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Collapse of the government in 1989


Historical significance of the political changes in Poland
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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Moim zdaniem przyjście, pojawienie się na horyzoncie w ogóle polityki europejskiej, nie tylko polskiej, nowego rządu z premierem niekomunistycznym w Polsce, no, ma znaczenie kolosalne ze względu na to, że to bardzo będzie zmieniało układ polityczny wewnątrz bloku, ale nie tylko to. Myślę, że te kompromisy, które zostały przy tej okazji zawarte, pozwolą na to, że nasz kraj wybrnie z tej okropnej, straszliwej sytuacji bez społecznej eksplozji. Społeczna eksplozja zmieniłaby cały układ sił politycznych nie tylko w Polsce, nie tylko w bloku, ale w całej Europie, a nawet świecie. I dlatego mam nadzieję, że ten rząd uchroni nie tylko Polskę przed najgorszym, to znaczy przed możliwością tą, że dla Polski byłby to przelew krwi i dla całego świata mogło to by być odejście... a nie, właśnie nie odejście, ale zmiecenie przez siły polityczne, bardziej konserwatywne w Związku Sowieckim ekipy Gorbaczowa, przez siły neostalinowskie. Do tego, żeby taka sytuacja powstała, trzeba było zawierać kompromisy. No, społeczeństwo nie zawsze rozumie sens niektórych z tych kompromisów. Pytanie, czy wszystkie kompromisy były nieuchronne, ale generalnie ja uważam, że były potrzebne i nie mogło się bez nich obyć i dlatego ci, którzy mówią, iż to w ogóle był historyczny moment zwrotny, moim zdaniem mają rację.

In my opinion, the appearance not just in Polish but in European politics, of a new government with a non-communist Prime Minister is of enormous significance because it will make a huge difference to the political order within the Bloc, but it'll be more than this. I think that the compromises which were reached then will allow our country to come through that dreadful, appalling situation without a social explosion. A social explosion would change the entire order of political power not just in Poland, not just in the Communist Bloc, but in the whole of Europe or even in the world. This is why I hope that this government will protect not just Poland from the worst case scenario, meaning, in Poland it could lead to blood being spilled, but for the rest of the world it could lead to the departure... no, not exactly the departure but the sweeping up by more conservative political powers within Gorbachev's team in the Soviet Union, neo-Stalinist forces. For this sort of situation to arise, compromises had to be made. Society does not always understand the reasons for some of these compromises. The question arises, were all of the compromises unavoidable? In general, I believe they were necessary and we couldn't have done without them which is why I think those people who say this was a pivotal historical moment are right.

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: Europe, Poland, Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev

Duration: 2 minutes, 16 seconds

Date story recorded/uploaded: 15 March 2011

Date story went live: 15 March 2011