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A week-long exodus by train from Lwów to Gliwice
Adam Zagajewski Poet
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I jeszcze jest epizod trwający tydzień podróży ze Lwowa do Gliwic. To był transport, który nie był tak straszny jak te transporty, o których czytamy – idące do obozów koncentracyjnych. To był w miarę cywilizowany transport. Z tego, co opowiadano mi, w jednym wagonie towarowym mieściły się dwie rodziny, które mogły część mebli zabrać. I było to w miarę właśnie... to znaczy wygodne pewnie nie. Ten pociąg wlókł się niemiłosiernie, ponieważ musiał ustępować wszystkim transportom rosyjskim, które głównie wtedy jeździły z Niemiec do Rosji, wożąc niezliczone ilości łupów zapewne. Myśmy jechali – mówię ‘my’, chociaż nie byliśmy stroną czynną tego wyjazdu – ale jechaliśmy... wyjechaliśmy dokładnie w dniu imienin ojca, czyli 28 października i dojechaliśmy 4 listopada w dniu imienin mojego dziadka, które zresztą nie jechał wtedy z nami. I w trakcie tej podróży ja się rozchorowałem bardzo poważnie. To są oczywiście rzeczy, których ja nie wiem, nie pamiętam, bo byłem... miałem cztery miesiące. Ale mówiono mi, że omal co nie umarłem, że to była jakaś bardzo poważna choroba związana z żołądkiem, z jakimś zatruciem pokarmowym. I szczęśliwie tam był wagon szpitalny w tym transporcie. Co pokazuje, że transport był solidny, że miał nawet wagon szpitalny i w tym szpitalu na kółkach znowu dobrze znany mojej rodzinie lekarz lwowski, pediatra, doktor Kochanowski. To było moje pierwsze zetknięcie się z Kochanowskim – jeszcze nie poetą, a pediatrą, który zresztą później przychodził do nas, kiedy ja chorowałem, a chorowałem jako dziecko bardzo dużo. Tak że ta... to wszystko jest taki mityczny moment, ale gdzieś zawieszony... zawieszony w pamięci. Dla mnie ważny, interesujący, z każdym... to znaczy nie powiem, że z każdym rokiem coraz bardziej, bo nie... bez przesady, nie wpadłem w jakąś tutaj pedanterię pamięci, ale to jest dla mnie jednak jakaś tam taka aura tych perwszych miesięcy mojego życia.

There was also the episode of the journey from Lwów to Gliwice which took a week. It was a transport [train] which wasn't nearly as terrifying as those transports we read about which were destined for the concentration camps. Our transport was relatively civilised. From what I've been told, each goods wagon had room enough for two families who were able to bring some of their furniture with them, too. There was a degree of... well, it certainly wasn't comfortable. That train was unmercifully slow because it had to give way to all of the Russian transports which were mainly travelling from Germany to Russia, most probably loaded with countless amounts of looted goods. We were travelling – I say 'we' although we weren't the active party in this exodus – but we were travelling... we left on the very day of my father's name day, 28 October, and arrived on 4 November which was my grandfather's name day, although he wasn't travelling with us then. During the journey, I fell gravely ill. These are, of course, things that I don't know, don't remember, I was four months old at the time. But I've been told that I nearly died, that I had something seriously wrong with my stomach, some kind of food poisoning. Luckily, one of the carriages was a mobile hospital, an indication that it was a well-organised transport that it even had a hospital, and in this mobile hospital there was a doctor from Lwów whom my parents knew well, a paediatrician – Dr Kochanowski. This was my first contact with Kochanowski – he wasn't yet a poet but was a paediatrician; he visited us frequently when I was ill, and I was very often ill as a child. So this is all a mythical time suspended somewhere in my memory. For me, it's important and interesting... I wouldn't say that with every year it becomes more so, let's not get too carried away, I haven't given in to some sort of pedantry of memories, but in my mind it forms a kind of aura around the first few months of my life.

Adam Zagajewski (b. 1945 in Lwów) is a Polish poet, novelist, translator and essayist. He was awarded the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition Award and the 2017 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature. He is considered as one of the leading poets of the Generation of '68 or the Polish New Wave (Polish: Nowa fala) and is one of Poland's most prominent contemporary poets.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Lwów, Gliwice

Duration: 3 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2018

Date story went live: 25 April 2019