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Lech Wałęsa

In office
22 December 1990 – 22 December 1995
Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, Jan Olszewski, Waldemar Pawlak, Hanna Suchocka, Józef Oleksy
Preceded by Wojciech Jaruzelski (in country) Ryszard Kaczorowski (in exile)
Succeeded by Aleksander Kwaśniewski

In office
1980 – 12 December 1990
Preceded by N/A
Succeeded by Marian Krzaklewski

Born 29 September 1943 (1943-09-29) (age 66)
Popowo, Poland)
Political party Solidarity
Spouse(s) Danuta Wałęsa
Profession Electrician
Religion Roman Catholic

Lech Wałęsa (IPA:Lech Walesa.ogg [ˈlɛx vaˈwɛ̃sa] ; born 29 September 1943) is a Polish politician and trade-union and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity (Solidarność), the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland 1990−95.[1]

Wałęsa was an electrician by trade, with no higher education. Soon after beginning work at the Gdańsk (then, "Lenin") Shipyards, he became a trade-union activist. For this he was persecuted by the Polish communist government, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980 he was instrumental in negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government, and he became a co-founder of the Solidarity trade-union movement. Arrested again after martial law was imposed and Solidarity was outlawed, upon release he continued his activism and was prominent in the establishment of the 1989 Round Table Agreement that led to semi-free parliamentary elections in June 1989 and to a Solidarity-led government.

In 1990 he successfully ran for the newly re-established office of President of Poland. He presided over Poland's transformation from a communist to a post-communist state, but his popularity waned. After he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election, his role in Polish politics was diminished. His international fame remains, however, and he speaks and lectures in Poland and abroad on history and politics.



Wałęsa was born in Popowo, Poland, on 29 September 1943.[1] His father Bolesław was a carpenter who died shortly after World War II.[1][2][3]

Lech graduated from primary school and vocational school in nearby Chalin and Lipno, and did his obligatory stint of military service, attaining the rank of corporal, before beginning work at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk (Stocznia Gdańska im. Lenina, now the Gdańsk Shipyard, Stocznia Gdańska) as an electrician in 1966 or 1967 (sources vary).[1][2][3][4]

On 8 December 1969 he married Danuta Gołoś. The couple have eight children: Bogdan, Sławomir, Przemysław, Jarosław, Magdalena, Anna, Maria-Wiktoria, Brygida.[2][3]



From early on, Wałęsa was interested in workers' concerns; in 1968 he encouraged shipyard colleagues to boycott official rallies that condemned recent student strikes.[2] A charismatic leader,[5] he was an organizer of the illegal 1970 strikes at the Gdańsk Shipyard (the Polish 1970 protests) when workers protested the government's decree raising food prices; he was considered for chairman of the strike committee.[1][2] The strikes' outcome, involving over 30 worker deaths, galvanized his views on the need for change.[2] In June 1976, Wałęsa lost his job at the Gdańsk Shipyards for his continued involvement in illegal unions, strikes and a campaign to commemorate the victims of the 1970 protests.[1][2][3] Afterwards, he worked as an electrician for several other companies, but was continually laid off for his activism and was jobless for long periods.[2] He and his family were under constant surveillance by the Polish secret police; his home and workplace were always bugged.[2] Over the next few years, he was arrested several times for participating in dissident activities.[1]

Wałęsa worked closely with the Workers' Defense Committee (KOR), a group that emerged to lend aid to individuals arrested after 1976 labor strikes and to their families.[1] In June 1978 he became an activist of the underground Free Trade Unions of the Coast (Wolne Związki Zawodowe Wybrzeża).[3] On 14 August 1980, after another food-price hike led to a strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk—a strike of which he was one of the instigators—Wałęsa scaled the shipyard fence and, once inside, quickly became one of the strike leaders.[1][2] The strike inspired similar strikes, first at Gdańsk, then across Poland. Wałęsa headed the Inter-Plant Strike Committee, coordinating the workers at Gdańsk and at 20 other plants in the region.[1] On 31 August, the communist government, represented by Mieczysław Jagielski, signed an accord (the Gdańsk Agreement) with the Strike Coordinating Committee.[1] The agreement, besides granting the Lenin Shipyard workers the right to strike, permitted them to form their own independent trade union.[6] The Strike Coordinating Committee legalized itself as the National Coordinating Committee of the Solidarność (Solidarity) Free Trade Union, and Wałęsa was chosen chairman of the Committee.[1][3] The Solidarity trade union quickly grew, ultimately claiming over 10 million members—more than a quarter of Poland's population.[7] Wałęsa's role in the strike, in the negotiations, and in the newly-formed independent trade union gained him fame on the international stage.[1][2]

