“Form Committees” – 35th Anniversary of the Formation of the Worker’s Defense Committee

The Worker’s Defence Committee was formed on the 23rd September 1976. 14 major figures, including Stanisław Barańczak, Jacek Kuroń, Edward Lipiński and Antoni Macierewicz, signed a document named “An appeal to the society and government of the People’s Republic of Poland”. By doing so, they stood up for people repressed by the communist government for their participation in worker’s protests of June 1976 in Ursus, Radom, and other cities.

Are historians the only ones with lingering interest in these events? Is what happened 35 years ago still relevant today?

We believe that the ideals and values, which strung together a group of unlikely people for a singular cause, are still important. We want to take the lessons history provides for us to heart, instead of glancing over them while reading a textbook. For this very reason we decided to take part in celebrating the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Committee.

Our project’s goals are reminding and teaching society about the Committee and the people who formed its core. The Worker’s Defense Committee continued Polish civic and independence-related traditions. We want our project to connect these traditions with today’s civic society in Poland – which in some part was helped into existence by the Committee. We also want the Committee’s goals and methods, though distant today, to inspire action in the modern world. Its name taken from a quote by Jacek Kuroń, the “Form Committees” project is also intended to inspire and entice Poles to take up broader civic action.

The educational aspect of our project aims to encourage youth to participate in civic matters. We will run workshops in a number of secondary schools nationwide. These, through the Committee’s historical example, should motivate its participants into supporting the common good and increase their understanding of institutionalized forms of civic society.