Jerzy Andrzejewski: life and times.
Andrzejewski was born in Warsaw on 19 August 1909 and died there on 19 April 1983. He had been a student of the Jan Zamoyski Gymnazjum, and later of Polish Philology at Warsaw University in the years 1927-30. He was also associated with small and frequently unpleasant right-wing Catholic-nationalist magazines. He made his literary debut with a story called 'Klamstwa' (Lying) in the right-wing anti-Semitic Warsaw daily ABC, for which, though he was no anti-Semite, he worked as a theatre and book critic. However, he was particularly associated with the right-wing, pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic weekly paper Prosto Z Mostu (Straight Out), which was edited by Piasecki, leader of the ONR-Falangist Party.(1) Andrzejewski's literary career really began when ABC collected his short stories in a volume called Drogi Nieuniknione (Unavoidable Roads, 1936). Two years later his novel Lad Serca (Mode of the Heart, 1938), which had appeared as a magazine serial, was taken up and published to wide acclaim. The novel set an impressive moral conflict against a solemn and rather grand night-time backdrop. The central character of the novel was a priest and the 'action' was his late-night conversation with a murderer. Almost inevitably Andrzejewski was labelled a Conradian moralist, a conservative and a 'Catholic Writer', which, as Milosz has said, in Catholic Poland is no small thing. Andrzejewski's period as a 'religious Catholic' was short but very intense, but the novel established him as a writer of considerable talent. In 1939, among other awards, Andrzejewski received the Polish Academy of Literature's Young Writers' Prize, and by public poll was also awarded the Wiadomosci Literackie Readers' Prize. However, the war disturbed what was clearly a promising literary career. During the German occupation Andrzejewski became a member of the AK, ran a small underground magazine and was widely regarded as a moral authority in the unwritten patriotic code of relations with Germans and the conduct of the underground. Andrzejewski became an important part of the culture of conspiracy.
Andrzejewski threw himself into the reconstruction of post-war Poland. In the years 1946-7 he worked in Krakow and was elected president of the Krakow ZZLP.(2) His first post-war book appeared under conditions that were absolutely different from anything that Andrzejewski and millions of other Poles could have predicted in 1938. Noc (Night, 1946), a series of short stories written during the war, was not particularly adventurous in terms of style or political content and told simply and effectively of the horrors of the Occupation.(3) The book received the 1946 City of Krakow Literary Prize. In the years 1948-52 he lived in Szczecin before returning to Warsaw to become editor in chief of Przeglad Kulturalny. He became Chairman of the Central Board of ZLP in 1949, and in 1952 was awarded the state Banner of Labour Order as a reward for his 'social achievements'. In the years 1952-57 he also sat as a Deputy in the Sejm and his circle of distinguished Party writer comrades included Wazyk, Wirpsza, Jastrun, Zulawski, Bochenski, Woroszylski and Hertz.
Popiol i diament (Ashes and Diamonds), which had originally appeared under the title Zaraz po wojnie (Right After the War) in serial form in Odrodzenie through 1947, was published in book form in 1948 and was at once massively successful. It was awarded the Odrodzenie Prize in 1948, and with the help of Andrzej Wajda's film of the same name (1957) became Andrzejewski's most famous work both in the west and in Poland. There can be little doubt that the appearance of Ashes and Diamonds was one of the major publishing events of the decade. It is the most widely reprinted of Andrzejewski's works and has become a classic of modern Polish literature. Along with Borowski's Pozegnanie z Maria (Farewell to Italy, 1948), Nalkowska's Medaliony (Medallions, 1946) and Milosz's Ocalenie (Rescue, 1945) it stands out from most of the 'rubble literature' of the immediate postwar period, which was obsessed with simply and perhaps naively detailing the horrors of the Occupation. 1948-49 was a crucial time in the life of the post-war regime, and Andrzejewski's novel is important both for what it reveals openly, for what it does not talk about at all and for the ambiguous place it occupies in the literary and political debate of those years.
Ashes and Diamonds takes place in a Polish town (probably Krakow) in the spring of 1945. It is set on the last day of the war and the action unfolds against the declaration that the German army is about to lay down its weapons in surrender. The novel shows a range of Polish characters in these final moments of war and the first moments of peace. It is a portrait of the very ambiguous and many-layered transition from war to peace, from the military society of prewar Poland with its szlachta (gentry) cultural and political values, to the 'socialist' values imposed at bayonet point by the Red Army at the end of the war. It is a portrait of Poland making the very painful transition from the pre-war society of massive peasantry, small middle class and tiny but powerful nobility, to a new society of 'workers' and Party bureaucrats. The move from war to peace is not the end of violence, however, it is merely a shift from one kind of violence to another: hostilities between the incoming 'communists' and those whose loyalties lay with 'old Poland' and the government in exile were taken up with a ferocious and intense savagery which both sides had learned and practised against the Nazis. For many it was a continuation in practice of the 'war against two enemies - Russia and Germany', already deeply embedded in the Polish political consciousness.
Ashes and Diamonds is a key text summing up many of the ambiguities, changes of attitude and the sacrifices necessary to accommodate the new regime. The subject of the book, the civil war that marked the transition to 'peace' in Poland, was still unfinished when the novel appeared. Between 1945-47 the assassination by the AK (Home Army - London-backed resistance) of PPR members, government officials and supporters averaged 200 per month, reaching a peak in May 1945 with 600 assassinations, and a second peak in September 1946 with 360 deaths. In June 1945, 16 leaders of the AK had gone on trial in Moscow charged with anti-Soviet activity - all had pleaded guilty. While it is estimated that over 60,000 AK members were still active in 1946, as a result of two amnesties in the period 1945-47 over 70,000 AK members left hiding and attempted to resume normal life: some 17,000 were arrested, tried and imprisoned. Many did not survive their brutal treatment at the hands of the authorities.(4)
Ashes and Diamonds portrays a range of characters and their immediate social circle. Andrzej, son of Judge Kossecki, a member of an independent right-wing resistance group; Alek, the younger son, a member of a gang of juvenile thugs who pretend that they are part of a resistance movement; Maciek, an ex-student from Warsaw, in town to carry out the assassination of Szczuka for the AK. There are also the opportunists in the local government set-up, and in the local catering industry. There are representatives of the displaced and largely dispossessed nobility; Mme Staniewicz, the Puciatyckis and Telezynski - all of whom found the war distasteful and who regard the incoming communists as upstart boors beneath contempt. More importantly there is the wretchedly pliable judge Kossecki, recently released from the Nazi concentration camp, who, although widely regarded as a lawyer without a stain to his character, was in fact, under the name Rybycki (ryby - fish), a concentration camp kapo, a trustee. The moral condemnation of these people, resides, particularly towards the end of the novel, in the figure of judge Kossecki. His moral collapse is indicative of the wide failure and 'the bankruptcy of the petite bourgeoisie'; his plea that wartime has its own morality is set up to show that without the guiding light of communism, humanity is nothing more than a slave to circumstance. On the other side of the equation there is the self-righteous communist Podgorski. There is Szczuka, the Party official recently liberated from a concentration camp. And we also hear of Maria, a communist martyr who, in contrast to Kossecki, helped her fellow prisoners selflessly and died in Ravensbruck. We are told that Maria's devoted and communist husband often thinks of her and cherishes her memory.
In setting up his gallery of characters Andrzejewski went to great lengths to show the deep divisions that had emerged in Polish society at the end of the war. Again and again the network of family and friends is riven by factionalism that had its roots deep in Polish history. Ashes and Diamonds was something of a departure from Andrzejewski's earlier books; although it indicated misgivings about the 'communists' and the situation at the end of the war, it was clearly not hostile to the new regime - its view of Polish class politics, its portraits of the AK and the communists all made its attempted position quite clear. It condemned the old order and the continuing mainly right-wing underground movement and depicted the underground army as patriotic but tragically misguided. Andrzej, having bungled the assassination of Szczuka, goes to see 'the Colonel' - a cavalry officer who is very clearly a member of the pre-war military. After analysing what went wrong the colonel treats Andrzej to a disquisition on 'moral intelligence':
'We're living and fighting under very difficult and complex circumstances. But the war years, which were the testing years for everyone, have taught us that things have to be regarded in their elementary, basic set-up. There's no time for subtle discrimination, it must be simple and clear. Good is good, and evil evil. You agree? . . . So there's one thing we must get clear in the present situation. The Second World War is coming to an end. That's obvious. Another two or three days, perhaps a week - and it will be over. But we did not foresee an end like this. We thought that not only would Germany come out of the war defeated, but Russia too. Things have turned out rather differently. In today's set-up we Poles are divided into two categories: those who have betrayed the freedom of Poland and those who do not wish to do so. The first want to submit to Russia, we do not. They want communism, we do not. They want to destroy us, we must destroy them. A battle is going on between us, a battle that has only just started . . . What were you fighting for? Wasn't it for the freedom of Poland? But did you imagine a Poland ruled by blind agents carrying out orders from the Kremlin and established by Russian bayonets? What about your colleagues, your contemporaries? How many of them died? What for? In the end how can people like you and me - alive and still at liberty - how can we show our solidarity with our friends if we draw back half way? . . . Now take Szczuka . . . Who's Szczuka? One of the intelligentsia, a trained engineer, a communist, an excellent organizer into the bargain. And he's a man who knows what he wants. Now he's working for the Party in the provinces, but tomorrow if nothing changes, he'll hold a responsible State job. He may be a Minister the day after tomorrow. Let's say he's an idealist. He was put on trial several times before the war and was sent to gaol. He was two years in a prison camp. He's the more dangerous. We're not worried by careerists. When the time comes they'll leave the sinking ship like rats. It's a waste, to risk men like you - and bullets - on them. The cost is too high. But when it's a question of ideas which bring us enslavement and death, then our reply can only be death. The usual laws of battle. History will be the final judge as to who was right. We have already decided . . .' He inhaled his cigarette smoke and added with emphasis . . . 'because we have already chosen.'(5)
Andrzej who has doubts about what he is doing, says that he wants to be honest rather than intelligent about the armed struggle. The colonel replies:
'Moral intelligence is precisely what I mean . . . Like you, I'm a soldier and carry out orders of my superior officers. Blindly? No, I believe they're right, because as a soldier I'm also a man and do not forego the right to judge the world I live in. I assure you, lieutenant, that a man who does not want to be a judge does not want to be a man. And if one has the courage to judge, then loyalty towards oneself applies too. It's a matter, if you'll forgive me using such a big word, of conscience, That's all!'(6)
The colonel's position is almost certainly that of the London-backed AK; the outline of the noble, officer-caste style is easily apparent. In this passage Andrzejewski makes a series of points, one of which is that after years of war, the ability to decide clearly for oneself has become clouded, that it has become extremely difficult to see the incoming regime, for a whole vaiety of reasons, as something with which it might be possible to co-operate. The moral position is the important one, and that is simplified enormously by the Colonel. Yet strangely the moral/political language used here is almost identical to that used by Michnik in his essays on co-operation with the military government of General Jaruzelski.(7) Thought is moral rather than political, and great stress is laid on fidelity, honour, loyalty. Little serious political thought takes place in laying out plans for an alternative future. It is a consistent feature of Polish politics that the restoration of the previous incarnation of Poland takes precedence over everything else.