Wałęsa held his position until 13 December 1981, when General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law.[1] Wałęsa, like many other Solidarity leaders and activists, was arrested; he would be incarcerated for 11 months at several eastern towns (Chylice, Otwock, and Arłamów, near the Soviet border) until 14 November 1982.[2][3] On October 8, 1982, Solidarity was outlawed.[8] In 1983 Wałęsa applied to return to the Gdańsk Shipyard as a simple electrician.[2] That same year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.[1] He was unable to accept it himself, fearing that Poland's government would not let him back into the country.[1][2] His wife Danuta accepted the prize on his behalf.[1][2]

Through the mid-1980s, Wałęsa continued underground Solidarity-related activities.[4] Every issue of the leading underground weekly, Tygodnik Mazowsze, bore his motto, "Solidarity will not be divided or destroyed."[9] Following a 1986 amnesty for Solidarity activists,[10] Wałęsa co-founded the first overt legal Solidarity entity since the declaration of martial law—the Provisional Council of NSZZ Solidarity (Tymczasowa Rada NSZZ Solidarność).[4] From 1987 to 1990, he organized and led the "semi-illegal" Provisional Executive Committee of the Solidarity Trade Union. In late summer 1988, he instigated work-stoppage strikes at the Gdańsk Shipyard.[4]

After months of strikes and political deliberations, at the conclusion of the 10th plenary session of the Polish United Workers Party, or PZPR (the Polish communist party), the government agreed to enter into Round Table Negotiations that lasted from February to April 1989.[1] Wałęsa was an informal leader of the "non-governmental" side in the negotiations.[3] During the talks, he traveled the length and breadth of Poland, giving speeches in support of the negotiations.[1] At the end of the talks, the government signed an agreement to re-establish the Solidarity Trade Union and to organize "semi-free" elections to the Polish parliament (semi-free since, in accordance with the Round Table Agreement, only members of the Communist Party and its allies could stand for 65% of the seats in the Sejm).[1][7][11][12]

In December 1988, Wałęsa co-founded the Solidarity Citizens' Committee.[3] Theoretically it was merely an advisory body, but in practice it was a kind of political party and won the parliamentary elections in June 1989 (Solidarity took all the seats in the Sejm that were subject to free elections, and all but one seat in the newly re-established Senate).[13] Wałęsa was one of Solidarity's most public figures; though he did not run for parliament himself, he was an active campaigner, appearing on many campaign posters.[1] In fact, Solidarity winners in the Sejm elections were referred to as "Wałęsa's team" or "Lech's team," as all those who won had appeared on their election posters together with him.[14][15]

While ostensibly only chairman of Solidarity, Wałęsa played a key role in practical politics. At the end of 1989 he persuaded leaders of former communist-allied parties to form a non-communist coalition government — the first non-Communist government in the Soviet Bloc. The parliament elected Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister — the first non-communist Polish prime minister in over four decades.[7]


Wałęsa (right) with former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum

Following the June 1989 parliamentary elections, Wałęsa was disappointed that some of his former comrades-in-arms were satisfied to govern alongside former communists.[7] He decided to run for the newly re-established office of president, using the slogan, "I don't want to, but I've got no choice" ("Nie chcem, ale muszem.").[1][7] On 9 December 1990, Wałęsa won the presidential election, defeating Prime Minister Mazowiecki and other candidates to become the first democratically elected president of Poland.[2] In 1993 he founded his own political party, the Nonpartisan Bloc for Support of Reforms (BBWR — the initials echoed those of Józef Piłsudski's "Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government," of 1928–35, likewise an ostensibly non-political organization).

