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Taxing the people
Marek Edelman Social activist
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Five thousand dollars was an insignificant amount, we needed tens of thousands of złoties - where were we to get it from? These dollars fell from the sky but not every day. So we decided to tax the people. Everyone who had money was to give us it. Whoever wanted to give it... We had secret information about who had lots of money so we'd send someone to those places who'd say, 'You have to pay, say, 20,000 złoties by four o'clock tomorrow. I'll come here and if you don't pay, we'll kill you.' So those who were afraid had the 20,000 by the following day whereas those who weren't afraid or didn't have the money or perhaps they had it but they didn't give it. The outcome of this was that we collected a lot of money although one man opposed us. He didn't just oppose us, he began to shoot his mouth off that he wasn't going to give those bastards anything even though we all knew he had money. So we sent two hitmen to him to tell him that if he didn't give anything by tomorrow, they'd shoot him. He said, 'So you'll shoot me, you can shoot me with your pea-shooters, with powder, and so on, I'll show you, I'll teach you a lesson. Tomorrow, by such-and-such a time, you're to have the money - if you don't have it, you'll be shot.' The following day they came back at such-and-such a time and he was still shooting his mouth of. One thing led to another and so they shot him. This made an enormous impression: the Party can do anything, because he showed no respect because it wasn't that he didn't give anything, it was that he was telling everyone, all his neighbours that he wouldn't give anything. There was no way out. Those boys didn't even get a roasting for that. Tough, because that gave us such a reputation that now everyone was crawling to us with their money. This money went over to the Aryan side to buy weapons. The daughter of the man who was killed is still alive. She came to Poland once, I think I've already told you this, haven't I?

[Q] Brzeziński?

No. She was living in Australia. She came to Poland and said, I know that my daddy was killed because he didn't want to give any money but he was saving that money to save me. So what was this about? After 30 years she comes and says this. Well, child, does this mean I should have a guilty conscience now? He'd be dead by now, he was an elderly man. If he'd been that old, he'd be dead by the time she came over. How can I have a guilty conscience now for what happened then? No one knows how it is. That daughter wanted to see me but I didn't want to meet her because I didn't know what to say to her.

Pięć tysięcy dolarów to... to nie... to była suma o której nie ma co mówić, a tu trzeba było mieć dziesiątki tysięcy złotych, więc skąd to wziąć, te dolary z nieba spadają, ale nie co drugi dzień. Więc postanowiliśmy opodatkować ludność. Każdy kto ma, ma dać. Kto chce dać, jak tutaj nie wiadomo co. No więc mieliśmy tajne informacje, kto ma dużo pieniędzy. No posyłaliśmy tam człowieka, on mówił, proszę pana, pan ma zapłacić 20 tysięcy złotych do jutra, do godziny czwartej. Ja tu przyjdę, jak nie, to zabijemy pana. Więc ci co się bali, mieli te 20 tysięcy złotych nazajutrz, a ci co się nie bali nie mieli tych 20 tysięcy, albo może mieli, tylko nie dali. No skończyło się tak z tymi eksami, żeśmy dużo pieniędzy zebrali, a jeden nam się przeciwstawił. I mało, że się nam przeciwstawił, tylko zaczął pyskować, że on tym gnojom nie da, a miał pieniądze, było wiadomo. Tośmy posłali dwóch zabijaków do niego i jak nie dasz do jutra, to cię zastrzelimy. On mówi, wy mnie zastrzelicie, możecie strzelać z grochu, prochu, ja wam pokażę, ja was nauczę. Jutro o tej i tej godzinie mają być jak nie bedziesz zastrzelony. Jutro o tej godzinie oni przychodzą, a on pyskuje. Od słowa do słowa,  zastrzelili go. To zrobiło kolosalne wrażenie, o, partia wszystko może, bo on jeszcze bezczelny, nie to, że nie dał, tylko mówił wszystkim, że nie da, wszystkim sąsiadom. No nie było wyjścia. Ci chłopcy nawet nie dostali nagany za to, trudno, bo to nam zrobiło taką markę, że teraz wszyscy na czworaka przynosili pieniądze. I te pieniądze szły na aryjską stronę i to szło na broń. Córka tego, co zabili, żyje. Ona przyjechała kiedyś do Polski, mówiłem to już pewno, nie?

[Q] Brzeziński? Nie.

Ona mieszka w Australii. Przyjechała do Polski i mówi, ja wiem, że mojego tatusia zabili za to, że nie chciał zapłacić pieniędzy, ale przecież mój tatuś zbierał pieniądze żeby mnie uratować. To jak to jest? To ona po 30 latach przyjeżdża i mówi. No moje dziecko. Teraz to co, trzeba mieć wyrzuty sumienia, on by już nie żył w ogóle, o tej porze, to już był starszy pan. To jak on w tym wieku, kiedy ona przyjechała to on by już nie żył. Gdzie teraz można mieć wyrzuty sumienia za wtedy, no właśnie nie wiadomo jak to jest. Ta córka chciała się ze mną zobaczyć, ale ja nie chciałem, bo nie wiedziałem co jej powiedzieć.

