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Segregation in the classroom


A political education courtesy of my sister
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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I came... I come from a family classed as intelligentsia. My father was headmaster of a vocational school. These were the surroundings of my parents, the surroundings of the intelligentsia. The school I went to was mainly although not exclusively but mainly for children of the intelligentsia, so it was kind of a ghetto, really, and even though the school wasn't exclusively for the children of the intelligentsia, they did predominate. It was easier to find a common language there, so really we did our best to be in that ghetto. My father was totally apolitical and my mother even more so, which is why I would not have had a political education at home had it not been for my sister who was a few years older than me. She was already attending secondary school and she was spreading communism. Not that she was in any communist organisation or anything like that, she was just doing what a lot of her classmates were doing. I have to say that I didn't like this at all although it did no doubt contribute to that type of education and orientation. I said that my father was apolitical, yet he had spent time in prison during the reign of the tsar. That had been because of the boycott of the Russian school when there had been a gassing at a gala theatre performance in support of twinning with a Russian polytechnic, and they'd pounced on him and a friend of his, but since the friend's father was very influential, somehow everyone got let out. Apart from this, my father was never involved in political affairs. You could say that my whole... my entire background was like that, remote things like the January Uprising, something like that... well, a boy would be interested in these things, I knew about them, but they were all things that really were very remote.

Pochodziłem... pochodzę z rodziny inteligenckiej. Ojciec był dyrektorem szkoły zawodowej. Środowisko inteligenckie, środowisko rodziców. Szkoła, do której chodziłem, była to przeważnie, chociaż nie wyłącznie, ale przeważnie młodzież inteligencka, tak że trochę getto właściwie, chociaż w szkole nie wyłącznie młodzież inteligencka, ale przeważała. A łatwiej znajdowało się z nimi wspólny język zresztą, więc człowiek sam się do takiego getta trochę wpychał. Ojciec był człowiekiem zupełnie apolitycznym, matka jeszcze bardziej, także raczej w domu edukacji politycznej bym nie odbierał, gdyby nie kilka lat ode mnie starsza siostra, która chodząc do szkoły średniej, komunizowała. To nie była w żadnym tam, jakiejś organizacji komunistycznej czy coś, tylko tak komunizowała jak i wiele koleżanek z jej klasy. Z tym że muszę powiedzieć, że mnie się to bardzo nie podobało, ale do edukacji jakiejś takiej i orientacji pewnej to się przyczyniało. Ojciec powiedziałem, że był apolityczny, no, ale za cara siedział. To było w związku z bojkotem szkoły rosyjskiej, tam przy jakimś zagazowywaniu na jakiejś galówce teatralnej, na rzecz rosyjskiego Bratniaka w Politechnice Rosyjskiej go dopadli, ale ponieważ dopadli go razem z kolegą, którego ojciec był bardzo wpływowy, to jakoś wyciągnęli ich wszystkich. Ale poza tym ojciec w życiu się nie zajmował sprawami politycznymi. I to można powiedzieć cała moja taka... cały mój rodowód, bo sprawy te już zupełnie odległe, tam Powstanie Styczniowe, coś takiego, no to chłopiec się interesuje takimi rzeczami, wiedziałem, ale to już były rzeczy rzeczywiście odległe.

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: intelligentsia, school, pupils, communism, education, sister, father, Tzarist regime

Duration: 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 09 March 2011