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NEXT STORY

My first political choice

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Freedom at the age of 10
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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At that time, my father disappeared, he disappeared without a trace, meaning he disappeared, my father had been arrested, he was in Janowo, he escaped from Janowo and for a while there were no signs of life from him, while we ran out of the supplies that he had brought us. Around that time, my mother became very ill so I started to trade a bit myself, taking eggs from the Germans to exchange it in villages a long way from there for... I mean bread from the Germans. The Germans would sell, would exchange bread for eggs. There were numerous anti-aircraft divisions stationed in our village, and I have great memories of them. Those lads were unbelievably pleasant, and I remember that it was one of those anti-aircraft gunners who brought us the news about the invasion. He ran into my aunt's home and began shouting, 'War kaput! War kaput!' And then he told us that the Normandy invasion had begun. So I was taking from them... where we lived we used to get three or four eggs for one loaf of bread. I'd take that bread and would walk to Olszówka, Skaliste, where - my aunt lived in Zaryte - where they'd give seven or eight eggs for one loaf of bread. I brought the eggs home and took some of them to Rabka, to a buyer there called Moliński who was a friend of my father's, and I'd sell the eggs to him for some thread, and then I'd exchange this thread and those combs for milk, butter and so on and so on. I loved doing this and it made me feel very grown up. I remember a story from this time, I was going to take this thread somewhere, I had an order for this thread somewhere and I was travelling in the same train as workmen going to work. The dawn was breaking, it was totally dark, it was winter, it was dark - I was hanging onto the steps of the carriage because the train was packed, and all the while I was thinking, I'm so cold, I'm so hungry, everything is pretty awful but in all of this, there was freedom - I am completely free, and that's when I came up with this generalisation that the worse things get, the freer a person is. Of course, it isn't true, but this idea that you have to pay for this sort of freedom, that it's worth it came to me then. That's how I thought about freedom then, but after that I stopped thinking like that and obviously from then on, I was completely free.

My first thoughts on freedom came when my brother Felek was born. I was riding on the tailboard of some truck going through the town and I knew that no one would be bothered about me and I thought it was a pity that my parents weren't bothered about me, but at least this way I had more freedom. The second time was when this really strong notion of freedom came to me and I thought that from then, from that moment, I was a free person. So from about the age of 10 I attained freedom and after that, these problems were not longer an issue for me.

W tym czasie zginął, zaginął słuch o moim ojcu, znaczy ojciec zaginął, ojciec był aresztowany, był w Janowie, uciekł z tego Janowa i jakiś czas nie dawał znaku życia i nam się skończyło to, co ojciec tam przywoził. I mama się wtedy ciężko rozchorowała, więc ja jakieś tam robiłem kombinacje, handlowałem, brałem od Niemców jajka, nosiłem na dalekie wsie, oni, znaczy od Niemców chleb. Niemcy sprzedawali, zamieniali chleb za jajka. W naszej wsi, gdzie stały liczne oddziały żołnierzy obrony przeciwlotniczej, zresztą mam o nich znakomite wspomnienia. Niesłychanie sympatyczni chłopcy to byli i pamiętam, że wiadomość o inwazji przyniósł nam taki żołnierz z tej obrony przeciwlotniczej, który wbiegł do mieszkania mojej ciotki i z okrzykiem "Wojna kaput, wojna kaput!" powiedział, że zaczęła się inwazja w Normandii. Otóż ja od nich brałem, u nas tu dawano za chleb trzy jajka, cztery jajka, ja brałem te chleby, chodziłem na Olszówkę, Skaliste, gdzie, bo w Zarytym moja ciotka mieszkała, gdzie za chleb dawano siedem jajek, osiem jajek. Przynosiłem jajka i część jajek nosiłem do Rabki, do takiego kupca Molińskiego, który był kolegą mojego ojca i któremu to sprzedawałem, który mi za to znowu dawał nici, które to nici i grzebienie ja zamieniałem za mleko, masło i tak dalej, i tak dalej. Niesłychanie mi się to podobało i czułem się taki bardzo dorosły. Pamiętam z tego okresu taki... taką historię: jechałem zawieźć te nici, gdzieś tam miałem zamówienie na te nici i jechałem pociągiem takim, którym jeździli robotnicy na szańce. Ja o świcie, ciemno było zupełnie, to zima, ciemno było – na stopniach pociągu w zimie jechałem przyczepiony, bo ten pociąg strasznie zatłoczony, do tego pociągu i tak sobie myślałem, że jest mi tu zimno cholernie, że jestem strasznie głodny i że w ogóle jest podle i ja przy tym wszystkim wolność – jestem taki zupełnie wolny i tak sobie właśnie wtedy wymyśliłem, takie uogólnienie, że im gorzej, to człowiek jest bardziej wolny. Nie jest to oczywiście prawda, taki pomysł, że za tę wolność trzeba płacić, że to się opłaca – miałem taki pomysł. To w tym okresie tak myślałem o wolności, jakoś potem przestałem i najwyraźniej już od tego czasu byłem stale zupełnie wolny. Znaczy pierwsza moja myśl o wolności to była, jak mi się brat Felek urodził. Ja gdzieś przyczepiony do jakiegoś furgonu jechałem sobie przez miasto sam i wiedziałem, że się nikt mną nie będzie zajmował i myślałem sobie, że trochę szkoda, że ci rodzice tak mną się nie zajmują, ale za to mam więcej wolności. A drugi raz wolności... taka silna myśl o wolności to była wtedy. I tak sobie myślę, że to... że od tego czasu już byłem człowiekiem wolnym. Tak gdzieś w wieku lat znaczy dziesięciu osiągnąłem wolność i skończyły się dla mnie te problemy.

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: Janowo, Olszówka, Zaryte, Skaliste, Rabka

Duration: 3 minutes, 38 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008