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People took to the streets in despair

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1970: the intelligentsia remained silent
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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W ’70 roku ludzie wyszli na ulicę. To było dla nas wszystkich ogromne zaskoczenie, czegoś takiego, co się stało, nie spodziewaliśmy się. Masy robotników na ulicach Wybrzeża, no i polała się krew, jak wiemy. Myślę, że do dzisiejszego dnia nikt nie wie, ilu ludzi zginęło, ilu było rannych, oficjalne dane nie wiemy czy są wiarygodne, raczej nie. I stała się rzecz najgorsza z możliwych. Kiedy strzelano do ludzi, do robotników strzelano, to tym razem inteligencja siedziała cicho jak mysz pod miotłą, a studenci z domów akademickich w Gdańsku zamknęli się w domach akademickich i nie wyszli na ulicę. To było dla mnie i dla mojego środowiska przerażające, mieliśmy poczucie, że rozkłada się więź narodowa w ogóle: gdy biją studentów robotnicy milczą, gdy strzelają do robotników, inteligencja milczy. I wtedy z przyjaciółmi postanowiliśmy, że gdyby jeszcze raz się tak wydarzyło, że będą represjonować robotników, nie dopuścimy do tego, by inteligencja milczała. Można powiedzieć, przygotowywaliśmy się duchowo na to, co nastąpi po tym, cały czas pod wrażeniem tej ogromnej ilości rozlanej krwi. No i przyszedł ’76 rok.

In 1970, people took to the streets. It came as a massive surprise; we hadn't expected anything of this kind to happen. There were vast numbers of workers out in the streets of the coastal towns, and as we know, blood was spilled. I think that to this day, no one really knows how many people lost their lives, how many were injured, I don't know if the official figures are credible, they probably aren't, and what happened was the worst thing possible. When the people were being fired on, when the workers were being shot, this time, the intelligentsia remained completely silent while the students shut themselves up in their halls of residence and didn't go out onto the streets. I and my friends found this appalling, we had the feeling that national unity was disintegrating altogether, when the students were being beaten up, the workers were silent, when the workers were being shot at, the intelligentsia said nothing. So then, with my friends, we decided that if this were to happen once more, that the workers will be repressed, we will not allow the intelligentsia to stay silent. We could say that we prepared ourselves morally for what came next while still shocked by the amount of blood that had been shed.  And then came '76.

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: 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: intelligentsia, workers, national unity

Duration: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 11 March 2011