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'The Polish Jews have defeated the Russian Arabs'


Open letter from Kuroń and Modzelewski
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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... Modzelewski was in two parts. The first was diagnostic. I thought it was rather good. The diagnostic part referred to the social and political situations, touching on the unfulfilled hopes and promises of October, and discussing in detail those certain basic elements of our social and political and economic life in a very critical but completely rational way. However, in the second part they put forward their proposal which included several elements which some of the press latched on to, such as their view that certain parts of the armed forces could be eradicated, or community militia or something along those lines. This was caught up and quoted with particular delight, although it was decidedly less important whether it was presented in this way or another, whereas the idea of building on structures which were political although not exclusively so, on workers' councils eliminating all elements of parliamentarianism, slightly resembled some of the ideas of the anarchosyndicalists. After that, the prosecutor said their views were Trotskyist which was complete nonsense. Well, I had fairly mixed feelings about all of this because it was a kind of utopia which to me seemed to be irrational and not very attractive as I don't like creating the kind of utopia which will exclude me as a citizen, and I definitely wasn't going to be joining any workers' council.

... Modzelewskiego zawierała się w dwie części. Pierwsza to była to część diagnostyczna. Moim zdaniem wcale niezła. Część diagnostyczna mówiąca o sytuacji społecznej i politycznej, trochę odwołująca się do niespełnionych tych nadziei i obietnic październikowych i dosyć dokładnie omawiająca te pewne podstawowe elementy bardzo... naszego życia społecznego i politycznego, gospodarczego w sposób bardzo krytyczny i zupełnie racjonalny. Natomiast w drugiej części była ich propozycja włącznie...która zawierała między innymi takie elementy do których szczególnie część przynajmniej prasy się bardzo...przypięła, że oni uważali, że na przykład można zlikwidować wojsko czy tam, czy milicję obywatelską, czy coś takiego – no to...to traktowano to...ze szczególnym jakimś upodobaniem to cytowano, ale to było mniej niewątpliwie istotne, czy to tak ujęli czy inaczej. Natomiast ten pomysł oparcia jakichś struktur również politycznych, chociaż nie wyłącznie politycznych o rady robotnicze z eliminacją wszelkich elementów parlamentaryzmu, taki...to trochę tak przypominało niektóre pomysły anarchosyndykalistów, prawda. Po tym prokurator im przypisywał trockizm, co było nonsensem zupełnym. No to tak już traktowałem...tak z dosyć mieszanymi uczuciami, bo była to taka utopia, która mi się wydawała mało racjonalna i nawet mało pociągająca ze względu...ze względu na to, że ja nie lubię, żeby tworzyć takie utopie, które na przykład mnie jako obywatela będą eliminować, bo na pewno w żadnej radzie robotniczej nie będę uczestniczył.

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: Jacek Kuroń, Karol Modzelewski

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 10 March 2011