• January 9, 2015
  • 30

Silver jubilee of “Magazyn Wileński”

“Magazyn Wileński” celebrates its jubilee – 25 years of existence. 25 years is not that long, but it is a lot when one takes into consideration the bravery of its founders, how much they got through, how they started from a scratch not knowing if the whole endeavor will be a success.

But let us start from the beginning; not only from the point of view of their work, but also morality, patriotism etc. All of them had a job they liked and suddenly something moved them. They felt that they can and that they should do something more. They ventured into the unknown. They only had a good idea and motivation. Of course, they had journalistic experience, but none of them started from creating a magazine. As a result, they had no idea about the hardships they were to face.

Michał Mackiewicz and Jan Sienkiewicz were the originators and enthusiasts of the new magazine. Later on the two were joined by: Barbara Znajdziłowska, Helena Ostrowska, Krystyna Marczyk, Janina Lisiewicz, Krystyna Ruczyńska, and other co-workers and journalists.

“Due to the fact that we were journalists during the communist rule, we had enough of all the restrictions and orders telling us what to write. When political situation started to change, we felt the need to create an independent magazine. The readers felt that need as well. So, as some have said, we rushed in where angels feared to thread. Today, after all that time, I know that our idea became a great success” – said Michał Mackiewicz, the first and longtime editor of “Magazyn Wileński.”

Someone once said that all noble ideas are good providing that people want their implementation. In this case, we talk about noble goals and an unbreakable will to achieve them. Nobody knew the outcome of this endeavor. Nobody expected how much there was to sacrifice for it. It was not just about writing a good article, but about a whole lot of things like: buying paper, printing, distributing, selling etc. In other words, they had to face many difficulties.

Leaving the Press House was probably their most difficult hardship. They established the newspaper office in Mackiewicz’s private apartment. It was not just their office but also their own restaurant. Michał was responsible for cooking soups, whereas Sienkiewicz for potato pancakes. Occasionally, there was also a cake bought by the boss-host after a successful issue.

But let us go back to the first issue. “The first issue (quite poor graphically) was published in January 1990. Back then, we were as happy as Larry, yet uncertain about the future. However, we knew from the beginning that our newspaper had to rely on three pillars of Polish character: religion, education and family” – said editor Helena Ostrowska.

During the first six years of its existence “Magazyn Wileński” was published biweekly, then it became a monthly magazine. The circulation and reader’s interest increased. It was also due to a popular contest initiated by Michał Mackiewicz titled “Los wilnianina w XX wieku” (“The fate of a 20th century resident of Vilnius”). It resulted in a unique book containing works sent by the readers of the magazine. Now it is just a single item out of a series called “Biblioteka Magazynu Wileńskiego” (“The Library of Magazyn Wileński”).

It is worth to mention that already in 1991 the magazine got its own publishing company called “Wydawnictwo Polskie w Wilnie” (“Polish Publishing Company in Vilnius”). By now, the publishing company distributed over 60 books; guides for visiting Vilnius and other regions of Lithuania, volumes of poetry, books about the history of the Vilnius region and its residents.

The editing board grew in number; as well as the number of new authors such as: Łucja Brzozowska, Halina Jotkiałło, Halina Turkiewicz, Alwida Bajor, Jadwiga Kudirko and Julitta Tryk. One big harmonious family. All newcomers adapted quickly and accepted traditions and customs existing in “Magazyn Wileński”.

“We have worked here for years and always backed one another” – said Sławomir Subotowicz, the irreplaceable graphics specialist, and Czesław Tatol the man responsible for distribution of the magazine.

Even when there were some problems everyone was eager to come back to work the next day. Sometimes the team had to work from dawn till dusk without a single day off. On such occasions they exchanged their responsibilities and supported one another. It is necessary to mention that editor Mackiewicz understood his employees. Indeed, it would be unwise not to take care of such an excellent team. Both sides, i.e. employer and employees got lucky. Of course, there were occasional differences of opinions; such is the nature of creative work. The staff changed from time to time. Some (Barbara Znajdziłowska, Krystyna Marczyk, Lucyna Dowdo) left, others (Henryk Mażul, Paweł Jatkiewicz, Mirosław Wojciulewicz) joined. But some things remained constant, i.e. the atmosphere at the office, and the goals of “Magazyn Wileński”.

“Journalism is one of the most beautiful (however, not the easiest) professions. Well, it is not even a profession, but a calling, a style of life, an addiction and a disease to which one gets so easily attached” – adds editor Helena Ostrowska.

It is not enough to call them an editorial board. The readers visiting the editing office of the magazine (in order to buy a new issue, subscribe or to get free Polish newspapers to which subscribers are entitled) appreciate the fact that every member of the staff is versatile. Some of the readers became friends to the staff of “Magazyn Wileński”. They visited the editing office to discuss something, to share some of their successes and failures, or to drink a cup of tea or coffee. Sometimes it was tiresome; especially, during busy days at work. But no one ever got rejected. As someone once said, a guest in the house is like God in the house (transl. note: Polish proverb). Henryk Mażul expressed similar though in a slightly different way. “Every visit of a reader is a gift. Thanks to such meetings we get to know fellow countryman better; we learn about their needs, interests and mentality which simultaneously enriches us intellectually and spiritually” – said Mażul enthusiastically. The number of friends and fans of “Magazyn Wileński” is impressive, which is a good sign for the future.


Today is the end of the International Family Year (announced by Pope Francis). That is why we will not exaggerate by calling the editing board of “Magazyn Wileński” a family and wish them another successful quarter of a century!

Translated by Damian Gabryś within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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