Mikhail Gorbachev died almost exactly 42 years after the movement that gave his life meaning was born. Gorbachev’s whole career as the leader of the Soviet Union was a response to the Solidarity movement, a mass protest against communist oppression. Solidarity was a working-class phenomenon, a traditional communist stronghold. Thus, Solidarity proved that communism does not represent the interests of the working people and therefore discredited it. It was a movement inspired by the great Pope John Paul II, whose first visit to Poland in 1979 demonstrated that great masses of people yearned for freedom and authentic existence. This strength in numbers could not be easily suppressed.