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Extreme options facing post-war youth


Queues and misery
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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No, można powiedzieć, że ja też trochę należałem do tego „szczęśliwego” pokolenia – gdy wojna się skończyła, miałem dziewiętnaście lat. I pamiętam tę nędzę, która wbrew naszym oczekiwaniom powiększała się, a nie zmniejszała. Przypominam sobie moich kolegów na studiach, którzy niejednokrotnie po prostu głodowali. Pamiętam te przeraźliwe „ogonki”. Pamiętam taki „ogonek” po mydło, który się ciągnął dokładnie przez dwa narożniki ulic. W tak długim „ogonku”, mimo że różne rzeczy się działy w Polsce, nie przypominam sobie, żebym po tym stał. I to było o tyle deprymujące, że przestawało się wierzyć, że będzie kiedyś inaczej. Szło to w dół – było widać.

You could say that I, too, belonged to that 'happy' generation as I was 19 years old when the war ended. And I remember the wretchedness which, despite our expectations, increased rather than decreased. I remember my friends at university who were frequently literally starving. I remember those dreadful queues. I remember one queue for soap which stretched across two blocks. Even though there were various things happening in Poland, I don't recall ever standing in one of these long queues. It was all the more depressing because people stopped believing that things would ever be any different. Everything was heading downhill very clearly.

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: poverty, hunger, queue, deteroriation, depression

Duration: 58 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 09 March 2011