As far as the Polish People’s Republic (PRL) and the communist years are concerned,
support from professional organizations, society members, authorities and Polish
emigration in Sweden to the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union (NSZZ) Solidarity
(“Solidarność”) and democratic opposition took a number of forms. Before the first
independent trade union was established, activists of the Swedish Social Democratic Labour
Party had supported the creation of such structures in the Polish People’s Republic
(PRL). Furthermore, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen and
Sverige – LO), whose members were mainly social democrats, already during the 1980
strikes got in touch with the structures organizing public speeches of Polish workers.
Consequently, the Swedish party supported striking workers on an international arena.
This help was provided among others by Olof Palme, chairman of the Swedish Social
Democratic Labour Party, as well as in the form of financial assistance for organizational
purposes and the purchase of printing machines. When martial law was imposed in the Polish People’s Republic and Solidarity together with other opposition groups were
declared illegal, Social Democratic and other Swedish trade unions supported the Polish
underground democratic opposition in a number of ways. Money and gifts were collected
and sent to PRL, and numerous propaganda and information activities were undertaken
in Scandinavia, Europe and all over the world.
Apart from the assistance provided by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation
(LO), support from the Swedish officials and Swedish society was of profound importance
to the opposition groups established in the Polish People’s Republic. After martial
law had been imposed in PRL, minister Ole Ullsten together with Danish and Norwegian
ministers of foreign affairs unanimously criticized restricting civil liberties in the Polish
People’s Republic as well as detaining (arresting) of Solidarity leaders and activists.
Strong support for the then illegal structures of Solidarity and Polish people was offered
by Swedish non-governmental and charity organizations such as the Swedish Red Cross,
organization “Save the Children”, Lutheran Help, Free Evangelic Church and Individual
Relief. Attention should also be paid to help provided by Swedish people and Swedish
Special emphasis should also be placed on support that the democratic opposition
groups in the Polish People’s Republic received from their compatriots in Sweden. Two
organizations, namely Polish Emigration Council (RUP), consisting of 16 pro-independence
organizations, and Polish Emigration Federation (FUP), coordinated aid programmes
launched in Sweden to give a hand to Solidarity and the democratic opposition.
Last but not least, one mustn’t neglect support from Denmark-based Scandinavian
Committee for Independent Poland headed by professor Eugeniusz S. Kruszewski.
By the time it was transformed into Polish-Scandinavian Institute in December 1984,
the aforementioned Committee had been leading a propaganda campaign, among other
things in Sweden, to provide reliable information about political goings-on, the persecuted
oppositionists, steps taken by the communist regime and actions taken internationally
to help Polish people.
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