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Price rises lead to protests


Birth of the opposition movement in Poland
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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The opposition movement in Poland began to be more organised, more integrated from the moment it became apparent that the constitution was going to be changed not in its entirety but significant amendments were going to be made to it. It was a paradox that we were defending a constitution that had been passed during the Stalinist era, but there's nothing surprising about that because when a nation is being strongly repressed, the constitution can then be more elegant. However, reference was now being made to the constitution, times had changed and so alterations had to be made here and there. Basically, there were two things that were most important: the inclusion of the governing role of the party, and eternal friendship with the Soviet Union. Well, the issue of friendship, if it is defined once and for all in a constitution, is a restriction of sovereignty, nor was there any reason why the first issue should be popular with everyone and so, there's no point in denying it, an organised wave of protests began which really only included the intelligentsia, it was just a couple of letters, hundreds of people replied and it was massively important for the future. There followed a big integration of these different social groups which later created more organised forms of opposition and at the same time, something was born which was vague but which outlined a plan of opposition.

Ruch opozycyjny w Polsce właściwie zaczął się w sposób jakiś bardziej zorganizowany, zintegrowany wówczas, kiedy okazało się, że będzie zmieniana konstytucja. Nie cała, tylko będą zrobione duże poprawki. Był to paradoks, że broniliśmy konstytucji, która była uchwalona w czasach stalinowskich, ale temu się nie ma co dziwić, bo wtedy jak się naród trzyma mocno za twarz, to konstytucja może być elegantsza wtedy. Natomiast teraz zaczęto się powoływać już na konstytucję, przyszły takie czasy, trzeba było to i owo w niej zmienić. I chodziło w gruncie rzeczy o dwie naważniejsze rzeczy: o wpisanie kierowniczej roli partii do konstytucji i o wieczystą przyjaźń ze Związkiem Radzieckim. No, sprawa sojuszów, jeżeli jest określona raz na zawsze w konstytucji, jest to ograniczenie suwerenności; a sprawa pierwsza, również nie było powodów, żeby się wszystkim podobała. I... zaczęła się – nie ma co ukrywać, że zorganizowana – fala protestów, która ogarnęła właściwie tylko środowiska intelektualistyczne i były to parę listów, setki ludzi się w tej sprawie odezwało i to miało kolosalne znaczenie na przyszłość. Nastąpiła duża integracja tych środowisk, które później tworzyły bardziej zorganizowane formy opozycyjne i jednocześnie z tym powstało coś w rodzaju takiego bardzo ogólnikowego jednak, ale jednak zarysu programowego opozycji.

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: Soviet Union, Poland

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 14 March 2011