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Gomułka's big rally
Adam Zagajewski Poet
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My first moment of political awareness came in October '56 when I was 11 years old. But I wasn't a particularly alert or clever little boy although I knew that something exceptional was going on. I remember one occasion I was walking to school with a friend whose name was Jurek Żelazny – it was around the time of the 'Poznań events' when workers in Poznań were massacred – and we were talking, these two little boys, saying that something dreadful was happening in Poznań.

But then later, there was October ['56] and I remember Gomułka's rally, his famous rally outside the Palace of Culture, attended by one million people, where for a moment he appeared to be our saviour. And I remember... I mean, I don't remember his speech but I do remember that unique moment when everything came to a halt across the entire country because of that infamous rally.

Pierwszym momentem świadomości politycznej to był październik '56, kiedy... kiedy miałem 11 lat. Ale nie byłem jakoś mocno rozbudzonym i mądrym chłopczykiem, to znaczy wiedziałem, że coś się dzieje nadzwyczajnego. Ja pamiętam taki moment, kiedy szedłem do szkoły z takim kolegą, który się nazywał Jurek Żelazny i to było... to było w momencie kiedy tzw. 'wypadki poznańskie' były – masakra robotników poznańskich – i myśmy z nim rozmawiali, takich dwóch takich maluchów rozmawiało, że coś się strasznego dzieje w Poznaniu. I... no ale to... ale potem był październik, pamiętam na przykład wiec Gomułki. Ten sławny wiec Gomułki, gdzie milion ludzi przyszło pod Pałac Kultury i przez moment Gomułka wydawał się zbawcą. A pamiętam... to znaczy nie, nie pamiętam tego przemówienia, ale pamiętam ten moment zupełnie wyjątkowy, kiedy życie zamarło w Polsce, bo był ten sławetny wiec.

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: Poznań, Władysław Gomułka

Duration: 1 minute, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2018

Date story went live: 25 April 2019