Historical story

He was fighting communism with laughter!

Dwarfs, happenings and mockery of the authorities - this was his method of fighting the communist system. He himself admitted that "If it were not for the communists and their planned economy, the world, art and the Major would not exist on this level." Who is Waldemar "Major" Fydrych?

Commander of the Wrocław Fortress

The 1980s in Poland was a time of strikes and protests, Solidarity, another economic collapse of the country and - finally - the Round Table talks. The youth were not idle at that time, both of them "brawls" and creating opposition alternative movements. One of the most famous has become the Orange Alternative, a student happening movement emerging from the Wrocław Movement of New Culture, and then developing in other large Polish cities. The leader of the movement was a history student, Waldemar "Major" Fydrych, a colorful and controversial figure. He started using the joke method as a form of resistance very early on. There is an anecdote saying that when he was summoned to a military commission, he appeared in front of her dressed in the uniform of a major and pretended to be so enthusiastic about his service that he was treated as an insane person and was ultimately denied entry into the army. He was also quickly christened the Commander of the Wrocław Fortress. All subsequent actions of the Orange Alternative were characterized by equally great fantasy and humor.

Because whether you like it or not, the dwarfs are in the world

One of the most famous actions of Major and his movement during the martial law was painting figures of dwarfs on the walls in places where the police painted over anti-communist inscriptions. The appearing more and more dwarfs aroused a lot of guesswork and emotions among the inhabitants, they quickly became a kind of code, and then a symbol of the Orange Alternative. Major has been arrested twice for painting the dwarfs. During one of the arrests, he delivered a manifesto in which he called his art dialectical painting: "The thesis is the inscription, the antithesis - the stain, the dwarf synthesis" . He also proclaimed himself the greatest heir of Marx and Hegel. However, Fydrych counted on greater involvement of the society and mobilization to undertake similar activities. "Distressed" by the situation in which the public did not follow in his footsteps spontaneously, he applied to the passport office for permission to travel to ... Jamaica. He never got a reply.

Dwarf on the wall of the tenement house at Smoluchowskiego 22 in Wrocław, probably painted by Waldemar "Major" Frydrych. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Late toilet paper and sanitary napkins

The members of the Orange Alternative set themselves the goal of getting arrested for the most banal and absurd reason. Because how can you take seriously an officer who asks the question: "Why are you attending an illegal gathering of dwarfs?" . Fydrych believed that people in the West would be told more about the situation in the country by the information that in People's Poland he was arrested for handing out toilet paper or sanitary napkins (goods so scarce!) Than any books or treatises written by oppositionists. And in fact - the arrest of Fydrych "on an ad hoc basis" for two months for handing out sanitary napkins on the street on the occasion of Women's Day in 1988 caused a loud international scandal. Intellectuals, led by Andrzej Wajda, intervened for his release.

The blade of humor remains sharp

In the years 1986-1989, Waldemar "Major" Fydrych organized or co-organized 23 happenings. The biggest one was the 1988 Dwarf Revolution, which was spontaneously joined by the participants of a dog show organized by the authorities. At the head of the procession was a man in a costume of a large dragon, and the crowd chanted "Jaruzelski dragon of Wawel". It is not known whether the march of this procession in front of Józef Pinior's house influenced the decision of the authorities to release the oppositionist, but it happened a few days later. Other actions included, for example, Undercover Day, Militia Day and October Revolution. This is how a group of young people managed to overcome the fear that has dominated so far - the best tool of power in undemocratic systems. Waldemar Fydrych continued his happening after 1990.

Waldemar Fydrych, Łódź 2009 (CC BY 3.0)

* Karl Marx's thesis used in a mocking manner by activists of the socialist surrealism, which is the basis for the activities of the New Culture and Orange Alternative Movement.


  1. Waldemar "Major Fydrych", Lives of Orange Men , Orange Alternative 2001.
  2. Collective work, Orange alternative - a happening into communism, International Cultural Center 2011.