In the aftermath of World War II, Eastern Europe fell under the domination of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R., a.k.a., the Soviet Union). This ‘Eastern Bloc‘ included, among others, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungry, Romania, Yugoslavia, and, of course, the Polish People’s Republic. All were puppets of the Soviet regime. That would eventually change, and the beginning of the end of Eastern Europe’s domination was the Solidarity Trade Union at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk.
But, while Solidarity began here in 1980, the history of dissent toward U.S.S.R. domination really had its start in the Coastal Cities Protests of 1970, in which 42 Poles lost their lives and another thousand injured when the protest was crushed by the Polish People’s Army and the Milicja Obywatelsk (Citizen’s Militia). Many of those killed worked at the Lenin Shipyard. A decade later this uprising was commemorated with the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, which became the first monument in a communist state dedicated to victims of communist oppression.
Now for some blatantly political comments (and a warning):
There is a very fine line between communism and socialism, with socialism having been viewed by Karl Marx as but a first step toward Marxist Communism. Remember that lesson well before you consider voting for an avowed Democratic Socialist come next year’s Democrat presidential primaries and caucuses. Conversely, do not allow the Fox News crowd or many supporters of Donald Trump to confuse you with their attempts to erroneously equate social programs (Medicare, Social Security, etc.) with actual socialism. Social programs are most assuredly not synonymous with socialism, as socialism requires state control of the means of both production and allocation. Anyone trying to link the two is either too ignorant to warrant heeding, or they are trying to scare you into voting against your own interests (and for theirs). Either way, such individuals have no credibility on the subject of either social programs or socialism.
Think social programs have a role in today’s United States? By all means, vote for them. Think socialism does, even if it’s billed as Democratic Socialism? Think again, and heed the examples of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and countless other such experiments in ‘Democratic Socialism’ (an oxymoron if there ever was one), because it is awfully hard to regain your democracy once you open that door toward true socialism.
Okay, off my soapbox for the day. Here are more images of Gdańsk to tide you over until this week’s Fun Photo Friday favorites: