• January 21, 2015
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“Magazyn Wileński” – 25 years of the existence of the chronicle of the Vilnius region

The newest jubilee issue of “Magazyn Wileński” is already available in the Polish kiosks and bookstores in Vilnius. The first issue of the newspaper was published 25 years ago, in January 1990. It was the first colored Polish periodical in Lithuania. From the very beginning, the fate of Poles in Lithuania and other parts of the world has been the primary concern of the editorial board of the magazine.

Michał Mackiewicz and Jan Sienkiewicz were the originators of “Magazyn Wileński”. According to the current chief editor Helena Ostrowska, “it was a time during which people felt the upcoming changes. The Soviet Union still existed, yet the spirit of liberty was getting stronger. Freedom was in the air.”

The founders and journalists of “Magazyn Wileński” wanted to create the first independent colored Polish newspaper in Lithuania. Janina Lisiewicz, Helena Ostrowska and Krystyna Marczyk were among the first journalists of “Magazyn Wileński”. The newspaper covered wide range of topics, i.e. political, social, cultural, educational; and contained columns for women and children. Everyone could find something interesting there without any age or sex restrictions. The readers often suggested topics which were worth mentioning.

“Initially, we wanted to write about everything. We were primarily concerned with the topics considered to be taboo during the Soviet rule, e.g. falsifying and uncovering the history. We introduced religious topics as well. Currently, we are trying to write about everything of importance to the Poles living in the Vilnius region. Of course, these are mainly socio-political, cultural and educational issues. We are writing about Vilnius tradition. There is a column presenting well known Polish characters of the Vilnius region, initiated by Janina Lisiewicz. Henryk Mażul has been writing his “Polak potrafi” (transl. note: “Pole can”; Polish proverbial expression referring to the ability of Poles to achieve something extraordinary) column for years. So we are in a sense a chronicle of Poles in the Vilnius region” – said Helena Ostrowska, during the interview with “Wilnoteka”.

In 1991, the editorial board of “Magazyn Wileński” came up with the idea of establishing “Wydawnictwo Polskie w Wilnie” (“Polish Publishing Company in Vilnius”). “The situation required the establishment of a publishing company. We had good journalists, but we also had poets who had no possibility to publish their works. Alicja Rybałko, Henryk Mażul, Aleksander Śnieżko, and Jadwiga Bębnowska were the first Vilnian poets whose works were published by “Wydawnictwo Polskie w Wilnie”. The publishing company additionally distributed over 50 other titles including: memoirs, history books, and guides. The unique book which we value the most is “Los wilnianina w XX wieku” (“The fate of a 20th century resident of Vilnius”). It gathers the memories of Vilnians who sent their works for the competition organized by “Magazyn Wileński”. In those texts people wrote about their lives; about their positive and negative memories. The history of whole Vilnius region was presented through the memories of those people. Unfortunately, the edition of the book sold out long ago” – said chief editor of “Magazyn Wileński”.

Helena Ostrowska has been with “Magazyn Wileński” from the very beginning. Initially, she worked in the magazine and “Kurier Wileński” at the same time. She brought some of the topics she wrote about in the daily “Kurier Wileński” into the biweekly published “Magazyn Wileński”, which later transformed into monthly magazine. These topics included newly established Polish kindergartens, family affairs and other issues of primary concern to women. She said that she values meetings with common people, unknown to the public, who in fact do extraordinary things in their everyday lives, the most. “I remember the palm-maker from Czarny Bór (Juodšiliai) who had beautiful poetic nature. The lady from Bujwidze (Buivydžiai) who baked bread according to the old recipes. The lace-maker from the area of Landwarów (Lentvaris)… These were simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary women, who were spirited and inspired. Every meeting stimulated contemplation: oh, how rich is our Vilnius region!” – said Helena Ostrowska.

“Magazyn Wileński” has faithful readers and subscribers not only in Lithuania and Poland, but everywhere where Poles from Vilnius (and their descendants) live.

The special jubilee issue of “Magazyn Wileński” contains wishes from readers and authors of the magazine.

The editorial board of “Wilnoteka” wishes colleagues from “Magazyn Wileński” many creative ideas, interesting and valuable articles and increasing number of faithful readers.

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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