13, we wondered what to do. Seattle was relatively unknown in those days, and we were unsure whether our protests, even loud ones, would be heard. Nonetheless, we could not remain idle. A small group was assembled and we decided to gather signatures for a petition that would be handed to Senator Jackson at the Polish Home when he arrived from D.C. for the Christmas holidays. We wanted to gather as many signatures as possible in the three days before his arrival. The outpouring of support was phenomenal: At four stands in various local shopping malls we obtained over 3000 signatures and over $7000 in donations. Given the small number of  volunteers, this might well be a record in signature gathering for political purposes. The money was sent to Poland through “Kultura,” a quarterly published in Paris, as at that time we had no other means to do so.

Senator Jackson, a Democrat and strong supporter of our efforts, accepted our petition at the Polish Home on December 23, 1981.  His speech was broadcast on local television. Another ally on the federal level was Ronald Regan, a Republican and a determined foe of Communism, who became president on January 20, 1982. Both Democrats and Republicans understood that supporting Solidarity was in the interest of United States. We hoped that this understanding would lead to government support of the underground in Poland, and many of our efforts were aimed at convincing the American public of the same.

DEMONSTRATION ON DECEMBER 15, 1981

The first demonstration in Seattle after martial law was declared in Poland was organized for December 15, 1981. It was a difficult undertaking because the city required a 48-hour advance notice.  Fortunately Martha Golubiec was able to convince the city’s police department that this was an exceptional situation.  We did not get a formal permit, but we did have a police escort and the demonstration took place the following day. It was a success. TV stations provided full coverage and the most important newspapers in the city, the Seattle Times and the Post-Intelligencer, featured the event on their front pages.

THE POLISH COMMUNITY RESPONDS TO EVENTS IN POLAND

As the situation in Poland rapidly became a topic of the evening news, we decided to act in three areas:

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Our information campaign consisted of various activities, from demonstrations and picnics, to interviews, flyers, petitions, and even a TV show.  This informational half-hour program was transmitted monthly on a local cable station for eighteen months. To our knowledge it was the only program in the world about Solidarity during the duration of martial law. Our first task, however, was to obtain information from a country that had been cut off from the rest of the world through phone blackouts and travel suspensions.

Sources of information

Since we wanted to provide more information than what was available from local media, we had to establish our own sources. Unfortunately, in the beginning we did not have any, as all telephone connections with Poland were cut and practically all travel was suspended.  Nevertheless, we had the good fortune to establish our first contacts relatively quickly: The Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra was on tour in the United States and as luck would have it, they made a stop in Seattle despite not having a concert date here. They had left Poland a few days after martial law was imposed, and had smuggled out an article entitled “To Friends,” by the outstanding journalist Stefan Bratkowski. The musicians had painstakingly hand-copied the article while on tour, to distribute to the Polish diaspora. Another early contact was Mrs. Zapiorkowska, the mother of our colleague Mira Pawluskiewicz, who received permission to emigrate to the United States and arrived in Seattle on January 30, 1981.

As time progressed the flow of information increased. We received underground publications, and researched European news, which typically carried more information than the American press.  Later, e-mails sent mostly by scientists in and out of Poland provided information. In 1989, a group of physicists at the University of Warsaw established a regular internet news bulletin called “Donosy” (roughly meaning “reports” or “secret intelligence”) which provided condensed news and which is still published to this day.

Determining critical numbers

We tried to figure out what was going on in the country from such contacts. Specifically, we attempted to determine the number of people detained on December 13 as we were constantly asked about this. However, our task was made difficult by the lack of solid information, caused by differing approaches to such data: The underground was determined to provide only verifiable numbers, so that the Communists couldn’t accuse them of misrepresentation if, say, they had neglected to mention an individual here or there. But while the underground labored for accuracy, the regime maintained that anything the underground said were exaggerated lies anyway.

We tried our best to make a statistical estimate of the estimate such numbers statistically by basing them on information from people arriving from Poland. Without delving into the specifics of the mathematical methods used, we estimated the number of people detained on December 13 to be between 30,000 and 100,000. Later, the regime claimed that the number was less than 11,000. This discrepancy may be explained in part by the fact that an “internee” was someone who got official notice from the government designating them as such. People who were simply placed under arrest during martial law were not included in the reported number of those interned. To our knowledge no one in Poland has tried to research the total number of people persecuted.

