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Resistance spreads throughout Poland
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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And this spread… this continued to spread. In ‘80 we knew that at the start of ‘80 before Solidarity, in fact only then, apart from a very few workers from Radom and Ursus for whom we were not just responsible, but they also joined this movement – it was barely a few people – after a few years, after more or less two years, so it was somewhere around ‘78 that regular workers' groups began to be created that worked with KOR [Komitet Obrony Robotników (Workers' Defence Committee)]. We know that the biggest historical role was played by the Gdańsk group. Lech Wałęsa, Anna Walentynowicz, the Gwiazda's, Bogdan Borusewicz – Gwiazda and Borusewicz weren't workers but they worked very closely with the workers – Bogdan Lis who joined on a bit later but before the Solidarity period while there was still just KOR. Free trade union committees began to be formed, founding committees of free trade unions which despite being heavily persecuted by the secret services were not crushed. A significant programme of education was initiated, the idea of the Flying University was put into practice, an Association of Scientific Courses was set up which was independent of KOR but we supported it, we sponsored it. In a word, the activities of the opposition began to spread. There were clandestine publishing enterprises which began to publish not only periodicals but books as well. Clandestine education, nascent trades unions, a rural movement with a special publication issued by KOR called Placówka stirred hopes that we were moving forward all the time. I'm convinced that had we not been able to push things along we wouldn't have had an atmosphere that led to the creation of Solidarity in the summer of ‘80. We need to remember that Solidarity was formed in Gdańsk where the workers' organisations associated with KOR were the most active. In the film, Robotnicy ‘80, Anna Walentynowicz talks about the independent education movement and the training of future union activists. She said 200 people had experienced this training so it's not surprising that effects were felt in Gdańsk. It was still modest, but there were already hundreds of people who knew how independent trades unions were supposed to function.

I to się rozszerzało, i to się stale rozszerzało. W ’80 roku widzieliśmy, że na początku ’80 roku przed „Solidarnością”, właściwie dopiero wtedy, poza paroma nielicznymi robotnikami z Radomia i Ursusa, którzy byli nie tylko naszymi podopiecznymi, ale weszli w ten ruch – ale to było parę osób zaledwie – gdzieś po paru latach, po dwóch latach mniej więcej, czyli gdzieś w ‘78 roku, zaczęły się tworzyć regularne, robotnicze środowiska współpracujące z KOR-em. No, największą rolę historyczną wiemy, że odegrało środowisko gdańskie. Lech Wałęsa, Anna Walentynowicz, małżeństwo Gwiazdów, Bogdan Borusewicz – Gwiazda i Borusewicz nie robotnicy, ale współdziałający ze środowiskiem robotniczym – Bogdan Lis, trochę... który trochę później do nich doszlusował, ale też jeszcze w okresie tym KOR-u przed „Solidarnością”. Powstały... zaczęły powstawać komitety wolnych związków zawodowych, komitety założycielskie wolnych związków zawodowych, bardzo prześladowane przez Służbę Bezpieczeństwa, ale nie zduszone jednak. Zaczęła się duża praca oświatowa, powstała inicjatywa Latającego Uniwersytetu, powstało Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych, niezależne od KOR-u, ale przez nas, przez KOR bardzo popierane, które firmowało to. Jednym słowem, ta akcja opozycyjna zaczęła się niezwykle rozszerzać: tajne wydawnictwa, po pewnym czasie już nie tylko wydające czasopisma, ale również książki; tajna oświata, zalążki związków zawodowych, tworzący... rodzący się ruch chłopski ze specjalnym pismem przez KOR wydawanym dla tego ruchu pod tytułem „Placówka”. To budziło nadzieję, że idziemy stale do przodu. Jestem pewny, że gdyby nie to, że te akcje umieliśmy tak pchać do przodu, to nie powstałaby atmosfera ta, która doprowadziła do powstania „Solidarności” w lecie ‘80 roku. Trzeba pamiętać, że „Solidarność” powstała w Gdańsku, tam gdzie były najlepiej działające środowiska robotnicze związane z KOR-em. Ania Walentynowicz na filmie „Robotnicy ’80” mówiła o akcji samokształceniowej i szkoleniowej przyszłych działaczy związku zawodowego. Mówi o około dwustu osobach, które przeszły przez to szkolenie, to nic dziwnego, że w Gdańsku musiały też być jakieś skutki. Tam znaczy, był już... jeszcze skromnie, ale już na setki, można było liczyć ludzi, którzy wiedzieli, jak mają działać związki zawodowe, niezależne.

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: Solidarity, Radom, Ursus, KOR, Workers' Defence Committee, Gdańsk, Robotnicy `80, Lech Wałęsa, Anna Walentynowicz, Andrzej Gwiazda, Joanna Duda-Gwiazda, Bogdan Borusewicz, Bogdan Lis

Duration: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 14 March 2011