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The Soviet Empire’s Worst Nightmare*

That’s Zofia Romaszewska [1], a hero of Poland. She was long involved in the fight for a free Poland. I interviewed her for my forthcoming book today. Let me just tell you this: there is no way that the Soviet Empire ever had a chance in the face of this woman. She was not willing to hear my moaning about how scattered the opposition is, and how daunting our prospects are. Organize! she ordered. Take the fight to the enemy! Stop playing defense!

I’m telling you, spending just a few minutes in the company of this extraordinary lady was enough to stiffen any cultural pessimists spine. Here’s what she did for her country in a time when she could have been thrown in prison for it — and finally was:

In 1963, she graduated in Physics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the University of Warsaw. In 1967, she was a co-initiator of the action of collecting signatures of scientific employees in defense of Adam Michnik, suspended in the rights of a student of the Faculty of History at the University of Warsaw. After March 1968, the Romaszewscy couple’s apartment became a place for regular meetings of dissidents. From 1976, she participated in the campaign to help workers who were repressed after the June protests in Ursus and Radom , and from October 1976 managed together with her husband a helping group in Radom. She was a co-worker of the Workers’ Defense Committee. In May 1977, together with her husband, she became the head of the Intervention Bureau of KOR, which coordinated the assistance to people repressed by the authorities of the PRL. In September 1977 she signed the Declaration of the Democratic Movement – a program document of the “Korowska” opposition. After the uprising in September of the Social Self-Defense Committee, “KOR” continued to manage together with her husband the Intervention Bureau of KSS “KOR” . In the Information Bulletin of KSS “KOR”, she edited the “Law and Order” section. In the years 1980-1981 she managed with Zbigniew Romaszewski, based on the experience of the Intervention Bureau, the Intervention and Law Governance Committee of the Mazowsze Region of NSZZ “Solidarność” (she joined the union in September 1980).

Avoided internment after the announcement of martial law, she acted in hiding. Together with her husband, she organized the underground Warsaw Radio “Solidarity” . She acted as an announcer in the first radio broadcast on April 12, 1982. She was arrested on July 5, 1982. On February 17, 1983, she was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, released on amnesty in July 1983. From 1986 to 1989 she was a member of the Intervention Commission. The Rule of Law of NSZZ “Solidarność” led by Zbigniew Romaszewski.

If you speak Polish, watch this:

If you don’t, watch this interview with her and her late husband, done by the George W. Bush Presidential Library. It’s subtitled:

I’m telling you, Pani Romaszewska is not interested in hearing your whining about how bad things are. All she wants to know is what you are going to do about it. She’s basically General Patton in that famous (NSFW) clip. [2] I’d follow her to the barricades without a second thought. Man, this is going to be a good book. Just you wait.

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