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How did the people vote?

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Communists falsify the first post-war referendum
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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This referendum was a very important event in the life of this country. Soon, thanks to various leaks of information and so on, it became obvious that the referendum wasn't such a glorious victory for the communists as they said it was. But what mattered the most in this referendum wasn't that... wasn't the very end. The issue of the falsification, an issue that was, for people like me, well, it was totally obvious that the results were false. But it had been very skilfully exploited in terms of organisation and of psychology. A great many people were involved in this huge operation, some of whom had been afraid to refuse, some of whom went with real conviction at the time. It was a huge operation before the referendum, canvassing before the referendum. I didn't take part in the voting, I wasn't yet 21 years old, nor did I take part in the later elections, the first ones, because I was still under 21.

No bardzo ważnym wydarzeniem tutaj w życiu tego kraju było to referendum. Bardzo szybko zresztą dzięki różnym przeciekom, informacjom i tak dalej było wiadomo, że to referendum wcale tak wspaniale nie zostało wygrane przez komunistów – jak to oni głosili. Ale najważniejsze dla referendum było nie to... nie ten sam koniec. Ta sprawa tego fałszerstwa, sprawa dosyć taka, która była, no dla ludzi takich jak ja zupełnie oczywista, że popełniono fałszerstwo. Ale to, że to wykorzystano z bardzo dużą umiejętnością organizacyjno-psychologiczną, tak dalej. Do wielkiej akcji wciągającej bardzo wielu ludzi, którzy... niektórzy bali się odmówić, a niektórzy szli do tego z całym przekonaniem wówczas. Do ogromnej akcji tej przed referendum... agitacyjnej przed referendum. No ja nie brałem udziału w tym głosowaniu, nie miałem jeszcze ukończonych dwudziestu jeden lat ani później w wyborach tych pierwszych też nie brałem udziału, też jeszcze ciągle miałem te dwadzieścia jeden lat nieukończonych.

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: referendum, falsification

Duration: 1 minute, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 09 March 2011