Andrzejewski also shows how the moral damage to Poland's youth by the Occupation fed into the chaos of the civil war. Andrzej's younger brother Alek is a member of an underground group - in fact they are little more than a gang meeting in a cave that was once their schoolboy hideout. In an argument about finance their leader, Jurek, shoots and kills Janusz. Marcin remonstrates with Jurek: 'We were going to fight for Poland, for good and noble causes . . . Don't laugh, you said so yourself.'(8) They have just come through a war, which as it was visited upon Poland was very much concerned with notions of blood and race, but the effect of the war and the massive loss of human life has been to devalue human life rather than elevate it. The good and noble causes of both sides slide into ugly, messy, personal disputes. This group, who plan to fight for 'freedom and justice', whose childish password is 'Freedom', remain just a gang playing at resistance. Beyond a childish brutality and spiteful variety of fascism they have no sense of politics, no ideology that goes beyond the purely national. And that is part of Andrzejewski's point: because of the peculiarities of Polish history there is no socio-political agreement to resolve differences without recourse to violence:
'But what are we going to do now? With all this on our minds, with all this blood . . .'
'Don't exaggerate. Why talk about it? Blood! Blood doesn't mean much.'
'Jurek, please don't talk like that. You shouldn't!'
'Of course blood matters, but not the blood of our enemies. We're going to shoot them down like dogs. That's our purpose and our justification. And the fact that he went first was only an accident . . .'(9)
Other members of the inteligencja do not come out of this situation too well either. The restaurateur Slomka, mayor Swiecki, deputy mayor and architect Weychert, Chairman of the town council Kalicki, the editor of the local newspaper Pawlicki, are all morally flexible, that is they are corruptible. Drewnowski the mayor's secretary, and Pieniazek the journalist, show themselves to be little more than malleable, grafters, hangers-on who pander to the incoming communists with as much or as little conscience as they toady (kadzic) to the remaining members of the aristocracy. Indeed, Pieniazek hints very heavily that Pawlicki also collaborated with the Nazis. It is there in their names too, since rather in the manner of a morality play, some of the names have significant meanings indicating the characters of those concerned: Slomka - a straw; Swiecki - worldly; mundane; Drewnowski - wooden, log; Pieniazek - small change. The values of the petit bourgeois class - the 'rotten bourgeoisie' as Major Wrona (crow) of the security police calls them - may have collapsed in the war and in the camps, but Andrzejewski is saying that in spite of this, the values and style of this class, backed by the popular legitimacy of the London government, still inform the political, social and moral patterns of the new Poland. Indeed we can see this in the way the official reception turns into a drunken debauch, a parade of snobbery, sentimentalism, furtive plotting, rampant opportunism and cynicism.
Nowhere are the potential and complexities contained within the moment of peace more in evidence than in the discussion between Major Wrona and Comrade Swiecki:
'I know one thing. When we were in the forests, we imagined all this very differently. Some of our supporters are getting too tame and comfortable. If this goes on much longer, we shall lose the revolution. What's needed is to shake them up, like this.' He held up his clenched fists. 'Instead of doing away with the class war, we ought to intensify it, catch our enemy by the throat, because if we don't kill them in time, they'll put, a knife in our backs.'
Swiecki nodded with an understanding smile.
'That's all very well, major, but you're forgetting one thing. Politics isn't such a simple matter. At this stage we must first lessen various irritations.'
Wrona looked at him darkly.
'Whose? The kulaks? The landowners?'
'I'm speaking generally,' Swiecki replied evasively. 'We must draw them to us, unite them with us.'
'What do you mean "Who?" Swiecki asked in surprise. 'The nation'.
Wrona's swarthy face darkened slightly.
'The nation? Comrade Swiecki, do you really know the Polish nation, do you know what it's like and what it wants? Who do you want to unite? Those who think of nothing but pushing the workers and peasants back into poverty and degradation? Or perhaps those who shoot from behind cover at our best men? Are they supposed to be the Polish nation?'
Swiecki opened his hands, 'I understand your indignation, I myself was Very upset about many incidents . . .'
'But you'd like to inscribe "Love one another, brother Poles" on the standard of the revolution?'
'The country's destroyed, the people are exhausted, we must think realistically.'
'No!' He brought his fist down on the table. 'That isn't the way, that's not the Bolshevik way. It's true our country is destroyed and the people are exhausted, but it looks to me as if you, Comrade Swiecki, have no idea what great forces there are in this exhausted nation. These communist forces will grow and wake up in other people . . .' His voice suddenly broke with almost boyish grief 'It makes my heart ache to remember so many comrades who won't see this . . .'(10)
It may have been naive of Andrzejewski to suppose that Swiecki's version of socialism would survive that of Wrona. Major Wrona has had a 'wholly admirable past in the underground movement', which is shorthand or belonging to the AL (People's Arm, the communist resistance) rather than to the AK: his style of language, his use of the word 'kulaks', give him away as a creature made by the Party and its Moscow alliance.(11)
The novel was unusual in that it showed conflict between the forces supposed to be good and pure, and the 'fascistic wreckers' of the AK. But, even though Andrzejewski had clearly skewed the political struggle between the AK and the communists to fit his own personal and still rather Catholic moral scheme, what it also showed was that between the idealistic extremists of both left and right, there moved a host of confused, demoralized, exhausted Poles, many of whom saw no point in being other than opportunist. Further, the novel had as one of its main characters Maciek, a member of the AK.(12) Maciek Chelmicki (the name conjures up the word helm, helmet) represents the moral confusion and political chaos that haunted Poland in those years. At one point he attempts to explain to his commander the difference between killing during the war and killing now: 'But what is it I'm supposed to sacrifice everything for? I knew in those days. But now? You tell me! What do I have to kill that man for? And others? And go on killing? What for?'(13) His attitude has changed, he has met a girl, he wants to leave the underground movement, settle down, have a normal life. In his stumbling, incoherent way he is tying to find a solution not only to his own problems but those of the whole country. In the end, however, he abdicates responsibility and decides to accept someone else's solution. His agreement to commit one last murder leads to his own death.
In Maciek we have someone who is trying to reject the old order (or parts of it) and who is trying to work out a new way forward. His efforts are thrown into sharp relief by the scene around him: in the hotel pompous politicians and leaders, arriviste local politicians, brutal local police meet in one room of the hotel. In the bar meanwhile the drunken, snobbish, plotting, hysterical old order dances a konga against a gross distortion of a Chopin Polonaise ('the one that goes Tam-ta-tam, ta-ra-tata-tata-tatam') with its highly charged nationalistic overtones parodied and distorted by the tired, bored musicians.(14) Meanwhile brutalized youngsters, liars, self-seekers returned from the camps attempt to work out some new modus vivendi for themselves in which their future is bright and their past is obscure. The old moral order has been turned inside out. The first day of 'Peace' marks the onset of an assault by communist Poles on traditional Polish cultural and hierarchical values, on Polish beliefs and myths about Poland and its place in the world. It takes great courage to carve a path through all this, to decide how the future will be, either as a communist politician or as a member of the anticommunist underground, but also as an independent individual building or rebuilding a private life from the ruins. Maciek and Krystyna are ordinary Poles. If Maciek is a defeatist, then so is Krystyna.
Andrzejewski makes much of the heroic defeatism implicit in the references (quotation and allusion) to classical Romantic poetry and to the music of Chopin. He asks: is this like the defeats of the Partition era? The novel is redolent of connections with Polish Romanticism in music and literature, indeed it takes its title from the poem 'Za kulisami' (Behind the Scenes) by Norwid (1821-83). Norwid's verses stand at the start of the book but are cut from the English translation:
All around you, as from a charred splinter, Flaming rags let fall; Burning don't you know if you are free, Or if that which is yours may be lost? Will only ash remain, and chaos Blown by the storm? Or lying Beneath the ash will there be a starry diamond, Eternal victory's dawning.(15)
Indeed, his use of the poem indicates very clearly that he wishes to consign evil to the ash and destruction of the past, and sees the possible moral victories of the socialist future as the diamonds hidden among the ash.
There are also passing references to the dramatist Juliusz Slowacki (1809-49). But perhaps the major reference to 'classical' Polish literature is in the scene where the banquet guests dance the conga to Chopin - that in itself is a direct reference to Polish classical literature. Wyspianski's play Wesele (The Wedding, 1901) is a still popular tale of the 'situation of the nation'. It shows an attempt by the Krakow inteligencja to bridge the cultural gap between gentry and the peasantry by a wedding between a peasant girl and a Krakow artist and is based on the carefully planned theatrical wedding which took place on 20 November 1900 when the poet Lucjan Rydel wed the peasant girl Jadwiga Mikolajczykowna. There is a scene in the play when at dawn the drunken wedding guests shamble grotesquely through a patriotic dance, out of the house and into the farmyard - a scene which Andrzejewski makes direct use of in his description of the hotel party on the evening before Maciek completes his assassination assignment.(16) These Romantic writers had their own, independent and ironic grasp of the difficulties of Poland's situation. It is to them, rather than to images of the future that Andrzejewski turns in trying to reconcile Poland to itself and its new rulers.
