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Attraction of the free-thinkers

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Attacks on the Church
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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The object of a very intense attack, both ideologically and by the police, was the Church. Everyone knows more or less what role the Church plays in Poland. Poles are generally Catholics and the Church has a great deal of authority. I have to say that in this situation of Stalinist totalitarianism, the Church was a place of spiritual succour from totalitarianism. People could find refuge there not just in the sense that they could come to church to pray, but they could also obtain a sense of their own spiritual independence. And this was the reason for the furious attack on the Church which was also a massive structure. I have many friends who were Catholic activists. They gradually began to find themselves in prison. Even though I wasn't linked to the Church, all my support was for them, against the police – that was quite obvious. This was mounting up, and you could say that the arrest of Cardinal Wyszyński was seen by most people as the limit. There's a kind of analogy here with the arrest of Gomułka – just as every significant Party activist can be arrested, so, too, was there no one in the Church hierarchy who couldn't be deprived of his freedom from one day to the next.

Przedmiotem takiego bardzo ostrego ataku ideologicznego, ale również i policyjnego był Kościół. No wszyscy mniej więcej wiedzą, jaką rolę Kościół odgrywa w Polsce. Polacy przeważnie są katolikami i Kościół ma wielki autorytet. A trza powiedzieć, że w sytuacji stalinowskiego totalizmu, Kościół był dla ludzi pewnym ratunkiem duchowym przed totalizmem. Tam mogli się chronić nie tylko w tym sensie, że przyjść do kościoła i się pomodlić, ale zdobywać jakieś poczucie swojej niezależności duchowej. I stąd furia ataku na Kościół, który był zarazem potężną strukturą. Wśród moich przyjaciół jest bardzo wielu ludzi, którzy byli działaczami katolickimi. No ci stopniowo zaczęli... zaczęli znajdować się w więzieniach. Chociaż nie byłem związany z Kościołem, ale całe sympatie moje były po ich stronie – przeciw policji. To jest zupełnie oczywiste. To narastało i można powiedzieć, że aresztowanie prymasa Wyszyńskiego w świadomości wszystkich było tutaj punktem już takim szczytowym. Znowu jest to pewna analogia z aresztowaniem Gomułki – jak każdy najwyższy działacz partyjny może zostać aresztowany, tak nie ma człowieka w hierarchii kościelnej, którego z dnia na dzień nie można by było pozbawić wolności.

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: Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński

Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 09 March 2011