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Solidarność in session

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Everyone took part in creating Solidarność
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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And that's how the situation I talked about later came about. Admittedly, we must have made lots of very serious mistakes, but if we're talking about the reason for December 13, then our only mistake was that we set up Solidarność yet that was not something we couldn't have done. That was the situation. From the moment that society became autonomous, the whole system of central government disintegrated; this was something I kept repeating. The whole system disintegrated... and the system of social co-operation came crashing down. From here on, this co-operation couldn't continue so, like I said, it was a miracle, no - the problem lay in the fact that there was nothing, everything began to disappear from the shops, everything, everything. But the wonder was that everything was still somehow working, that there was still something in the shops, that the trains were still running. This was all proof of the exceptional sacrifices society was making and their pro-social attitude. In that National Committee, in that authority, in the whole of Solidarność, there was, there started, there kicked off an almighty chaos, wild pandemonium. First, Solidarność was set up and that was a job for everyone. In each location, people just had to want to do it and it was done. Initially, it was done with the authorities opposing it, various people were against it, the police, the Party and so on, locally. And this massive movement was being constructed in a totally new and empty place without any personnel, without any experience. Since this was all being constructed, we had to set everything up from scratch. For this movement to function, we had to make decisions about every single thing and these decisions had to be made in the central commission, the National Committee. Despite everybody's significant dislike of centralism, we had to centralise because the national structures were centralised and we couldn't reach any settlements without them. There were very few issues that we could sort out on the lower level, everything had to be taken to the top and everything had to be addressed because we were rebuilding the country from the start as it were. There were a great many issues that needed to be addressed within the unions because the union was being built from scratch. All of this was meant to be done by the people, two from each region, and suddenly there was a mass of different regions springing up.

I tym samym powstała sytuacja, o której później mówiłem, że wprawdzie myśmy popełnili na pewno mnóstwo wielkich, bardzo ciężkich błędów, ale jeśli chodzi o przyczynę trzynastego grudnia, to jedyny nasz błąd polegał na tym, żeśmy powołali "Solidarność", a nie powołać jej żeśmy nie mogli. Taka była sytuacja. Ponieważ w momencie uniezależniania się społeczeństwa w drzazgi poszedł system centralnego sterowania, ja to powtarzałem w koło przez cały czas. W drzazgi poszedł system... i runął system współpracy społecznej. Ta współpraca już od tego miejsca nie mogła się odbywać, także ja powiadam, że cudem... Nie problem na tym polegał, że niczego nie było, bo rzeczywiście, zresztą zaczęło gwałtownie niknąć z rynku wszystko, wszystko. Ale cud polegał na tym, że w ogóle to wszystko jakoś funkcjonowało jeszcze, że jeszcze coś było w tych sklepach, że jeszcze te pociągi jeździły. To był wszystko dowód niesłychanej ofiarności społeczeństwa i jego takiej prospołecznej postawy. No, a w tej Komisji Krajowej, a w tych władzach, w tej całej "Solidarności" zaczęło się... zaczął się, odbywał się, dokonywał się niesłychany młyn, niesłychany dziki młyn. Bo naprzód powstawała "Solidarność". I to było zadanie dla wszystkich. W każdym miejscu wystarczyło po prostu chcieć i zakładało się. Zakładało się początkowo przeciw władzy, przy oporach różnych ludzi, władzy, oporach policji, Partii i tak dalej, lokalnych tych. I ten olbrzymi ruch się budował, tak teraz na zupełnie nowym pustym placu, bez żadnych kadr, bez żadnych doświadczeń. A skoro się budował to wszystko trzeba było ustalić od nowa, wszystko. W każdej sprawie po to, aby ten Ruch funkcjonował, trzeba było podjąć decyzję i decyzję trzeba było podjąć w komisji centralnej... Komisji Krajowej, bo mimo olbrzymiej niechęci, wszystkich niechęci do centralizowania, a centralizować trzeba było, bo scentralizowana była struktura państwa, z którą i tylko z nią można było cokolwiek uzgodnić. Niesłychanie niewiele było spraw, które można było załatwić na dole. Wszystkie sprawy były na górze, a więc były wszystkie sprawy, które trzeba było załatwić, bo jakby kraj budowało się od nowa. I mnóstwo spraw, które trzeba było rozstrzygnąć wewnątrz związkowych, bo związek budowało się od nowa. A to wszystko mieli robić ludzie, po dwóch z regionów, a tych regionów najprzeróżniejszych napowstawało natychmiast.

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: Solidarność, National Committee, Party

Duration: 2 minutes, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008