Lech Walesa is Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

Lech Walesa has made the name "Solidarity" more than an expression of the unity of a group campaigning for special interests.

Solidarity has come to represent the determination to resolve conflicts and obliterate disagreement through peaceful negotiation, where all involved meet with a mutual respect for one another's integrity.

On 14 August 1980, after the beginning of an occupational strike in the Lenin Shipyard of Gdańsk, Wałęsa became the leader of this strike. The strike was spontaneously followed by similar strikes, first in Gdańsk, and then across Poland.

In September that year, the Communist government signed an agreement with the Strike Coordination Committee to allow legal organization, but not actual free trade unions. The Strike Coordination Committee legalized itself into National Coordination Committee of Solidarność (Solidarity) Free Trade Union, and Wałęsa was chosen as a chairman of this Committee.

Wałęsa kept this position until 13 December 1981, when he was arrested. General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared a state of martial law on 13 December. Wałęsa was incarcerated for 11 months in eastern Poland in several villages (Chylice, Otwock and Arłamów near the Soviet border) until 14 November 1982.

In 1983, he applied to come back to Gdańsk Shipyard as a simple electrician. The same year, he was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was unable to receive the prize himself, fearing that the government would not let him back in. His wife, Danuta Wałęsa, received the prize in his place.