"There is no freedom without dwarves". The story of Wrocław’s dwarfs
Since the beginning of the 21st century in Wrocław began to appear dwarfs figurines made of bronze. Figurine of a dwarf is the symbol of the Orange Alternative. It was the most picturesque element of Polish opposition to communism. The main purpose of Orange Alternative was to offer an alternative way of opposition against the authoritarian regime by means of a peaceful protest that used absurd and nonsensical elements. The first actions of the Orange Alternative consisted of painting dwarf graffiti on spots created by the police's covering up anti-regime slogans on walls of the Polish cities. They created often surrealistic slogans such as "There is no freedom without dwarves".
Orange Alternative organized happenings in several Polish cities. The culmination point in the movement's history was the action organized on International Children’s Day (1st June 1988), known as the "Revolution of Dwarves", during which more than 10 thousand people marched through the center of Wrocław wearing orange dwarf hats. Their role was to laugh at absurdities and pompousness of system and provoke independent thinking.
In 2001, to commemorate the Orange Alternative, the first figurine of a dwarf (Papa Krasnal) was officially placed on Świdnicka Street in Wrocław, where the group’s happenings used to take place. Next 5 figures of the dwarfs, were placed in different parts of the city, predominantly in the Old Town. Since that time, the number of figures has continued growing. Today there are over 300 dwarfs spread all over the city and outside the Wrocław. In Wrocław’s city centre these merry dwarfs are simply ubiquitous - dotting doorways, alleyways and street corners; constantly underfoot but only seen by the observant.
Over the time Wrocław’s dwarfs have become a great tourist attraction. Tourists who would like to combine sight-seeing in Wrocław with dwarf-tracking are offered special brochures with a map and mobile application software for smartphones. There is a special website dedicated to Wrocław’s dwarfs – www.krasnale.pl – where you can find their history, photos and downloadable maps of their various locations.