Marek Edelman (1919-2009) was a Jewish-Polish political and social activist and a noted cardiologist. He was the last surviving leader of the 1943 uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. Following the Second World War, he took an active part in domestic and international politics, dedicating himself to fighting for justice and peace.

Listeners: Joanna Szczesna Joanna Klara Agnieszka Zuchowska Anka Grupinska

Joanna Szczesna is a journalist writing for Gazeta Wyborcza. Together with Anna Bikont, she’s the author of Pamiatkowe rupiecie, przyjaciele i sny Wislawy Szymborskiej (The Recollected Flotsam, Friends and Dreams of Wislawa Szymborska) a biography of Wislawa Szymborska, the Polish winner of the Noble Prize for Literature. Since the 1970s, Joanna Szczesna has been involved with the democratic opposition movement in Poland, active in the Worker’s Defence Committee (KOR), the co-founder of the independent press in Poland: editor of KOR’s Information Bulletin, Solidarnosc Press Agency and Tygodnik Mazowsze.

Joanna Szczesna, dziennikarka "Gazety Wyborczej", autorka - wraz z Anna Bikont - biografia polskiej noblistki "Pamiatkowe rupiecie, przyjaciele i sny Wislawy Szymborskiej". Od lat 70-tych zwiazana z opozycja demokratycznaw Polsce, wspólpracowniczka Komitetu Obrony Robotników, wspóltwórczyni prasy niezaleznej w Polsce: redaktorka "Biuletynu Informacyjnego KOR-u", Agencji Prasowej "Solidarnosc" i "Tygodnika Mazowsze".

Joanna Klara Agnieszka 'Aga' Zuchowska was born 20 January 1938. Her father was killed in the Katyń massacre. After the war, she moved from Warsaw to Lódz. She obtained a degree in medicine in 1960, qualifying as a specialist in internal medicine in 1973. Dr Zuchowska worked with Marek Edelman for 15 years. In 1982 she left Poland for Algeria where she remained for the next three years, returning to Poland in 1985. She currently lives in Lódz.

Joanna Klara Agnieszka 'Aga' Zuchowska, urodzona 20 stycznia 1938. Ojciec zginal w Katyniu. Po wojnie zamieszkala w Lodzi. Studia ukonczyla w 1960 r. a specjalizacje z chorób wewnetrznych w 1973 r. Doktorat obronila we Wroclawiu. Pracowala z Markiem Edelmanen przez 15 lat. W 1982 r. wyjechala do Algerii. Wrócila do Polski w 1985 r. i mieszka obecnie w Lodzi.

Anka Grupinska studied English at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. She wrote for Poznan’s underground publications and was herself one of the founding publishers of the bi-monthly Czas Kultury. She spent 1988 and 1989 in Israel compiling reminiscences of Holocaust survivors. From 1991 to 1993, she held the post of Cultural Attache at the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv. She moved back to Poland in 1996 and now writes books on Jewish subjects, mainly dealing with the history of the Warsaw ghetto. She is also a freelance journalist for Tygodnik Powszechny. Anka Grupinska is the director of the Centropa Foundation project in Poland (oral history project) called “The Witness of the Jewish Century¿, presents her own radio programme, “Of Jews and of Poles too¿, and teaches creative writing and oral history in Collegium Civitas and SWPS in Warsaw.

Anka Grupinska ukonczyla filologie angielska na UAM w Poznaniu. Wspólpracowala z poznanskimi pismami podziemnymi, wraz z innymi zalozyla i wydawala dwumiesiecznik "Czas Kultury". W latach 1988-1989 przebywala w Izraelu opracowujac wspomnienia ocalalych z Zaglady. W latach 1991-1993 pracowala jako attaché kulturalny w ambasadzie polskiej w Tel Awiwie. Od 1996 mieszka w Polsce. Anka Grupinska specjalizuje sie w tematyce stosunków polsko-zydowskich. Publikuje ksiazki (m. in. Wydawnictwo Literackie, Zydowski Instytut Historyczny, Twój Styl), artykuly prasowe (m. in. "Tygodnik Powszechny", "Rzeczpospolita"), realizuje projekty wystawiennicze. Jest takze koordynatorem miedzynarodowego projektu "Swiadek zydowskiego wieku" (archiwizowanie pamieci o zydowskiej przedwojennej Polsce), prowazi autorska audycje radiowa "O Zydach i o Polakach tez" i uczy warszawskich studentów sztuki czytania i pisanie tekstów literackich.

Tags: Party, Aryan side, Poland

Duration: 3 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008