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Workers' Defence Committee

The Workers' Defense Committee (Solidarity trade union a few years later.

It was established in September 1976. A year later it was reorganized into Committee for Social Self-defense KOR (Komitet Samoobrony Społecznej KOR).

History

This organization was the first major anti-communist civic group in Poland, as well as Eastern Europe. It was born of the outrage at the government's crackdown in June 1976. Its stated purpose was to create "new centers of autonomous activity." It raised money through sales of its underground publications, through fund-raising groups in Paris and London, and grants from Western institutions.

KOR sent open letters of protest to the government and organized legal and financial support for the families of political detainees. The leaders of the organization established an activities and coordination center and offered analysis on workers’ conditions within Poland. They often collaborated with Western journalists on writing and publishing articles. The group worked with sympathetic lawyers to get better representation for striking workers and obtained medical diagnoses from doctors which they presented as evidence of police brutality in court trials. The group smuggled in mimeograph machines to print its underground newsletter, Komunikat, which had a circulation of around 20,000 by 1978.

As a side project of KOR, an underground publishing house called George Orwell. NOWA had its own print shops, storehouses, and distribution network, and financed itself through sales and contributions.

In the fall of 1977 KOR collaborated with Warsaw intellectuals to establish the Flying University, a series of lectures organized by unofficial student groups to discuss ideas about freedom that could not be debated in public. The government harassed KOR members as it did other civil society groups in Poland: beating up and jailing dissidents, infiltrating and interrupting lectures, and conducting searches of dissidents’ houses.

However, KOR became an inspiration for the nation as its efforts finally paid off when the Polish government declared an amnesty for jailed strikers in the spring of 1977. In that year, it was renamed the Committee for Social Self-defence KOR (Komitet Samoobrony Społecznej KOR).

KOR went on to publish another underground paper, Robotnik ("The Worker"—the same title as Józef Piłsudski's underground paper)

Legacy

The organization is often forgotten in the wake of Solidarity's success in the 1980s, but KOR remained an important force in bringing

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