It is hard to believe that twenty-seven years ago, on December 19th,
Timisoara, the western Romanian city, saw a mass workers strike at the
now famous Elba factory. They spontaneously stopped working and joined
the demonstrations, but to their surprise, the secret services and the
military started shooting at civilians gathered around the plant gates.
Ten years earlier than the Romanian 1989 revolution, the workers of
Poland formed the only independent labour union in the entire Soviet
bloc. Well-acknowledged is the fact that Solidarność, Solidarity in
English, had claimed about 9.4 million members, an incomparable
realisation in gathering to protest against the socialist regimes of
those times, even if it was underground for the most part.
Romanian workers had a different way of understanding these changes,
and according to an anthropologist of the cold war, it consisted of „a
split between „us” and „them”, workers and Party leaders, founded on a
lively consciousness that „they” are exploiting „us”. This
consciousness was yet another thing that undermined socialist regimes.”
(Verdery, 1996, pg.23)
In October 2009 the Polish Institute in Bucharest organised a project
revolving around the commonalities of the year 1989 for both countries
and the fight for a change their citizens undertook: „1989 does not
mean only Timisoara and Bucharest. It does not mean only Romania. It
says Solidarity. And 1989 started in the summer, in Poland and ended in
the winter, in Romania. 1989 We began it, You ended it!”. Among the
parts of this strategic and cultural project, we have found something
that resists the hardship of time and dust.
We have found the mural paintings that celebrated the events and their
manifestations in both countries: Poland, in Gdansk 1980 and Romania,
in Bucharest 1989.
Verdery, Katherine. (1996). What Was Socialism and What Comes Next?.
Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.