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A fear of imprisonment

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My father takes a stand
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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He detested Stryjkowski and hid this hatred in his heart. Stryjkowski had forgotten what had happened and couldn't understand my father's objection. At the time, Stryjkowski was working for Czerwony Sztandar which was just behind Nowy Wiek, and he tried to talk my father into coming to work there as a journalist. This alarmed my father and so he left there and went to work as a lathe turner in Wzniesienie.  He'd already graduated from the polytechnic and believed that he ought not to have any intellectual profession because that would mean he was serving a foreign power. That's one thread. Another was the delight he took in various things which for us were ordinary. He told us about the time that there was going to be a meeting of trade unions in Wzniesienie, elections to the works council. The Party Secretary, who was Russian, read out the list of proposed candidates, and asked if there were any applications. So somebody was nominated by a worker. My daddy says, 'Our people are used to holding elections'. That was his application. So the Russian says, 'Are you speaking on your own behalf or in the name of others?' 'Yes, some friends, yes with my friends', he says. He decided that sounded better. 'So, this means there's an illegal organisation here. I know of the following organisations: Komsomol, Prospiwka, some others, all these organisations are listed. If there is another one, it means it's illegal. Wnila, call the NKWD!' My daddy says, 'No, no! I retract what I said'. 'Ah, if you retract that's another matter. That's all right', he says, 'don't ring'. Daddy came home terribly shaken up. (I'll pour, honourable gentlemen.) In a moment we can... it's going to be great fun in a moment.

So there were hundreds of stories like that. I remember he used to come home, shouting, saying people were being arrested following the arrest of Broniewski, and when the deportations began he was devastated and talked of it with total amazement. However, later once the victorious Red Army arrived for the second time, then daddy said that he'd seen and read the story of WKPB, that he'd already been taken in by them once, and he even concealed his membership of the Home Army (AK). But this was for the second time. And so, when first the Red Army invaded, followed by the Germans, I recall this great sense of joy in the town because it wasn't the Germans that Lwów remembered but the Austrians, and that was a completely different occupation, not even an occupation really. There was a sense of joy when they were entering.

Miał później niesłychaną nienawiść do Stryjkowskiego, chował ją w sercu strasznie. Stryjkowski zapomniał zdarzenie i nie mógł zrozumieć, co ten ojciec ma do niego, a Stryjkowski pracował wtedy w Czerwonym Sztandarze, który się mieścił tam właśnie po Nowym Wieku i namawiał ojca, żeby ojciec przyszedł pracować jako dziennikarz. I on w związku z tym się trochę wystraszył, uciekł stamtąd i poszedł pracować jako tokarz na Wzniesieniu. A już politechnikę skończył. Uważał, że nie ma, nie powinien robić, nie powinien być żadnym umysłowym pracownikiem, bo się by służyło obcym. I to jest jeden wątek, a drugi wątek to jego takie zachłystywanie się różnymi dla nas rzeczami normalnymi. Opowiadał taką historię, jak na tym Wzniesieniu miało być zebranie związków zawodowych, wybory do rady zakładowej. Sekretarz partii, Rosjanin, odczytał listę proponowanych kandydatów i pyta, czy są zgłoszenia. No to jakichś robotnik zgłasza. "Nasi ludzie przyzwyczajeni do wyborów" – mówi tatuś – no zgłasza. A on mówi: "A Wy to w imieniu własnym, czy w imieniu jakimś szerszym?" "A tak, kolegów jakiś, tak z kolegami" – mówi. Uznał, że będzie lepiej. "Tak?"– mówi. "A znaczy jest nielegalna organizacja w zakładzie. Bo ja znam takie organizacje: komsomoł, prospiwka, tam jakieś tego owego, te wszystkie organizacje tą listę wyznaczają. Jak jest jakaś inna, znaczy jest nielegalna organizacja. Waniła zdwani po NKWD". Tata mówi: "Nie, nie... to ja w ogóle cofam". "A cofacie? To co innego" – mówi. "W porządku, nie dzwoń". I tatuś przyjeżdża cały wstrząśnięty. (Ja naleję proszę Szanownych Państwa) Zresztą to możemy tego zaraz  tego, zaraz będzie śmiesznie.

Więc, no i takich historii to wiesz, mnóstwo różnych tego rodzaju. No i pamiętam jak taki przychodził, z takim krzykiem, mówi tam gdzieś, bo tam aresztowali właśnie po tym aresztowaniu Broniewskiego, jak zaczęły się wywózki, to był niesłychanie wstrząśnięty tym i zarazem z takim olbrzymim zdumieniem to powtarzał. No, natomiast już później, jak drugi raz zwycięska Armia Czerwona wkroczyła, no to tatuś mówił, że on widział i czytał historię... ten WKP(b) już się na nich naciąć nie da i zataił nawet przynależność do Armii Krajowej. No ale to już po raz drugi. No więc jak naprzód nas wkroczyła Armia Czerwona, potem wkroczyli Niemcy, to ja miałem taki wielki nastrój radości w mieście, bo Lwów pamiętał nie Niemców, tylko Austriaków, zupełnie inną okupację, znaczy nie okupację nawet, taki był nastrój radości, kiedy oni wjeżdżali.

The late Polish activist, Jacek Kuroń (1934-2004), had an influential but turbulent political career, helping transform the political landscape of Poland. He was expelled from the communist party, arrested and incarcerated. He was also instrumental in setting up the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR) and later became a Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

Listeners: Jacek Petrycki Marcel Łoziński

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.

Film director Marcel Łoziński was born in Paris in 1940. He graduated from the Film Directing Department of the National School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź in 1971. In 1994, he was nominated for an American Academy Award and a European Film Academy Award for the documentary, 89 mm from Europe. Since 1995, he has been a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Art and Science awarding Oscars. He lectured at the FEMIS film school and the School of Polish Culture of Warsaw University. He ran documentary film workshops in Marseilles. Marcel Łoziński currently lectures at Andrzej Wajda’s Master School for Film Directors. He also runs the Dragon Forum, a European documentary film workshop.

Tags: Czerwony Sztandar, Nowy Wiek, Julian Stryjkowski, Władysław Broniewski

Duration: 2 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008