Letter from Andrzej Slowik to "Roundtable" Chair Wladyslaw Findeisen
Between February and April 1989 in Poland, Communist Party leaders and Solidarity activists engaged in negotiations during the historic roundtable talks. Several days after these talks commenced, Andrzej Slowik, a Solidarity activist in the city of Łódż who was not asked to participate in the talks, wrote this letter to Wladyslaw Findeisen, the roundtable chair for Solidarity. In this document, Slowik claimed that an expansion of representatives was needed to gain more support from the general population. In particular, he emphasized that the Solidarity participants did not represent all factions within Solidarity and argued that because of this limited participation, agreements made during the roundtable talks may not be followed by Poles. This document demonstrates that tensions not only existed between Communist and opposition leaders, but also evolved within the opposition.
Letter from Andrzej Slowik to “Roundtable” Chair Wladyslaw Findeisen
12 February 1989
The Working Group of the National Commission of NSZZ “Solidarity”
Lodz, 12 February 1989
Chairman of the “Roundtable”
Chairman of the Social Council of the Archbishop of Poland
We want to share with you the following remarks, concerns and anxieties:
As members of the National Commission elected by the First National Congress
of Delegates of the NSZZ “Solidarity,” we feel responsible for the mandate entrusted to
us by the electorate and voluntarily accepted by us.
This responsibility and honor has been forcing us to conduct social actions for the
benefit of the Union, the working people and the Motherland, interrupted only by periods
of arrests, internment or prison. We are conducting them with faith in the victory of good
and [the belief] that sooner or later Poles will be able to overcome prejudices, anxieties,
to forgive injustice, and to jointly begin building in our country law and order, based on
truth, justice, freedom and love. We can be relieved of responsibility for the fate of the
Union and its activity only by an act equivalent to the one that entrusted us with this
responsibility. But of citizens’ responsibility toward Motherland— nobody can [be
relieved]. Hence our concerns and anxieties.
The once great social hopes placed in the current talks of the “Roundtable” have
now apparently faded— particularly among the working class—as the importance of
these talks is not any longer a sufficient argument to stem the spontaneous eruption of
To some degree it is a result of uncertainty regarding intentions, arising for
different reasons. The initial public enthusiasm following the announcement of the talks
(in the beginning of September) burned out in an excessively long wait for their start.
Additional disappointments in some socially active circles is caused by an
incomplete representation of the so-called social side, which cannot always be justified
by categorical refusal of participation of that or another group or circle. The conviction
prevails that not all significant groups or organizations have received such an offer.
Moreover, the NSZZ “Solidarity” delegation is not fully representative. It does
not include many authentic activists of the Union (signatories of the August 1980
Agreements,104 elected members of the National Commission and its Presidium, and
still active leaders of the regional structures), who, not questioning either the need of
reaching an understanding with or a statutory function for Lech Walesa, think that the
Union is not someone’s private or group property, [but] that it had been created as a
democratic and pluralistic organization, obeying its own voluntarily adopted rights—and
it should stay as such.
The “Solidarity’s” delegation represents only one group, and even if it is now a
group in control of the main spheres of the Union’s life, it is still only one group, and it is
difficult to expect that other groups would feel bound by an agreement on which they will
have (from the very beginning) no influence whatsoever.
An understanding which has a chance to be national, may be perceived in
important public circles as being particularistic. If the PRL [People’s Republic of Poland]
authorities were inclined toward a policy of confrontation, then controversies within the
“Solidarity” would certainly be to their advantage. (However, experience is teaching us
that in a confrontation the Union consolidates.) With regard to a course toward an
understanding, matters look rather different. Will an additional secret agreement for the
defense of a particularistic understanding be concluded, and will the parties to such
agreement be co-sponsoring a policy of repression toward its opponents, whom they had
not even heard earlier? For us it is hard to imagine, though such fears also exist.
Even more serious is another apprehension—a fear that incomplete representation
at the “Table” and hence a limited focus on the [actual] situation will mean that particular
arrangements (or even parts of them) will be so far below social aspirations that with a
verbal acceptance they will, in fact, be rejected by the society.
Please, excuse this frankness. It is dictated by the sense of responsibility and
concern about the future of our Fatherland. We trust we shall be properly understood.
This is already the last moment when these and other dangers (not articulated here) can
be prevented through supplementing the “Table.” But it needs to be done before the final
decisions are taken. Perhaps an expansion and diversification of the delegation’s
composition will cause greater difficulties in negotiations, perhaps even part of the
common record will be questioned—but it is probably better that controversies take place
at the Table before concluding the agreement than outside of the Table after its
We are submitting to you the readiness of the Working Group of the National
Commission of NSZZ “Solidarity” to send our delegation to the negotiations.
With the authorization of the
Working Group of National Commission
[Source: A. Stelmachowski Papers, Translated by Jan Chowaniec for CWIHP.]
Andrzej Slowik to Wladyslaw Findeisen, 12 February 1989, trans. Jan Chowaniec, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).