Our Century

Poland awakes

Fran Oborski, Kidderminster
Born 1945

Fran Oborski

"My husband, Mike (now Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland) and I had worked in support of the banned Polish Solidarity throughout the 80s so it wasn't exactly safe for us to visit Poland.

"In the Summer of 1989 we eventually got to Poland for the first time and saw Communist rule disintegrating almost second by second before our eyes. The atmosphere in Warsaw was electric.

"In December 1989 I was invited by Solidarity to the Miners' Festival - previously banned under Communism - in Upper Silesia. Kidderminster Poles had raised money to support underground' Solidarity in that area through the 80s.

"The climax came when we went to Mass with the first post-Communist Polish Prime Minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and then on to a wreath at the spot where nine miners had been shot dead in December 1981 as the Communists tried to smash Solidarity.

"It was an extremely emotional and moving event.

"We ended up at a Miners Social Club where my interpreter whispered to me: and now our Prime Minister will speak live on Polish Television'.

The anticipation was intense. I nodded but he went on: Then he will pass the microphone to you and you will speak on television for five minutes or so'.

"There had been no warning and no time to prepare. I was absolutely stunned but, then, suddenly there I was speaking live on Polish television explaining how we had supported them in the West and how much their achievement meant to us.

"I will never forget the mixture of nerves and jubilation. It was a tremendous moment."