Historiographical Analysis:” The Fall o of Communism: The Role of John Paul II to Solidarnost movement.”
By Gjergj Lacuku/
Ever since the fall of communism, there has been different views, many books and articles written about main actors that brought it down. Growing up in Albania, a communist country, I experienced the impact of the fall of communism with a great joy as I was able to attend a Mass for the first time in my life. Having no access to foreign media at that time, I was always curios to know more about the events that changed our lives. The very fact that the fall of communism started in in Poland, the homeland of the Pope John Paul II, is an indicator that his role had a major positive impact on the Solidarity movement itself. There are rightly different views on the causes of the fall of communism: some give credit to President Reagan’s policies toward Soviet Union, others also praise Gorbachev for his “softer” approach towards the dissident movements and his efforts to restructure the Soviet economy, however, on my historical debate, I would argue that the main catalyst in the fall of the communism was Pope John Paull II and his support for Solidarity movement in Poland. I have looked at few books about the life and role of John Paul II and his impact on the fall of communism to try to better understand his impact. Authors like George Weigel, David Willey and Paul Heinze, on their writings support the role of Pope John Paul II in the collapse of communism.
In his book,”Witness to Hope, ”the author, George Weigel, brings to light the life and work of one of the most important figures of the twentieth century, that of Pope John Paul ll. The main idea of his book is how Karol Wojtyla, through his religious conviction, changed the course of human history. “Karol Wojtyla believed that Christ-centered hope to be the truth of the world.” Wiegel is able to walks us through most important events of Pope’ life. In the first chapter” A Son of Freedom”, tells us that he was a member of the first generation of Poles to be born in freedom in 150 years.” The Poles had defeated the Red Army in 1920, the year that Karol was born. But in his youth, the would-be Pope, was forced to work”from the underground” as Poland is occupied by Nazis during WWII, he begins his clandestine studies and cultural resistance activities.” In Chapter 4,“Seeing Things as They Are’’,Karol Wojtyla comes to grow intellectually as he earns his second doctorate, studying the work of German philosopher, Max Scheler. Karol Wojtyla’s rises quickly in the Church hierarchy, becomes the youngest Bishop in Poland at the age of 38 , participates in the Vatican II Council, and is created Cardinal in 1967 by Pope Paul VI. In the 1970s, Cardinal Wojtyla, is one of the best-known churchmen in the world to his peer.”  Wojtyla is an exception, especially to the Kissinger Rule. Henry Kissinger believes it to be “an illusion… that leaders gain in profundity while they gain experience.” “High office, because of its endless demands on the officeholder, is an occasion to spend down rather than to build up intellectual capital.”
Cardinal Wojtyla, would become “A Pope from a Far Country, “who invoked the call of Christ to his disciples: ”Be not afraid.” Religious freedom and the rights of the workers, would become the central theme of his pontificate. Pope emphasized that only through Christ and God people would be able to live their lives truthfully. His faith proved to have a major effect during his visit to his homeland in 1979. During the Mass at Victory Square in Warsaw in 1979, his countrymen were calling, “We want God, we want God.” Poland’s ”second baptism,” which would change the history of the twentieth century, had begun.”
To emphasize the importance of his role in support of Solidarity movement and therefore the fall of communism, we can analyze another book titled,”God’s Politician,” by David Willey. The main theme of his book is the reign of first Slav Pope, Joh Paul II, that occurred at one of the most crucial points in the human history: the fall of communism. On Chapter I, “The Solidarity Pope,’’ Willey uses the primary sources to show the impact of John Paul and the fear of the Soviets:“the inspirer of anti-socilast activities of the reactionary clergy in Poland. Tass, quoting the Soviet political periodical Politiceskoye Samoobrazovanie, December 1982.” David Willey strongly supports the idea that John Paul II was the main figure to have the most impact on the collapse of the communism. He states that,“The rise of Solidarity movement, and indeed Poland’s subsequent transition from Communist dictatorship under Soviet tutelage to the first non-communist government in Eastern Europe, can be traced directly back to the sense of patriotism, purpose and optimism generated by the Pope’s bold visit to Poland a decade ago.” David Willey makes a good point, showing through the words of Ivan Hel, the Ukrainian Church leader, the true nature of Gorbachev. “Thanks to the reforms of Gorbachev, repression is taking place surreptitiously and secretly. Acting to the principles of Machiavelli, the authorities say one thing and do another.”
The importance of John Paul II and his direct role in support of Solidarnost movement is brought to light by another author, Paul Henze, in his book, “The Plot To Kill the Pope.” Henze through his research, suggests that the Kremlin is behind the plot and he metntions that there are three reasons why the Soviets fear him, first he is a Pole, second he is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, third , he is a tireless advocate of freedom of the human spirit and the right of the individual human being to chose his course of life.” Through his book ,we understand that the assassin, Memhet Ali Agca did not act alone but he acted on behalf of higher authority that through the Bulgarian connection leads to KGP. He walks us through the “The Russian Tradion of Terror” in Section II of his book, to make the point of the KGP plot on the life of Pope as they see him as a “danger” to their communist ideology . To paraphrase the words of Henze, his visit in June 1979 in Poland , was considered a triumph for the Polish people, which a year later resulted in the formation of the nationwide labor movement, known as Solidarnost 
In conlusion, the three authors give credit to John Paul II for his spititual support of Solidarity movement that in 1989 became a political force by coming to power in Poland and therefore starting a domino effect on all communist countries including the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Weigel’s ”Whitness To Hope”, pays very close attention to the role of John Paul II in the fall of communism that started in Poland. Karol Wojtyla, to motivate his fellow citizens in search of their religious freedom under the communist yoke, uses the culture of his people, reminding them of their glorious past, how they never surrendered due to their unshakable faith in Christ. John Paul believed that it is the Church’s duty to protect human freedom. He is a champion of freedom, travelling to every corner of the world and speaking on behalf of the poor and the oppressed. One of the strengths of the book is that the author portrays the Pope as a figure whose vision includes the whole humanity, Christians and non-Christians alike. Weigel clearly states that although at heart ,he is a Christian disciple, John Paul’s call about the nature of the human person, the moral requirements for human community, the meaning of human history, and the trajectory of human destiny ,extends to the all the peoples of the world, regardless of their faiths. The author’s access to the Vatican for a period of 20 years, made use of multiple sources, original letters and in depth interviews of Catholic leaders, to give us” the inner thoughts’ of an extraordinary man of the human history.David Willey, although accepts that Pope’s visits to Poland were influential in the Solidarity movement, he states that Pope has failed to make Vatican more open, a process that had begun under Paul VI.Paul Henze’s book “The Plot To Kill The Pople,” displays one more time the determination of Pope in his challenge against the communist ideology . The threats on his life, not only did not stop him but on the other hand, made him stronger in his support for the human rights. In his visit in 1983, two years after his attempts on his life, he seemed more vigorous than ever, while General Jaruzelski seemed more powerless.
 George Weigel, 18
 George Weigel,18
 George Weigel,45-46
 George Weigel,145-180
 George Weigel,210
 George Weigel,235-262
 George Weigel, 295
 David Willey, 21
 David Willey,21
David Willey, 21
 Paul Henze, first page of his book introduction.
 Paul Henze, 76-90
 Paul Henze,119-120
1.Henze,Paul. “The Plot To Kill The Pope.” Charles Scriber’s Sons. New York.1983
2.Weigel,George. “Witnes To Hope” :The Biography of Pope John Paul II,Harper-Collins, New-York,1999.
3. Willey,David.”God’s Politician,” St Martin Press, New York ,1992,