In the United States the situation in Poland was constantly compared to the conditions in South America, where the opposition claimed that thousands were being killed in Chile and Argentina.  Such numbers appeared to be unrealistically high. In Poland, the underground provided only the number of people killed in direct confrontation with the regime. But there were many other uncounted casualties: those who died waiting for emergency medical care, which arrived late or not at all thanks to disconnected phones and a curfew; the children born with birth defects and the miscarriages suffered by women living under tremendous stress; those murdered in the back alleys of a society in upheaval.

Demonstrations and gatherings

The demonstrations were organized for many reasons such as Solidarity, martial law or Yalta anniversaries. We were frequently assisted by members of the largest labor unions in the United States, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) as well as local organizations of the Baltic Countries.  This collaboration on the local level worked very well and we were grateful for the help.

Quite frequently we visited our compatriots in Vancouver, Canada. During one such visit, the idea was born to organize joint picnics on the US–Canadian border. We selected Labor Day weekend as an appropriate date in early September. Since this is always a busy weekend at the border, it was easy to distribute Solidarity flyers and sell Tshirts, commemorative stamps, etc. The funds raised were sent to support the Solidarity underground in Poland. These gatherings were very successful and lasted until 1998, long after Poland regained its independence.

“Friends of Solidarity” television program

Perhaps the most unexpected venue for providing information was the UW’s cable TV channel.  After martial law was declared in Poland, Dr. Pietrzyk, who was known at the UW for his efforts to promote Solidarity, received an offer to organize a TV program on the situation in Poland.

Despite not having any experience in TV or any real idea of how to do a show, we immediately took advantage of the offer. Cdr. Wilhelm Pacewicz, Dr. Jadwiga Giebultowicz, Dr. Maria Pietrzyk and Zbigniew Pawlowski (acting as the moderator) participated in the first program. We thought that the program was quite good given that we all had to improvise!

After the show aired, the lady in charge called Dr. Pietrzyk and asked us to have such programs on a regular basis. This became a major effort! We needed volunteers to prepare programs, put up decorations, etc. We also needed camera operators as well as speakers.

For the musical lead-in we chose “Let Poland Be Poland,” a song by Jan Pietrzak. It was performed on the piano by Krzysztof Slomiak. Our programs were almost “live”: they were recorded in advance, but there was no way to make revisions or changes. We did not have the right equipment or time.

We used all of our available sources of information—personal contacts, publications from the underground, etc.—to illustrate the situation in Poland to our local audience. However, we didn’t think that these secondary sources would be enough to retain our viewers. Consequently, we started conducting interviews and a series of discussions with various experts in their fields. For instance, we discussed the question of whether Poland should renege on its debt or continue increasing its debt load. Professors from the University of Washington were our most frequent participants. Their names are listed at the end of this chapter.

In 1983 we got the chance for current and first-person accounts of life in Poland when the internees started to arrive. Some had been forced to leave Poland; others could not resist the psychological pressures after being released from internment camps. All were permitted to leave the country, but without the right of return. The World Relief Organization arranged sponsors for the internees. Federal regulations required that sponsoring families (and only families, since an organization could not be a sponsor) help with lodging, arrange for English language courses, and assist with various formalities and so on. Frequently the sponsors helped find employment. One way or another, all of the new arrivals established contacts with, or received assistance from the Polish Home. In all, over 60 individuals or families arrived in Seattle, proportionally more than other Polish communities in the United States.  “Farewell towels” signed by fellow prisoners and given to an internee who came to Seattle.  We attempted to interview all new arrivals on our TV program. It was of course easier to do that with the English speakers among them. One of our last interviews was with the founders of the Committee in Support of Solidarity in New York, Irena Lasota and Jakub Karpinski.

