“Solidarity Lives” graffiti from 1980s found during renovation work

The writing saying 'Solidarność żyje' [Solidarity Lives] dates back to the struggle against the communist regime in the 1980s and was discovered in Lublin on the side of an apartment building late last week. IPN

A hunt is underway for the person who courageously painted a recently uncovered and unique piece of Solidarity graffiti during Martial Law in Lublin.

The writing that dates back to the struggle against the communist regime saying 'Solidarność żyje' [Solidarity Lives] was discovered in Lublin on the side of an apartment building late last week.

According to the Institute of National Remembrance, the graffiti was most likely painted during Martial Law in Poland in 1981-83 and is the only such sign to have been found in Lublin.

The graffiti was found by builders during renovation works.IPN

Paweł Ciężki, co-owner of the company changing the insulation on the building, said at a press conference Tuesday that workers came across the ‘Solidarity Lives’ sign on the wall of the block of flats at 20 Wajdeloty street.

“After removing the sheet metal and wool, nothing was visible. It was only when washing the walls that the white paint began to come off and the inscription became clear,” he said.

According to the director of the Lublin branch of the Institute of National Remembrance Robert Derewenda, the wording of the inscription indicates that it could have been created during Martial Law when Solidarity was outlawed by the communists.

According to Robert Derewenda, director of the Lublin branch of  the Institute of National Remembrance, the graffiti was most likely painted during Martial Law in Poland in 1981-83 and is the only such sign to have been found in Lublin.IPN

“At that time, other graffiti was painted to show that Solidarity was still alive,” Derewenda explained.

He added that the graffiti is a good example to show today’s younger generation how Poles fought against the communist system.

Speaking on Polish Radio, Derewenda said: “We have few such inscriptions in modern architecture. In the 1980s, there were more of them, although the Security Service was very quick to see to it that they were painted over, so their lifespan was very short.”

Similar slogans on walls sometimes appeared with an anchor sign, a reference to the struggle of the Warsaw insurgents. Others ridiculed the communist authorities.

Derewenda (left) said: “We have few such inscriptions in modern architecture. In the 1980s, there were more of them, although the Security Service was very quick to see to it that they were painted over, so their lifespan was very short.”IPN

Derewenda said that he will ask the Lublin Housing Cooperative, which manages the property, to protect the graffiti.

Marian Gągola from the cooperative said that finding the graffiti was a shock for the cooperative and that it is too early to talk about its future.

“We will think about it. We would like to preserve it,’ he said.

The IPN also announced the start of a search for the author and history behind the graffiti.

On the night of 12 December 1981, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, simultaneously Chairman of the Communist party, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, imposed martial law in Poland thereby establishing a military dictatorship in order to face down the 10-million-strong trade union Solidarity.Public domain

Writing on Twitter, the IPN said: “We are looking for the heroic author of the Solidarity inscription. Help us find the author of the slogan. If you know something or know someone who could help us, please contact the Lublin Branch of the IPN.

He suggested that it might be possible to find clues in the IPN archives, in particular documents of the Security Service, the Civic Militia and other communist-era security bodies.

Whoever wrote the graffiti would have to have been very courageous. Marian Król, who participated in Solidarity strikes in 1980 and 1981 said that anyone caught painting such graffiti could have faced up to 2.5 years in prison under martial law.

The Writing on Twitter, the IPN said: “We are looking for the heroic author of the Solidarity inscription. Help us find the author of the slogan. If you know something or know someone who could help us, please contact the Lublin Branch of the IPN.”IPN

He recalled that in the first days of martial law about 50 workplaces went on strike in the Lublin region.

On the night of 12 December 1981, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, simultaneously Chairman of the Communist party, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, imposed martial law in Poland thereby establishing a military dictatorship in order to face down the 10-million-strong trade union Solidarity.

The crackdown led to the deaths of 91 people and thousands of Solidarity supporters were arrested. Martial law was lifted in 1983; however, many of those detained were not released until 1986.