During his presidency, Wałęsa saw Poland through privatization and transition to a free-market economy (the Balcerowicz Plan), Poland's 1991 first completely free parliamentary elections, and a period of redefinition of Poland's foreign relations.[1][5] He successfully negotiated the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Polish soil and won a substantial reduction in Poland's foreign debts.[2]

Wałęsa supported Poland's entry into NATO and into the European Union (both these goals would be realized after his presidency, in 1999 and 2004, respectively).[2] In the early 1990s, Wałęsa proposed the creation of a "NATO bis" as a sub-regional security system. The concept, while supported by right-wing and populist movements in Poland, garnered little support abroad; Poland's neighbors, some of whom (e.g., Lithuania) had only recently regained independence, tended to see the proposal as Polish "neo-imperialism."[7][16]

Wałęsa has been criticized for a confrontational style and for instigating "war at the top," whereby former Solidarity allies clashed with one another, causing annual changes of government.[5][7][9][17].[18] This increasingly isolated Wałęsa on the political scene.[19] As he lost more and more political allies, he came to be surrounded by people who were viewed by the public as incompetent and disreputable.[9][19] Mudslinging during election campaigns tarnished his reputation.[1][20] The ex-electrician with no higher education was thought by some to be too plain-spoken and too undignified for the post of president.[5][7][21] Others thought him too erratic in his views[7][18][22] or complained that he was too authoritarian — that he sought to strengthen his own power at the expense of the Sejm.[7][18][19][21] Finally, Wałęsa's problems were compounded by the difficult transition to a market economy; while in the long run it was seen as highly successful, it lost Wałęsa's government much popular support.[18][19][23]

Wałęsa's BBWR performed poorly in the 1993 parliamentary elections; at times his popular support dwindled to some 10%, and he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election, gathering 48.72% of the vote in the run-off against Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who represented the resurgent Polish post-communists (the Democratic Left Alliance, SLD).[1][7][19] Wałęsa's fate was sealed by his poor handling of the media; in the televised debates, he came off as incoherent and rude; at the end of the first of the two debates, in response to Kwaśniewski's extended hand, he replied that the post-communist leader could "shake his leg."[19] After the election, Wałęsa said he was going to go into "political retirement," and his role in politics became increasingly marginal.[17][24][25]

Later years

Since the end of his presidency, Wałęsa has lectured on Central European history and politics at various universities and organizations.[26][27] In 1996 he founded the Lech Walesa Institute, a think tank whose mission is to support democracy and local governments in Poland and throughout the world.[2] In 1997 he helped organize a new party, Christian Democracy of the 3rd Polish Republic;[4] he also supported the coalition Solidarity Electoral Action (Akcja Wyborcza Solidarność), which won the 1997 parliamentary elections.[4][7] However, the party's real leader and main organizer was a new Solidarity Trade Union leader, Marian Krzaklewski.[28] Wałęsa ran again in the 2000 presidential election, but received only 1% of the vote.[20] During Poland's 2005 presidential elections, Wałęsa supported Donald Tusk, saying that he was the best candidate.[29]

In 2006 Wałęsa quit Solidarity, citing differences over the union's support of the Law and Justice party, and the rise to power of Lech and Jarosław Kaczyński.[30] On 27 February 2008, at Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, in Houston, Texas, in the United States, Wałęsa underwent a coronary artery stent placement and the implantation of a cardiac pacemaker.[31] In the run-up to the 2009 European Parliament elections, he appeared at a rally in Rome to endorse the pan-European eurosceptic party Libertas, describing it and its founder Declan Ganley as "a force for good in the world."[32][33] Wałęsa admitted that he had been paid to give the speech but claimed to support Civic Platform, while expressing the hope that Libertas candidates would be elected to the European Parliament.[32]

Over the years, Wałesa has been accused of having in the early 1970s been a secret informer, codenamed "Bolek," for the secret police, Służba Bezpieczeństwa. On 11 August 2000, the Warsaw Appellate Court, V Wydział Lustracyjny, declared that Wałęsa's lustration statement was true — that he had not collaborated with the communist regime.[34] Nonetheless, periodically the question resurfaces. A 2008 book by historians from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), Sławomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, received substantial coverage in the media, provoked a hot nation-wide debate, and was noted by the international press.[35][36][37][38] The book is seen as very controversial.[39] Wałęsa himself denies having collaborated with the secret police, and others have noted that the Polish secret police commonly falsified documents.[22][40] In November 2009 Wałęsa sued the current president of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, over his having repeated the collaboration allegations.[41]


Wałęsa is a strong supporter of the traditional family.[7] He is also a devout Roman Catholic[7] and a staunch critic of abortion, and has said that he would rather have resigned the presidency twenty times than sign into law a bill permitting abortion in Poland.[42]

