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Fraudulent strategies for shrinking the electorate

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Referendum in the villages
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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I was able to get a very accurate picture of what was going on by observing events in this small area my mother came from. It was by Wyszogród in the county of Płock. The villages in that area supported PSL [Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (Polish People's Party)] and Mikołajczyk. How many people could have been living there – let's say 2000 in all. Just before the elections, 300–400 people were herded into trucks and taken to prison in Płock where they were locked up for several days in overcrowded conditions, after which they were released although by then the elections were over. The methods were varied, depending on the temperament of whoever happened to be in charge of these things in any given county. Sometimes, it was a greater threat, other times a lesser one, but this was how things were done, that's the kind of referendum it was.

Trochę mogłem na małym odcinku, ale za to dokładnie zorientować się po tym, co się działo w okolicach, skąd pochodziła moja matka, to był pod Wyszogrodem powiat płocki. Wsie, które tam, podwyszogrodzkie, popierały PSL i Mikołajczyka, i ile tam mogło w tych paru wsiach mieszkać osób, no powiedzmy sobie, niech będzie dwa tysiące w sumie – to 300, 400 osób przed samymi wyborami zostało załadowanych na samochody ciężarowe i wywiezione do więzienia w Płocku. Tam w jakimś straszliwym tłoku przez kilka dni ich przetrzymali, no i zwolnili zresztą, prawda, ale już po wyborach. No metod było dużo różnorakich, zależy od temperamentu tego, kto w danym powiecie akurat tymi rzeczami zarządzał. Czasami to było groźniejsze, czasami mniej groźne, ale mniej więcej tak to właśnie przebiegało, takie to było referendum.

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: villages, PSL, detention, elections, referendum, manipulation

Duration: 1 minute, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 09 March 2011