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Coming back to martial law


What about going back to Poland?
Julia Hartwig Poet
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However – how can I put this – time was passing and we began to think about going back to Poland which we were strongly encouraged to do because people thought Gierek's government was relatively bearable. There was even the matter of... those little cars were being manufactured, you could have a bank account and even save hard currency in it. This was a colossal change, I believe, perhaps not everyone remembers how it used to be. Before that, it was impossible, I remember, how everyone had to give all of their foreign currency to the bank. I don't really know why. Of course, there was a fear that people might have means, and when they have means, then they are stronger – this was probably one of the elements.

No, ale – jakby to powiedzieć – czas płynął i zaczęliśmy się zastanawiać, czy nie chcemy wrócić do Polski do czego nas bardzo zachęcano, bo uważano, że rządy Gierka są względnie do wytrzymania. I nawet była sprawa tych... budowy małych autek, można było mieć konto, także walutowe. No, to była kolosalna zmiana, to... to mnie się wydaje, że może nie bardzo niektórzy pamiętają, jak to było. Przedtem to było w ogóle niemożliwe, bo pamiętam, jak żądano oddania wszystkich... całej cudzoziemskiej waluty do banku. Nie wiadomo właściwie dlaczego – jak gdyby obawiano się, że ludzie mają środki, a jak mają środki to są silniejsi – prawdopodobnie to jeden z takich elementów.

Born to a Polish father and a Russian mother, Julia Hartwig (1921-2017) was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and author of children's books. She studied at the University of Warsaw, the Catholic University in Lublin and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Czesław Miłosz called her 'the grande dame of Polish poetry'. Julia Hartwig was one of the few poets in Poland who made masterly use of poetic prose. She translated poems by Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Cendrars and Supervielle, and published monographs on Apollinaire and Gerard de Nerval. She also translated from English, and published a large anthology of American poetry which she co-edited in 1992 with her late husband, the poet Artur Międzyrzecki.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Poland, Edward Gierek

Duration: 56 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2010

Date story went live: 14 June 2011