The Polish classics are a most peculiar and ultimately self-defeating set of references, since it points out very clearly that a Polish writer, a member of the inteligencja, could not easily imagine any Poland without those artistic and political additions, that Polish tradition was deeply ingrained even among those who wished to accommodate the new regime. Andrzejewski, in his use of classical Romantic texts harks back to Poland's traditional anti-Russian feelings, and szlachta moral values. He reminds people of what they are giving up, implicitly contrasts the new order with the old, undercuts his own message of co-operation, affirms an ideal that is Polish not Russian, szlachta rather than proletarian or Party. At one point Kalicki and Szczuka discuss Poland's future under socialism:
'Do you honestly see no difference between the Soviet Union and Tsarist Russia?'
'Of course I do. It's a different system. I don't deny there are differences. But Russian imperialism and Russian aggression are the same. No, no!' he gesticulated, 'I know what you're going to say, but please spare me your propaganda. I know where I stand. The East will always be the East. That never changes. Anyhow, you'll see in a year or two. Poland won't exist any longer. Our country, our culture will all be lost, all of it . . .'
At this moment his voice broke painfully. He stopped. Szczuka also said nothing for a time.
Kalicki shivered and sat up.
'I'm sorry for you, Jan,' he whispered at length. 'Life has beaten you.'
'Perhaps so' he said in a controlled voice, 'but my life concerns me and me alone, whereas you're losing Poland.'(15)
Between them the resistance and the communists kill Szczuka and Maciek - the best and brightest, the most intelligent that either side has to offer. What they are left with are opportunists and drunks, rigid Stalinists, haughty and un-yielding nobles, well-meaning but ignorant peasants, confused and tired workers; it is from these that the People's Poland will be built.
It must be said that the novel is badly faulted. Andrzejewski has doled out judgement, allocating right and wrong, according to the most superficial Marxist moral gloss. In true Romantic and Conradian fashion the communist heroes are solitary figures in a hostile environment, struggling with a lumpen, reactionary, unresponsive society which is caught up in trying to restore the past, and which lacks all vision of the future. The AK here bears the blame for death and destruction. Their sense of patriotism, their commitment to the cause, their courage and resilience all count for nothing because they have decided to resist the Party. The communists in the novel are not tortured by doubts in the way that Chelmicki is: only he experiences a longing for peace, a weariness of death and destruction, a desire to accept the situation as it is. But his doubts count for nothing because he has made a wrong choice. Only the AK fight on against the 'progressive' forces in order to carry out their misguided orders: it is the AK, not the Party, who are accused of suppressing their humanity and their compassion. The novel is also badly faulted in its depiction of Szczuka: we only know that he is a communist from what the author tells us about him, not from what Szczuka says or does. Drawing a communist character was a problem for Andrzejewski because for many to be a socialist was a failure of patriotism, a failure of Polishness: it was to be anti-Polish. In Poland nationalism often substituted for a more extended ideology of left and right, conservative and progressive. The idea of 'Poland' was invested during the Partitions with all the power of ideology and all the mystery of a religious experience.
Although it is possible to show very broadly that Ashes and Diamonds went along with the notion that all art should now 'contribute to the ideological transformation and education of the workers in the spirit of socialism',(18) it managed to conform to a version of reality that was still close enough to the truth to disconcert those who believed in the Party line and who favoured total conversion to socialist realism. The novel offended the idea of socialist realism on a number of levels. Given the way the Stalinists behaved the terms 'socialist' and 'realist' were mutually exclusive. The last thing the communists of eastern Europe wanted was a literature that showed the reality, that probed the actuality of the communist take-over or the construction of a new version of class politics. This was especially so in Poland where the Party lacked all legitimacy. The novel did not adhere to the tenets of socrealizm (socialist realism) in depicting the communists as wholly attractive and blameless heroes in action. Wrona is presented as a line-toeing, insensitive, dangerous blockhead. Kalicki, son of a wealthy land-owning family from Kiev, expelled from university for his socialist ideas, later an important member of the Polish co-operative movement, a member of the PPS (Polish Socialist Party, founded 1892, forcibly merged with Moscow-backed PPR December 1948 to become the PZPR, Polish United Workers' Party), a deputy to the inter-war Sejm, is shown as full of scruples and doubts about the communist road to power. Szczuka too, it would seem, is a communist in name only: what he thinks about socialism, what his hopes, plans and dreams for Polish socialism might be, are never revealed to the reader. The Party people drink, wench, have friends outside the Party, have ex-wives. They are not morally perfect, and because of this they are not Party literature banalities. Also, it must be said that the portrait of the Party heroes as solitary figures was probably deeply questionable in Stalinist and socrealizm terms.(19) In this book there are no positive and clearly identifiable socialist heroes, no absolutely good men, no converted proletarians, no justifiably routed bourgeoisie, no worker-heroes. Indeed, the working class and the agricultural labourers, the average, ordinary Poles, are almost entirely absent from this book, as it concentrates exclusively on the various aspects of the inteligencja. Even Krystyna, the sole ordinary working girl who might be thought to occupy some special place in the pantheon of both Poles and communists, is no hero of labour and no paragon of virtue. Her wants are bourgeois, and she falls in love with an AK assassin: if she believes in the socialist dawn then it does not show. The Party workers too seek their justification in weariness and in the idea of 'Poland' rather than in the socialist future. That is, their plans, where they are articulated at all, are more nationalist than socialist.
It is also clear that Andrzejewski had adapted his earlier moral schema to the requirements of the new situation, but he had not abandoned it entirely. Andrzejewski, who in his Catholicism, and in his later dissidence, always sought some form of total world vision, some all encompassing sense of moral order, thought that he had found a resting place within Marxism. It is a book shot through with internal Party strife, international and class conflict, and human opportunism. There is no harmonizing socialist principle at work. No dazzling radiance pours down from the summit of Soviet achievement, to light the Polish path. There is no glimpse of the wonderful land that lies beyond immediate travail. There is no happy and definite conclusion in favour of socialism. There is no sense in this book that communism is the predetermined and inevitable end to class struggle, though Andrzejewski must have been aware that the failure to say that this was so left him open to charges of doubting the absolute necessity of communism. With hindsight it is possible to see that perhaps the book should be seen as aiming not to present socialism as a goal, but as explaining why socialism might be considered at this particular point of Polish history.
The characters in Ashes and Diamonds do not so much renounce their past as make an accommodation with the present in the hope of picking up the old ways at some time in the future. There is no sense that any of the figures here are the cardboard-allegorical, personified abstractions favoured by Soviet socrealizm - though a few have suggestive names. These are not simple figures who appear as peasant, landlord, party-man, noble worker, loyal comrade-wife, young hero. The specifically socialist content of the book may be lacking, yet, perhaps in spite of itself, the book is rich in nationalist reverberations. Whether it will or not, the book harks back to lost dreams, shattered illusions, and shows the weariness of death and struggle that gripped Poland in those years. It is not an optimistic tragedy, it is a book filled with doubt, remorse, and melancholy. It has very specific roots in the continuing social conflict and does not find any convincing resolution in socialism.
The success of the book was huge when compared to Andrzejewski's pre-war writings. It very quickly sold 100,000 copies, by 1966 had gone into fourteen editions and by 1989 had been reprinted in a total of 25 Polish editions. Long before this Andrzejewski rightly understood that under the new system his writings would reach a much wider audience than ever before. The patronage of the Party was now of vital importance, and after 1949 the Minister of Culture's calls to support the Party by writing a particular kind of literature could not be ignored with impunity. Ashes and Diamonds showed Andrzejewski veering, with some reservations, towards the new line of socrealizm and support for the Party. While Ashes and Diamonds did not conform to socrealizm: Party members were not spotless, the AK were not fascist wreckers. It was nevertheless seen to be a book which would move other writers towards that style. In any case, the Polish authorities did not feel that they could impose such a style with any confidence just yet. Ashes and Diamonds had broken with convention by mentioning the AK and by writing, albeit rather cautiously, about the civil war. But this was something the Party was prepared to tolerate because it helped to show that the new regime was inevitable and offered Poland a new way forward. However guardedly, it supported the Party and books which offered support to the post-war regime were few and far between. As if in reward for his acceptance Andrzejewski received the Odrodzenie Literary award in 1948 and the novel was awarded the State Literary Prize.
Milosz had been a close associate of Andrzejewski during the war; he had narrowly escaped arrest with Andrzejewski in the first of the Nazi round-ups in Warsaw, had walked the rubble of Warsaw with him in 1945, and co-operated with him on a film at the end of the war. Milosz wrote a little uncharitably of the success of Ashes and Diamonds:
A novel that favourably compared the ethic of the New Faith with the vanquished code [of the resistance and the exiled London government] was very important to the Party . . . One city donated to him a beautiful villa furnished at considerable expense. A useful writer in a people's democracy cannot complain of a lack of attention.(20)
Though he was later to revise his opinion, as far as Milosz was concerned, Andrzejewski had merely exchanged the priest's cassock of the earlier novel for the leather jacket of the Party.
The poet Herbert spoke contemptuously of Andrzejewski as the oldest of the Stalinist 'old boys', and raged against the continued influence of the novel:
Ashes and Diamonds, reprinted again and again, poisoning the minds of the young. One hears that it was the 'Hegelian sting'. I am sorry, but Hegel was dead. He died a century earlier. It was Berman, Sokorski, Kronski who did the stinging. When I am speaking about a crime, it is the crime against the young generation, of those now in their twenties and thirties. They are still being raised on this kind of liteature . . . Perhaps the times of terror were too much for the literary imagination. But what does it really mean? The spirit of history does not exist. The system was built by people. One can list their names . . . The gang of agents badly needed the inteligencja, the elite - a kind of cultural nomenklatura. What did the governments have to offer? The divine status of a demiurge. Andrzejewski once told me that he was invited to visit by Berman. His host paced nervously in his office. Finally he stopped in front of his window and said, 'This country is on the edge of a civil war. Only a writer of your stature and talent could possibly. . .' Thus he suggested the subject of Ashes and Diamonds. They suddenly felt that 'the helm of history' rested also in their hands and that it was worth lying a bit to the confused nation upon which they looked with contempt. . .(21)
Milosz had defined the 'Hegelian Sting' as the paralysis of the mind by the unavoidablity of dialectics and the proximity of the Red Army, but the young poet Zagajewski said that perhaps there was no real 'sting' at all, merely:
fear, fear of fear, the desire for a career, the need for safety, money, and an apartment in Warsaw, or just good old conformity.(22)
On the other hand, Kisielewski, who as an essayist for the Catholic Tygodnik Powszechny probably had every reason to despise Andrzejewski's espousal of the 'communist' cause, offended the censors by praising Andrzejewski's even-handedness:
. . .a good novel cannot portray only the bright side of life. It has to have elements of black and white, light and dark. This is why Ashes and Diamonds, a book which is in my view historically inaccurate, continues to be such a popular novel when so many others have faded into oblivion: because its author divided the light and distributed equal portions to both sides.(23)
For his part Andrzejewski was philosophical about the fate of his book and said:
You know the legend handed down from generation to generation, that the work of a writer passes silently, and only later will there be a judgement whether to send it to Hell or to Heaven. Of course the majority go to hell. Hell in this case is to be forgotten. Only the chosen are taken to memory Heaven.(24)
However we now regard the book in terms of its politics, there can be no doubt at all that it is a landmark in Polish literature. It helped to establish some sort of accommodation between the reluctant population and the ambitious Party. The book sprang from the shock of the Occupation and the shock of the Liberation: it is about a people who stand at a crossroads in their collective life, but who are effectively denied a say in how they will move forward or even in which direction they will go. It played out a longing to have done with conflict, to renew some kind of certainty and forge some kind of national unity to repair the ravages not only of the Nazi Occupation, but the increasingly unpleasant role of the colonels in the years before the war.
