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Student trials: 'Eight Jews and Jacek Kuroń'

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Anti-Semitic purges in places of employment
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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Muszę powiedzieć, że moim zdaniem ta propaganda antysemicka słabo chwyciła. Oceny tego są różne. Ja należę do tych, którzy to oceniają w ten sposób, że chwyciło to bardzo słabo, a powód tego jest prosty. Rzadko kiedy naprawdę u nas w Polsce chwyci coś, co jest oficjalnie głoszone przez władze. Jeszcze prędzej motyw antyniemiecki może być przez władzę wygrany, ale w ogóle wszystko jest nieufnie traktowane. I tutaj jak się mówi, że Żydzi, a to w dodatku w sytuacji takiej, kiedy właśnie... jak lud warszawski mówił „polskie Żydki pobiły ruskich Arabów”, no to w tych warunkach nie było szans na umasowienie tego ruchu. No, ale ja należałem do tych, którzy się bali, co z tego może wyniknąć, no a konkretnie wynikały z tego przede wszystkim szerokie czystki w zakładach pracy. Co znaczy w zakładach pracy? No przede wszystkim na górze partyjnej, gdzie konkurenci wzajemnie sobie podstawiali nogi i... próbowali usunąć swoich przeciwników – i tutaj dostatecznym argumentem mogło się stać już pochodzenie żydowskie. Ale przecież obserwowałem to bardziej jak to wygląda u dołu, no między innymi moja żona pracuje w... wydawnictwie w którym, no...Jeżeli się wyrzuca kogoś, kto faktycznie pracuje, no, jako korektor, coś pośredniego może między... korektorem a redaktorem, ale nawet nie redaktor merytorycznie odpowiedzialny za cokolwiek. Taki zwykły oportunista partyjny, który nigdy nie powie na nic „nie” – należy do tej partii, krzywdy nie robi kolegom, ale jednocześnie niczemu się nie przeciwstawi – to zdawałoby się, że to jest człowiek, który... nigdy z tej pracy go nie wyrzucą, no chyba że zrobi coś horrendalnego. No, w PWN-ie moja żona, no i ja tym samym, widzieliśmy na własne oczy jak wystarczyło żydowskie pochodzenie kogoś takiego, żeby tracić pracę no. A to dla mnie jest ważny argument, to co mówię, ze względu na to, że tego nie można przedstawiać wyłącznie w kategoriach rozgrywki sensu stricto politycznej. Jeżeli powiedzmy sobie ktoś...Moczar chce zlikwidować Zambrowskiego jako działacza politycznego, a przy tej okazji wyciąga pod tytułem „syjonizm” jego pochodzenie żydowskie, to ja mogę powiedzieć, że to są wszystko preteksty w gruncie rzeczy chodzi im o co innego. Jak się wyrzuca korektora, dlatego że jest pochodzenia żydowskieg to to nie jest już żadna rozgrywka polityczna, to jest zwykły już taki bez maski antysemityzm. No i więc ta straszliwa orgia antysemicka to rzecz charakterystyczna dla wydarzeń marcowych.

I have to say that in my opinion this anti-Semitic propaganda didn't have much impact. There are various opinions on this. I'm one of those who believe it didn't have much of an impact, and the reason for this is simple. In Poland, if something is officially announced by the authorities, it will rarely make an impact. They have a better chance of getting somewhere with anti-German rhetoric. But everything is treated with suspicion. And when it was being said that it was the Jews, at a time when the citizens of Warsaw were saying, ‘Polish Jews thrashed the Russian Arabs’, well, under those circumstances, there wasn't a hope of getting mass support for that. But I was one of those who feared what might come of all of this. One thing that was happening is that there were wide-ranging purges in places of employment. What did that mean? Well, above all, these purges were happening in the upper echelons of the party where rivals were mutually obstructive and trying to get rid of their enemies, so under these circumstances it was enough to say that someone was of Jewish descent. I was watching the way this worked at the lower level since, among other things, my wife worked in a publishers where... If a proofreader got fired, someone who was between a proofreader and an editor, not even an editor who had any kind of responsibility, just an ordinary party opportunist who'd never disagree, belongs to the party, doesn't do any harm to his colleagues, but also doesn't oppose anything, he would seem to be the kind of person who would never get fired unless he did something horrendous. In PWN [Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe (National Scientific Publishers)] my wife and I saw how it was enough for someone like that to be of Jewish descent for them to lose their job. I feel this is an important issue that I'm talking about here because it can't be presented as strictly speaking political manoeuvres. If we say that someone, Moczar, wants to get rid of Zambrowski as a political figure, and uses this as an excuse to draw attention to his Jewish roots by referring to Zionism, I can say these are just pretexts and that ultimately they have a different agenda. When a proofreader loses his job for being Jewish this is no longer a political issue but straightforward, barefaced anti-Semitism. So this awful anti-Semitic orgy was characteristic of the events of that March.

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: Marcel Łoziński Jacek Petrycki

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.

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.

Tags: National Scientific Publishers, Mieczysław Moczar, Roman Zambrowski

Duration: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 11 March 2011