Orange Alternative

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Orange Alternative (Pomarańczowa Alternatywa) is a name for an underground protest movement which was started in Wrocław, a town in south-west Poland and led by Waldemar Fydrych (sometimes misspelled as Frydrych), commonly known as Major (Commander of the Festung Breslau) in the 1980s.[1] Its main purpose was to offer a wider group of citizens an alternative way of opposition against the communist regime by means of a peaceful protest that used absurd and nonsensical elements.

By doing this, Orange Alternative participants could not be arrested by the police for opposition to the communist regime without the authorities becoming a laughing stock. Orange Alternative has been viewed as part of the broader Solidarity movement. Academics Dennis Bos and Marjolein t'Hart have asserted it was the most effective of all Solidarity's factions in bringing about the movement's success.[2]

Initially it painted ridiculous graffiti of dwarves on paint spots covering up anti-government slogans on city walls. Afterwards, beginning with 1985 through 1990, it organized a series of more than sixty happenings in several Polish cities, including Wrocław, Warsaw, Łódź, Lublin and Tomaszów Mazowiecki.

It was the most picturesque element of Polish opposition to Stalinist authoritarianism. It suspended activity in 1989, but reactivated in 2001 and has been active on a small scale ever since.[3]

A statue of a dwarf, dedicated to the memory of the movement, stands today on Świdnicka Street in Wrocław, in the place where events took place.

Orange Alternative movement has inspired several other similar movements in authoritarian countries including Czechoslovakia and Hungary and it has also inspired and influenced the Pora and the so called Orange Revolution movement in Ukraine, which was in turn supported by Poland.

Some utterances ascribed to Waldemar Fydrych:


The Beginnings

The beginning of the Orange Alternative are in a student movement called the Movement for New Culture created in 1980 at the University of Wrocław. It is in that year that Waldemar "Major" Fydrych, one of the movement's founders, proclaims the Socialist Surrealism Manifesto,[4] which becomes the ideological backbone behind a gazette known as "The Orange Alternative." Seven out of the total fifteen issues of this gazette appear during student strikes organized in November and December 1980 as part of the Solidarity upheaval. The first number is edited jointly by Major Waldemar Fydrych and Wiesław Cupała (a.k.a. "Captain") simply with an idea to have fun. The editors treat the strike and the surrounding reality as forms of Art. For the ensuing numbers, the editorial committee is joined by Piotr Adamcio, known as "Lieutenant Pablo," Andrzej Dziewit and Zenon Zegarski, nicknamed "Lieutenant Zizi Top." Although its avangarde character, according to the student strike organizers, was a threat to the "higher aims of the strike", and notwithstanding attempts by the strike committee to censor it, the gazette became rapidly very popular among the students.[3]

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