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Fear of banishment

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Writing about KOR brought me back to Warsaw
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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When I start working on a book, whereas generally I'm quite lazy, putting everything off until tomorrow or the day after, I'm very disorganised, usually I'm easily distracted – when I start to write a book, I write, work like a machine and then somehow I'm not disorganised, quite the opposite, and so I was like a machine, writing for three-and-a-half months surrounded by reference materials spread out on the floor, on the... on the sofa, on the table, everywhere where you could put down a piece of paper I was surrounded by KOR [Komitet Obrony Robotników (Workers' Defence Committee)] publications which I managed to get a full set of in London. And I wrote and wrote and wrote until suddenly, following the unrest, the demonstrations, towards the end of August, on the anniversary of the setting up of Solidarity, which at that point was still without a name, the enraged authorities decided to put KOR on trial. That put me in a very awkward situation: here I was in London while over there, my friends were going on trial on top of which my thoughts were still dwelling on my book which I was finishing, everything was still fresh in my mind, with all the facts that my friends had most probably forgotten which meant that I could be exceptionally useful during the trial. In addition, the idea had entered my head that since every living soul wanted to escape from Poland, I had to show that traffic in the other direction was also a possibility, so I hastily finished writing the book – by then, I really was writing day and night. The last part, the epilogue, I've called it the Post Scriptum, I was writing on the morning of the day that I was flying to Warsaw, and I left the book with my friends, the publishers, meaning with the Smolars. I returned to London... to Warsaw from London and was very warmly greeted by a huge crowd of my friends, acquaintances, and by strangers, too, who had gathered at the airport in front of that arrivals shed. It was very moving, that so many... people had so much to be worrying about and yet they came out to greet me. And then, the following morning, I was arrested, but from home.

Ja, gdy zabieram się do pisania książki, to o ile jestem zwykle leniwy, spycham wszystko na jutro, na pojutrze, jestem bardzo zdezorganizowany, zwykle łatwo się rozpraszam – jak przystępuję do pisania książki to piszę, pracuję jak maszyna i jakoś nie jestem zdezorganizowany, przeciwnie. I tak jak maszyna pisałem trzy i pół miesiąca, obłożony na podłodze, na... na tapczanie, na stole, wszędzie, gdzie tylko można zmieścić kawałki papieru obłożony całą prasą KOR-owską, którą w Londynie udało mi się skompletować. I pisałem, pisałem, pisałem, aż nagle po rozruchach, po demonstracjach, w końcu sierpnia, w rocznicę powstania, no, „Solidarności”, jeszcze bez nazwy wówczas, rozwścieczone władze postanowiły urządzić proces KOR-u. No to mnie postawiło w takiej głupiej sytuacji: ja tu jestem w Londynie, tam kolegów będą sądzić, w dodatku ja mam świeżo w głowie – bo już kończyłem – mam świeżo w głowie książkę ze wszystkimi... z całą faktografią, którą moi koledzy pewnie już pozapominali, czyli na tej ławie sądowej mogę być szczególnie przydatny. A poza tym jeszcze miałem ta... mi się tłukło po głowie, że wszyscy ludzie, kto żyw chce uciec z tej Polski, właściwie trzeba pokazać, że można też jakiś odwrotny kierunek ruchu... zaproponować, więc już kończąc z wielkim pośpiechem książkę, ale rzeczywiście już wtedy to pracowałem niemal dniami i nocami, można powiedzieć – ostatni fragment, czyli taki posłowie, „Post scriptum” to ma tytuł, pisałem nad ranem tego dnia, kiedy wylatywałem do Warszawy i u przyjaciół, u wydawcy, czyli u Smolarów, zostawiłem książkę, wróciłem do Londynu... do Warszawy z Londynu, bardzo serdecznie powitany przez ogromną i tego... masę moich kolegów, znajomych, nieznajomych również, którzy się zebrali na lotnisku i... tam przed tym barakiem przylotowym. Było to wzruszające, że tyle tutaj się... ciężkich spraw ludzie mają, a przyszli mnie tak powitać. No i nazajutrz rano zostałem aresztowany, ale już z domu.

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: London, KOR, Komitet Obrony Robotników, Workers Defence Committee, Warsaw, Poland, Post Scriptum

Duration: 59 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 14 March 2011