He has also said that he is interested in information technology and likes to use new developments in that field. He has claimed to have personally assembled several computers to find out how they work, and has said that he takes a smartphone, a palmtop, and a laptop with him when traveling.[43] Early in 2006 he revealed that he is a registered user of the Polish instant-messaging service Gadu-Gadu, and was granted a new special user number — 1980.[44] Later that year, he also said that he used Skype, his "handle" being lwprezydent2006.[45]. It is rumored that around 1980 Gillette offered him $1,000,000 to shave off his trademark moustache in a commercial, but that he refused.[27][46] A couple of years later, though, he surprised the public by shaving off the mustache for personal reasons.[27]


Apart from his 1983 Nobel Peace Prize,[47] Wałęsa has received many other international distinctions and awards.[3] He has been named "Man of the Year" by Time Magazine (1981), The Financial Times (1980) and The Observer (1980).[3] He was the first recipient of the Liberty Medal, on 4 July 1989 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,[48] and that same year received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[49] He is the third foreigner and the first non-head-of-state to have addressed a joint session of the United States Congress (15 November 1989).[3]

On 8 February 2002, Wałęsa represented Europe, carrying the Olympic flag at the opening ceremonies of the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, in company with Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Africa), John Glenn (the Americas), Kazuyoshi Funaki (Asia), Cathy Freeman (Oceania), Jean-Michel Cousteau (Environment), Jean-Claude Killy (Sport), and Steven Spielberg (Culture).[50][51] Two years later, on 10 May 2004, Gdańsk International Airport was officially renamed Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport to commemorate a famous Gdańsk citizen, and his signature was incorporated into the airport's logo.[52]

A month later, in June 2004, Wałęsa represented Poland at the state funeral of Ronald Reagan.[53] On 11 October 2006, Wałęsa was keynote speaker at the launch of "International Human Solidarity Day," proclaimed in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly.[54] In January 2007 Wałęsa spoke at a Taiwan event, "Towards a Global Forum on New Democracies," in support of peace and democracy, along with other prominent world leaders and Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian.[55]

On 25 April 2007, Wałęsa represented the Polish government at the funeral of Boris Yeltsin, former President of the Russian Federation.[56] On 23 October 2009, he spoke at a conference in Gdansk of presidents of all European senates, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first free parliamentary elections in a former communist country — the 1989 elections to the Polish Senate.


A partial list of Wałęsa's honors and awards includes:


Wałęsa has been awarded over 30 honorary doctorates by universities around the world, including:[3][58]

Popular culture

Wałęsa has been portrayed in numerous works of popular culture. In Volker Schlöndorff's film Strike, a character based on Wałęsa was played by Polish actor Andrzej Chyra.[59] Wałęsa played himself in Andrzej Wajda's 1981 Golden Palm-winning film about Solidarity, Man of Iron.[60] While this was perhaps his best-known movie appearance, he has played himself in some 20 other productions.[61]

In the 1990s two satirical Polish songs, "Nie wierzcie elektrykom" ("Don't Trust Electricians") by Big Cyc, and "Wałęsa, gdzie moje 100 000 000" ("Wałęsa, Where's My 100,000,000 [złotych]?") by Kazik Staszewski, were major hits in Poland, and another song about Wałęsa was composed in 2009 by Holy Smoke.[62] He also inspired U2's song "New Year's Day" on their War album.[63] Coincidentally the Polish authorities lifted martial law on 1 January 1983, the very day that this single came out.[64] Patrick Dailly's Solidarity, starring Kristen Brown as Wałęsa, was premiered by the San Francisco Cabaret Opera in Berkeley and Oakland, California, in September and October 2009.[65]

