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Toxic effect of Stalinism

RELATED STORIES

Stalinism in Poland
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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To jest pytanie, przede wszystkim, kiedy się zaczynają te naprawdę czasy stalinowskie. I to zapewne zależy od punktu widzenia... również poszczególnych ludzi zależnie od ich biografii. Jeżeli ktoś się znalazł w więzieniu w '45 na przykład roku i nie wychodził przez nich... z niego aż do, jeżeli nie samego października, to w każdym razie do czasu bardzo niedużo poprzedzającego październik – to dla niego jest to prawdopodobnie jednolity zupełnie okres stalinowski, bo tam w tych więzieniach, przez ten cały czas nie było dobrze i było ponuro, i ludzi zabijali, i ludzi torturowali. Oczywiście, to są przede wszystkim kategorie dla tych ludzi, którzy właśnie w więzieniach nie siedzieli, którzy jakoś w tym bardziej normalnym życiu, w cudzysłowie mówiąc, na wolności – bo tylko tak można powiedzieć – którzy w tym brali udział, bo inaczej nie ma sensu o tych rzeczach mówić. No, w życiu kulturalnym to się zaczęło, no jednak po prostu po Zjeździe Szczecińskim i tam deklaracjach o tym... dotyczących życia kulturalnego. Oczywiście, to działo się w różnych płaszczyznach, no to był ten cykl, który zjednoczenie partii zapoczątkowało czy już sytuacja w tym momencie dojrzała dostatecznie. Ale już na pewno gdzieś w '50 roku, to tak daleko się już te różne przemiany posunęły, że już mamy od tego czasu... mieliśmy do czynienia, no z pełnym, prawdziwym stalinizmem. Co wyglądało właśnie w ten sposób, że terror, donosicielstwo, różne typy inwigilacji ludzi, którzy się chociażby przez chwilę wydali podejrzani, wielka aktywność służb bezpieczeństwa, coraz bardziej ponury obraz w kulturze. I przede wszystkim z tego punktu widzenia, który ja miałem – to znaczy uniwersytet, na którym ciągle byłem przecież studentem – to galopujące przemiany, które zachodziły wśród bardzo wielu ludzi mojego pokolenia.

The question is, when did the Stalinist years really begin? This depends on the points of view of individual people and on their experiences. If a person found themselves in prison in '45, for example, and didn't come out until October or in any case, not long before October, then for them, this would have been a period of uniform Stalinism, because throughout that time the prisons were dreary places and it was bad in there. They killed people and they tortured them. These, of course, are categories for people who weren't imprisoned, who in that more normal life were 'free' in inverted commas – because that's the only way of referring to it – who participated in it, because otherwise there's no point in talking about these things. In the cultural life, it simply began after the Szczecin rally and the declarations made there relating to cultural life. Of course, it was happening on various levels, it was the cycle that initiated the unification of the Party, had the situation progressed enough at that point? Definitely by 1950, these various changes had moved ahead far enough that from then, we were dealing with total, genuine Stalinism. It took the form of fear, informants, various way of spying on people who looked in any way suspicious, a great deal of activity on the part of the secret services. Cultural life became ever more dreary. Above all, from the point of view that I had, that is, at the university where I was still a student, there were the galloping changes that were occurring among very many people of my generation.

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: Stalinism, prison, torture, secret police, fear, surveillance

Duration: 3 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 09 March 2011