- April 11, 2013
Andrzejewski: I do not fight with anyone
I have a great archive on the history of the Vilnius region and I have decided to record it in some way, said Jan Andrzejewski to PL DELFI. He is one of the founders of the Association of Polish Engineers and Technicians in Lithuania. His book, Historia i rzeczywistość, which is a collection of memories and documents related to the Vilnius region has just been published. Apart from sources and historical material, scientific articles can also be found in it.
It is another book of yours which is devoted to the history of the Vilnius region. What was your basic objective when you were preparing yourself to write it?
The history of how the book was created, or how all my books were created, is based on the fact that once there was Mr Jerzy Surwiło, who had a great archive and he was writing about the local history. Also other people, from different countries, write about us, but they do not know much about us. I have a great archive, and it is, I think, the second biggest one in the Vilnius region, just after the archive of Mr Surwiło. This is why I have decided to record it somehow. I have decided to collect it and show it to people, show them how it all was like, from the beginning. And I have managed to achieve this, with the help provided by my friends. Materials in the shadow of the history are not really popular nowadays. The Association of Poles in Lithuania was established, it was the first Polish organisation after the political thaw, and now it turns out that the present leaders pretend that everything has begun because of them. And those that were working in 1988 and later… it’s like they never existed. In this book there are presented original documents, protocols and photographs. In this book it is shown how it all began.
To what group of readers is the book dedicated?
First of all to local Poles. Partially, also to local activists, partially to people who have repatriated from Vilnius. Because the book also tells about them. Why did they leave the country and we did not. It also tells about people, who fought for this land, for instance about soldiers of the Armia Krajowa (Home Army). I do not suggest to whom the land should belong, I just want to show who fought for it and died in the fight.
As far as I know, your life has looked interestingly, as well. In the 50s you repatriated to Poland and then in 1970s you came back…
I belonged to a youth conspiracy group. In the 1950s, things were getting too hot for everyone. We knew that we could either leave of we would be arrested. So we went to Poland, pretending that we wanted to go there, and I finished the Warsaw University of Technology. When I had the chance to do it, I came back to Vilnius. I was working then as the leading constructor in the Petrol Equipment Factory. I was doing well there. In the Factory there were over 2.000 Poles and it in 1988 the city department of the Social-Cultural Association of Poles in Lithuania was created there. (Later it was named the Association of Poles in Lithuania. Editor’s note.) We gave it the name of Władysław Syrokomla. We didn’t name the organisation after any politician, but after a poet. It was done on purpose, to avoid irritating the authorities, especially since he was a Belarusian. Algirdas Didžiulis, the chief manager of the factory was helping us in our activity. Earlier, he had worked in the Council of Ministers of Lithuania with Antanas Snečkus. When some conflict occurred, he was downgraded. Dawid Epsztejn, who received help from Poles during the war, was also helpful. He was constantly saying that he was grateful and he would always help us.
What was the character of this help?
He was the leader of the Factory’s Committee and the leader of labour unions. In that system it was a really important function. He was helping us financially. He was giving us reliefs and so on.
Going back to the book now. Not only historical materials but also typical scientific ones can be found in it, is that right?
It is all about the fact that I have established friendship with the distinguished scientist, dr Antoni Kukuczka, who is known all over the world. He works on practical theories about, for instance, how to get rid of mould from houses and cellars, if you have it. These are practical things like that. Since I was devoted to technical issues, we have decided to dedicate one part of the book to such practical things. Thanks to this there is greater demand for the book. Because some people want to have these theories and some people want the historical content. And in this book they have them both.
Is there a demand for the book?
Yes, there is. We have printed about 300 copies and today we have only 100 left.
What other plans do you have for this year?
I plan to organise the 25th anniversary of establishing the Polish organisation in Vilnius. I hope that on 29th September during the meeting, people who have been with us from the very beginning will come. They will bring their memories, histories and pictures, and I think we will make a new interesting book using them.
Do you think that it will be possible to gather all activists in one place during the celebrations of the anniversary? It is commonly known that in the 1990s many of them fought with one another.
I think it will be possible. Why was I chosen to be the coordinator of the celebrations? Because I do not fight with anyone. Everyone come to me, even those who fight with one another. I have spoken to Mr Okińczyc and Mr Miecznikowski, and Mr Barancewicz and Mr Baranowski. Everyone comes and there is no problem.
Tłumaczenie Emilia Zawieracz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emilia Zawieracz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.