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Uncontrolled industrial actions

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How the authorities responded to the setting up of Solidarity
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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The growth of this movement was characterised by the obstacles that were constantly being put in our way. For instance, the arrest of two fairly low-ranking activists who published the secret guidelines of the Prosecutor General Czubiński, How to Break the Law, was on account of this. It provoked enormous anger among the workers and throughout Solidarity which, as a result, led to a strike and negotiations. The authorities would withdraw so a compromise would be reached. To this day I have the feeling that those compromises could have been more advantageous for us, especially in that initial stage. But the further things went, the more complicated the situation became for two reasons. The economic situation deteriorated and it had to continue deteriorating. The creation of Solidarity could have had a positive effect on the economic situation but with time, not in the immediate future. At the same time, everything pointed to the fact that the authorities had put a lot of effort and talent into showing the population that, ‘you wanted Solidarity so here it is’. There was a disproportionate increase in problems with food supplies arising from this critical situation. Availability of goods in the shops was diminishing and this was true not just of food but of every possible conceivable item. To this day, I'm profoundly convinced that this was organised and organised with considerable talent.

Z tym że rozwój... rozwijanie się tego ruchu było... tym się odznaczało, że tam nieustannie była jakaś duża kłoda rzucana pod nogi. Aresztowanie, na przykład, dwóch działaczy niewysokiego szczebla, którzy opublikowali... tajną instrukcję prokuratora generalnego Czubińskiego „Jak łamać prawo” – bo to ona tego tyczyła – spowodowało ogromny gniew w... załóg robotniczych i całej „Solidarności” i strajk, negocjacje w wyniku tego. Strona rządowa się coś cofa, no to się zawiera jakiś kompromis. Do dzisiejszego dnia mam takie poczucie, że szczególnie w tym pierwszym okresie te kompromisy mogły być dla nas korzystniejsze. Ale im dalej to się posuwało, tym bardziej sytuacja się robiła skomplikowana, a to z dwóch powodów. Sytuacja gospodarcza pogarszała się i musiała się pogarszać nadal. Fakt powstania „Solidarności” mógł pozytywnie oddziałać na sytuację gospodarczą, ale na... w dalekiej perspektywie, a nie na dzień dziś i na jutro. Jednocześnie wszystko wskazuje na to, że władze włożyły bardzo dużo wysiłku organizacyjnego i talentu, żeby pokazywać społeczeństwu: „chcieliście «Solidarności», no to ją macie”. I wzrosły nieproporcjonalnie do tego, co wynikało z sytuacji kryzysowej... kłopoty z zaopatrzeniem wzrosły ogromnie. Coraz mniej było... można było kupić i to tyczyło zarówno żywności jak i wszystkiego... wszelkiego, możliwego, wyobrażalnego towaru. Jestem do dzisiejszego dnia głęboko przekonany, że było to organizowane i to organizowane z ogromnym talentem.

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: How to break the law, Solidarity, General Lucjan Czubiński

Duration: 2 minutes, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 14 March 2011