On August 31, 1980, the trade union Solidarity was founded at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk, Poland. Solidarity became a symbol of anti-communism in the 1980s, and inspired other groups to oppose the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc governments.
 
Solidarity was never simply a labor union. Although led by dockworker Lech Walesa, the union included leaders of the Catholic Church (who sought support from the Polish Pope John Paul II); students; and intellectuals who opposed the authoritarian government of Poland. At its height, nearly a third of all Poles were members of Solidarity. 
 
The military government of Poland tried to silence Solidarity and other critics by imposing strict martial law. When those rules were relaxed and semi-free elections were held for the first time in 1989, Lech Walesa was elected president. 
authoritarian
Adjective

form of leadership where individual power is limited and the power of a single leader or group of leaders is strengthened.

Catholic
Adjective

having to do with the Christian denomination with the Pope as its leader.

critic
Noun

opponent of a policy.

Eastern Bloc
Noun

(1945-1989) states and nations in central and eastern Europe under the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union.

election
Noun

selection of people to public office by vote.

found
Verb

to start or establish something.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

inspire
Verb

to influence to act.

intellectual
Adjective

having to do with knowledge, or a knowledgeable person.

labor
Noun

work or employment.

martial law
Noun

legal system established and enforced by the military.

military
Noun

armed forces.

oppose
Verb

to be or act against something.

pope
Noun

leader of the Catholic Church.

Soviet Union
Noun

(1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

trade
Noun

buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

union
Noun
organization of workers formed to protect the rights and interests of its members.