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Nomenklatura vs the opposition

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Pressure from Moscow shaped the events of August 1980
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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It was something altogether different. It was a different matter for Solidarity when Brezhnev ruled in the Kremlin than during the rule of Gorbachev. There's no doubt that there is a fundamental difference. I think that preparations to topple the system that arose after the agreements of August '80 with the participation of a vast trade union... that these preparations were commenced very early on. I think it was a long time before Bydgoszcz. There was awareness among our elite, the ruling elite – the tightest ruling elite – that such a step was going to be taken. I'm not going to go into whether they took it in good faith that the alternative was civil war and armed external intervention. Perhaps they didn't seriously think this, but they acted because that was what Moscow wanted. I'm not going to judge, of course, because I don't have any data. Nevertheless, the underlying factor was pressure from Moscow. The only question is, was it crude pressure with the threat of intervention, or was it a conversation with their own people where they could be sure that their objectives would be the same? It was either one or the other but in either case, it was the deciding factor.

Zupełnie czym innym... zupełnie inne były szanse „Solidarności” wówczas, gdy na Kremlu rządził Breżniew, a zupełnie [inne] są w czasie rządów Gorbaczowa. To nie ulega wątpliwości, że jest podstawowa różnica. Myślę, że przygotowania do obalenia tego systemu, który powstał po umowach sierpniowych w '80 roku z udziałem potężnego związku zawodowego... że przygotowania zaczęły się bardzo wcześnie. Jak sądzę sporo przed... dużo przed Bydgoszczą. I świadomość w naszej elicie... elicie władzy – najciaśniejszej elicie władzy – że taki krok będzie zrobiony... Ja pomijam to, czy... czy w dobrej wierze brali to, że alternatywą jest wojna domowa i interwencja zbrojna z zewnątrz. Czy poważnie tak nie myśleli, ale działali dlatego, że tak sobie Moskwa tego życzyła, no to ja nie będę rozsądzał, oczywiście, bo nie mam danych, niemniej jednak czynnikiem podstawowym był nacisk Moskwy. Pytanie tylko, czy to był ordynarny nacisk grożący interwencją, czy to było po prostu rozmowa ze swoimi ludźmi, gdzie ma się pewność wspólnych interesów. Albo tak, albo tak, ale w każdym wypadku to był element rozstrzygający.

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, Moscow, Bydgoszcz, Leonid Brezhnev, Mikhail Gorbaczev

Duration: 1 minute, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 14 March 2011