On 25th June, 1976, workers of Radom, Poland, took to the streets in protest against the communist authorities. It wasn’t an organized riot, the idea of “Solidarność” was not yet ready, no structures existed to lead the workers protest. They didn’t arrange it. They just couldn’t bare another wave of humiliation. The price of meat was to rise by 69 %, sugar by 100 %. But it wasn’t about the meat or the sugar after all. The idea was to manifest that they were humans. They wanted a just and free country. Without fear and delusions of success.
The protest lasted until the communist authorities decided to call off the price rises. It was the first time ever for the communist government to give way to workers’ demands.
Many of protesters suffered in custodies and prisons, which no one at that time knew about. Poland had to wait 13 more years for the fall of communism but that protest paved the way for Solidarność to achieve success.
This story aimed to wake up the memory of the silent victory that changed everything.
Arkadiusz Kubisiak is an independent documentary and portrait photographer. He studied photography at the European Academy of Photography in Warsaw. He participated in numerous workshops, e.g. Transmission pour l’Image in Perpignan, France, Workshop with Ernesto Bazan.
His work won several awards, e.g. Grand Press Photo, National Geographic Poland Photography Competition, SIPA Competition, Tokyo International Foto Award, BZ WBK Press Foto, Honorable Mention at International Photography Award and was shown, among others at The Art of Photography Show in The USA, NEY Gallery in Warsaw, Masovian Center of Contemporary Art, Poland, Warsaw Festival for the Photographic Arts, Poland.
Photographs were published in The Eye of Photography Magazine, Paris, France, Black & White Magazine, USA, Silvershotz Magazine in Australia, National Geographic Poland, Digital Camera Poland, Edge of Humanity in The USA in Duży Format, anywhere.pl, Live & Travel, Plus Minus, Rzeczpospolita, Poland and in books: Punished Town, Passing Shadows, and group work Poland and its People, published by Press.
Arkadiusz works mostly on long term projects dealing with social issues.
- A display showing an officer of Motorised Militia in an assault helmet from the 1970s, Polish People’s Republic Museum, Warsaw, Poland, 15.06.2014
- Meat for dinner defrosting in a pot of water in Krzysztof Gniadek’s (participant of the strike) kitchen, Radom, Poland, 04.02.2014, Back then, in June ’76, ham was a rare thing. You had to to stand in queue for two days to get it. If you didn’t have two days to spare, you only ate ham on special occasions. And now the prices were to rise even more. People would joke that the ham is more expensive but trains are cheaper, so the government would lie that it evens out. During the protest, when the crowd broke into the committee building, it turned out in the committee grocery shop there was as much ham as you wanted. Radom, Poland, 02.04.2014,
- Time consumes the remnants of old glory. Offices of former “Walter” Metal Factory, where the strike has begun on 25th June, 1976, Radom, Poland, 28.10.2013,
- Court judgment from September 14, 2009 granting Zbigniew Adamus (strike participant) 20 000 zł in damages for the harm suffered as a result of repressions after June’s events. Radom, Poland, 06.02.2014
- Man standing in front of a display commemorating workers that took part in fighting communism, Solidarity Center Museum. Gdańsk, Poland, 12.10.2014,
- Stanisław Kowalski in his apartment with Order of Polonia Restituta, Radom, Poland, 13.12.2014,
- On this railway, Stanisław Kowalski (strike participant) woke up after one of the provocations by Security Service in someone else’s clothes that smelled of booze. He doesn’t know if they wanted to get rid off him or just scare him. Radom, Poland, 22.01.2015
- Jan Figura in his flat, Radom, Poland, 17.12.2013.
Provocateurs broke the windows in a shop and he was accused of stealing a suit from it. When they came for him, he didn’t run. He had cigarettes and matches but he didn’t have anywhere to go. He still isn’t over what he went through in the prison cell.
- Jan Figura warms up the frozen window glass in a living room with his hand, Radom, Poland, 17.12.2013,
- Jan Figura strike participant with wife and son in their kitchen, Radom, Poland, 17.12.2014
- Marek Wołowiec, strike participant in his apartment, Radom, Poland, 24.04.2014, In prison papers he didn’t have any adnotations. There wasn’t a word about his cracked collarbone and wrist, his broken arm or bruised organs. Not an important detail at all, is it? A healthy prisoner that somehow stays in hospital for weeks. He never managed to recover.
- Andrzej Biel strike participant in his house, showing a scar he got after leg operation, Radom, Poland, 21.03.2014,
- Armband from the time of the protest, Radom, Poland, 20.12. 2014