Gdansk – 10

Although the authorities were hoping to reduce the effectiveness of the Gdansk Agreement for workers’ rights in Poland, a number of different events conspired against them. The first was the film Man of Iron by the Polish director Andrzej Wajda, about the shipyard strike of 1980, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1981. The publicity for the film meant the authorities couldn’t prohibit it from the cinemas. 

The second event was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Lech Walesa on 5th October 1983. Walesa feared he would not be let back into Poland, so his wife Danuta and son Bogdan accepted the award on his behalf. The biggest reason why Poland remained in the news was that the Pope John Paul II was Polish and the pontiff visited his homeland often, including paying a visit to Walesa in June 1983 after the Solidarity leader had been released from prison.

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