Poland

After landing in Poland, I was taken aside at the airport and searched. I had to take all my clothes off and the books I was carrying were confiscated. The situation in the country was also specific with the whole post-war development, the number of casualties, the change in the borders, the division of the country between two aggressive totalitarian regimes and the implied specific relationships with its big neighbours in the West as well as in the East. Jacek Kuron, for instance, explains in his interview why the idea of communism could have appealed to young people after a devastating war in a subverted country. Making the film was interesting in every respect and the meetings with the opposition were often almost warlike. The situation was open. Solidarity, the best-known and most mass opposition movement in the entire Soviet bloc, had won itself extensive concessions, and there was a lot of freedom especially in culture, although the economy was in ruins and caution could be felt everywhere. A debate over how far to push the requirements was under way both in the power echelons and in the opposition. Where are the boundaries of what is possible? One of the considerations of the Solidarity movement in 1980–1981 was even that they could not wish for a complete breakdown of the communist party because the communists had become intermediaries between society and the Soviet leadership, and without that weak intermediary there would be tanks here. Thoughts on how to avoid Soviet invasion were ever-present and in the case of Poland the risk and number of victims would be much higher than it was in the attack on Czechoslovakia in 1968. But we could still shoot film. It wasn’t as easy as in Hungary, as there were places we could get into and others we couldn’t, something was possible and something else wasn’t, but we were able to do it. And money played a certain role here, too.

Jacques Rupnik

Interviews

Lech Wałęsa

Lech Wałęsa18. 10. 1987 | Gdańsk, Poland

Lech Wałęsa (born 29 September 1943) is a Polish statesman, a leading figure in the Polish opposition against the totalitarian communist power and a political prisoner during martial law, the leader of Solidarity Trade Union...