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“The amount of kindness that came my way at the time could not be compared to anything at any other time in my life,” she says.

But the small family apartment also became the pilgrimage site for hordes of Solidarity activists, international journalists and people seeking counsel.

Mrs. Walesa, still nursing Ania and with five other children, felt obliged to cater to them, but at some point broke down under the stress.

“One day, in the presence of all these people, I started yelling at my husband. My husband rose and left, without one word. All the others left with him,” Mrs. Walesa remembers.

A few hours later Mr. Walesa returned with a decision: “If you wish, we will put up a sign on the front door: typhoid fever. No admission to strangers.” Peace returned to the home.

Mrs. Walesa faced more sadness in January 1982, when she gave birth to their seventh child, Maria Wiktoria, while Mr. Walesa was imprisoned during martial law. The baby’s christening drew crowds, but Mr. Walesa’s absence was painfully felt by his wife.

Jealousy also came into play. She complains that her husband used the same term of affection - “little frog” - with other women, just as with her.

She is also rueful that despite all of Poland’s sacrifices, and its leading role in triggering change in the revolutionary year of 1989, many people today think mostly of the fall of the Berlin Wall as the watershed moment.

“Unfortunately, it is not the flower-decorated Gate 2 of the Gdansk Shipyard in 1980, but the crumbling Berlin Wall in 1989 that has become the symbol of the freedom and unity of Europe,” she writes.

Mrs. Walesa was briefly in the international spotlight Dec. 10, 1983, when she traveled to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on her husband’s behalf. He was recognized for his fight against communism but feared that if he left the country, the communist authorities would not let him back in.

She complains that he essentially ordered her to go without first asking her how she felt about doing so.

Now she is glad she went.

“It was a lesson in life for me, a wonderful lesson. I shed my complexes, my fear that I am not capable of doing something, that I cannot cope,” Mrs. Walesa says. “I am very grateful to my husband for that.”

Mr. Walesa has defended himself against some of her accusations by arguing that he could not consult with her during the Solidarity years because the secret police had bugged their home. He also felt home life had to be sacrificed for a higher calling.

“I needed to have my hands free for the country,” he said in an interview last week in the daily newspaper Fakt.