When Poland’s Solidarity trade union movement was founded in 1980, several Western countries and labor unions shuddered at the idea of those upstart Poles daring to challenge the post-1945 settlement and the Iron Curtain that divided Europe.
The feeling at the time was that the Cold War had brought about stability. Forget the fact that Soviet tanks had crushed the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 or the Prague Spring of 1968. And forget the silencing of dissidents across Eastern and Central Europe. But the West’s acceptance of the Cold War status quo—often blindly supported by left-wing parties—was not going to stop those behind the Iron Curtain who wanted freedom and democracy.