Lech Walesa

The story of a simple worker who not only changed his own life, but also the course of an entire nation.

Lech Walesa was a simple electrician working at a Polish dockyard. Dissatisfied with working conditions, he organised a strike. The strike was put down, and Walesa lost his job. A moment that marked the start of his success and the beginning of the end for communism in Poland. But its fall was still a long way off. The first step came with the establishment of the Free Trade Unions of the Coast. Walesa campaigned for workers’ rights, and his political activism soon saw him arrested by the authorities. Forced underground, he continued his work and his message increasingly resonated with workers.

Due to its large number of supporters, the movement was eventually recognised by the government under the name of the National Coordinating Committee of the Solidarność (Solidarity) Free Trade Union. After countless setbacks, Walesa’s political activism saw him win over the support of the whole country. Support was so widespread that he was elected president in the nation’s first free elections in 1991. Full of trials and tribulation, it was a path that earned a humble electrician the title of Nobel Laureate in 1981.