Although the novel is set in 1945 it is important to remember that it was written in 1947, that is before the full impact of Stalinization under First Secretary Bierut, before the attempted imposition of socrealizm by Berman, and that it therefore typifies only the immediate post-war dilemmas. Andrzejewski, for all his prescience, was not able to predict how Polish 'socialism' would develop. Although the book was criticized in the early 1950s for its attempt to transcend the differences between the various Polish political opinions and recent biographies, after the thaw of 1956 the idea that some sort of unity had to be achieved, that some sort of legitimacy accrued to the new regime, acquired new and rather ironic implications. The process by which Poland became a 'socialist' state had been presented as a unique possibility by which the whole Polish nation might become upwardly mobile. After 1956 increasing centralization, the suppression of opposition, the abandonment of collectivization, industrialization by police methods all meant that the achievement of Ashes and Diamonds was seen in quite a different light. Many felt that whatever value the book may have held when it first came out was put in jeopardy by the nature of regime that it helped establish. Konwicki, for example, who was literary adviser to Wajda on the film of the book, came to see it as a very damaging piece of fantasy:
The book that served as the basis for the film is the sort of political science fiction that we were writing at the time. It presented reality not as one saw it on the street but as created by an author well disposed to the newly arrived political doctrines and newly arrived regime . . . And so the novel depicted a Poland that was a bit fictitious, an ill-tempered society, politically turbulent, freed of its reactionaries, not shying away from feasting and revelry, precisely like the Roman Empire in the days before the final fall. But in reality that was a Poland of graves, of Auschwitz, deportation to Siberia, women and partisans slaughtered, a Poland of hunger and orphans, a Poland of torture and prisons, a Poland that had lost the war and lost hope.(25)
By 1983 the official line was:
Ashes and Diamonds . . . is devoted to the difficult problems of choice which faced many Poles on the eve of liberation . . . Andrzejewski's greatest merit lies in the acceptance of the new reality, while at the same time doing justice to those who had not solved their ideological problems and who were morally bound by oaths of loyalty to the decision of the Polish government in exile in London. Andrzejewski's sensitivity to moral problems places him at the head of the list of authors who summed up the failures of the Stalinist period and prepared the way for a literary thaw.(26)
During the early Stalinist years Andrzejewski was an apologist for the new regime. Perhaps in an effort to put his pre-war Catholic past away, sink himself entirely into the work of the new era and recover some impetus for his writing, perhaps to enhance his creative spark, Andrzejewski joined the Party in 1949. In 1950 he published a volume of speeches called Aby pokoj zwyciezyt (That Peace May Triumph). It was clear that Andrzejewski was committed to understanding and presenting the mechanisms by which people, but particularly artists and intellectuals might change. To do this he identified two spheres that it was vital to understand: the Catholic Church and Marxism, and to understand Marxism, he claimed, it was essential to know Russia. In 1951 Andrzejewski, as a result of his work in support of the Party, was invited to the Soviet Union, after which he wrote a book called, O czlowieku radzieckim (On Soviet Man) in which he said it was necessary to choose liberty - either that offered by Truman or that given by socialism. Any 'middle road' would inevitably lead to imperialist servitude. He went on to claim that the only true freedom lay in the USSR. Andrzejewski became increasingly drawn into Party affairs, into the public support of the Party and open criticism of Vatican policy towards Poland, 'living in his beautiful villa, signing numerous political declarations, serving on committees and travelling throughout the country lecturing on literature in factory auditoriums, clubs and "houses of culture"'.(27)
In 1952 Andrzejewski published a long essay of samokrytyka (self-criticism) entitled Partia i tworczosc pisarza (the Party and the creativity of the writer); this was followed by two volumes of essays called Ludzie i zdarzenia (People and Events). In these publications, which he referred to as dialektyki, marksizm-leninizm-stalinizm, he openly espoused and developed a Marxist world view. But he did so without great success. Years later Andrzejewski was to lament:
I wrote books which even in the encyclopedias are ignored. Just about all my books from that period . . . I wrote them very fankly, and Partia i tworczosc pisarza even had a certain accent, you might even say it was prayerful.(28)
Looking back on these dialektyki, Milosz thought his friend, in denouncing his failures through lack of Marxist faith, in admitting to faults in his personality in his early writing, was actually not damning those faults at all, but rather compounding them, glorying in a newfound humility which was in fact just a different version of the Catholic religiosity he had been so keen to display before the war:
Other writers read his article with envy and fear. That he was first everywhere and in everything aroused their jealousy, but that he showed himself so clever - so like a Stakhanovite miner who first announces that he will set an unusually high norm - filled them with apprehension.(29)
However, while Andrzejewski was lauded by the Party, he was increasingly isolated from the Polish literati and became 'Alpha the Moralist', one of the devastatingly accurate portraits in Milosz's The Captive Mind (1953). In conversation with Milosz in 1991 I asked if he had changed his opinion of Andrzejewski: he replied that the more Andrzejewski had become involved with the Party the more his writing became 'flat and colourless', and at that this time Andrzejewski had been the protege of the Stalinists, a 'respectable prostitute', though later, Milosz agreed, Andrzejewski had gone to great lengths to redeem himself.
Very quickly Andrzejewski's fame as a writer spread abroad. Within a very short time his work had been translated into French, German, English Czech, Swedish, Bulgarian, Serbian, Hebrew, Persian and Japanese. However, Andrzejewski's efforts to follow the precepts of socrealizm were not successful. His next novel, Wojna skuteczna (Effective War, 1953) was a failure and seems to have prompted the beginnings of a crisis of conscience in which he began to react against the increasingly dogmatic Party line in both culture and politics. Although Andrzejewski was to comment that at every period of his life his 'temperament, intellect, intellectual predisposition and character' demanded the 'absolutely distinctive necessity of fideizm (fidelity)', 1953 was the year in which Andrzejewski began to lose his fideizm to the Party. He was perturbed by the way in which the hugely enhanced state power was used in Poland. His collection of three allegorical novels, Zloty lis (The Golden Fox, 1954) showed a return to individualism and also a considerable disenchantment with the regime's aims and methods. In the manner of Aesop, it is the story of a boy who has a mysterious golden fox living in his wardrobe, but who by the end of story has been forced to compromise through social and parental pressure, and says he no longer believes in the existence of the fox. The publication of Zloty lis was significant in that this was the period just prior to the political thaw of 1956, and it marked the beginning of Andrzejewski's public discontent with, and eventual open opposition to, the Party.(30)
Andrzejewski remained a member of the Party until 1957, and resigned when the planned magazine Europa was closed on Party instructions. Considering what Andrzejewski already knew about the Party this seems a small event to trigger such a decision, but perhaps it was the last straw: Andrzejewski was to say that it was as if katarakt (cataracts) had fallen from his eyes.(31) It is difficult to know what exactly prompted Andrzejewski's change of direction: some internal, personal decision, some argument with the censor, artistic discontent with the formulas of socialist realism, moral repugnance. Whatever it was, Andrzejewski's sensitive political antennae told him that a great wave of social and political unrest was building under the feet of the Party, and he, in his own way, was to make a significant contribution to that movement.
For many writers 1948-49 was a professional and ideological cross-roads at which writers chose either to collaborate, or to preserve their individual stance and remain aloof in increasing danger of poverty and harassment. Some, the lucky few, managed, like Tuwim, to preserve their independence simply because the Party made no effort to win them over. Others, like Przybos, retreated, continued to write, but refused to publish, and waited for better times. It was not unusual to find writers of the younger generation who joined the Party in the immediate post-war years: Jastrun, Przybos, Hertz, Borowski, Kott, Brandys, Kolakowski, Zolkiewski, and many more. They took up the challenge to revolutionize Polish literary culture. These people were a very small group within the Polish inteligencja, and a minute group within Polish society as a whole, but they regarded themselves as representatives of the future and hoped by the power of their example to persuade others to give their support to the new regime. Some, like Slonimski, Iwaszkiewicz, Galczynski made it clear that they were prepared to work with the Party, and in return a number were even given official appointments: Milosz worked as cultural attache in the USA and France, Przybos was a diplomat in Switzerland, Pruszynski was a diplomat in Holland, and Putrament worked as a diplomat in France. However, as Blonski was eventually to argue the 'Five Year Plan for Literature' produced few new poets between 1949-55, and saw a drop in the amount of verse published.(48) There was also little that was memorable in the prose of these years. By 1953 a large number of writers and intellectuals who had gone along with the new regime in the belief that they were building socialism and rebuilding Poland sensed that things had gone badly adrift and that it would not be possible to follow the Party line any further unless they managed to exert some influence on policy formation.
