President Walesa led Poland during one of the most difficult
periods in its history. The Soviet Union had just collapsed and
along with it, 50 years of oppressive rule in Eastern Europe.
The transition to freedom was difficult to implement since the
citizens of these nations had become dependant on a State system
that controlled every aspect of their lives. People were slaves
to government because of the corrupt economic and political system.
The very opposite of what Marx had intended, servitude, had been
After communism left Poland, people starved. Conditions in the
short-term were worse than under the totalitarian regime. This
was the challenge that leaders like Walesa faced:
" He has been called a Patriot, freedom fighter, a man
of unparalleled principle and determination……… Lech Walesa is
nothing short of a living legend."
-Governor John Rowland
"I would like to tell you that I felt the Solidarity which
was emanating from Connecticut during our difficult years and
that is why I was able to be a hero."
"We need to enter NATO……… what we are hoping to do is to
set up a common system of safety and in an evolutionary way, by
making one block larger that cuts off the possibility of another
block surging up."
"I would like to request, please do not let our success,
our victory go to waste…………. Many armies have returned home. There
are thousands of soldiers that have returned to Russia without
a shot being fired. There have been no [military] destructions,
but we have to think of the future. I believe in a peaceful evolution
and I believe in a second victory. It is not as spectacular as
the first, because it means work and building and sacrifice, but
this is the fate that we have for today…"
President Lech Walesa of Poland
Speech in the Connecticut House of Representatives.
April 10, 1996