Wałęsa has been the subject of dozens of books and articles.[66][67][68][69][70] He himself has authored three books: Droga nadziei (The Road of Hope, 1987), Droga do wolności (The Road to Freedom, 1991), and Wszystko, co robię, robię dla Polski (All That I Do, I Do for Poland, 1995).[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "CNN Cold War - Profile: Lech Walesa". CNN. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s A Biographical Note, Lech Walesa Institute
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc ON THE FOUNDER, Lech Walesa Institute
  4. ^ a b c d e f g (Polish) Wałęsa Lech, Encyklopedia WIEM
  5. ^ a b c d "Lech Wałęsa," Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 11, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  6. ^ Hunter, Richard J.; Leo V. Ryan (1998). From Autarchy to Market: Polish Economics and Politics 1945-1995. Westport, CN: Praeger. p. 51. ISBN 0275962199.,M1. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Timothy Garton Ash, Lech Walesa, Time: The Time 100 - The Most Important People of the Century, Monday, April 13, 1998
  8. ^ Perdue, William D (October 1995) (ebook). Paradox of Change: The Rise and Fall of Solidarity in the New Poland. Praeger/Greenwood. p. 9. ISBN 0275952959. Retrieved 2006-07-10. 
  9. ^ a b c Timothy Garton Ash, "Poland After Solidarity," The New York Review of Books, vol. 38, no. 11 (June 13, 1991).
  10. ^ "Negotiations and the big debate (1984–88)". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-07-10. 
  11. ^ "Half-free and far from easy: Poland's election," The Economist, May 27, 1989.
  12. ^ Lewis Pauk, "Non-Competitive Elections and Regime Change: Poland 1989," Parliamentary Affairs, 1990, 43: 90-107.
  13. ^ POLAND. Parliamentary Chamber: Sejm. Elections held in 1989. Inter-Parliamentary Union. Last accessed 28 January 2010.
  14. ^ (Polish) Grażyna Zwolińska, Historyczne wybory 4 czerwca 1989: Zwycięstwo drużyny Lecha ("Historic Elections of 4 June 1989: Victory of Lech's Team", Gazeta Lubuska, 6 June 2009.
  15. ^ (Polish) Jarosław Osowski, "Warszawska drużyna Lecha Wałęsy" ("Lech Wałęsa's Warsaw Team"), Gazeta Wyborcza, 2009-06-04.
  16. ^ Monika Wohlefeld, 1996,"Security Cooperation in Central Europe: Polish Views. NATO," 1996.
  17. ^ a b From "Walesa, Lech," Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, 2001.
  18. ^ a b c d Jane Perlez, "Walesa, Once atop a High Pedestal, Seems to Stand on a Slippery Slope", New York Times, July 6, 1994.
  19. ^ a b c d e f Voytek Zubek, "The Eclipse of Walesa's Political Career," Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 49, no. 1 (January 1997), pp. 107-24.
  20. ^ a b Wojtek Kosc, "Here He Comes Again: The Predicted Re-election of Kwaśniewski," Central Europe Review, vol. 2, no. 35, 16 October 2000.
  21. ^ a b "Lech Walesa (1943- )," A Guide to the 20th century: Who's Who, Channel 4.
  22. ^ a b "Economist article". Economist article. 1990-09-22. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  23. ^ Danielle Lussier, "From Solidarity to Division: An Analysis of Lech Walesa's Transition to Constituted Leadership", working paper, UC Berkeley.
  24. ^ Wojtek Kosc, "Here He Comes Again: Poland: Heating Up for the Presidency," Central Europe Review, vol. 2, no. 10, 13 March 2000.
  25. ^ "Europe: Poland: Walesa In Polystyrene," New York Times, December 17, 2003.
  26. ^ Jane Perlez, "Out of a Job, Walesa Decides to Take to the Lecture Circuit," New York Times, February 29, 1996.
  27. ^ a b c Etgar Lefkovits, Walesa: World needs to combat Iranian threat, The Jerusalem Post, Jan 15, 2008
  28. ^ .Krzysztof Jasiewicz, "The 2000 presidential election in Poland," The National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, 2001.
  29. ^ Judy Dempsey, "Warsaw Mayor Is Poised to Win Runoff in Poland," New York Times, October 24, 2005.
  30. ^ "Lech Walesa Quits Solidarity," Wikinews, Tuesday, August 22, 2006.
  31. ^ "Walesa leaves Texas hospital after heart treatment Reuters". 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  32. ^ a b Gibbons, Fiachra (7 May 2009). "Libertas, Lech and some odd bedfellows". France24 (France 24, RADIO FRANCE INTERNATIONALE). Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  33. ^ Jaroslaw Walesa, Poland, One to watch - 25/05/2009, France 24, RADIO FRANCE INTERNATIONALE
  34. ^ (Polish) Piotr Gontarczyk, Sławomir Cenckiewicz, "Jak lustrowano prezydenta Wałęsę" ("How President Wałęsa Was Lustrated"), rp. pl, 18-06-2008.
  35. ^ (Polish) "SB a Lech Walesa. Przyczynek do biografii (The SB and Lech Wałęsa: A Biographical Contribution)". Instytut Pamięci Narodowej ( 2006-02-16. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  36. ^ "Row over Lech Wałęsa's Alleged Collaboration with Communists Escalates," Wikinews, Friday, June 20, 2008.
  37. ^ Michael Szporer, "SB a Lech Wałęsa: Przyczynek do biografii (review)," Journal of Cold War Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, Spring 2009, pp. 119-121. Online
  38. ^ Roger Boyes, "Lech Walesa was a Communist spy, says new book," The Times, June 25, 2008.
  39. ^ "'Positive Proof' Lech Walesa Was a Communist Spy: Interview with Historian Slawomir Cenkiewicz," Der Spiegel, 23 June 2008.
  40. ^ Wojciech Czuchnowski (2008-06-19). "Gazeta Wyborcza: How the SB produced false documents on Wałęsa".,80271,5326682,Jak_esbecy_falszowali_kwity_na_Walese.html. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  41. ^ Nicholas Kulish, EUROPE; Poland: Former Leader Sues President, New York Times, November 25, 2009
  42. ^ Former Polish president: I would have resigned the presidency rather than legalize abortion. Catholic News Agency, May 21, 2009.
  43. ^ (Polish) Jarosław Rybus (2006-02-20). "Wywiad z Lechem Wałęsą (Interview with Lech Wałęsa)". GG Network S.A..,3673,1,Wywiad,z,Lechem,Walesa.html. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  44. ^ (Polish) Ł. Macheta (20 January 2006). "Nowy numer GG dla Wałęsy (New GG number for Wałęsa)". Mediarun Sp. z o.o..,. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  45. ^ Marcin Maj. "Wałęsa na Skype". Dziennik Internautów.,Walesa_na_Skype.html. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  46. ^ John Bank, Lech Walesa and the Polish Workers' Revolt, Employee Relations, Year: 1981, Volume: 3, Issue: 5, Page: 2 - 8, ISSN: 0142-5455
  47. ^ a b "The Nobel Peace Prize 1983: Lech Walesa". Nobel Prize Foundation. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  48. ^ a b "1989 Recipient Lech Walesa - Liberty Medal - National Constitution Center". 1989-07-04. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  49. ^ Maureen Dowd, Envoy; BUSH GIVE WALESA MEDAL OF FREEDOM, New York Times, November 14, 1989
  50. ^ Carter B. Horsley, Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games: The Greatest Television Program Ever?
  51. ^ Jean-Michel Cousteau (biography), Winter Park Institute, Rollins College
  52. ^ (Polish) Prezydent Lech Wałęsa patronem Portu Lotniczego Gdańsk (President Lech Wałęsa - patron of Gdańsk Airport), 10 maja 2004 r., Gdańsk Airport Website
  53. ^ Fast Facts: Who's Who at Reagan Funeral, Fox News, Friday, June 11, 2004
  54. ^ Lech Walesa Welcomes Launch of International Human Solidarity Day at UN, News Blaze, November 11, 2006
  55. ^ "Press Release". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tiwan. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  56. ^ FACTBOX: Dignitaries attending funeral of Boris Yeltsin, Reuters, Tue Apr 24, 2007
  57. ^ Mexico: Lech Walesa receives the Legion of Liberty Award - IPEA, March 2, 2009
  58. ^ (Polish) Honorowe tytuły (Honorary titles), Lech Walesa Institute
  59. ^ Strajk - Die Heldin von Danzig (2006), IMBd
  60. ^ Czlowiek z zelaza (1981), IMBd
  61. ^ Lech Walesa, IMDb
  62. ^ (Polish) Anita Zabłocka, "Lech Wałęsa w wersji heavy metal" ("Lech Wałęsa in Heavy Metal"), Wiadomości 24, 2009-08-19.
  63. ^ New Year's Day,
  64. ^ Mick Wall, Bono: In the Name of Love (London: Andre Deutsche, 2005), 92.
  65. ^ Ken Bullock, SF Cabaret Opera Premieres ‘Solidarity’Ken Bullock, Berkeley Daily Planet, Thursday September 24, 2009
  66. ^ Results of Google Books search for works with "Lech Walesa" in title
  67. ^ Results of Worldcat search for works with "Lech Walesa" in title
  68. ^ Results of Open Library search for works with "Lech Walesa" in title
  69. ^ (Polish) Media o Lechu Wałęsie (Media on Lech Wałęsa), Lech Wałęsa Institute
  70. ^ (Polish) Wywiady Lecha Wałęsy (Interviews of Lech Wałęsa], Lech Wałęsa Institute