By 1956 most writers and intellectuals on the left did not see that the actuality of the PZPR came anywhere near to their idea of socialism, and the prospects for Polish literature were increasingly bleak. Most agreed that mass publication of the classics and the cheap large-scale publication of new works by living writers were progressive policies, as was the war on illiteracy and the opening up of the educational system to the entire population. However, they also realized that the literature of partyjnos'c' (Party-ness) would satisfy no-one in the long run, would not interest an intelligent readership, would soon bore the new mass readership, and would satisfy the writers least of all. Andrzejewski's novel Ciemnosci kryja ziemie (Darkness Covers the Earth, 1957) appeared against a backdrop of gathering storm as writers realized the thaw of 1956 was to be a short-lived affair. Ostensibly the novel was about the Spanish Inquisition, but it was in fact a thinly disguised allegory about the nature of psychological and political pressure, about Stalinist repression of intellectual endeavour, and thus a very accurate gauge of the feelings of Poland's intellectuals. In the novel the young priest Fra Diego falls under the spell of the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada and is converted to the methods of the Inquisition. The novel ends with Torquemada recanting his beliefs and methods in a death-bed scene. Furious, betrayed, frustrated at being misled so abysmally, Fra Diego slaps the Inquisitor's corpse across the face.(32)
By 1956 many Party writers like Andrzejewski felt the need to atone for their past gullibility and opportunism, and their implication in the crimes of the czas ble dow (time of errors). It had become possible to debate the 'deformations' of socialism, the 'period of errors and mistakes', and it had become necessary to formulate a new programme for the ZLP which included the idea that the union should now defend the 'freedom of literary creation'. In practice, though, the Party could not accept individual initiative. Within a short while of his elevation to First Secretary of the PZPR in 1956 Gomulka was at loggerheads with the writers. Gomulka saw intellectuals as a challenge to the power of the Party and began to fear that Andrzejewski and the rewizjonisci (revisionists) were capable of forming the nucleus of a powerful position. Gomulka believed he needed greater control over the press and artists if he was to survive the 'threat' from Germany, the threat from Moscow and the threat of democratization from within Poland. He also felt he needed to narrow the base of his support and to make that support more definitely his own creation. For Gomulka 'leftism' and 'left-deviationism' included sectarianism, dogmatism and adventurism, and were, he claimed, characteristic of the immature actions of the exploited; opportunism and rewizjonizm (revisionism) on the other hand were examples of 'rightism' - that is, associated with those who exploit. For Gomulka 'leftism' was less of a threat than rewizjonizm such as Andrzejewski's.(33) Gomulka, almost immediately after his elevation to power, began to turn against his erstwhile supporters, Kott, Kolakowski, Woroszytski, Wazyk and Andrzejewski, and towards the end of 1957 began a purge in which over 200,000 people were expelled from the Party. Although the new magazines Dialog and Wspolczesnosc both appead, a third magazine called Europa, edited by Wazyk, and which was planning to publish new work by Andrzejewski, was suppressed at its first issue in mid-1957. In protest at this and the loss of Po Prostu, Jasturn, Hertz, Zulawski, Dygat, Kott, Wazyk and Andrzejewski all resigned from the Party in 1957. At the start of 1958 the journal Nowa Kultura, a leading outlet for the rewizjionisci was forced to accept a new party line by Andrzej Werblan, causing the mass resignation of almost the entire editorial board.
Andrzejewski's books were highly praised by Polish critics, but his increasingly oppositionist stance did not endear him to the Party. It was said that he was flirting with treason to gain western currency in order to buy the Nobel prize for literature. Party newspapers slandered him mercilessly: he was said to be allied with Trotskyite revisionists, Zionists, anarchists, utopianists and West German Christian Democrats. He was accused of 'socio-political fickleness', of being a non-Marxist, non-Catholic. After 1962 it was increasingly difficult for him to get his work published in Poland, though it is thought that his international reputation protected him from any direct threat or punishment. In 1960 Andrzejewski's novel Bramy raju (Gates of Paradise) appeared. The subject was the medieval children's crusades from France into the Holy Land. The participants of the crusades weave together their stories and consciousness in an adolescent confessional. Stylistically the book flouted every tenet of socrealizm, and even normal typography - although it had commas, it lacked all other punctuation. Further, the novel, which was initially intended as a film script, posed questions about the nature of mass movements, revolutionary philosophy and the nature of paradise, seeing the urge to the 'part of the movement' as lying in the individual's reluctance to be or stand alone, an urge primarily located in sublimated sex urges. The novel may well have been influenced by 1984 and Orwell's ideas on the functioning of the inner Party and the use made of sex urges by the leadership. In Bramy Raju it is impossible to disentangle the adolescents' interest in flesh from their passion for the crusade.(34)
On 14 March 1964, 34 writers and intellectuals, including Andrzejewski, signed a 'Letter of the Thirty Four' to the Polish government protesting at repressive cultural policies. They demanded the rights guaranteed them under the Polish constitution. At this stage they still hoped to reform the Party from within, so their protests were couched in reasonable, mainly Marxist and professional terms: they protested at limited allotments of paper for books and periodicals, restrictions in book publishing, reductions in the size of print runs and the size and number of titles published, at increasing censorship of the national culture, at the lack of open discussion and information as obstacles to progress:
The limited allotment of paper for printing books and periodicals as well as severe press censorship is creating a situation that threatens the development of national culture. The signatories below, while recognizing the existence of public opinion, of the right to criticism, of free discussions and of honest information as indispensable elements of progress, and motivated by civic concern, call for a change in Polish cultural policies in the spirit of rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Polish state and in harmony with the welfare of nations.(35)
The letter was delivered by Slonimski personally to the office of Prime Minister Cyrankiewicz, the Prime Minister. The response of the authorities was to arrest Lipski, who had collected the signatures, to ban the works of fourteen signatories, and drop all scheduled payments, performance and publication for the others involved. Fourteen signatories were invited to talk with Cyrankiewicz and warned from following up the letter with further action.
Kliszko (a close personal friend and supporter of Gomulka on the Central Committee where he controlled the Personnel Section) addressed a Conference of ZLP writers of the Western Territories and tried to get the membership to sign a petition of protest at the Letter of the Thirty Four. He claimed that the letter was opportunistic, against the interests of Polish culture, that the authors had been swayed by the interventions of Radio Free Europe and by West German revanchists. Kliszko muttered angrily about the writers' failure to observe protocols in requesting the letter to be published abroad before the Prime Minister had seen it and before the government had a chance to consider it for publication in Poland. There were vigorous clashes between the internationally respected Maria Dabrowska and Kliszko. Remarkably, 600 writers signed the petition, 400 refused. The numbers signing probably indicates the fear of those living in the Western Territories in the days before any international treaty recognized Poland's western frontier, rather than any real appreciation of the issues in hand.(36)
The ZLP Warsaw branch meeting of June 1964 was dominated by the Letter of the Thirty Four. It was rumoured the Central Committee were considering expelling those Party members of ZLP who had signed or supported the letter. Slonimski, accused by Kliszko of mismanaging the letter, spoke in his own defence at the XIV ZLP conference in Lublin in September-October 1964:
Who is really guilty here? One cannot hide one's head in the sand and pretend to see nothing. The whole affair of the 34 and the letter would not have existed had there been no reason to write this letter. And the reason was the fatal situation of Polish culture. The fruits of October have vanished, censorship has gagged the people, the most famous names have disappeared from the columns of the literary journals, the books published in limited editions do not satisfy the needs of the readers. For all this you are responsible and it will not help to look for scapegoats.(37)
Slonimski's speech received a standing ovation from the membership. Gomulka's reply was never made public - indeed it was unusual that he should have taken the trouble to attend the conference at all. This open, almost public row between the Party and ZLP, and the defeat of Kliszko's attack on Slonimski, marked the start of the Party's attempt to regain lost ground.
On 29 February 1968 Andzejewski and 233 other writers attended an extraordinary general meeting of the Warsaw branch of ZLP to protest at the way the government had banned Mickiewicz's play Dziady (Forefather's Eve, 1823) on 30 January 1968. The play occupies a far more focal position in Polish cultural and political life than any play in English literature - perhaps the nearest equivalent would be to imagine The Bible, Paradise Lost and King Lear all rolled into one. The play came out of the experience of armed struggle against Partition and showed nineteenth-century Russian despotism and the violent struggle waged against the Poles. The play provoked enormous audience response, and lines like 'They only send us fools and drunks from Moscow' - seen by the authorities as too provocative or too accurate, or both - resulted in prolonged applause, multiple curtain calls and the audience singing the Polish national anthem. It is thought that complaints from members of the Soviet diplomatic corps in Krakow were responsible for intervention.(38)
The crudity of the banning provoked prolonged student protest in both Krakow and Warsaw, and proved to be a magnificent opportunity for ZLP to condemn the primitive and politically contradictory nature of the government's cultural policy. At their February meeting the ZLP Warsaw branch attacked government interference in cultural matters and warned that the failure of the government to listen to writers was steadily impoverishing Polish culture. Putrament was doubtless under pressure and dismissed the writers' protest as an anti-government provocation and tried to persuade the writers to distance themselves from the protestors. He warned that Radio Free Europe was paying close attention to the banning. Andrzejewski confessed that he was vexed and angry at the political processes that were slowly sterilizing Polish literary culture. The government, he said, seemed determined to hold the thought and feeling of the Polish nation and its writers in contempt: every time the writers tried to initiate dialogue, social progress and reforms the authorities set out to damage and destroy the initiative. The authorities presented a wrongheaded and deliberately falsified version of Polish history and culture, Andrzejewski said, and added that criticism of the government and its policies did not grow out of some secret and alien plot to damage and destroy the nation, but out of protest at the government's contempt for the nation. Kolakowski added:
I repeat, and we will repeat endlessly, the most banal truths, that cultural life requires freedom, that it requires freedom to reflect on culture, its values and possibilities. But even this reflection is not possible, for every discussion inevitably leads to fundamental problems fortified with prohibitions. For even particular evaluation of culture is systematically falsified . . . The administration of culture has now, entered a spiral movement, whence there is no exit to be seen, but which would inevitably deepen the abyss between real cultural life and the administration, would waste energy the more and administer greater damage in all spheres of spiritual life. In a situation which has given rise to a great deal of inevitable antagonism, bitterness, disillusionment, of the feeling of importance and clumsiness in the management of culture, the stifling of the expression of these objections by administrative measures has only one result: it will spur their aggrandisement indefinitely. We have the classical, the most banal example of reflexive coupling - the measures presenting the disclosure of resistance, the real source of which nobody considers, create a situation where a still larger number of these means of repression is necessary and endlessly so. We have approached a shameful situation where the whole of dramaturgy, from Aeschylus through Shakespeare to Brecht and Ionesco, has become a collection of allusions to People's Poland. . .(39)
GUKPPiW (Main Office for the Control of Press Publication and Performance - the censor) banned a total of eighteen writers who attended the February meeting of ZLP Warsaw Branch. Several other writers were forced to resign influential editorships and some writers were put under police surveillance. Deprived of their ability to earn a living, Karst, Slucki and Wygodzki left Poland for Israel. A short while later Gomulka spoke out to condemn the Warsaw writers of ZLP as a gang of front-men behind which rewizjonisci and Zionist agents of imperialism operated to bring about Poland's destruction.
