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about three by five meters, and everything happened in this tiny office. Everybody from the whole region of about five million people was coming, asking us questions. So we just lived in the office. There were perhaps three or four offices like this in the region. By October there were organizations like ours at almost every institution in the whole of Poland. Then we went on our first strike, to show our organizational power. The first nationwide strike was on October 10. It lasted one hour everybody was abstaining from work for one hour in the whole country. There was a very good feeling of unity with the workers, everybody was a colleague with everybody else. Finally what resulted was one big trade union for everybody everywhere. It was one Solidarity, that was the basic thing. This was the only independent organization in the country, so it had to be everything a trade union, a political party, a sort of professional association. It was very pluralistic. RH: But we couldn’t say that it was a party. MH: We couldn’t admit that we were a “political” organization. The Party demanded this was the whole issue of registration of Solidarity, in November of 1980 that we write in our statutes, as the first paragraph, that we recognize the powers of the Party and recognize that the Party is the ultimate and only governing power in the nation. TO: Most people in this country probably have the image of Solidarity as shipyard workers, industrial workers, and don’t really think of it as something that also activated people in the universities. What were the issues in the university that you confronted? MH: The general issue of Solidarity was self-government and the real values of human life, bringing them back. And we did exactly the same thing in the university. Most of the university employees are not faculty members; they’re technicians, secretaries, sweepers, painters, maintenance crews, and so on. They had the right to be organized into a trade union. That’s the first thing. And we felt and we stressed this unity with everybody. This slogan “Solidarity” there were expressions of it. The president of our university, a very outstanding social scientist, was calling the local Solidarity leader by his first name, and vice versa. They acted as colleagues, and the Solidarity chairman was a laborer, without even a highschool diploma, a man who worked in a small factory. They were acting as pals. Breaking Barriers RH: It was a way to break the barriers between people with different levels of education. MH: And there was also a spirit of restoring democratic institutions. This was very important for the university because universities have the longest tradition of being democratically governed units, dating back to the Middle Ages, when universities were separate communities like townships, governed by their own senates and councils, and students had their student governments, and so on. And we were trying to reconstruct this democracy. Right after Solidarity was first organized, we demanded two things: one, academic freedom of electing deans, electing university presidents, electing chairmen of departments; and two, organizing our own curriculum. Most of the faculty members felt very bad about being told by the ministry what to include in the course. It was centralized to this extent during the ’70s. And we made a point of showing other people, in factories and shipyards and so on, how to organize a democratic government of an institution. How to be democratic, independent, self-governed. “Educational institutions should be free up to the point of students and faculty members directing them through their own elected officials.” And we won. First we went on strike in early November 1980, demanding that we be able to organize the curriculum at our own university. And we finally won this. Then we demanded that we elect all the university officials. This was a battle fought by everybody at the university. The students went on strike in February 1981. And finally we won this great privilege of electing our own officials. TO: Something that’s not done in the United States. MH: I know, I know, and that’s too bad. I’m serious about it. Educational institutions should be free up to the point of students and faculty members directing them through their own elected officials. This was the major victory. It created a special relationship among everybody in the academic institutions. And students were much more serious about their education. I liked it very much. They were members of the university community and they were really interested in getting some knowledge, and they wanted to discuss. It was really amazing. Finally, after university officials were elected, most of the presidents of the academic schools decided to get together. It was December 9, 1981, four days before martial law was instituted, that at our university in Poznan presidents of all academic-level schools from the whole of Poland got together. They were all elected, and called themselves the Conference of Presidents of Polish Universities, and they said that they were the highest authority in Polish academic education. So they, in a way, bypassed the Ministry of Academic Education, Science, and Technology, a very bad ministry. But what was more important was the example of self-government, of a democratic way of governing institutions getting up to a central level. And that was threatening to the government. On the 13th of December 1981, early morning, 6 a.m., the first few hours in our cells, they switched on the loudspeakers and announced that there was martial law, and that the activity of most of the institutions was suspended, and that some of the institutions were terminated. And among the first five of these enumerated was the Conference of Presidents of Polish Universities. So it was really very important, and painful. TO: Was there any way that the Communist Party, the Polish government, could have accommodated the challenge of Solidarity with economic changes, changes in cultural policy, while preserving a role for the Party? Or did the country have to choose? MH: The country had to choose. This is very clear, for us at least. From the end of the shipyard strikes in August 1980, they thought they could accommodate us, not by making changes in the system but by simply replacing some regime-controlled trade union with a solidarity that would become a regimecontrolled trade union. And so we had to choose. And the national Solidarity leadership made a choice, at the famous meeting in Radom that was taped and then publicized by the government in December 1981. And the choice was to be with the people to say openly we disagree with the government and there is going to be confrontation, because there is no other way. At a meeting December 12 in Poznan of Solidarity representatives from all the universities, we decided to go on what 10 AUGUST 2, 1985