Collaboration with the local Jewish community

When our pro-Solidarity activities became more visible, the Jewish community in Tacoma approached us with a request to give a lecture at the local synagogue. The topic of Polish-Jewish relations was suggested.  Unfortunately, no one in our circle had enough expertise to speak knowledgeably on this subject. It was mutually agreed that we would give a lecture on Solidarity. The lecture was given by Dr. Pietrzyk in October 1983 and was very well received. It was the start of cooperation between the two groups with beneficial results for the Polish, and we hope for the Jewish side as well. Our main contact was Ms. Patsy Kempthorn, who frequently traveled to Poland and as an American citizen was not very thoroughly checked by Polish customs officials. Thanks to these two lucky circumstances, and through her courage and helpfulness, she assisted us by not only delivering funds, books and publications to Poland, but also such items as a computer for the KOS publication.

In 1987 Leszek Moczulski visited Seattle. Moczulski was the head of the Confederation for Independent Poland (Konfederacja Polski Niepodleglej, or KPN), which he founded in 1979 as the first political party that was not under Communist control. While here, he met with the Jewish communities in Tacoma and Seattle. These meetings were quite successful and took place in a very friendly atmosphere, even though some Poles considered Moczulski to be an anti-Semite.

He was warmly received during those meetings, and it is likely that as a result some in the Jewish community changed their opinion not just of him but of Poland as well.

University lectures

During his visit Moczulski gave two lectures: one at the University of Washington and the other at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. We knew that Moczulski did not have wide support in Poland, but here his lectures were very well received. Along with other ideas, Moczulski publicly stated that Communism will fall in Poland within the next ten years. This statement was greeted with great skepticism by university audiences but with much enthusiasm by the Polish community. Looking back, he did in fact correctly foresee the events of 1989 with the relegalization of Solidarity and, later, the free elections. Naturally, most audiences thought that Moczulski was engaging in wishful thinking, yet the future proved him right.

Members of the “Friends of Solidarity” TV program

Program Guests

COLLECTING FUNDS

After December 13 we had a meeting at the Polish Home. We were joined by representatives of Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Czech and Serbian organizations. We knew that the underground needed funds but the question was how to get them. We realized that everywhere—and particularly in the United States—the way to get money was to sell something rather than ask for donations. In our case this “something” had to be related to Solidarity. Since everyone would know that this was a fundraiser, the prices could be set fairly high. We decided to produce posters, pins and stickers. We also sold balloons and T-shirts with the Solidarity logo.

Our pins and posters proved to be very popular. The first pin, designed by Teresa Malinowski, was quickly created, even before the now-familiar Solidarity logo was adopted. I

Attachment A

Warsaw July 1984

REQUIREMENT

To date OKOR issued 8 editions of “Support and Defend” (First two issues using a silk-screening method, the remainder, sub-contracting to another group, on a mimeograph. Approximately 1000 copies. Additionally, under the auspices of the Underground Rural Publishing Office, using the silk-screening method, the speech of Lech Wałęsa at the University of Harvard.) Due to a complete lack of printing equipment we are unable to publish “Zeszyty Wiejskie,” where we want to publish simple stories as well as sermons of bishops and priests from the period after December 13, 1981. A possibility exists to distribute such an edition to rural parishes. To realize this goal the following equipment is needed:

  1. An IBM or similar typewriter with a print-like font,

  2. At least one offset printing machine, printing in the A-4 format (quiet operation),

  3. Offset plates,

  4. Electrical book-binding machine,

  5. Thread or wire for the above (practically impossible to get locally),

  6. Offset ink (locally of extremely poor quality),

  7. Stamp perforating machine,

  8. Two typewriters with ribbon and correction tapes.

Independent of the equipment needs, we need production funds. The printing cost of one sheet, size A-4, varies from one to two zloty (we work in underground conditions facing constant material shortages, which makes it necessary to buy items on the black market rather than in the open). In order to print a 100-page book in 5000 copies it is necessary to have between 500,000 and 1,000,000 zloty. These costs increase daily.

National Rural Resistance Committee “Solidarność”

t was simple and easy to manufacture, and was quite likely the first pin produced outside of Poland. The second pin was designed by Janusz Zoltowski. As it was more complicated we had it produced in Thailand, making it less expensive and thus increasing our profits. No one remembers how many pins designed by Teresa were sold, but we did sell several hundred of the second design. Mr. Stachowicz also created a beautiful Solidarity poster, which was produced in two sizes and is featured on the cover of this brochure.