The biurokracja, led by General Moczar, sought to divert genuine political, economic and social grievances away from its own corruption and idiocy towards traditional scapegoats by setting off an anti-Semitic purge in an attempt to blame all Poland's troubles on the Jews, to purge the Party and biurokracja of independent intellectuals and divert attention from the real causes of economic and cultural unrest. Gomulka's supporters, particularly Moczar's violent anti-Semitic veteran's association ZBoWiD, Piasecki's 'Catholic' front oganization Pax, Pax's Stowo Powszechne, the army newspaper Zotnierz Wolnosci, and the Party paper Trybuna Ludu characterized rewizjonizm as a Zionist plot to overthrow Gomulka and bring down Poland. On 8 March 1968, against a background of growing crisis in Czechoslovakia and student protest at the banning of Dziady continued, riot police stormed Warsaw University. On 9 March the police baton-charged a peaceful demonstration by 20,000 people in central Warsaw. On 10 March Kuron, Modzelewski, Michnik, the more active of the student organizers, were arrested. On 11 March Trybuna Ludu published a list of the 'golden youth' - student dissidents, the children of top party officials and senior members of the biurokracja, many of whom were Jewish. Along with 1,600 others, Michnik, of Jewish descent, was expelled from university by special order of the Ministry of Education. Writers identified by the Polish press as resisting the anti-Jewish campaign or as being Jewish were harassed: many went into hiding. The critic Kisielewski, after being attacked as an 'ignoramus' in Zycie Warszawy, was twice physically assaulted and his fingers were broken. Slonimki too was hounded and insulted in the Party press. Brandys and Rudnicki both had unpleasant encounters. At the same time Karsov, a 27-year-old philology student, was sent to jail for three years, guilty of keeping a personal diary in which she recorded her feelings about the persecution of Polish intellectuals. By the end of April 1968, 97 senior members had been expelled from the Party (80 had been fired from their jobs in Warsaw alone) many because of their 'concealed Zionist beliefs' revealed by the behaviour of their dissenting student offspring; 1,404 people, mainly Jews, were purged from the Party for offences 'against morality'. By the end of 1964 some 20,000 Poles, mostly of Jewish origin, had been granted permission to leave the country. A number of university teachers, accused of corrupting Polish youth, lost their jobs: Kolakowski, Bauman, Kott, Baczko and Bromberg decided to leave Poland.
The venerable writer Pawel Jasienica, famous, for his history of the Piast dynasty, who dared to criticize the anti-Semitic campaign, was attacked in a speech by Gomulka from the Palace of Cuture on 19 March 1968. Accused of taking part in the civil war of 1945-47 on the anti-communist side, it was said Jasienica had been arrested and had co-operated with the communist security services, informing against his comrades in order to save himself. It was said that Jasienica had deserted from the Polish army and had been part of a gang that had committed a series of murders in Bialystok in the years 1944-48. These slanders hastened Jasienica's death. By this stage there could be little doubt where Andrzejewski's loyalties lay, and at Jasienica's funeral in August 1970 he delivered a stinging criticism of the Party, security services and the government as part of his graveside tribute:
He was accused of actions he did not perform, and of crimes he never committed. Publicly abused and insulted, he had no possibility of defending himself. The right to publish was taken away from him; old books were removed from bookstores, and his new ones were not allowed to appear. This is something that one would think would be inconceivable after all the experiences of totalitarian governments, but - sadly - it is true. An eminent Polish writer, a creator of permanent cultural values, enjoying the great trust and respect of thousands of readers, in the prime of his literary life, was in one day pushed to the margin of public life and condemned to civil death.(40)
In the summer of 1968 Andrzejewski compounded his 'errors' when he wrote to Edward Goldstucker, the Chairman of the Czechoslovak Writers' Union, to sympathize and apologize for Poland's part in the invasion of Czechoslovakia. He
I write to you so that you and all your colleagues should know that during the days of your creative search, so important for the future of the whole world, you have had in the Polish writers and intellectuals, friends full of hope, and when you were going through particularly difficult days for you and your people - we were with you, although deprived of free speech in our country. You must certainly know that the feeling of helplessness in the face of violence and force is the most painful of all human degradations, and that such a defeat becomes a particularly heavy burden when the best traditions of one's own country are insulted, freedom of speech annihilated and truth trodden down. I am quite aware that my voice of political and moral protest will not, and cannot outweigh the shame that Poland has brought on herself in the progressive opinion of the whole world. But this protest, born of indignation, pain and shame is the only thing I can offer you and your friends and colleagues in the current circumstances.(41)
At once the Party newspapers began a tirade of criticism directed at Andrzejewski: Zycie Warszawy, Sztandar Mlodych, Kultura, Trybuna Ludu, Slowo Powszechne, Walka Mlodych, Zolnierz Wolnosci, Stolica, Wroclawski Tygodnik Katolikow accused him of anti-socialism, betrayal, cosmopolitanism, weakening the Warsaw Pact and mocking Polish traditions. During the next six months the police arrested large numbers of dissenting and critical intellectuals and students in Andrzejewski's circle of acquaintance. Mrozek, who had supported Andrzejewski, found that his plays were banned and not allowed on stage again until after December 1970. Mrozek left Poland to live in Italy.
For a while after March 1968 Polish writers were in such a state of ferment that many feared the Party might consider dissolving ZLP. The Union, and the Warsaw Branch in particular, were proving to be not only centres of opposition such as Gomulka had always feared, but extremely resilient centres at that. The Party was nervous of outright demolition and instead decided to neutralize the ZLP from within. The 1969 Writers Congress, held in Bydgoszcz under the leadership of Jerzy Putrament, was shamelessly stage-managed - virtually all of the committees and positions of power were filled by Gomulka's men before the Congress even began and the statutes of the union were re-written to give the executive greater scope to act without recourse to a mandate from the membership. By the end of the year the PZPR had established a very different kind of control over writers from that which existed in 1956. By the end of 1969 Gomulka's policies had effectively silenced the bulk of the writing community by censoring and distorting everything they wrote in protest, by cutting them off from their readership and from their public support and contact. Zbigniew Herbet said of the years 1956-68:
In 1956 they [the writers] thought they brought about the thaw. Next there came a painful blow. Gomulka was not only primitive, he knew that the government was already firmly in the saddle. It had its own apparatus of repression, lots of prisons, a sufficiently corrupted judiciary. Who needed Ashes and Diamonds? Who needed literature? Suddenly the writers saw the social demand disappearing. They felt the emptiness, so they joined the opposition. They [the Party] loved us, they pampered us, and suddenly they dumped us. That's how it looked in general terms. 1956 destroyed the myth of the engineers of human souls - the myth of political usefulness of those who were ready to support the system with their poems, paintings and symphonies. The so called elite was sent away empty handed despite its good service because the new lord was an upstart and held intellectuals in contempt.(42)
The events of 1968 proved to be a turning point in Andrzejewski's professional as well as political thinking. His book, Apelacja (The Trial) was turned down by the censor. The refusal could hardly have come as a surprise since the novel charted a serious shift in the attitudes and perceptions of the public. It dealt with a man called Konieczny (the name means 'necessary, essential, indispensable') and his efforts to persuade the First Secretary of the PZPR to remove the surveillance of some thirty thousand secret agents, working in cooperation with a great electronic brain. Konieczny's fears may have been pure paranoid fantasy, but his experience in the resistance, his suffering at the hands of the Gestapo and the Polish Security Service, and his rage at the exploitative nature of his work at the Prefabricated One-Family Home Factory were vivid and realistic foundations for his suspicions. Instead of bowing to the rejection of his novel, Andrzejewski sent it to the emigre publishing house Instytut Literacki in Paris.(43) He may have faced prosecution for slandering the state, but by the time the book was published in Paris officials of the Gierek regime took the line that his novel was about the final years of Gomulka, a period of 'mistakes and deviations', which they were anxious to disown. Gierek's officials were reluctant to appear punitive on behalf of a regime that they were trying to replace. It is significant that Andrzejewski chose to turn to emigre publishing. As usual he was one of the first to sense new developments.
