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People took to the streets in despair
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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Dlaczego ludzie wyszli wtedy na ulicę? Bo byli zrozpaczeni po prostu, dłużej tak żyć nie można było, bo ta mała stabilizacja gomułkowska się załamywała, poziom życia się wyraźnie obniżał i właściwie tylko mały zapalnik był potrzebny, żeby wybuchło; tym razem chodziło o podwyżkę cen mięsa, ale muszę powiedzieć, że z bardzo wielu powodów mogło się stać to, co się stało, a ludzie wyładowali wtedy cały swój gniew. Nie tylko chodziło już o to, że mięso droższe, nie tylko chodziło im o to, że stopa życiowa się obniża, chodziło im o wszystko naraz - o całe życie w którym tkwią.

Why did people take to the streets at that point? Because they were desperate, they couldn't go on living like that any longer. The minor stabilization that Gomułka had implemented was disintegrating, the standard of living was clearly falling and so only the slightest provocation was needed to spark the whole thing off. This time, it was a rise in the price of meat, but I have to say that any number of issues could have led to what happened, yet that was when people vented all of their rage. It wasn't just about the price of meat going up, it wasn't just about the falling standard of living, it was about everything, about the life they were lumbered with.

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: Władysław Gomułka

Duration: 52 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 11 March 2011