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My father

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Suwałki
Andrzej Wajda Film-maker
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It was an enormous shock when I saw the German army for the first time. It looked like an army from a science fiction film, a force from another world, as if we'd been visited by aliens not from another country but from another world. It was fascinating. I also see vague images of military training grounds with soldiers practising using lances and swords. It is astonishing that I was still able to see these things with my own eyes. Then there was the world of the cavalry. There were parades to mark 3 May, 11 November. In such a small town as Suwalki, the garrison was made up of two cavalry regiments. There was a third regiment of light cavalry, a second uhlan regiment, which together with the 13th cavalry regiment of Vilnius constituted the Vilnius cavalry brigade. So the sudden appearance of the army in this small town meant that the life of the army became the life of the town. When I became a senator and was elected from Suwalki, from my home town, I went there and found a town that was completely dead. From my childhood, I recalled it as being full of soldiers because in addition to the 41st Infantry Regiment, in which my father served, there was also a division of armed cavalry. There was also a corps of border guards, so a huge army was stationed in that town.
Wielkim szokiem było dla mnie jak zobaczyłem pierwszy raz  niemieckie wojsko, które wygladało zupełnie jakby armia z filmu science-fiction, jakby armia zupełnie z innego świata, inaczej... jakby przyszli do nas obcy, ale nie z zagranicy tylko z innego świata. To bylo zdumiewające. Także... takie obrazy jakieś zamglone..., jakieś poligony gdzie widzę ćwiczących żołnierzy lancą, szablą. To jest zdumiewające, że widziałem to jeszcze na własne oczy. Potem taki świat właśnie konnej armii. Jakieś defilady na 3-go Maja, na 11-go Listopada. W takim małym mieście jak Suwałki garnizon składał sie z dwóch pułków kawalerii, bo był III Pułk Szwoleżerów, II Pułk Ułanów, które należały do, razem z Wileńskim XIII Pułkiem Kawalerii, należały do Brygady Kawalerii Wileńskiej. Więc to w tym małym miasteczku nagle to wojsko, to życie tego wojska było życiem tego miasta. Kiedy zostałem senatorem i zostałem wybrany własnie z Suwałk z mojego miasta rodzinnego i przyjechałem do tego miasta na wybory, to zobaczyłem miasto kompletnie wymarłe. Jak go pamiętałem z dzieciństwa to ono było właśnie pełne tych żołnierzy, bo był jeszcze przecież Dywizjon Artylerii Konnej oprócz 41 Pułku Piechoty, w którym służył mój ojciec. Był jeszcze Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza, także olbrzymia, że tak powiem, armia w tym mieście stała.

Polish director Andrzej Wajda (1926-2016) was a towering presence in Polish cinema for six decades. His films, showing the horror of the German occupation of Poland, won awards at Cannes and established his reputation as both story-teller and commentator on Poland's turbulent history. As well as his impressive career in TV and film, he also served on the national Senate from 1989-91.

Listeners: Jacek Petrycki

Cinematographer Jacek Petrycki was born in Poznań, Poland in 1948. He has worked extensively in Poland and throughout the world. His credits include, for Agniezka Holland, Provincial Actors (1979), Europe, Europe (1990), Shot in the Heart (2001) and Julie Walking Home (2002), for Krysztof Kieslowski numerous short films including Camera Buff (1980) and No End (1985). Other credits include Journey to the Sun (1998), directed by Jesim Ustaoglu, which won the Golden Camera 300 award at the International Film Camera Festival, Shooters (2000) and The Valley (1999), both directed by Dan Reed, Unforgiving (1993) and Betrayed (1995) by Clive Gordon both of which won the BAFTA for best factual photography. Jacek Petrycki is also a teacher and a filmmaker.

Tags: III Regiment of Light Cavalry, II Uhlan Regiment, XIII Cavalry Regiment of Vilnius

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008