In 1970, amid mounting economic discontent, Gomulka fell and was replaced by Gierek, a leader who promised the workers riches if only they would 'help' him. The workers may have been fooled by Gierek, but others were not. In June 1971 Kolakowski published in Kultura (Paris) his 'Tezy o Nadziei i Beznadziejnosci' (Theses on Hope and Hopelessness) in which he defined the Polish political system as 'despotic socialism' and observed that the Polish system was not an example of the 'perfect or unadulterated socialism' in which Kolakowski still had some faith. For him socialism was only possible within a sovereign state, and Poland's subjection to the will and policy of the Soviet Union made this impossible. In Poland sowietyzacja (sovietization) meant 'a situation where in public speech, nothing is or can be for real, all words have lost their original meaning'.(44) Under Gierek the government did not have any policy on the arts except to put writers and their works under political scrutiny by the censor. Something of the underlying feel of artistic life can be seen in Andrzejewski's early experience of the Gierek regime. In 1970 he approached the state publishing houses with his latest project. This was his novel Miazga (Pulp), an 800 page monster of a book, a long extract of which had appeared in the magazine Tworczosc in 1967. It had been written and re-written over the long period 1963-70, and was described by one critic as 'the most important book written in Poland since the end of the war'.(45) Andrzejewski had detailed the slow cultural, linguistic and political decline of post-war Poland, but in doing so made no concessions at all to the censor. He had tried, he said, to write a book where 'black was black, white was white and where there was no double-ink'. The book was delivered to the publisher in 1970, and given that the Gierek regime was trying very hard to promote a new liberal image of itself over the grey memory of the Gomulka years, Andrzejewski had high hopes for his book's success. After lengthy negotiations he agreed to the in-house editors' suggestion that there should be some 600 alterations, plus cuts and deletions totalling over 100 pages. The book went to the printers in 1972 and the pierwsza szczotka (literally 'first brush' or galley proofs were run off and - as normal - delivered to the censor for consideration. On Andrzejewski's birthday in August 1972, he was informed by the office of the censor that Miazga would not be published after all.(46)
In 1975 the Party began to amend the Polish Constitution. They added three new areas; an article stating that citizens would be entitled to civil rights only if they fulfilled their obligations to the state; recognition that Poland's sovereignty was limited by its allegiance to the USSR; and recognition that the leading role of the party was legally enshrined in the Constitution. Very soon after the proposed constitutional changes became public Andrzejewski took on the task of co-ordinating signatures for what became known as the 'Letter of the 101'. In response a special GUKPPiW directive removed from the public domain all reference to those writers who signed. Their names were not to be mentioned in any publication or broadcast; any unavoidable mention of their name was to be referred upwards to a higher authority before publication. This was a manoeuvre designed to rob individuals of the glory and the publicity of open black-listing: Andrzejewski's name was first on the list.(47) By driving these people underground the censor did not stop them publishing and in fact only contributed to the growing intellectual disaffection. By 1976 there was a politically wide-ranging loose association of dissident writers and intellectuals, both in Poland and in enforced emigration, which included: the rewizjonisci writers and artists of earlier days - Andrzejewski, Kolakowski, Lipinski; the historians who later worked in TKN, Geremek, Jedlicki, Kersten; the philosopher of science Amsterdamski, the writers Woroszylski, Bochenski, Kazimierz Brandys, Ficowski; the Catholics of the Znak group, Bartoszewski, Cywinski, Mazowiecki, Stanowski.
The Polish workers waited for the wealth promised by Gierek, but their patience snapped on 25 June 1976 when work ceased all over Poland in protest. At the Ursus tractor factory the workers blocked the rail line. At Radom, where workers were already angry at the aggressive and overbearing attitudes of a management which had increased shift quotas and refused to pay accident compensation, the workers marched to the city centre and besieged Party headquarters to loot the well-stocked canteen. Some say security service provocateurs ran amok, smashing shop windows and setting fire to buildings. By the end of the day 4 people were dead, 75 people were in hospital and over a million dollars worth of damage had been done. The price rises were withdrawn but 2,000 workers who had demonstrated were arrested: 150 were severely beaten by the police, thrown out of their dormitories, dismissed from their jobs and, at summary courts, were sent to jail with sentences ranging up to 10 years. Most were charged with 'collective responsibility' for damage; some were charged with crimes that had taken place after their arrest. All were the victims of 'simplified legal procedures' introduced two days before the price rises had been announced.
For many intellectuals 1976 was the moment beyond which they could no longer give the Party the benefit of the doubt, the moment at which they realized the Party was not only incapable of reforming itself, but was barely in control of the state and the powers it claimed to lead. The realization was painful, especially for those with a conscience who owed their living to state appointments, people who were expected to uphold the regime. Professor Balbus, party member and literary theorist of the Institute of Polish Philology at the Jagiellonian University, wrote:
Not until when Gierek dealt so brutally with the protesting workers of Radom and Ursus did I realize I could no longer live like this. I began to worry I was going crazy, that I'd become schizophrenic or insane if I didn't, once and for all, break from communism. I felt as though I was totally covered in shit and was searching for a way to shake it off . . .(48)
Andrzejewski wrote a 'Message to the Victimized Participants of the Workers' Protest' which was widely publicized in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, in which he comforted the workers, expressed his 'unceasing hope' for them, his solidarity with them, and called for an end to intimidation by the state and Party. The letter had a profound impact on the Polish workers concerned, many of whom had studied Andrzejewski's works when they were at secondary school. Further, the letter seems to have galvanized the bulk of the Polish inteligencja into recognizing that it could no longer remain silent in the face of such enormous and widespread official hypocrisy. In his essays Michnik had called for a new evolutionism, a new kind of positivism that would transform society by allowing it to organize itself by ignoring the state. He proposed to do this by a programme of working-class organization, linked with intellectuals to defend the working class, and by making the public independent of the state in a wide range of activities. Between them Andrzejewski and Michnik initiated a flood of samizdat material that far surpassed anything that Czechoslovakia or the Soviet Union produced.
Without doubt the most important step in the development of an independent literary life and society was the establishment of KOR (Workers' Defence Committee). Founded on 23 September 1976, with Andrzejewski as a founder member, KOR was a direct intellectual response to the police and judicial harassment of workers, and declared itself ready to fight authoritarianism. KOR sought to offer financial and legal support to those who were victimized by the authorities. Although its function was defined quite narrowly, its impact, coupled with the efforts of TKN, was to go far beyond its stated aims. The organization had no common political purpose, indeed the diverse spread of its membership would have made this impossible. By 1979 the group had grown to 34 members of whom no less than 13 had fought in the AK; most had spent time in prison for their oppositionist opinions; one of the founding members was a priest; several had spent time in Stalin's prisons. Many of the active members of KOR had been blacklisted for protest at changes to the Polish Constitution, and many were rewizjonisci who had been in close contact for several years and knew each other's backgrounds and political thought processes very well. Andrzejewski wrote a letter to inform the Sejm of KOR's existence:
The victims of the current repressions cannot count on any help or defence from those institutions whose mission is to help and defend them, such as the trade unions, whose role has been pathetic. Social welfare agencies also refuse their help. Given this situation, this function must now be assumed by the society in the interest of which those who are now being persecuted were protesting against the price increases. Society has no other means of defence against lawlessness than solidarity and mutual aid.(49)
For many writers 1976 marked a watershed in their official state subsidized publishing careers and it is possible to see a falling-off in the numbers of editions published from around this time: Andrzejewski's publishing career with the state was about to tail off: in the years 1945-55 he had 19 editions in print; 1956-65 he had 23; 1966-75 he had 14, by 1978 he had 7. In 1986 there was only one Andrzejewski novel still in print. As usual Andrzejewski was one of the first to sense new developments and turn to underground and emigre publishing.(50) In 1977 Andrzejewski and several other writers launched the independent literary journal Zapis. The first issue contained an extract from an unpublished manuscript by Andrzejewski about the Russian novelist Pasternak. This independent literary journal proved a highly influential venture and, with the emigre publishing houses in Paris and London, was to give growing and wide ranging dissident intellectual opposition a public voice.
Once Andrzejewski had established that it was possible to survive publication underground and abroad there was no turning back, and there could be no agreement to a refusal from state publishers. This became a general feeling among the writing community of the mid and late 1970s. As well as making increasing use of the Paris Instytut Literacki, Andrzejewski worked with KOR. With British and Swedish emigre connections, KOR issued The Black Book on Polish Censorship (1977) and the Documents on Lawlessness (April 1978). These publications were based on documents smuggled out of Poland to Sweden the previous year by a defecting Krakow censor and were to have an enormous impact on the. opposition's understanding of the censorship system. Poles had been aware that the 'grey areas' of their history were policed by the censor. But here, in detail, they could see for the first time exactly how far censorship controlled a whole range of cultural, political and social opinions. Andrzejewski wrote an introduction to the documents in which he said:
We are dealing with one of the greatest revelations of the post-war period . . . The thesis that in our life lies and dis-information play the foremost role is confirmed again. Not only historical tradition, the ideological sphere and national culture are falsified. Elementary facts are also suppressed or distorted, even those whose neglect is a crime against citizens - for instance the information that a popular floor tile commonly used by construction companies causes cancer and that chemicals employed in agriculture directly threaten human health. This suppression is performed apparently for the sake of social peace and order, to pacify society. But at the same time society has reason to feel anxious and keeping quiet or lying will not remove the causes of this anxiety. Documents of censorship also reveal another mystification. The censors have assumed the role of guardians and custodians of state secrets. According to periodical reports on the censor's activities the 'state Secrets' rubric is very full, but there is no definite indicator as to what these secrets might be. In about 700 pages of reports one could perhaps find only 6 or 7 interventions by the censor that were really linked to some state secret. All the documents clearly demonstrate that the censors continually justify their existence through the need to protect state secrets, and that they continue to create those secrets. It is now impossible to gain access to information on thousands of parasites afflicting cattle, on the hazards of certain kinds of labour in the chemical industry, the social and religious activities of the church, the names of writers and scientists - even the titles of their books and films of historical events, of obituaries. It is not possible to investigate these things because they are state secrets . . . Convinced that the superior social interests require this decision we publish the following materials, revealing the precision of this anti-human machinery, this anti-citizen, anti-national device . . .(51)
By the end of 1977 Andrzejewski was a leading figure in a rapidly developing underground publishing movement, very active in the opposition and a 'father figure' to many young oppositionists.
The lecturers of TKN The Flying University, founded January 1978, the membership of KOR, ROPCiO (Movement Defending Human and Civil Rights, founded March 1975), the Free Trades Unions of the Coast, and the other growing independent social movements faced intermittent, brutal and sometimes fatal police actions. Most members of KOR and the larger underground publishing houses faced constant surveillance, unexplained arrest, 48-hours detention and sudden release without charge. Yet it must be said that the response of the authorities was far from totalitarian. The spectacular growth of the Polish independent social movements and the underground publishing movement through the late 1970s, and the fact that they were tolerated by the security services, are hard to explain, especially since throughout the late 1970s there had been a persistent rumour that the budget of the Ministry of Internal Security was larger than that of the Ministries for Health, Education and Culture combined. The security services had the power and freedom of action to wipe out the entire independent social movement and to cover their tracks afterwards, but as T. G. Ash has written:
At a meeting in 1978 a Colonel of the security service was asked why the police did not destroy the underground publishers. We know all the addresses, we could destroy everything in one night,' he sighed, 'but the high-ups won't allow us to.' The 'high-ups', notably Gierek himself, seem to have thought that this flowering of intellectual opposition would not amount to a serious political threat, while tolerance might win them a broader measure of co-operation from the intelligentsia. Perhaps this reflected their low regard for ideas in general.(52)
The underground press was tolerated for several reasons. Strange as it may seem, no law was being broken by these activities unless lecturers or writers deliberately slandered the USSR or the People's Republic of Poland. The regime, where they thought about it at all, seem to have regarded the underground as something of a safety valve. They knew they could move against the underground if they wanted, but it actually provided them with a great deal of information they needed, particularly about the economy and society, information classified as secret which even they could not get through 'approved' channels. The authorities also knew that even if they managed to contain the underground they stood very little chance of ever destroying it completely.
