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Were the events of March '68 inevitable?


Polish and French student protests: prompted by the same motives?
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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Tak, jeżeliby się porównywało te: marzec '68 i maj '68 roku w Polsce i Francji to...no, zasadnicze podobieństwo to jest oczywiście bardzo proste – podekscytowana młodzież wychodzi na ulicę. No, ale muszę powiedzieć, że to jest jeszcze bardzo mało, żeby widzieć podobieństwo. Nie zajmuję się astrologią, ale kto wie, może tak bywa, że może – mówię oczywiście żartobliwie – że układy gwiezdne powodują, że w pewnym momencie w różnych miastach globu młodzi ludzie wychodzą na ulicę. Więc na tym...na tym się nie znam. Trudno mi powiedzieć, ale to jeszcze jest za mało, żeby mówić...żeby utożsamiać te ruchy. No, przede wszystkim sytuacje, przeciwko której ci i ci protestowali były tak różne, a krótko mówiąc wydaje mi się, że studenci francuscy również mieli powód do wielu różnych niezadowoleń i wiele tam było w tych sprawach, które ich interesowało do naprawienia. Ale ten brak wszelkiego rodzaju swobód obywatelskich, swobód tych, które są niezbędne, żeby człowiek normalnie mógł studiować i tak dalej – no to Polska i Francja nie ma żadnego porównania. No i w rezultacie, kiedy Francuzi wyrzucali tam na swoich uniwersytetach przez okna jakieś urządzenia elektroniczne, a w Polsce ich nie wyrzucano przez okna, to działo się to w tej sytuacji, kiedy... nie twierdzę, że Francuzi nie mieli poważnych powodów, ale te powody były tak nieporównanie poważniejsze w Polsce, że tym ciekawsze jest, że nie demolowano przy tym pomocy naukowych.

If we compared March '68 and May '68 in Poland and in France, the basic similarity is of course very straightforward – excited youths take to the streets. But I have to say that this is too little to see a resemblance. I don't concern myself with astrology but who knows, perhaps it can happen that maybe – I'm joking here, of course – that the alignment of the stars can make young people in various cities throughout the world take to the streets. But I don't know about these things, it's hard for me to say, but it's still not enough to identify these two movements with one another. Above all, the situations that one and the other were protesting against were so different. In short, I think that the French students also had cause to be dissatisfied with many things and there was much in those issues that needed to be put right. But the absence of any kind of civic freedom, a freedom that is essential for people to be able to study normally and so on – there's no comparison between Poland and France. As a result, when the French were throwing out electrical items through the windows of their universities, this wasn't happening in Poland, this was a situation where... I'm not saying the French didn't have serious reasons but those reasons were so incomparably more serious in Poland and so it makes it all the more interesting that they didn't demolish the teaching aids.

Jan Józef Lipski (1926-1991) was one of Poland's best known political activists. He was also a writer and a literary critic. As a soldier in the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), he fought in the Warsaw Uprising. In 1976, following worker protests, he co-founded the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR). His active opposition to Poland's communist authorities led to his arrest and imprisonment on several occasions. In 1987, he re-established and headed the Polish Socialist Party. Two years later, he was elected to the Polish Senate. He died in 1991 while still in office. For his significant work, Lipski was honoured with the Cross of the Valorous (Krzyż Walecznych), posthumously with the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1991) and with the highest Polish decoration, the Order of the White Eagle (2006).

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: Poland, France

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 11 March 2011