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Imprisonment aided our political activity
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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W tym czasie to nasze aresztowanie nie zatrzymało aktywizacji Uniwersytetu, a przeciwnie – ją przyspieszyło. Przyspieszyło ją bardzo istotnie w międzyczasie właśnie Młodzi Poszukiwacze Sprzeczności, Adaś Michnik, Jaś Lityński, Sewek Blumsztain, Janek Gross przyszli na Uniwerek i na Uniwerku zaczęli się bardzo aktywizować i oni rozpoczęli akcję na rzecz uwolnienia nas z więzienia. Przeciwko uwięzieniu protestować. W ogóle przywódcy w więzieniu znakomicie robią ruchowi, znakomicie. W ogóle więzienie bardzo robi działal... dobrze robi działalności politycznej. Dynamizuje ją, daje konkretne, jasne, zrozumiałe dla wszystkich zewnętrznych ludzi cele i pozwala na szerzenie propagandy, agitacji ruchu, niesłychanie cenna rzecz. I to trzeba powiedzieć komandosi wykorzystali. Mówię komandosi, bo tak zaczęto już wówczas tą naszą opozycję na Uniwersytecie nazywać. A pochodziło to stąd, że metodą działania ich były desanty na zebrania. Jakiekolwiek by się nie odbywało zebranie na Uniwerku, to ono miało jakiś tam temat dyskusja, spotkanie, wykład obojętnie, to nasi przygotowywali się do dyskusji, potem wchodzili na tą dyskusję i przejmowali ją. Wnosili nowe racje, nowe sprawy, no dla przykładu o wojnie '39 roku mówił... taki wykład miał publiczny Karol, ten Andrzej Garlicki i tam chłopcy wnieśli Pakt Ribbentrop-Mołotow i dyskusja cały czas toczyła się o Pakcie Ribbentrop-Mołotow. Już nie ważne co ten prelegent mówił, mówi się na ten temat. Mówią wszyscy, to jest jasne, wszyscy o tym słyszą, do wszystkich to dociera. Rozpoczął się okres złotego wieku na Uniwerku, demokracji pełnej na Uniwerku. I tu znaczenie zasadnicze, podkreślam, miała ta postawa profesury post-październikowej, która sama się angażować nie chciała, a która nie dała nikogo relegować. Te trzy czy cztery dyscyplinarki Adasia i kilka dyscyplinarek, po dwie, jednej dyscyplinarek mnóstwa innych chłopców, których nie wyrzucano. Ich zawieszano, udzielano nagany, to się bardzo takie, taka bardzo dobra procedura taka, bardzo liberalna. Studenta z takich powodów trzeba by wyrzucić na dyscyplinarce i miał on prawo do obrony i wybitni profesorowie przychodzili go bronić, wybitni profesorowie przychodzili na salę. Wówczas miała również miejsce pierwsza petycja. Kliszko parokrotnie polecał kogoś wyrzucić, wreszcie wyrzucić Michnika. Było takie powiedzenie partyjne za to, że rzekomo obraził Rakowskiego na dyskusji z Rakowskim, Rakowski napisał zresztą list, że go Michnik wcale nie obraził, a prócz tego zbierano masową petycję, pierwszą po długiej przerwie, którą podpisało tysiąc stu studentów i dwustu kilkudziesięciu pracowników naukowych z takim tekstem, że nie wolno nikogo represjonować za jego głos w dyskusji na zebraniu otwartym, czy jakimś tam, w dyskusji. No nasze dwa lata uleciały. To się tak mówi, bo to trochę powoli idzie. Czas w więzieniu ma swój własny wymiar, zupełnie inny niż wszystkie inne czasy. Wstecz jest zawsze, jak się spojrzy wstecz na te dwa lata, to ich nie było. A jak się patrzy rano na dzień, który ma dojść do wieczora, to to jest wielkie.

Our arrest didn't stop the activisation of the university, just the opposite: it accelerated it. It accelerated it very significantly. The Young Seekers of Contradictions Adaś Michnik, Jaś Lityński, Sewek Blumsztein, Janek Gross came to the university and began an operation to free us from prison. They began to protest against our imprisonment. Putting a leader in prison helps a movement. Prison helps political activity, makes it dynamic, it provides everybody who is on the outside with clear, comprehensible objectives and it promotes propaganda, agitation by the movement which is priceless. And I have to say that this tactic was used by the commandos. I say commandos because that was the name that people at the university had given to our opposition. It came from the fact that their modus operandi was to land at the meetings. No matter what meeting was taking place at the university there was always some topic they were discussing, a meeting or lecture, it didn't matter, our people would join the discussion and would take over. They would introduce new problems, new issues so that, for example, Karol gave a public lecture about the war in '39, and Andrzej Garlicki and the lads introduced the topic of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the entire discussion was about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It didn't matter what the chairman was saying, this was the subject they were discussing. Everyone was talking, it was clear, everyone heard about this, it reached everybody. A golden age had begun at the university, full democracy. It was here that the attitude of the post-October professors was enormously important; they themselves didn't want to get involved but they would not allow anyone to be relegated. Those three or maybe four disciplinary reprimands of Adam's and several others guy's reprimands, two or three each, didn't lead to any expulsions. They were suspended and they were reprimanded but it was all very well conducted, very liberal. A student could be expelled for those reasons and he had the right to defend himself; eminent professors came to defend him, eminent professor came into the lecture theatre. At that time the first petition was lodged. Kliszko made several attempts to expel someone and finally he expelled Michnik. The official reason was that he'd offended Rakowski at a meeting with Rakowski. Rakowski wrote a letter saying that Michnik hadn't offended him at all. In addition to that, a mass petition was started up, the first one after a very long break, which was signed by 1,100 students and over 200 university employees stating that it was forbidden to repress anyone for the opinion they expressed at an open meeting or during a discussion. Our two years flew past. That's just an expression because in fact the time dragged. Time in prison exists in its own dimension which is quite different from any other. What has been is always there, when you look back on those two years it's as if they'd never existed, but when in the morning you look at the day stretching ahead of you to the evening, it feels like an age.

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: Young Seekers of Contradictions, Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Adam Michnik, Jan Lityński, Jan Gross, Sewek Blumsztain, Andrzej Garlicki, Mieczysław Rakowski, Kliszko Zenon

Duration: 3 minutes, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008