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Attacks on the Church intensify

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Shaping Poland
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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I along with everyone else heard it said more than once, and I think this is true, that it is hard to understand all of these events if you're not aware of the situation that the Church was in, and which the authorities never actually managed to break. A second issue is the fact that they never brought about full collectivisation. That first issue I can understand because Poland really is so predominantly Catholic, that any project aimed at ordering the social situation for any time would require certain concessions before an attack on the Church would be possible. You have to remember that Tygodnik Powszechny for instance existed right up until Stalin's death, meaning it took a long time before the editorial team was disbanded and it was placed in the hands of PAX, the hands of an organisation that was, well, collaborating with the government, in a situation when all the other independent publications had ceased to exist long before then if they had even a shadow of independence. That to me is understandable that an organisation in Poland as mighty as the Church, with such mass support, had to be treated carefully and in kid gloves. This, of course, would only have been for a while but the time never arrived when things could have been approached differently. However, I don't quite understand why collectivisation never took off in Poland. It was a success up to a point, of course, and when Gomułka took over, the co-operatives began to be dissolved on a large scale although it wasn't as if there was nothing but collective farming in Poland. I can't understand this because the farmers were, of course, very obstinate although it definitely wasn't the case that farmers in Hungary, the Czech Republic and in Slovakia were happily joining these collectives. Why didn't it work in Poland, was it only because of the stubbornness of the farmers? I'm not able to come up with an answer as to why, why? But those were the facts, and this made a huge difference to the way Poland appeared to the other countries in this camp. But in this situation there were millions of people who were very dependent on the economic apparatus, on whether they'd get nails, or the permission to build a pig sty. Despite this dependence, they had far more freedom than when they were part of the collective. This had to affect the whole of society and by the same token, political life, too. But as I've already said, I don't really know how to interpret this phenomenon.

No niejednokrotnie słyszałem taką opinię i wszyscy słyszeliśmy i chyba uzasadnioną, że trudno zrozumieć tutaj te wszystkie nasze wydarzenia, jeżeli się nie ma tej świadomości sytuacji, którą miał tutaj Kościół i której się właściwie tej władzy nigdy nie udało jakoś złamać. I druga sprawa to jest to, że nigdy też nie doprowadzono do pełnej kolektywizacji. Ta pierwsza rzecz jest dla mnie o tyle zrozumiała, że rzeczywiście, no, Polska jest krajem w tak ogromnej przewadze katolickim, że wszelkie projekty na jakieś tutaj uporządkowanie sytuacji społecznej na jakiś czas, nim będzie można Kościołowi skoczyć do gardła, no wymagały jednak pewnych ustępstw. I trzeba pamiętać, że jednak na przykład „Tygodnik Powszechny” istniał aż do śmierci Stalina, czyli bardzo późno rozpędzono redakcję i „Tygodnik” oddano w ręce PAX-u, w ręce, no, organizacji kolaborującej przecież z rządem w sytuacji, kiedy już wszelkie niezależne pisma już dawno nie istniały, chociażby mające cień niezależności. I to jest dla mnie dosyć zrozumiałe, że organizacja będąca w Polsce tak potężna jak Kościół, z takim masowym poparciem, no musiała być traktowana bardzo ostrożnie i w rękawiczkach. Oczywiście byłoby to tylko do pewnego czasu, ale nigdy taki czas nie nadszedł, kiedy można byłoby to inaczej rozgrywać. Natomiast ja nie bardzo rozumiem, dlaczego w Polsce nie udała się kolektywizacja. To znaczy ona się do pewnego stopnia oczywiście udała i kiedy Gomułka doszedł do władzy, to spółdzielnie zaczęto dosyć masowo rozwiązywać, niemniej jednak w tym momencie bynajmniej jeszcze nie było tak, że już tylko kołchozy były w Polsce, i tego nie bardzo rozumiem, bo chłop oczywiście był bardzo oporny, no, ale nie było zapewne tak, żeby chłopi na Węgrzech czy w Czechach, czy na Słowacji, żeby z taką wielką radością do tych kołchozów wstępowali. Dlaczego w Polsce to się nie udało, czy to tylko temu oporowi chłopskiemu można było przypisać? Na to nie umiem sobie odpowiedzieć właściwie, dlaczego, dlaczego? Ale takie były fakty i to bardzo zmieniało jednak oblicze Polski w stosunku do innych krajów tego obozu. Jednak sytuacja taka, kiedy, no, miliony ludzi, bardzo co prawda uzależnieni od tego aparatu gospodarczego, tego czy gwoździe dostaną, czy nie dostaną; czy tam jak chlewik chce wybudować, czy dostanie pozwolenie czy nie – ale jednak mimo tego uzależnienia, jednak mający znacznie większą swobodę niż wtedy, gdy by byli w kołchozach. To musiało wpływać na całe życie społeczne, a również i tym samym polityczne. Ale powtarzam, nie bardzo umiem sobie wytłumaczyć tego fenomenu.

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: Tygodnik Powszechny, PAX

Duration: 4 minutes, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 09 March 2011