As the world marks the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, The Associated Press is releasing a new memoir chronicling Poland’s historic stand for freedom against the Soviet Union in 1981.
“Eye on Solidarity: Reporting a Turning Point in Poland – and Finding my Roots,” by former AP editor Sonya Zalubowski, draws on the author’s contemporaneous dispatches, which were smuggled out to U.S. newspapers by diplomatic pouch.
The memoir details the courage and determination shown by the Poles during the rise of the Solidarity movement in 1981.
“We are proud to bring to light such a personal account of the Polish people’s fight for freedom—a feat that now echoes in Ukraine,” said Cliff Decatrel, AP director of business development. “Exactly one year since Russia’s invasion, this book serves as a pertinent reminder of the power of human resilience and resistance.”
The book takes the reader inside Warsaw at that pivotal time as the free trade union staged national strikes, growing into a 10-million-strong social movement, and as Moscow in response squeezed the flow into Poland of basic supplies, from meat to consumer goods, and Soviet tanks rolled across Polish borders in military exercises.
Zalubowski, filled with the desire to witness her ancestral people during the history-changing time, entered the country with a student visa – certain the publicity-averse communist government would not grant her journalist credentials. Working as a freelancer, she smuggled her articles out to U.S. newspapers via a sympathetic diplomat at the U.S. Embassy.
Along the way, she also pursued her roots, visiting a rural area of Poland where her maternal grandmother was born. In the peaceful images of the countryside, she writes that she found a part of her own Slavic soul.
As the pace of events quickened, despite the risk of being found out by the secret police, Zalubowski covered Solidarity’s unprecedented national convention and reported from a bracing bus caravan that the union staged through Warsaw after ending a major protest against food shortages.
“Eye on Solidarity” ties those crucial beginnings to Solidarity’s eventual incorporation into the Polish government and the unwinding of the Soviet Union. Zalubowski brings the story up to today, noting that as Ukraine fights against Russia’s invasion, Poland has warmly embraced millions of its fleeing neighbors and has been a major staging area for the NATO military assistance to Ukraine.
“Eye on Solidarity” is available on Amazon in both e-book and paperback.