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First strikes were 'alarm bells'

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Influence of the Pope on the prevailing social atmosphere
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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Myślę, że zupełnie nie będzie sprzeczne z tym, co powiedziałem, że bez KOR-u nie byłoby „Solidarności”, jeżeli powiem teraz, że bez pielgrzymki papieża do Polski też prawdopodobnie „Solidarności” by nie było. Były to dwa różnego typu przygotowania atmosfery społecznej. My to robiliśmy w sposób bardziej poprzez fakty natury organizacyjnej, można powiedzieć. Papież natomiast wywołał tak wielki entuzjazm ludzki, że to przełamało to poczucie, które miała jednak większość Polaków – niezależnie od tego, czy KOR pracował czy nie – tego, że są tak ściśnieni i tak skrępowani, że właściwie żadnego ruchu swobodnego wykonać nie są w stanie. Papież mówił im tylko tyle, że „bądźcie dzielni, bądźcie odważni, brońcie swoich przekonań”, nic więcej, do niczego więcej papież... ale to wystarczyło, powstała ta atmosfera kolosalnego entuzjazmu bez której nic dalej by prawdopodobnie by... by nie powstało. Widzieliśmy to zresztą – my, KOR-owcy – również po tym, jak z dnia na dzień zaczęły się przekształcać środowiska młodzieżowe związane z katolicyzmem.

I think I won't be contradicting what I said earlier that there would have been no Solidarity without KOR [Komitet Obrony Robotników (Workers' Defence Committee)], if I now say that most probably, there would have been no Solidarity without the Pope's pilgrimage to Poland. They were two different sorts of preparation of the social atmosphere. You could say that we did it via the fact of the nature of organisation. The Pope on the other hand evoked such great enthusiasm among the people that this overcame the feeling common to most of the population of Poland that, independently of whether KOR was active or not, they're so repressed, so down-trodden that they're incapable of any freedom of movement. All the Pope told them was, be courageous, be brave, defend your convictions, nothing more, the Pope didn't call them to anything else, but that was enough, there was an atmosphere of colossal enthusiasm without which probably nothing else would have happened. We could see – we who were in KOR – that day-by-day, the Catholic youth organisations began to be transformed.

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, KOR, Workers` Defence Committee, Poland, Pope John Paul II

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 14 March 2011