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The only successful operation by the communists in history


A short life story - getting closer to Christianity
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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After March, after I'd been released, I mean I'd been released from prison, I came out as a result of the events of December. I was in prison while the December events were happening. I came out of prison and that's when the whole process started - this was a period of prosperity under Gierek's rule and of relative social calm - so there was a very important process of various, quite diverse active groups coming together, and a period when we, the former left wing, began to come closer to Christianity, to understand Christianity. Earlier, we hadn't understood it at all, we had a stereotypical vision of the Church and of Christianity and of religion, the worst kind of leftist stereotype that you can imagine, shallow, basic. And this was in March. And it was after March that... in addition to this, there was a powerful sense of shame among the Polish intelligentsia because in December, in the face of those events, when workers' blood was being spilled by the army, the intelligentsia had remained silent and so now it had the feeling that it has to redeem its sin, it has to go out to the workers. Among the workers, too, there must have been a feeling of shame that they had stayed silent in March in the face of the events affecting the students and the intelligentsia. In December, the workers had come to the student halls in Gdańsk and were shouting, 'Students, forgive us for March' - I think that's what they were calling - forgive us - I think that's what it was, Wajda shows it in his film Man of Marble and that's how KOR came about. KOR was born of the shame on both sides, of a sense that we can't remain silent in the face of any unrest, and of the saying that if March had happened in December, we'd be in a totally different country by now. We used to add that if both of those months had been in August, meaning at the time when things were kicking off in Czechoslovakia, then we'd have been in a totally different camp, but as a result, we managed to do our own March and December in August '80. In short, that's what I think.

Po marcu... po wyjściu... znaczy po wyjściu, wyszedłem z więzienia w rezultacie w wyniku wydarzeń grudniowych. Wydarzenia grudniowe przeżyłem w więzieniu. Wyszedłem z tego więzienia i wtedy zaczął się proces, bo to był taki okres prosperity Gierkowskiego i pewnej takiej ciszy społecznej, bardzo istotny proces zbliżania się do siebie bardzo różnych środowisk aktywnych, różnych i okres naszego zbliżania nas, dawnej lewicy do chrześcijaństwa, rozumienia chrześcijaństwa. Bo myśmy go przedtem nie rozumieli, mieliśmy taki stereotyp Kościoła i chrześcijaństwa i religii, najgorszy lewicowy stereotyp, jaki sobie można wyobrazić, taki najpłytszy, najbardziej prymitywny. No i to był marzec. I to było to, co po marcu, co sprawiło, a w dodatku jeszcze było... te silne poczucie wstydu, które miała inteligencja polska, że w grudniu wobec wydarzeń grudniowych, wobec tej przelewanej przez wojsko krwi robotniczej, była milcząca i w związku z tym inteligencja miała świadomość, że w tej chwili musi ten swój grzech odkupić, musi iść do robotników. I na pewno w środowiskach robotniczych, aktywnych, było poczucie wstydu, że wobec studenckiego, inteligenckiego marca milczeli. W grudniu robotnicy pod domem akademickim w Gdańsku wołali "Studenci, przebaczcie nam marzec", chyba tak – przebaczcie – chyba tak, to zresztą Wajda pokazał w Człowieku z marmuru. I tak doszło do KOR-u. Ten KOR jakby z tego wstydu obu stron się zrodził. Z poczucia, że wobec żadnego wybuchu nie można milczeć i z takiego naszego powiedzenia, że gdyby marzec był w grudniu, to bylibyśmy już w zupełnie innym kraju. Dodawaliśmy jeszcze czasem, że gdyby te dwa miesiące były w sierpniu, czyli wtedy, kiedy w Czechosłowacji to się działo to bylibyśmy w innym obozie, ale udało nam się w związku z tym w sierpniu '80 roku zrobić właśnie marzec w grudniu. Ot jak myślę, najkrócej to tylko tak.

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: Christianity, Polish intelligentsia, Gdańsk, Man of Marble, KOR, Andrzej Wajda

Duration: 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008