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The defeat of the ZMS

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Socialist Youth Union hit squads
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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The Socialist Youth Union (ZMS) in Warsaw organised hit squads against TKN. They did this with the approval of the universities and under the direction of someone from the Central Committee of the ZMS and of the Party, with the co-operation of the district committee of the Party, so there were lots of different people mixed up in this. During their hate session, they were declaring: I hate people like you, I hate you, I could kill you. The subject of Jews kept coming up except that at that point, one of the well informed ones said, 'On that point, Mr Kuroń is clean.' They were transforming Poland in every possible way and they were renewing Poland, those were the kind of patriots they were. During one of those beatings, on the third or fourth occasion, there was a bit more pushing and shoving by the door. On that occasion when there was that awful punch-up there were ZMS activists from the sports academy who worked as bouncers in student clubs. Some time later, there was a report published about these bouncers how they had injured several people in an unprovoked attack, were handling foreign currency, were pimping, were working with the police, and lots of other things of that nature. This was all organised by Wójcik who was the chairman of the ZMS in the sports academy. Shortly after this, he was identified, named and then he was given his Party membership card by Gierek, and this was all on TV. Someone obviously wanted to incriminate Gierek because normally they were given a candidate's ID card whereas he was given a member's card... he was getting a member's card but they just wanted Gierek to shake hands with him on TV. This was the worst time during that wave of terror which was continuing. There were those phone calls promising that someone would die and then Pyjas was killed, one of my dogs was poisoned, and they tried to poison the second one, too, it was a dog but we all loved it. Searches, detention, arrests, court sanctions, attacks by unknown assailants, damage to cars. Halina... Halina tried to kill herself, she couldn't take the pressure this terror was putting her under. The pressure... this terror increased and grew and grew. We were all breathing poisoned air. The fact that there are so many among us who are ill, that Gajka is dead, this is all without a doubt the result of what we went through. I was making the wrong calculation here because Maciek will be an invalid for the rest of his life. I was making the wrong calculation here because I knew that I'd get through this whereas I didn't take into account the fact that above all, Gajka is going to have to get through this.

Akcje bojówek przeciw TKN-owi organizował Związek Młodzieży Socjalistycznej warszawski w porozumieniu z uczelnianymi i z... pod dyrekcją kogoś z KC ZMS-u i z KC partii przy współpracy Komitetu Wojewódzkiego Partii, także tu ubabrało się w to bardzo wiele różnych osób. W czasie tego seansu nienawiści właśnie deklarowali: "Nienawidzę takich jak Pan, nienawidzę Pana, zabiłbym Pana". Nieustannie wracali Żydzi, przy czym w tym miejscu jeden dobrze poinformowany mówił: "O! Z tego punktu widzenia pan Kuroń jest czysty". I Polskę odmieniali we wszystkie możliwe sposoby i odmawiali Polskę, tacy to oni byli patrioci. W czasie tego bicia, przy trzecim przyjściu czy czwartym trochę jeszcze było tam tych przepychanek, trochę przy drzwiach, wtedy tego strasznie ostrego bicia – to bili też aktywiści ZMS-owscy z AWF-u, którzy na co dzień pełnili funkcję bramkarzy w klubach studenckich. Potem nawet ukazał się dookoła świata reportaż o tych bramkarzach, oni tam bezinteresownie okaleczyli parę osób, handlowali do Arabii, stręczycielstwo, mieli współpracę z milicją i mnóstwo innych takich rzeczy. Przy czym organizował to wszystko prezes ZMS-u w AWF-e Wójcik, który w wkrótce po tym... którego rozpoznano, zidentyfikowano, nazwano po imieniu i nazwisku i on wkrótce po tym otrzymał legitymacje członkowską partyjną – wręczył mu Gierek w telewizorze. Ewidentnie chciano tu ubabrać Gierka, dlatego bo dawano kandydackie legitymacje, normalnie się wręcza, a jemu dano legitymację... On dostawał członkowską, tylko chodziło o to, żeby Gierek mu uścisnął rękę w tym telewizorze. I to był rzeczywiście szczytowa fala tego terroru, który trwał stale, bo to były te telefony, w których obiecywano śmierć, a tu zginął Pyjas, otruto mi psa jednego, drugiego próbowano truć i to tak demonstracyjnie, żeby to widać było, że UB. To się tak mówi – "otruto psa"... no psa, którego myśmy wszyscy kochali. Rewizje, przeszukania, zatrzymania, areszty, sankcje prokuratorskie, napady nieznanych sprawców, niszczenie samochodów. Halina w pewnym momencie próbowała popełnić samobójstwo, nie mogła wytrzymać tego napięcia terroru. I to... ten terror rósł, narastał, narastał. Oddychaliśmy wszyscy zatrutym powietrzem. To, że tyle jest wśród nas chorych, że Gajka nie żyje... to wszystko jest niewątpliwie skutek tego, cośmy wytrzymali. Ja tutaj zły rachunek robiłem, bo Maciek będzie kaleką do końca życia już. Ja tu robiłem zły rachunek, bo policzyłem, że ja wytrzymam, natomiast nie wziąłem pod uwagę, że to wytrzymać to będzie musiała przede wszystkim Gaja.

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: Marcel Łoziński Jacek Petrycki

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.

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: Socialist Youth Union, Warsaw, TKN, Central Committee, Party, Edward Gierek, Gaja Kuroń, Maciej Kuroń

Duration: 3 minutes, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008