Shipments to Poland

From Seattle we primarily sent money, at first to churches, later to various Solidarity centers, as well as to individual families of political prisoners. Mostly, however, the funds went to the Committee for Social Resistance (Komitet Oporu Spolecznego, or KOS). This transfer of cash was fairly easy to do.

It was also fairly easy to send books or publications which were prohibited in Poland. In reality, the materials were being sent to “people,” as it was not really important to us who the actual recipients would turn out to be. The courier had instructions to simply leave the packages in any church if it were not possible to deliver them to the actual addressee.

Getting equipment into the country was the most difficult. We were unable to ship a lot of it from Seattle as the distance was great and few people were willing to assume the risks of transporting forbidden items. Air travel also made it difficult to carry anything that was bulky or heavy. Nonetheless, we were able to supply a short-wave radio as well as small recorders which could be used to record trial proceedings. We also provided several unbreakable thermos containers used to bring warm food to the internees as well as an Apple computer with a text editor equipped with Polish and Russian fonts.

We frequently responded to requests from Poland. A letter or call would come from someone from KOS, who was able to travel to some western country. Many of these requests could not be fulfilled in Seattle. Sometimes the requests were very large, in which case we forwarded them to New York where the Committee in Support of Solidarity would take over. (One such request from the Committee to Help Farmers is shown in the attached documents).  Receipt of shipments from Seattle or other places was acknowledged in the KOS publications by secret code. Almost all shipments were acknowledged in this way.

CONTACTS WITH THE UNDERGROUND

Establishing contacts with the underground turned out to be fairly easy. The only requirement was to spend a lot of time on the telephone. Friends passed us on to other friends and they in turn to got us in touch with others. We soon found out that there was a Committee in Support of Solidarity in New York, headed by Irena Lasota, Jakub Karpinski and Miroslaw Chojecki. Another organization was being established in Washington, D.C.

Unexpectedly, a contact was established with Jerzy Milewski. Dr. Milewski attended a scientific conference shortly before the imposition of martial law in Poland. After martial law was declared, Dr. Milewski decided not to return to Poland and started searching for employment in the United States. To this end, he contacted Dr. Pietrzyk whom he knew while still in Poland. Dr. Milewski was associated with the Committee in Support of Solidarity in New York and later established the Solidarity office in Brussels.

Our contacts with the Brussels office were rather sporadic, as we felt that multiple paths would be harder to penetrate by the regime. However we stayed in continuous cooperation with the Committee in Support of Solidarity in New York. More about this later.

Direct contacts with the underground in Poland

One of our contacts was Dr. Krzysztof Turlejski, a collaborator with KOS, who arrived in San Diego for a sixmonth scientific research exchange. He’d learned about our efforts from New York’s Committee in Support of Solidarity while on a stop there on his way to the West Coast. We in turn learned about his stay in San Diego from Mrs. Kempthorn who met him during her visit to Poland in June 1982. Dr. Pietrzyk flew to San Diego to establish a closer connection with Dr. Turlejski and was able to get an address in France for Mrs. Krystyna Starczewska, who went by the code name “Elzbieta.”

“Elzbieta” lived in Poland but, thanks to family connections, was able to travel to France often. We had long and frequent telephone conversations with “Elzbieta,” exchanging information and trying to determine the best courses of action. We later learned that Krystyna Starczewska was the chief editor of KOS. From that moment (1983 through 1986) most of the funds from Seattle were sent through KOS contacts. The most frequent courier was a Polish lady married to an Italian and living in Italy. We also had other contacts with KOS people able to travel out of Poland on official or private trips.

OUR GUESTS

While we did not actually expect to have many visitors in this relatively remote corner of the United States, we were able to host a variety of well-known personalities at the Polish Home. Our guests were mostly artists from Poland and Solidarity leaders and activists. They included:

SOLIDARITY ASSOCIATION IN SEATTLE

In Seattle, newly arrived members of Solidarity established their own organization in 1983. To underscore their membership in Poland’s NSZZ Solidarnosc (Independent and Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarnosc) they called it the “Solidarity Association.” It was incorporated in the state in July of 1985.

The aim of the Solidarity Association was to help the Solidarnosc underground in Poland by using their established contacts to send funds to Poland. The association’s presidents were, in order, Bogdan Bazant, Jan Pelka and Zbigniew Pietrzyk.

