Browse Primary Sources

Instructions of the Coordinating Center of the Civic Forum for the Local Forums with a Recommendation for Policy Toward the Communists

The name "Velvet Revolution" was an oxymoron: revolutions were traditionally violent overthrows wiping away the old regime in order to build a new society. The Communist Party followed this model in Eastern Europe, and opposition groups rejected it in 1989 with their strategy of non-violence. But could this strategy successfully remove power from a totalitarian regime?

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Letter from Shevardnadze to Gorbachev about the Romanian Crisis

December 1989 proved to be a revolutionary month in Romania. Demonstrations erupted in the city of Timisoara in mid-December, spreading to other parts of Romania within just a few days and developing into a full-scale revolution, which eventually resulted in the execution of President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife on December 25.

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Telephone Call from Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany to President George H. W. Bush

After the historic and spontaneous dismantling of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, East and West Germany were on the verge of reuniting. Helmut Kohl, the West German chancellor and later chancellor of the reunited Germany, and George H. W.

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Telephone Call from President George H. W. Bush to Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany

Following World War II, Germany was divided into two countries, with West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) becoming integrated into Western Europe and East Germany (German Democratic Republic) falling behind the Iron Curtain, with the Soviet Union in control.

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Geremek on Solidarity’s Strategy of Restraint in the Spring of 1989

A medieval historian by training, Bronisław Geremek had emerged by the 1980s as one of the Solidarity movement’s leading strategists. At the Round Table talks between Solidarity and the Communist leadership and in the critical months that followed, he was arguably Lech Wałęsa’s most influential advisor.

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The Catholic Church's role in the Roundtable Talks

In following letter, a Solidarity activist writes to Józef Cardinal Glemp, the head of the Roman Catholic church in Poland, to inform him of difficulties in setting up much-anticipated Round Table talks with the Communist regime. The correspondence provides some insight into the complicated relationship between Solidarity and the Catholic church.

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thumbnail of the police report

Official Document, Police Letter

This letter documents the government's continued concern about women striking, as the Chief of Police for the Island reports new labor strike figures to the Governor. In this case, 638 women working as tobacco strippers went on strike. Also on strike were 300 sugarcane workers, most likely men.

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Excerpts from Debate Between Lech Walesa and Alfred Miodowicz, 30 November 1988

In the fall of 1988, Alfred Miodowicz, the head of the official union OPZZ (All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions), challenged Lech Wałesa, the leader of the outlawed Solidarity trade union, to a televised debate. The offer signaled the growing willingness of many party leaders to compromise with opposition groups, but it was also a sign of the party’s continued self-confidence.

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Women’s Reflections on Work and Gender Relations under Socialism

In this collection of oral histories from Romania, subjects “R,” “I,” “M,” “E,” and “N” talk about their experiences of work during the socialist period. Although “R” and “M” worked in male-dominated fields and faced harassment by their male colleagues, “M” was able to overcome these difficulties by playing the role of the oddball woman.

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Official Document, Women's Employment

The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was a New Deal response to the Depression to stabilize and energize the economy of the United States. One function of the NRA was to set industry standards for products, production methods, and wages. The codes developed for U.S. garment workers were applied to Puerto Rico in July 1933, and by August there were already major strikes.

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