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Samizdat Portfolio of Photos Documenting the 1970 Worker Protests

Foto-NOWa. Grudzien 70 [December 1970]. Group of fifteen vintage prints documenting the deadly worker protests of December 1970.

[Warsaw: Niezalezna agencja fotograficzna, 1970. In original printed folder measuring 21 × 13 cm with a single leaf of text mimeographed to recto. Very good.

A set of fifteen photographs documenting “the largest and most violent working-class uprising in the history of state-socialist regimes” which took place in Poland in December 1970. Taken by a variety of photographers, the images capture burning vehicles, wounded protesters, and protest signs with slogans such as: “A hungry worker is not a hooligan” and “This is an Economic not a political strike”. The accompanying text outlines the events of December 12-20, 1970 in Gdańsk, Szczecin, and Gdynia. A spontaneous uprising, the protests were mounted in response to the government announcement about the 36% hike in food prices. The results were catastrophic: “According to official data, between December 14 and 20, 45 people were killed, 1,165 wounded and 3,161 arrested. As a result of the street riots, 19 public buildings were burned down, including the regional party headquarters in Gdansk and Szczecin; and 10 tanks, 18 armored personnel carriers and some 60 police cars were destroyed” (See Grzegorz Ekiert and Jan Kubik, Rebellious Civil Society: Popular Protest and Democratic Consolidation in Poland, 1989-1993; p. 35.). The violent suppression of the protests by the state became a symbolic reference point for later resistance movements and eventual creation of an independent worker’s union Solidarność (Solidarity). Established during the Martial Law in 1982, Foto-NOWa was an underground photographic news source which disseminated images not shown in official media. Foto-NOWa documented protests and government violence, but also printed portraits of Solidarity leaders. The photographs in this collection include annotations, identifying the place, date and occasionally providing the name of the photographer.

Book ID: 51675

Price: $750.00