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My mother


What we knew about the Soviets
Andrzej Wajda Film-maker
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Jest taki nieprawdziwy pogląd, że Polska z jednej okupacji przechodzi do drugiej okupacji, z okupacji niemieckiej do okupacji sowieckiej. Nic podobnego! '45 rok nic nie zapowiadał – oczywiście, że z dzisiejszego punktu widzenia, z punktu widzenia historyków, którzy patrzą, że tak powiem, z dalekiego... z dalekiej perspektywy i widzą dzieje, że tak powiem, no to tak wygląda, no bo wiadomo, że tak się musi stać, ale dla nas, którzy nie mieliśmy świadomości, a zwłaszcza dla tych, którzy nie mieli z Sowietami nic wspólnego... A my mieszkaliśmy z matką w Radomiu i nie wiedzieliśmy jak postępują Sowieci. Nie wiedzieliśmy.... W '43 dowiedzieliśmy się, że ojciec został zamordowany przez Sowietów w Katyniu, ale nazwisko było inne, był Karol Wajda – mój ojciec się nazywa Jakub – więc jeszcze mieliśmy nadzieję, matka miała nadzieję. Poza tym dlaczego mieliby Sowieci mordować polskich oficerów? Jeżeli ktokolwiek zamordował to raczej Niemcy, no bo wiedzieliśmy o niemieckich zbrodniach, bo te zbrodnie, że tak powiem, no, odbywały się na naszych oczach, na ulicach, wiedzieliśmy o istnieniu, o  likwidacji getta, wiedzieliśmy o obozach koncentracyjnych. Tak że w pierwszej chwili absolutnie byliśmy przekonani, że to jest jakiś niemiecki kamuflaż.

There's a false perception that Poland went straight from one occupation into another, from the German occupation to occupation by the Soviets. There was nothing of the kind. 1945 gave no indications of what was to come; of course, today from the point of view of historians who have a larger perspective and can see the events, well, that's how it can seem because everyone knows that that's how it had to be, but for us who were unaware and especially for those who had nothing to do with the Soviets. We lived with our mother in Radom and we didn't know how the Soviets behaved. In '43, we learned that our father had been murdered by the Soviets in Katyń, but the name was different. They called him Karol Wajda - my father's name was Jakub - so we carried on hoping, my mother still hoped. Apart from that, why should the Soviets be murdering Polish officers? If anyone was going to commit murder, it would be the Germans because we knew all about the German atrocities which were committed before our very eyes, on the streets, we knew about the liquidation of the ghetto, about concentration camps. We were, therefore, absolutely certain at first that this was some kind of German attempt at camouflaging their actions.

Polish film 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: Radom, Katyń, Jakub Wajda

Duration: 1 minute, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008