At its peak, in 1988, the association had 38 members. It established contact with and became a member of the Congress of Solidarity Support Organizations, an international organization to help Solidarity.  From 1982 to 1984 the association transferred approximately $16,000 in funds and equipment to Poland, with an additional $8465 sent between 1985 and 1989. Further, since institutions and libraries in Poland saw their funding for foreign publications eliminated, the association subscribed to and transmitted selected professional journals and publications to various institutions.

In 1991, with its stated goals accomplished, a proposal was made to dissolve the organization.  This was formally done in November 1997.

POLAND BECOMES POLAND

Activities in support of Solidarity in Seattle were not unique in the world. In every country and every, Poles supported Solidarity in their own way. Often this extended to the given country’s local population. For example in Switzerland, Swiss families selected Polish families whom they wanted to help. The Swiss sent money during martial law. After the democratic elections, the relationships continued: the Swiss would send little Christmas gifts, and the Polish families would write about how their situation was developing. Since neither side knew the other’s language, I translated these letters, many of which were extremely touching.  Bonds formed between the families in Poland, who were often very poor, and the Swiss. They will still writing to each other in 2000.

What was unique about Seattle’s pro-Solidarity activities was the “Friends of Solidarity” TV show.  The diaspora in Europe, on the other hand, sent heavy equipment and had better contact with the underground. But really, the support came from every corner of the globe. With such widespread effort, it was difficult for the totalitarian system to hold on for much longer. We all can truly say that each of us put a little grain of freedom to Letting Poland be Poland.

