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There are few examples in the world where the symbolic juxtaposition of a nations past and future are as striking as they are in Poland Throughout the country there are endless images representing an uneasy coexistence of a communist past in combination with a rapid move to the market economy Yet perhaps the starkest change in terms of symbolism is most apparent in the purpose built socialist town of Nowa Huta Nowa Huta was constructed from scratch funded by the Soviet Union to represent the proletarian opponent to the intellectual and Catholic Krak Together with Magnitogorsk in Russia Nowa Huta was one of only two purpose built socialist cities in the world and was also arguably the greatest symbol of socialist ideological failure Nowa Huta is indeed loaded with astounding contradictions but such contradictions are much more than symbolic and to a great extent embody the far reaching political economic and social paradoxes found throughout Poland Along with the shipyards in Gdansk Nowa Huta was one of the most important Solidarity strongholds and by 1983 it had been the site of some of the most violent protests in support of Solidarity The importance of this free trade union to the eventual demise of communism in Poland can not be overplayed Throughout the communist era there was always a widespread opposition to the imposed socialist regime but after years of fragmentation it was undeniably the consolidation of various social groups such as the intelligentsia and students but most importantly the working class which was to prove the turning point of opposition In the summer of 1980 Polish protests shifted in gear within the country of thirty-five million citizens an independent union of ten million working people was formed Korab-Karpowicz It was known as the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarity An incredibly powerful political force which throughout the eighties made extensive social and economic reforms when in 1989 Poland held its first free elections Solidarity won
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