/ Does Poland deserve credit for the 1989 Revolution?
There is a good reason that people consider the defining moment of the communist revolt the tearing down of the wall. Germany was always a big player, in Australia we knew a lot about Germany, no doubt in the US as well. The wall was symbolic and known as something people constantly risked their lives to cross. It was as well known as the great wall of china, no doubt more known than Hadrians Walls. It was a very symbolic reminder of the USSR control. Also with Germany such a big player in Europe (for all the wrong reasons) in the 20th century, it is not surprising.
Also behind Russia, East Germany would have been considered (by the western world) the least likely European country to break from communism. Nobody knew anything about Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaris, Hungary, Poland. These were just names of places that no one would ever go to in their life. But Germany was a country split in half with everyone knowing that families were split that one day your cousin was accessible, the next day they were not.
Now those steeped in history have an idea about things, but that is not the average human and really you could not expect that the average student would have any idea about how any of the countries broke from communism, only that a number of them were communist countries and that the wall was torn down. In Australia, I cannot imagine why it would be taught in schools, other than to fluke it onto the curriculum.
History in Australian schools is likely to be made up of
Australian History (85%)
World History (15%)
The World History is likely to cover the two wars, it is likely to cover issues like women's suffrage, child labour changes, the English Feudal Sytem, the Industrial Revolution, Egypt etc
Things that are really unlikely (but may be lucky to get a look in)
Minor Roman History
Minor Greek History
Rulers (such as Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great)
American Civil War (more to do with slavery/racism in the US)
Things really unlikely to get a look in
Peter the Great
Joseph Stalin (other than mainly his dealings in World War II)
Now this may sound like "geez, what do they teach these people" but think about it. Most of all history in any country will be teaching about the country, that is a bulk of the workload, fair enough as well. Then when you look outside that to a global outlook, there are only so many subjects that can be covered. Of course there are specialised history courses, but in general a student will do a few hours of history each week (say 5), you can only cover so much in that time and any of the topics taught are as relevant as the ones not taught.
I have an interest in the subject, so I spent a lot of time reading up on it personally and those that are interested will do just that or they will chose it as a topic for a project of some kind. Of course though the average conversation people have does not surround the fall of continental communism and there are not plaques up all over Australia discussing the shipyards etc. I am not sure what Poland really could have done to make it any different other than if they had some well known symbolic barrier keeping their people from entering the west, but with all the borders communist borders, this simply never was the case and if there was, it would never have become as well known in the west.
It is a fact that the Berlin Wall will forever be symbolic in the west, that is just the way it is. I am not even sure why it is important to Poland for others to know Poland's role. It should forever be important to Poland and of course the history books, but for others ... well they do not even think about it, it is not relevant to their lives.