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Six months of bedlam at PIW

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Who was Józef Różański?
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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Sometimes, if I'm in the company of people who are less familiar with my history, I like to play a game when I suddenly say, ‘When I worked for Różański then this or that happened’. That's when everybody turns pale and looks at me horrified because if somebody worked for Różański they more often than not were somehow connected with the Ministry of Public Security [MBP]. Różański was head of the 10th Department which dealt with issues that were particularly significant, the running of this department, including, although not exclusively, issues concerning the party and its internal affairs, although this was not all. You could say that the most important matters, the most important investigations, the preparation of the most important trials passed through this department and mainly through Różański who had a well earned reputation for being a psychopath and a sadist. The only contentious issue was how frequently he himself tortured people and he gives the impression – I know a little about his trial as I knew a solicitor who had a lot to say on the subject – he gives the impression that he very rarely does this himself and even then it was hard to prove that he'd been involved, while he issued orders which were carried out in his presence, so the difference is subtle and not all that great. Różański, when the purges began in the Ministry of Public Security and even some time after the MBP had been dissolved, some kind of Committee was formed, I don't remember what it was called, I came back from a TB sanatorium and learned that we have a new director and that he's wandering from room to room introducing himself. And the director's name? It was Różański. None of my colleagues knew at that point who Różański was because the names of the officials at the Ministry of Public Security, with the exception of one minister Radkiewicz, were not generally in the public domain and only the initiated knew these names, but I happened to know who Różański was because someone whom he had tortured had a father who was a friend of my father-in-law, thanks to which I knew a few things. By then, Światło's revelations had begun and I was keenly listening to them, if the name Różański was mentioned – at that point it hadn't yet spread very broadly – well, I knew what to connect it with.

Tak się czasami zdarza, że jeżeli jestem w jakimś gronie osób, które mniej się orientują w mojej biografii, to lubię odegrać taką grę, że w pewnym momencie mówię: „Kiedy pracowałem u Różańskiego to tam to czy tamto”. Wtedy wszyscy bledną i patrzą się na mnie z przerażeniem, bo jeżeli ktoś pracował u Różańskiego, to prawdopodobnie miał coś do czynienia z Ministerstwem Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego. Różański był dyrektorem X Departamentu, sprawy szczególnej wagi, funkcjonowanie tego departamentu, między innymi, a chociaż nie wyłącznie, zajmował się sprawami związanymi z partią i sprawami wewnątrzpartyjnymi, chociaż nie było to wyłączne. W ogóle najważniejsze rzeczy, można powiedzieć, najważniejsze śledztwa... przygotowywanie najważniejszych procesów przechodziło przez ten departament i głównie przez Różańskiego, który miał w dodatku zasłużoną opinię psychopaty i sadysty; było sporne tylko, jak często mu się zdarzało, żeby samemu ludzi torturować i robi wrażenie, takie – wiem trochę o przebiegu jego procesu i znałem adwokata, który na ten temat miał dużo do powiedzenia – robi takie wrażenie, że on sam bardzo rzadko to robił i było... było wtedy nawet trudno mu to dowieść, natomiast wykonywał polecenia, które przy nim wykonywano, więc różnica subtelna, prawda, i nie taka znowu wielka. Różański, kiedy zaczęła się czystka w Ministerstwie Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego i nawet na pewien czas MBP zostało zlikwidowane – powstał jakiś taki Komitet, już nie pamiętam, jak on się nazywał – w pewnym momencie ja wróciłem z sanatorium przeciwgruźliczego i dowiaduję się, że mamy nowego dyrektora i dyrektor chodzi od pokoju do pokoju i przedstawia się. A jak się dyrektor nazywa? A nazywa się Różański. Nikt z moich kolegów jeszcze nie wiedział, kto to jest Różański, bo nazwiska tych dygnitarzy Ministerstwa Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, z wyjątkiem jednego ministra Radkiewicza, na ogół nie były publicznie używane i tylko bardzo wtajemniczeni znali te nazwiska, ale mnie się zdarzyło wiedzieć, kim był Różański z powodu tego, że tam ktoś, kogo torturował, miał ojca, który się przyjaźnił z moim teściem i dzięki temu ja coś wiedziałem; zaczęły się już rewelacje Światły, a ja tego bardzo namiętnie wysłuchiwałem, jeżeli padło tam nazwisko Różańskiego – wtedy jeszcze właśnie to się nie zdołało tak bardzo szeroko rozejść – no to ja już od razu wiedziałem, z czym to skojarzyć.

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: Ministry of Public Security, Józef Różański

Duration: 3 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 10 March 2011