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The underground resistance movement

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Trial of Father Popiełuszko's murderers
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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This direct information that he supplied undoubtedly had to determine the course that the whole investigation took and there was no other option – due to public outrage – there was no other way than to follow the traces, and that's how it turned out that we were dealing with a group of officers from the secret services who belonged to a cell which was assigned to dealing with issues relating to the Church. I was amazed by the emotional involvement which accompanied this. They were murderers who were emotionally involved in what they were doing, at least, their leader, Piotrowski, at least he was. The trial took place which I have no doubt had as its main aim the obliteration of all traces that could have led to the top. It's enough to say that based on a close analysis of the way the trial was conducted I wouldn't be able to prove that General Płatek had given any orders in this matter. On the other hand, I could have proved easily that he was effectively involved in perverting the investigation which ought to have been reason enough to have arrested him. The court, or at least the judge, seemed to be concerned mainly with limiting everything so the matter would not go any higher. In addition, the instructions given were so restrictive, even those issued to the censors, that whenever the name of General Kiszczak appeared, the censors would cross it out. I have to admit that I don't personally suspect him of involvement in this or of issuing orders, I simply don't know what happened but I don't suspect him. Nevertheless, the idea was that he shouldn't be implicated by having his name mentioned. Whenever the name of General Kiszczak appeared in the trial documents, it was censored, even when... even in those cases where he was mentioned in a favourable way when at a given moment he took inevitable steps when he was making the kind of decision that had to be made under those circumstances, and even then, the censors crossed out his name so that it would never be associated with this matter. As far as the people who were marginally associated with this issue went, the ones who stood out were the ones about whom I had no doubt that they had some kind of involvement in this whole affair. I can't say to what extent, I'm not familiar enough with the materials, but effectively the case was conducted in such a way that there were only four prosecutions.

Natomiast kiedy te wiadomości, których on dostarczył o wyraźnym kierunku, niewątpliwie musiały... kierunkowały całe śledztwo i nie było – ze względu na wzburzenie publiczne – nie było innego wyjścia jak pójść tym śladem, no i okazało się, iż mamy do czynienia z grupą oficerów Służby Bezpieczeństwa, tych którzy... takiej komórki Służby Bezpieczeństwa, która się zajmowała specjalnie sprawami kościelnymi. Zdumiewające dla mnie było zaangażowanie emocjonalne, które temu towarzyszyło, że byli to mordercy zaangażowani emocjonalnie w to, co zrobili, przynajmniej... przynajmniej ich szef Piotrowski, przynajmniej on. I doszło do procesu, który... dla mnie nie ulega wątpliwości, że był procesem, którego głównym celem było poucinanie tropów prowadzących wyżej. Wystarczy powiedzieć, że na podstawie dokładnej analizy przebiegu procesu nie mógłbym na przykład przeprowadzić dowodu, że generał Płatek wydawał jakiekolwiek rozkazy w tej sprawie. Natomiast bez trudu mógłbym przeprowadzić dowód, że dokonywał skutecznych matactw w czasie toczenia się śledztwa, co powinno być dostatecznym dowodem aresztowania go. Głównym usiłowaniem sądu, a przynajmniej jego przewodniczącego, było to, by sprawa nie wychodziła wyżej, a w dodatku instrukcje były tak ostre, między innymi dla cenzury, że cenzura skreślała na przykład wszystko, co... ilekroć się pojawiało nazwisko generała Kiszczaka. Ja akurat muszę się przyznać, że jego nie podejrzewam tutaj o uczestnictwo w tym czy o wydawanie rozkazów, nie wiem jak było, po prostu, ale nie podejrzewam. Niemniej jednak chodziło o to, żeby on nie był kojarzony przez same wymienianie go. Ilekroć w materiałach z procesu pojawiło się nazwisko generała Kiszczaka, było skreślane przez cenzurę, nawet wówczas, kiedy przynosiło... kiedy świadczyło to bardzo na jego korzyść, że poczynił właśnie w pewnym momencie niezbędne kroki, że podejmował decyzje, które w takim wypadku powinny być podjęte – nawet wówczas cenzura skreślała to nazwisko, by się w ogóle nie kojarzyło z tą sprawą. No, wśród ludzi, którzy się na marginesach tej sprawy przebijali, byli tacy, co do których nie mam wątpliwości, że jakiś udział w tej sprawie mieli, większy, mniejszy, to nie ja jestem w stanie tutaj bez... powiedzieć, za mało znam materiałów, ale skutecznie doprowadzono do tego, że na czterech oskarżonych się skończyło.

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: Grzegorz Piotrowski, General Zenon Płatek, General Czesław Kiszczak

Duration: 3 minutes, 38 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 15 March 2011