The Contested Legacy of 1989 in Poland
Poland had the largest and most durable anti-communist opposition movement in history, Solidarity. Its leaders negotiated a peaceful exit from communism at the famous Polish Roundtable of 1989, which initiated a course of radical political and economic reforms. By the twentieth anniversary of the fall of communism, Poland had a tested democracy and one of the strongest economies in Europe. And yet its political culture was torn apart by an intense symbolic and rhetorical war. Paradoxically, at the root of this war are divergent interpretations of the events that brought down communism in 1989. Furthermore, the combatants were two political formations that emerged from Solidarity, former brothers in arms. The chapter provides a detailed analysis of the mnemonic contest over the meaning of the 1989 breakthrough and the significance of this conflict for the functioning of Polish political system.
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