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The funeral of Stanisław Pyjas
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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Around Spring of '77, it all fell into place because a very good student's group was formed in Kraków with Staszek Pyjas. At Easter, they organised a meeting with us in Gorce for a debate, but I didn't go because I didn't want to leave Gajka, and I needed to stay at home a bit after all. As a result, I didn't get to meet Staszek Pyjas because a short time later, I think it was in May or perhaps in June, in May - right at the beginning of May the telephone rang and a different student from Kraków, a great lad called Leszek Maleszka was ringing me and I could hear he was hysterical. 'Jacek, Staszek Pyjas has been killed by the UB.' I said, 'Don't say that. Are you positive?' 'Yes, positive! He was found with a hole in his head lying in the gateway of the flats on Szewska Street 7.' 'But don't say who did it if you don't know. Wait, calm down, we'll check this out.'

Sewek Blum and Paweł Bakowski went down there immediately, they were from our branch and worked with Kraków. We rang around and then we issued a very strong and far-reaching communique about Staszek. The Kraków newspaper printed one about the causes of death but it was a pack of lies after which it printed another one which was also obviously untrue. I remember a debate where we said that we have to go forward even in this matter. What should we do, although we believed we shouldn't take to the streets in protest over this. We came up with the idea of boycotting the student's festival which was about to begin. The funeral, he'd been killed, we're boycotting the festival, we're calling on everyone to boycott it, too. In other words, rather than take to the streets, we were withholding our participation. But we acknowledged that Kraków needed support in this matter and that the revolutions needs to be exported so a very strong team headed by Antek Macierewicz left Warsaw, while we decided we'd be behind them printing leaflets. I had an incredible experience. They rang me telling me that there was going to be a Mass and they told me at what time - the text of the leaflet. I asked if he was sure. Antek said, 'Well, Jacek, you know.' OK, fine. I gave it to the people who were printing it because that had to be arranged and then the transport of all those leaflets to Kraków had to be sorted out. All of this was happening under the noses of the police; the text that was going on the leaflet was being dictated over the phone. Suddenly, around 10 or 11 o'clock, Antek rings me and says, 'Listen, that text that I gave you earlier, that came from me because the others hadn't got themselves together but now they've approved their own text and it's different from the earlier one.' I said, 'Antek, you realise that I can't now reach those people who have gone off to some secret location to print this stuff.' To which Antek replied, 'And you realise how crucial it is that the leaflet should have this text on it and the earlier one.' I understand Kraków, it's supposed to be their operation and not ours. So I set off on an incredibly complicated journey to find these people, I had no idea where they were. How was I to find them without exposing their whereabouts to the police, and so that they would still be able to get there by morning?

I gdzieś wiosną siedemdziesiątego siódmego wykrystalizowało się, bo pojawiła się bardzo dobra grupa studencka w Krakowie ze Staszkiem Pyjasem. Na Wielkanoc zorganizowali oni takie spotkanie z nami w Gorcach na dyskusje, ale ja na nie nie pojechałem, ponieważ no... nie chciałem się rozstawać z Gajką i tak jakoś musiałem być trochę w domu przecież. I w rezultacie nie poznałem Staszka Pyjasa, bo w jakimś krótkim czasie potem, chyba w maju było, czy w czerwcu, w maju, zaraz na początku maja zadzwonił telefon i taki inny działacz krakowski, bardzo fajny student, Leszek Maleszka zadzwonił do mnie, usłyszałem jego głos rozhisteryzowany: "Jacku, Staszka Pyjasa zabiło UB", ja mówię: "Nie mów – pewne?" "No pewne! Znaleziono go z dziurą w głowie w bramie krakowskiej kamienicy na Szewskiej siedem". "No ale nie mów z góry kto, jak nie wiesz, poczekaj nie denerwuj się – sprawdzimy". I zaraz pojechał tam Sewek Blum i Paweł Bąkowski, który z naszego ramienia pracował z Krakowem. A myśmy wydali... jeszcze przedzwonili trochę i myśmy wydali niesłychanie ostry daleko idący komunikat w sprawie Staszka. Gazeta Krakowska opublikowała jeden komunikat o przyczynach śmierci, który był całkiem kłamliwy, potem podała drugi, który też ewidentnie był kłamliwy. Pamiętam taką właśnie dyskusję, że trzeba właśnie i w tej sprawie iść na przód. Co tu zrobić? A uważaliśmy że nie wyjść, że jednak nie wyjść na ulicę. I wpadliśmy na pomysł, że trzeba zbojkotować Juwenalia, które zaraz się miały zacząć. Pogrzeb, zabito, bojkotuje się Juwenalia, wzywamy do bojkotu Juwenalii, czyli, krótko mówiąc, nie wychodzimy na ulicę, tylko wstrzymujemy wychodzenie. No ale uznaliśmy, że Kraków w tej sprawie trzeba wesprzeć i eksportować rewolucję i wyjechała z Warszawy niesłychanie silna ekipa z Antkiem Macierewiczem na czele i ustaliliśmy, że my im tu robimy zaplecze, drukujemy ulotki. Tu przeżyłem taki niesamowity numer. Oni zadzwonili do mnie z wezwaniem na mszę na jakąś tam godzinę – tekst ulotki. I ja mówię: "Czy on jest pewny?" Antek mówi: "No Jacku wiesz... A, tak" "Dobrze". Ja go dałem ludziom, którzy drukują bo trzeba było zorganizować druk, zorganizować przerzut tych wszystkich ulotek do Krakowa. I to wszystko pod ręką policji przecież, tekst dyktuje się przez telefon. I nagle gdzieś koło godziny dziesiątej czy jedenastej dzwoni Antek i mówi: "Słuchaj, ten tekst, który ja ci poprzednio podałem, to był mój tekst, bo oni się tam jakoś jeszcze nie zebrali i teraz oni uchwalili swój tekst i on jest inny." Mówię: "Antku, Ty rozumiesz, że ja nie mogę już teraz dotrzeć do tych co się tam zanurzyli żeby drukować?" A Antek: "A Ty rozumiesz, jak ważne jest, żeby był ten tekst, a nie tamten?" "Ja rozumiem Kraków, ma być krakowska akcja, a nie nasza". I zacząłem niesłychanie skomplikowaną operację jak ich znaleźć, ja nie wiedziałem gdzie oni są. Jak ich znaleźć, tak żeby zarazem nie zaprowadzić do nich policji i żeby rano ci ludzie mogli dojechać.

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, Gorce, UB, Szewska Street, Warsaw, Stanisław Pyjas, Gaja Kuroń, Leszek Maleszka, Sewek Blum, Paweł Bakowski, Antoni Macierewicz

Duration: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008