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My father
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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I have a very clear recollection of the row between my father and grandfather at the very beginning. As soon as we arrived in Kraków, my grandfather joined the PPS, I mean he didn't join, he renewed his PPS membership saying, 'This is the PPS, it's my party', said my grandfather. My father obviously wasn't sure at that point. 'Because this is my party', said my grandfather. I remember that very well, 'because this is my party' - I remember that very well. I remember how he made fun of a friend of his who was in the PPR because they'd go and get their banners blessed in church, as both of them, both my dad and my grandfather were antireligious and anticlerical and they would both mock and absolutely ridicule everything, which caused me the greatest difficulties. Because when I was a child, I went through a phase of being intensely fascinated by religion, my friends took me to church and that made an enormous impression on me. I'd come home and battle with my dad. I remember that my dad stumped me with this rock, can God create something that He can't lift up? I could have coped with that but he kept laughing. I would say, 'Ivory gate...' I'd kneel down and read the whole prayerbook out aloud in protest against him - and in there, it spoke about the Ivory gate, I remember, House of gold, and my dad would say, 'What would happen if you said 'radiator'?' But I'd carry on, I wouldn't stop, I carried on reading but it really bothered me: why does it say House of gold and not radiator? Anyway, I remember the row they had although it didn't go on for long and soon after that, my dad joined the PPS. Because my dad, this was obvious, in the PPS, the point was, this wasn't a fake PPS but it was only a part of it, on top of which it was the left wing, the one that my father had joined. In addition to that, he was a vehement anti-bolshevik, unbelievably anti-bolshevik. This was a legacy from '20. He'd go around the house singing, 'Trotski sent his lousey Bolsheviks to Warsaw, after grandad's strong embraces, they had swellings on their faces.' He'd got everything muddled. And in this whole muddle of social classes in the Polish People's Republic and when he went to Warsaw, Mr Pruszkowski who was a National Democrat, I'd say a left wing National Democrat, he of course stood for everything I disagreed with and this radicalised me intensely, except that he tried to discipline me, telling me what time I was supposed to be home by, and that I should wash my feet. No one ever expected me to wash anything - if I washed, I washed. My dad used to say, 'Jacuś, how old are you?' So I'd say, 'Seven.' 'And you've managed to get your feet this dirty over seven years?' Or else he'd say, 'I can see the whole of last week's menu just by looking at your shirt, I can see exactly what you ate.' My dad's behaviour at table was appalling, and I'm the same, because he came from a proletarian family into my mother's aristocratic family, he called her the Lanckorońska princess. He had two options: either to try and adopt everything very rigorously and to become like them, or to show that he didn't give a shit. Daddy chose the second option. He did all kinds of crazy, funny things. When he was old, he'd say, 'Jacek, look at the way you're eating. Who did you learn that from?' And then we'd both fall about laughing because my dad was even more outrageous when he was eating. My dad would put his fork into the soup plate and would take out a huge chunk of meat and put all of it in his mouth. He'd pick his ears, pick his nose, put his feet on the table, he'd do anything to demonstrate that he didn't give a shit about aristocracy.

Ja pamiętam świetnie awanturę między moim ojcem a dziadkiem na samym początku. Bo tylkośmy przyjechali do Krakowa, dziadek poszedł zapisał się do PPS, znaczy zapisał się, odnowił swoją przynależność do PPS-u i dziadek mówi: "Bo to jest PPS, bo to jest moja partia" - mówi dziadek. Ojciec wtedy widocznie nie był pewny. "Bo to jest moja partia" - mówił dziadek. To ja świetnie pamiętam. "Bo to jest moja partia" - to świetnie pamiętam. Pamiętam jak się naśmiewał z tego swojego kumpla, co był w PPR, że chodzą święcić sztandary do Kościoła, bo wszystka, obaj oni tatuś i dziadek byli antyreligijni i antyklerykalni, przy czym obaj na prześmiech, na absolutny prześmiech, co mi najbardziej, największe kłopoty sprawiało. Bo ja w dzieciństwie przeszedłem taką ostrą fascynację religią, koledzy mnie zaprowadzili do Kościoła, to na mnie zrobiło niesłychane wrażenie. I przychodziłem do domu i wojowałem z tatą. Tata pamiętam, że mnie zagiął niesłychanie tym kamieniem, czy Pan Bóg może go stworzyć, którego nie może podnieść, ale z tym to ja bym sobie dał radę, ale on się śmiał. Ja mówiłem, tam bramą jest Kościół, ja klękałem i całą książeczkę z nabożeństwa głośno przeciw niemu czytałem - i tam bramo z kości słoniowej - pamiętam, domie złoty, a tata mówi: "A o kaloryferze gdybyś powiedział, co?" I ja dalej, ja nic tu nie przerywałem, czytałem, ale mnie to niesłychanie męczyło, dlaczego na przykład domie złoty, a nie kaloryferze. To więc pamiętam tego, taką ich awanturę, ale ona jakoś krótko trwało, tatuś zaraz był w PPS-ie. Bo tata, to było jasne, w tym PPS, bo to przecież dowcip polegał na tym, że to nie był fałszywy PPS, to była tylko część PPS-u i w dodatku lewica, ta z którą był mój ojciec. Przy czym on był antybolszewicki przy tym wszystkim, niesłychanie antybolszewicki, pozostało mu to po tym 1920 roku, wyśpiewywał w domu "Posłał Trocki na Warszawę, bolszewiki swoje wszawe, jak ich dziadek wziął w uściski, bolszewikom spuchły pyski" - takie miał to wszystko poplątane niesłychanie. No i z całym tym poplątaniem klas Polska Ludowa i kiedy pojechał do tej Warszawy, tu Pan Pruszkowski, taki eNDek był, eNDek lewicujący powiedzmy, był oczywiście wszystko co mi obce i to mi niesłychanie radykalizowało, tylko on mnie próbował dyscyplinować, o której godzinie mam przychodzić, nogi mam myć - on mówił. Ode mnie nikt nie oczekiwał żebym cokolwiek umył, jak umyłem to umyłem. Jak tata mówił: "Jacuś ile ty masz lat?", to ja mówiłem: "Siedem". "I przez siedem lat tak nogi zabrudziłeś?" Albo mówił: "Na twojej koszuli to doskonale widać jadłospis z całego tygodnia, co ty jadłeś widać, o". Z tym że, tatuś w ogóle zachowywał się przerażająco przy stole, co mi do dziś dnia zostało, bo on z proletariackiej rodziny wszedł w tę arystokrację mojej mamusi, mówił księżna Lanzskowrońska. No to, miał dwa sposoby, albo spróbować to rygorystycznie wszystko zastosować, prawda, przystosować się, albo zademonstrować, że ma to w dupie. Tatuś wybrał tę drugą drogę. I robił najprzeróżniejsze, śmieszne rzeczy. Potem już na starość mówił: "Jacek, jak ty jesz? Kto cię tego nauczył?" i śmialiśmy się wtedy strasznie, bo tatuś jadł dużo weselej. Tatuś wkładał, talerz z zupą, tata wkłada widelec, wyjmował duży kawałek mięsa i go wkładał do ust, w całości. Dłubał w uchu, dłubał w nosie, nogi kładł na stole, w ogóle starał się zademonstrować, że całą tą arystokrację ma w dupie.

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: Kraków, PPS, Polish People's Republic, Warsaw, National Democrat, Andrzej Pruszkowski

Duration: 4 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008