Publish date 19-02-2024

by Renzo Agasso

The man with the mustache clings to the bars, supported by his companions, climbing to the top of the gate of the Gdansk shipyards. It's August 1980, and nothing will be the same as before. From up there, Lech Walesa harangues the crowd who acclaim him. He announces the protest strike for the dismissal of a worker, the last drop of desperation that overflows the full pot of a country crushed and oppressed by the communist dictatorship, reduced to starvation by an obtuse regime and incapable of reforming itself.

Days of glory, for the mustachioed electrician loaded with children and with the Madonna of Czestochowa on the lapel of his jacket, who found himself, by chance - or perhaps not - at an unexpected and surprising crossroads in the history of a people and his personal life. In Rome for two years another son of Catholic Poland and semper fidelis has sat on the throne of Peter: Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II. Precisely in June two years earlier he returned to his land, welcomed by the multitudes, to say to the leaders of the nation: "You cannot take God away from man, you cannot eradicate God from the history of Poland!"

Now this worker from the Gdansk shipyards takes it upon himself - by climbing that gate - to shout the invincible truth to the world: man is not made for slavery, he is made for freedom, according to the words of Jesus: «The truth will make you free." Soviet communism, the supreme lie that has imprisoned Eastern Europe for decades, is beginning to crumble like this: with Lech Walesa's moustache. From then on, in an overwhelming domino effect, other oppressed peoples will also find the strength to free themselves from the ineffable yoke.

Lech Walesa and his followers founded the first free trade union in Poland and in the entire ex-communist bloc and called it Solidarnosc, that is, solidarity. The power will attempt a backlash, arresting him and other leaders, imposing martial law with tanks. But the avalanche has started and will never stop. The Pope from Rome will play his part, as will the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Poland will be free, without bloodshed and without revenge. Lech Walesa will be elected president of the republic in the first democratic elections.

He will win the Nobel Peace Prize. Climbing the gate of the Gdansk shipyards on that August day showed that, finally, men always free themselves from the chains of slavery, oppression and injustice.

The truth sets them free.

Renzo Agasso

NP Gennaio 2024

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