MEMBERS OF SEATTLE’S SOLIDARITY ASSOCIATION

  1. Marian Bagiński

  2. Aldona Bażant

  3. Bogdan Bażant

  4. Zygmunt Bernice

  5. Stanisław Bieniek

  6. Henryk Biernat

  7. Bronisław Borodenko

  8. Tomasz Cewe

  9. Elżbieta Choszcz

  10. Roman Ciabiada

  11. Michał Friedrich

  12. Marta Gołubiec

  13. Roman Gołubiec

  14. Maria Grochulska

  15. John Grullion

  16. Wojciech Gusciora

  17. Barbara Krystyna Grzyb

  18. Wiktor Kapusciński

  19. Stanisław Kurek

  20. Jerzy Las

  21. Aleksander Lipiński

  22. Bronisław Madej

  23. Jerzy Pałubicki

  24. Krzysztof Pawłowski

  25. Janusz Pełka

  26. Zbigniew Adam Pietrzyk

  27. Zbigniew Pietrzyk

  28. Edward Przybyś

  29. Andrzej Ratajczak

  30. Sylwia Skratek

  31. Bogdan Smyczyński

  32. Józef Stawiński

  33. Waldemar Szreder

  34. Jarosław Waszczuk

  35. Michał Wojciechowski

  36. Janusz Zygmunt

NSZZ SOLIDARNOSC INTERNEES SETTLED IN THE SEATTLE AREA

  1. Marian Bagiński

  2. Stanisław Bakun

  3. Bogdan Bażant

  4. Andrzej Bereśniewicz

  5. Jerzy Bieńkowski

  6. Grażyna Biernat

  7. Henryk Biernat

  8. Lech Błędowski

  9. Stanisław Bieniek

  10. Bronisław Borodenko

  11. Jan Bujak

  12. Waldemar Cerwiński

  13. Zdzisław Chała

  14. Elżbieta Choszcz

  15. Władysław Daniłowicz

  16. Ryszard Dylczyk

  17. Bogdan Fonfara

  18. Stanisław Jałowiecki

  19. Jerzy Kalita

  20. Bogdan Kapral

  21. Czesław Kijanka

  22. Mieczysław Kobyliński

  23. Bogusław Krzemiński

  24. Józef Kucharczyk

  25. Bogdan Kurek

  26. Urszula Kubik

  27. Jerzy Las

  28. Aleksander Lipiński

  29. Roman Łukasiewicz

  30. Andrzej Łukaszczuk

  31. Henryk Misiewicz

  32. Andrzej Mróz

  33. Henryk Myślak

  34. Stanisław Olejnik

  35. Longin Osiński

  36. Robert Ozorowski

  37. Kazimierz Pater

  38. Jan Pełka

  39. Zbigniew Antoni Pietrzyk

  40. Ryszard Pilichowski

  41. Ireneusz Prędki

  42. Apoloniusz Pycior

  43. Jacek Rosiński

  44. Jarosław Salita

  45. Jerzy Samczyk

  46. Jerzy Skowron

  47. Danuta Skrzypiec

  48. Józef Sławiński

  49. Bogdan Smyczyński

  50. Zdzisław-Andrzej Studenny

  51. Franciszek Szwed

  52. Jerzy Waszczuk

  53. Andrzej Wajerczyk

  54. Mieczysław Ważny

  55. Mirosław Zając

  56. Janusz Zygmunt

  57. Jan Szczęsny

  58. Jan Włodarzewski

  59. Joanna Wojciechowicz

  60. Michał Wojciechowicz

  61. Bogdan Żak

Poster created in Seattle by Mr. Stachowicz

Meeting of ethnic group representatives from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Russia with Senator Henry Jackson

Senator Henry Jackson and Dr. Maria Pietrzyk at the reelection campaign picnic

Senator Jackson accepting the petitions at the Polish Home. In the background Prof. Z.A. Pietrzyk

One of the pro-Solidarity demonstrations in Seattle. On the photograph Mr. Szczesny, Miroslaw Zajac, the Kurpisz family, Janusz Pelka

Mary Elmore and Martha Golubiec at a demonstration organized by the Baltic Countries. The Balloons with the Solidarity logo were released at the end of the demonstration.

Anti-Yalta demonstration in Seattle

Large weather balloons with the Solidarity logo and an attached bunch of flowers were placed in many locations in Seattle. On the photograph, balloons at the Polish Home.

Before the second “Friends of Solidarity” program. Dr. Maria Pietrzyk, Zbigniew Pawlowski and Mira Pawluskiewicz

Before one of our monthly TV programs. Seated: guests Jakub Karpinski and Irena Lasota and moderator Zbigniew Pawlowski, standing Grazyna Krewin

“Farewell towels” signed by fellow prisoners and given to an internee who came to Seattle

Martha Golubiec and Jerzy Las behind the collection box for Solidarity

Solidarity pins from Seattle. The smaller one was designed by Janusz Zoltowski and the larger one by Teresa Malinowski

Dr. Z.A. Pietrzyk and Leszek Moczulski, the leader of the Confederation for Independent Poland [KPN] during his visit to Seattle

Before a lecture by Leszek Moczulski at the Polish Home. From left: Ryszard Heith, Maria Moczulska, N.N.,Leszek Moczulski, Ziomek Pawluskiewicz. The guest is being introduced by Roman Golubiec.

Zofia Romaszewska and Maria Pietrzyk before Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle, 1985.

Jan Pietrzak sings at the Polish Home

Visit of President Lech Walesa at the Polish Home in Seattle, 1996. From left, Marian Strutynski, Anna Sawicki and President Lech Walesa.

Concert by Jacek Kaczmarski at the Polish Home

A group photograph taken after one of the first meetings of the “Solidarnosc Association.” From left, first row: Jerzy Las, Janusz Zygmunt, Zbigniew Pietrzyk, Miroslaw Zajac. Second row: Stanislaw Jalowiecki, N.N, Janusz Pelka, Franciszek Szwed, Stanislaw Bieniek, Bogdan Kapral, Marta Golubiec, N.N, Prof. Pietrzyk, partally visible, Aleksander Lipinski. Third row: Lech Bienkowski, Bogdan Bazant. Fourth row: Waldemar Szreder, Andrzej Wajerczyk, Wojciech Gusciora.

Seattle Times (December 16, 1981): Report on the demonstration on December 15, 1981

University of Washington Daily (January 14, 1982): Interview with Mrs. Zapiorkowska, with commentary by Roman Golubiec

University of Washington Daily (January 14, 1982): Report by an ex-university student visiting Poland before and at the beginning of martial law

University of Washington Daily (January 14, 1982): Article on the situation in Poland and Solidarity

Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times (October 17, 1996): Report on President Lech Wałęsa’s lecture at the Seattle Celebrity Forum.

