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NEXT STORY

Poland: a 'Hitlerised' country?

RELATED STORIES

Anti-Jewish pogrom in Kielce
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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Po pogromu, ja zupełnie nie wiedziałem jak to interpretować – co się stało, było to dla mnie trochę niewiarygodne. Po prostu, dlatego że, no znałem różne środowiska i w tych środowiskach zdarzają się różni ludzie i... no ja miałem zawsze tę świadomość, że w Polsce antysemityzm jest rzeczą ciągle żywą, autentyczną i że w związku z tym różne rzeczy mogą się zdarzać. Natomiast trochę tym dziwiłem się, nie bardzo mogłem zrozumieć, że stało się coś aż tak strasznego. No na sprawę tego rodzaju to ja od dawna... związane z antysemityzmem – u mnie w domu... i ja tym samym... bardzo reagowaliśmy gwałtownie, był po prostu. Ze względu na takie poczucie tego rodzaju zagrożenia, które polega na tym, że było dużo przyjaciół rodziny, ludzi pochodzenia żydowskiego. I to akurat tak się składa, że to nie byli Żydzi, tylko to byli Polacy. Oni w sensie prawa norymberskiego byli Żydami, niemniej... zarówno w czasie okupacji niemieckiej oni byli zagrożeni jako Żydzi, jak i każdy antysemita, który miał koncepcję, żeby dokuczyć Żydowi czy go dyskryminować, czy coś takiego, no godził w naszych przyjaciół po prostu. Bo uważał ich za Żydów, a skądinąd u mnie w domu się uważało, że... no, Żyd to jest taki sam człowiek jak my, prawda, tylko akurat wśród naszych przyjaciół, akurat ci, których nazywano Żydami, byli akurat Polakami, no, ale to nie zmienia zupełnie sytuacji, że gdyby był prawdziwy Żyd, no to uważalibyśmy przecież to samo. I w rezultacie u nas w domu się dosyć tak nerwowo reagowało na takie wszelkie sytuacje związane z antysemityzmem, czego dowodem... o czym świadczy głowa mojej siostry rozwalona właśnie przez bojówkarzy z Obozu Narodowo-Radykalnego przed wojną. Ukrywali się zresztą u nas w domu ­– przyjaciele rodziców byli ukrywani czy przyjaciółka mojej siostry. I to... Z tym że przy tej całej orientacji, wiedzy i tak dalej, ja nie wiedziałem, że stało się coś strasznego, ale zupełnie nie miałem do tego innego stosunku poza wstrętem do tego, przerażeniem jakimś. I właściwie wiele, wiele lat minęło nim po… to już było chyba gdzieś po '56 roku już, kiedy ja sobie zacząłem te rzeczy zbierać w jakąś już koncepcję, prawda; kiedy więcej się dowiedziałem o tym jak przebiegało, kogo, kto tam odegrał dużą rolę w prowokowaniu zajść, prawda; że tak się dziwnie składało, że to byli ludzie tych służb milicyjnych czy tym podobnych, prawda. To, że to było w tym okresie akurat, to też dosyć jest znamienne, bo koncepcja, którą bodajże Korboński chyba pierwszy wypowiedział, że głównym celem zajść kieleckich było skompromitowanie w związku ze zbliżającymi się wyborami – kompromitacja na Zachodzie Polski jako kraju przeżartego hitleryzmem, prawda. To myślę, że to jest słuszna koncepcja, ale wtedy, kiedy to się działo, to miałem wyłącznie emocjonalną na to reakcję.

After the pogrom, I had no idea how to interpret what had happened, I found it all a bit unbelievable. Simply because, well, I knew the various groups and in each of them there were different sorts of people, and I always had the feeling that in Poland anti-Semitism was still alive, real, and therefore, all kinds of things could happen. All the same, I was surprised by this and I couldn't understand how something so dreadful could have happened. These kinds of issues had always made me... anything to do with anti-Semitism... in our house we always reacted to it very strongly on account of a sense of being under threat, because a lot of our family friends were of Jewish descent. In fact, they weren't Jewish but Polish. According to the Nuremberg Laws, they were Jews, however... during the German occupation, they were under threat for being Jewish. Every anti-Semite who had the idea of persecuting a Jew or of discriminating against him or doing something along those lines was offending our friends. He considered them to be Jews whereas in my house, a Jew was just the same as we were, except that among our friends, those who were identified as Jews happened to be Poles, which doesn't change the fact that if he'd been completely Jewish, we would still have regarded him in exactly the same way. The result was that in our house, there was a lot of tension each time there was a situation linked to anti-Semitism, and proof of this is my sister's head which was bashed by the ONR [Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny (National Radical Camp)] hit-squad before the war. They hid in our house, my parents' friends were concealed in our house, as was my sister's friend. And with all of this, knowing all of this, I didn't know that something terrible had happened, but my attitude was unchanged and I continued to feel revulsion and fear. And many, many years went by before... it must have been after '56 when I began to collate these notions into some sort of a concept, when I learned more about how things had occurred, who had played a role in provoking these events; that oddly, it had been these people from the police services or something like them. The fact that it happened at this time was also significant because the notion which I think Korboński first came up with, that the main reason for the events in Kielce was to compromise Poland in the eyes of the West because of the forthcoming elections, to show it was a country that was saturated with Nazi attitudes. I think this is an accurate concept but at that time, I only had a very emotional response to everything.

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: pogrom, anti-Semitism, threat, Jewish origins, friends, discrimination, support, horror, provocation

Duration: 3 minutes, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 09 March 2011