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Police reaction to the first strikes in Radom and Ursus

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Price rises lead to protests
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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At the end of June in ‘76, everyone was taken by surprise – the authorities and most of the population – by the fact that after the price rises had been announced, even though they weren't as drastic as they had sometimes been, in Radom and in Ursus as well as in some other places which were less publicised because the repressions weren't as brutal, riots broke out, people began rioting because they had the feeling that they wouldn't be able to support their families or themselves. The riots were suppressed with enormous brutality, and people continued to be dismissed from their places of employment on a massive scale, thousands of people ended up being arrested, some of whom were later put on trial, and a new situation arose which upset the whole of society. The government responded to this by organising official rallies which they forced people to attend, mainly officials, because they were slightly afraid of forcing the workers to attend protests against the ‘extreme behaviour of the hooligans’ in Ursus and in Radom. The response on our part, on the part of the intelligentsia who, as I mentioned earlier, was psychologically prepared for the day when we would have to express our support for the workers, was to organise a whole series of protests, of steps aimed at helping those who were repressed, and after a few months, this led to the setting up of KOR – the Workers' Defence Committee.

W końcu czerwca roku ’76 wszyscy zostali właściwie zaskoczeni – i władza, i większość społeczeństwa – tym, że po ogłoszeniu podwyżek cen – które nie były nawet tak drastyczne, jak to się czasami zdarza – w Radomiu i Ursusie, a również i w niektórych innych miejscach, co było mniej głośne, gdyż represje były mniej brutalne, wybuchły rozruchy – rozruchy ludzi no, którzy po prostu mieli to poczucie, że nie będą mogli utrzymać swych rodzin czy sami się nie będą mogli utrzymać. Rozruchy te zostały stłumione z ogromną brutalnością, a towarzyszyło temu już w dalszym ciągu masowe wyrzucanie ludzi z pracy, bardzo... tysiące ludzi znalazło się w aresztach, niektórzy mieli po tym procesy. Powstała nowa sytuacja, bardzo taka... która bardzo poruszyła całe społeczeństwo. Władza odpowiedziała na to organizowaniem takich oficjalnych wieców, gdzie spędzano ludzi, głównie zresztą urzędników, bo robotników trochę bano się spędzać na to, żeby protestowali przeciwko tym „chuligańskim wybrykom” w Ursusie i Radomiu. Natomiast odpowiedzią z naszej strony, naszego środowiska – które jak już wcześniej mówiłem, było jakby... psychicznie przygotowane, że przyjdzie taki dzień w którym trzeba będzie dać wyraz temu, że inteligencja może iść razem z robotnikami – było rozpoczęcie całej serii protestacyjnych odezwań się, jakichś kroków zmierzających do niesienia pomocy represjonowanym, co zaowocowało po paru miesiącach powstaniem KOR-u, Komitetu Obrony Robotników.

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: Radom, Ursus, workers Defence Committee

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 14 March 2011