Further reading

  • Lech Walesa, The Struggle and the Triumph: An Autobiography, with the collaboration of Arkadius Rybicki, translated by Franklin Philip, in collaboration with Helen Mahut, New York, Arcade Publishers, 1992.

External links



Political offices
Preceded by
Wojciech Jaruzelski (in country) and Ryszard Kaczorowski (in exile)
President of Poland
Succeeded by
Aleksander Kwaśniewski


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Lech Wałęsa (born 29 September 1943) is a Polish political activist and politician, a leader of the Solidarity trade union and political movement, who became the first democratically elected President of Poland (1990 - 1995) after the fall of the People's Republic of Poland. He is well known for his unintendedly humorous quotes.

  • If there were fish in the lake, fishing would make no sense.
    • Gdyby w jeziorze były ryby, wędkowanie nie miałoby sensu.
  • I have made a 360 degree turn.
    • Dokonałem zwrotu o 360 stopni.
  • I'm in favor, and even against.
    • Jestem za, a nawet przeciw.
  • I wants not, but I has to.
    • Nie chcem, ale muszem.
    • Refers to Wałęsa perceiving his participation in the Polish political scene after his presidency as an obligation. He deliberately pronounced the phrase incorrectly.
  • I was arrested many times. The first time, in December 1970, I signed 3 or 4 documents. Most probably I'd sign anything then, except consent for the betrayal of God and Fatherland, to get out and be able to fight. I have never been broken and I have never betrayed the ideals or my comrades.
    • Aresztowano mnie wiele razy. Za pierwszym razem, w grudniu 1970 roku, podpisałem 3 albo 4 dokumenty. Podpisałbym prawdopodobnie wtedy wszystko, oprócz zgody na zdradę Boga i Ojczyzny, by wyjść i móc walczyć. Nigdy mnie nie złamano i nigdy nie zdradziłem ideałów ani kolegów.
    • A note to the Polish Press Agency issued on 4th June 1992 after the publication of a list of Communist collaborators compiled by Antoni Macierewicz.[1]
  • Pros of the European Union have their pros and cons.
    • Plusy Unii Europejskiej mają swoje plusy i minusy.
  • To you, sir, I can at most give a leg to shake.
    • Panu to ja mogę co najwyżej nogę podać. To Aleksander Kwaśniewski during the 1995 election debate, after he refused to shake his hand; in the end, however, they did shake hands.
  • There are positive pluses and negative pluses.
    • Są plusy dodatnie i plusy ujemne.
  • There should be a left leg and a right leg. And I'll be in between.
Powinna być lewa noga i prawa noga. A ja będę pośrodku. On the role of the president in the Polish parliament.
  • What president we earned, we have.
Takiego mamy prezydenta, na jakiego sobie zasłużyliśmy.


On communist system

  • We've had enough generals. What Poland needs now are the American generals: General Motors, General Electric, and General Dynamics.
The first sentence is an allusion to the Communist military ruler Wojciech Jaruzelski.
  • Without a single shot we've managed to liberate the world of communism ... but now there is a need for global solidarity.
  • The Polish Communists are just like radishes. They are only red on the outside.
From an interview with Charles McDowell.

On allegations of cooperation with the Communist regime

  • How dare you attack me? Attacking me, thinking bad about me is a crime!
    • Jak Pan w ogóle śmie mnie atakować? Atakowanie mnie, myślenie źle o mnie jest zbrodnią!
    • In response to the documents suggesting that Wałęsa was a secret Communist cooperator code-named "Bolek".
  • One could say I was goofy somewhere, and maybe even outed someone, but not that I was an agent. Not that I wanted to betray anybody. (...) I swear, and damn me if I lie.
    • Można powiedzieć, że byłem gdzieś niezręczny, może nawet kogoś wsypałem, ale nie to, że byłem agentem. Nie to, że chciałem kogoś zdradzić (...) Przysięgam i niech mnie szlag trafi, jeśli kłamię.[2]


  1. Przerwana premiera, an interview by Jerzy Kłosiński and Jan Strękowski with Jan Olszewski, Warsaw 1992
  2. From the IV Copernican Debate at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, after and TVN24

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