Home » News » From Solidarity to Strength: Highlights from Conversation with Lech Wałęsa

From Solidarity to Strength: Highlights from Conversation with Lech Wałęsa

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President of the VOC Andrew Bremberg reflecting on Lech Wałęsa’s legacy.

The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) hosted an engaging conversation featuring former President of the Republic of Poland Lech Wałęsa in collaboration with The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation for the inaugural episode of VOC’s Profiles in Freedom Witness Project series.

The event began with remarks from President of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Andrew Bremberg, reflecting on Lech Wałęsa’s legacy.

Lech Wałęsa stepped into the leadership role of the Solidarity Free Trade Union after his dismissal from the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk for criticizing the communist government. What began as a grassroots movement advocating for workers’ rights at the local level grew into a national uprising that mobilized Poland against its authoritarian rulers, ultimately leading to the downfall of the repressive regime. Following his election in 1990, Wałęsa became the first democratically elected president of Poland and remains revered in the country’s ongoing struggle against communism.

An attendee directs a question to Lech Wałęsa during a Q&A session.

During the event on February 9, Wałęsa spoke about Poland’s victory against communism and shared insights on the current situation involving Russia and Ukraine. Attendees, including invited guests and members of the press, gained a deeper understanding of his courageous narrative, marked by dissent, faith and an unwavering commitment to liberty.

When speaking about the Russia-Ukraine situation, Lech Wałęsa emphasized the need to facilitate a transformation in Russia’s political system. He pointed out that even if Ukraine were to achieve a physical victory over Russia today, there’s a risk of future generations facing renewed conflicts. Wałęsa reaffirmed his rejection of communism, advocating for capitalism as the only alternative. He also highlighted the importance of free markets.

TFAS Alumna, Chairman and Founding Director of VOC Dr. Elizabeth Spalding ’86 led a conversation with Lech Wałęsa.

Following the discussion, attendees participated in a Q&A session where Wałęsa further explained his opinions and outlined the necessary course of action regarding the ongoing need to support Ukraine, as well as his stance on European security.

TFAS Alumna, Chairman and Founding Director of VOC Dr. Elizabeth Spalding ’86 led the conversation as interviewer and host. Click on the video below to watch the event on C-SPAN.

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