Program of a “What Was, What Is, What Will Be” lecture (1980)

Program of a “What Was, What Is, What Will Be” lecture (1980)

Petition to the Federal Government handed to Sen. H. Jackson after the introduction of martial law in Poland (1981)

An appeal for financial support of Solidarity (1982)

Flyer: “Support Freedom for Solidarity” (198283)

Screening notice for “Interrogation,” a film smuggled out of Poland (1892). Screening arranged by Dr. Ewa Sledziewska

Thank you letter to President Reagan for his help for Poland (1983)

 

Flyer: “Support Solidarity”

One of major requirements of the Rural Resistance Committee,1984 - See attachement A

Flyer Solidarity Lives, 1985.

Flyer distributed at the USCanadian border, 1985

Flyer distributed at the USCanadian border, 1985

Flyer and an invitation to a picnic at the USCanadian border, 1987

Letter from Algimantas Gureckas of the Lithuanian World Community

Letter from Dr. Pietrzyk to the Lithuanian World Council about the eastern borders of Poland, 1985

Proclamation of the Washington State Governor announcing August 23, 1988 as “Black Ribbon Day” condemning the Ribbbentrop-Molotow treaty

Announcement for International Solidarity Day in Seattle

Thank you note from Lech Wałęsa for Christmas cards, 1984

Invitation to a meeting with President Lech Wałęsa in Seattle, 1996.

Registration document of the Solidarność Association in the State of Washington, 1985

Dissolution document for the Solidarność Association in the State of Washington, 1997

Invitation to the 20th Anniversary of Solidarity exhibit, 2000

 

 ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS

Signature collection for a petition to the federal government. Roman Golubiec and Dr. Ewa Sledziewski

December 15, 1981 demonstration against the imposition of martial law in Poland

Burning of the Soviet flag during the December 15, 1981 demonstration in Seattle

Roman Gołubiec and Sen. Henry Jackson.

Senator Henry Jackson starting his election campaign in 1980.

Sen. Henry Jackson and Jan Cieślar at the Polish Home.

The Chamber Orchestra of the Warsaw Philharmonic passed through Seattle at the end of December 1981.

Large meteorological balloons with theSolidarnosc logo and bouquets of flowers were hung in various places around Seattle, and were visible from the center of the city.

Ex-internees from Seattle (USA) and Vancouver (Canada) in front of the Peace Arch on the US-Canadian border

Distributing flyers on the US-Canadian border

Demonstration organized by “Pomost”

Bogdan Bazant speaking during a demonstration in support of Solidarity

One of the demonstrations in support of Solidarity

Balloons released at Gas Works Park during a demonstration organized by the Baltic Countries

Jan Pietrzak at a private home after a concert

Cdr. Wilhelm Pacewicz, Mjr. Jozef Koziarski and Amb. Max Kampelman at the Polish Home

Group photograph during Amb. Max Kampelman’s visit to the Polish Home. First row: Marta Golubiec, Rosanne Royer (wife of Seattle mayor Charles Royer), Barbara Okinczyc, Elzbieta Pacewicz. Second row: Cdr. Pacewicz, Janusz Zygmunt, Tadeusz Skrobecki, Max Kampelman, Maria Pietrzyk, Jan Cieslar, Prof. Pietrzyk, Zbigniew Czajkowski and Jozef Orsen.

Amb. Max Kampelman and Marta Golubiec during his visit at the Polish Home

Stamps produced by Solidarity internees, on exhibit at a Canadian scout camp

Novak-Jezioranski in discussion with Hanna and Mateusz Karczewski at the home of Prof. I. Boba.

Roman Golubiec and attorney Jacek Taylor

Joanna Szczęsna in Seattle.

Zbigniew Pietrzyk, Prof. Czeslaw Milosz and Ziomek Pawluskiewicz after a lecture at the University of Washington

Dr. Maria Pietrzyk, Prof. Czeslaw Milosz, Katarzyna Pietrzyk and Marta Golubiec at a private home after a lecture by Prof. Milosz

Dr. Jadwiga Giebultowicz

Elzbieta Choszcz, Jan Pietrzak, Martha Golubiec

Jacek Kaczmarski with his wife in Seattle.

Hiroshi Umeda, Mira Pawluskieicz and Tad Skrobecki