Andrzejewski's role in KOR was highly public and there were various attempts to discredit him. In October 1976 for example, he was supposed to have circulated a letter to various institutions and organs of the state in support of legal recognition and equality for homosexuals. In Catholic and highly traditional Poland had he done any such thing it would have been sufficient to make him a social leper. However, thanks to the efforts of KOR, it soon emerged that his signature had been forged. A short while later, Rolinski wrote a poisonous article in which it was said that Andrzejewski was using the foreign press to spread lies about Poland. The article characterized Andrzejewski as a political chameleon, claimed that his actions were damaging to the moral and social life of Poland, and warned him to keep away from the pseudo-intellectuals and politically bankrupt associates (utopianists, Trotskyites, social democrats, bourgeois anti-communists, Zionists, Christian democrats) that he rubbed shoulders with in KOR. The government also initiated legal proceedings against Andrzejewski and ordered him to report to a Warsaw court to hand over to a state bank some two million zl collected for KOR. KOR refused to hand over the money and issued a public statement complaining that it was being harassed illegally. Andrzejewski did not go to court and as a result was fined 5,000 zl - nearly double the monthly salary of a university teacher.(53)
That the wide-ranging opposition of the mid-1970s was a peculiarly loose coalition of the system's opponents drawn from very different social circles and that it was largely non-ideological was frequently reported by puzzled western observers. Andrzejewski, like most KOR, ROPCiO and TKN members, when asked by foreign journalists about the political ambitions and programme of the oppositionists, could do no more than shake his head and shrug his shoulders.
In September 1981, as the independent trades union movement spearheaded by Solidarnosc moved towards bitter confrontation with the military authorities, Andrzejewski was interviewed by Trznadel. He said that it was very important to realize the difficulty of creating a socialist model that was different from that of the USSR, that the struggle to do so was in itself corrosive. In essence he said that it was vital to communicate that such a struggle was not a counter revolution, nor was it a fight against socialism, or a fight against the USSR. He was reluctant to describe Poland as People's Poland, as totalitarian, saying that totalitarianism was a system that claimed to be finished, completed, perfected which Polands 'socialism' had never been. He baulked at describing the 'socialist' culture of the post-war years as totalitarian, saying that it was necessary to see what happened in its international context: it was part of the times. On the subject of Ashes and Diamonds he was reluctant to speak. He claimed that he had not re-read it since 1957 when Wajda was preparing his film script, admitted that he was simply too afraid to look at it again and that he could not remember it at all. 'This is not kokieteria (coquetry) . . . It was all a very long time ago.'(54)
What is fascinating about Andrzejewski's career is that as well as being a leading non-Catholic Pole, actively and crucially engaged with the political and cultural life of his society, he was to chart a path followed by almost all of his generation of the Polish literati; he was one of the first to give his support to the communists, and one of the first to withdraw it. Those who did not follow him were for the most part pre-war fascists and nationalists or mere Party hacks. Ashes and Diamonds still occupies a profoundly ambiguous place in postwar Polish literature: not wholly against the old regime, not wholly for the new regime; deeply opportunist, it is also an accurate and penetrating portrayal of the confusion and pain of those years. Time, politics and literary fashion may eventually prove that Andrzejewski was too much of a pragmatist, too rooted in contemplation of the right course of action, the right moral response to create literary works that would outlast his own lifetime by very much. However, anyone who wants to know how Poles thought and felt in the years 1936-83 about the differing directions of the political wind, the agonies of Poland's intellectual and cultural elite, and the response of the most sensitive of weather vanes, has to turn to the works of Andrzejewski. It has long been clear that Andrzejewski accepted the view that he was ever and always first to sense changing social opinion. However, it is also clear that he was hampered by his self-conscious concentration upon what was happening to the surface of political life rather than on how, beneath the surface, it affected the individual's existence, or how the individual's existence fed into changes in political life. In spite of this limitation, Andrzejewski's works have remained popular, even with General Jaruzelski, but especially with teachers and intellectuals now in late middle age, whose preference is for writers who grew up in Independent Poland, who began writing before the war, who treat subjects related to the recent past, and who have not emigrated to the west.(55)
Andrzejewski died on 19 April 1983. One obituary said:
Andrzejewski went through his periods of born-again religion Catholicism, Marxism, Existentialism - which he recanted with a frankness and scrupulousness uncommon among Polish writers, taking upon himself all the responsibility for false choices, delusions and privileges . . . he was a writer of universal horizons, but one who brought his gaze to bear on very specific and typically Polish situations, describing them with the anger, exasperation and indignation of a moralist obsessed with restoration of the moral order . . .(56)
It was an accurate assessment of his work and his achievement in politics and letters. By the time of his death Andrzejewski had covered a great deal of ground, both political and artistic. His trajectory, from right to left, from Party apologist to dissident, from belief to scepticism, may be remarkable to western readers, but, as Milosz has remarked, the twists and turns, the undoubted elements of opportunism that mark Andrzejewski's career, his 'metamorphoses and curious literary adventures' are not untypical of a writer of his generation from this part of the world.(57)
The situations described in Ashes and Diamonds are long gone, yet many Poles (even those too young to have experienced the period of the novel testify to the novel's power and durability: indeed for many the novel is 'the truth' about the period, an accurate portrayal, almost a historical document. That Ashes and Diamonds alone among his works may survive is testimony not only to Andrzejewski's ability as a writer, nor even to his later efforts to redeem himself, but to the enduring and deep-rooted divisions and problems of political legitimacy that 45 years of 'socialism' did nothing to resolve, diminish or render irrelevant. It is possible to see that even without Andrzejewski 'communist' power would have been established in post-war Poland. It is also possible to see that without his principled resistance and opposition to 'communism' after the thaw of 1956, life could have been very different, not only for those who read his books. Without Andrzejewski's moral stature and his public stand, the history of KOR and Solidarnosc would have been very different, and without them the challenge to the Party and to Soviet power would not have been so effective: Polish and Soviet communism may have endured much longer than they did. Whatever Poles may say about Ashes and Diamonds and his support for 'communism', it must also be said that Andrzejewski's withdrawal of support for the Party, his work in KOR and his criticism of the Party undermined the power and the certitude of the Party vision, and that, these were a major but un-quantifiable contribution to the collapse of 1989 cannot be doubted.
1. Boleslaw Piasecki had been leader of the inter-war extreme right wing anti-Semitic nationalist ONR-Falange party. He was arrested by the NKVD in 1945 but did a deal in exchange for his life. Released to form the tame pro-regime 'Catholic' Pax organization; author of several books, editor of several journals. Opposed Gomulka in 1956 and gradually lost control of Pax. Remained a member of the Council of State from 1971. In spite of his early connection with Piasecki, Andrzejewski was no anti-Semite. See: Jerzy Andrzejewski, 'The Issue of Polish anti-Semitism', Odrodzenie, 14 and 27 June 1946.
2. ZZLP, Zawodowy Zwiazek Literatow Polskich, Trades Union of Polish Writers, one of the most important liberal and progressive cultural and political influences in inter-war Poland. Reformed by the 'communists' after the 1949 writers' conference in Szczecin as ZLP, Zwiazek Literatow Polskich, Polish Writers Union. ZLP was (in theory at least) tied to the Six Year Plan for literature imposed by Berman. Approximately 25 per cent of the pre-war membership survived into the post-war period, but membership was never more than about 1,200 strong, spread though 17 regional branches, the largest and most vociferous of which was always the Warsaw branch.
3. 'The Trial', one of the most important of the stories from the collection in: A. Gillon and L. Krzyzanowski, Introduction to Modern Polish Literature (London, 1968). Further biographical details can be found in. J. Krzyzanowski (ed.), Literatura polska: przewodnik encyklopedczny (Warsaw, 1984); W. Sadowski, Andrzejewski (Warsaw, 1975).
4. J. Coutouvidis and J. Reynolds, Poland 1939-47 (Leicester, 1986), 216 and 241: K. Kersten, The Establishment of Communist Rule in Poland: 1943-48 (Berkeley, 1991), 222-3. Also: A. Polonsky and B. Drukier, The Beginnings of Communist Rule in Poland: 1943-45 (London, 1980). Andrzejewski may have focused on the matter of political assassination after the killing of General Karol Swierczewski, General 'Walter' of the French-Belgian volunteer contingent of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. He had been a founder member of the Central Bureau of the Polish Communist Party in the USSR, a member of the Central Committee of the PPR and also of the National Land Council. In 1946 he became Deputy Minister of Defence, served on the Sejm's Military Affairs committee, was Inspector of the Army, commander of the Poznan military district and representative of the Polish military on the International Control Commission in Berlin. This central and very important member of the new authority was killed by 'Ukranian nationalists' who attacked a convoy on an inspection tour of the eastern borders near the town of Baligrod on 28 March 1947. He was given a state funeral on 1 April 1947: Roman Catholic funeral rites were observed by the Chaplain General of the Polish Army, a church choir sang De Profundis, and Salve Regina was intoned over the open grave.
5. J. Andrzejewski, Ashes and Diamonds (Harmondsworth, 1980), 451. There are some problems with this Penguin translation and the interested reader might like to consult the new American edition which, though it reprints the same text, gives a list of corrections and supplies two missing passages. J. Andrzejewski, Ashes and Diamonds (Evanston, 1991). Reference to Puciatycki's nasal tone: in post-war Polish the two nasal vowels are dying out, but those who identify with pre-war szlachta cultural and political values and who insist on speaking 'proper Polish' as opposed to po ludsku (people's Polish), often emphasize nasal vowels and are thus sneeringly referred to as 'a-e'. M. Zagorska-Brooks, Nasal Vowels in Contemporary Standard Polish (Hague, 1968).
6. Ashes and Diamonds (Harmondsworth, 1962, 1980), 51.
7. A. Michnik, Letters from Prison and Other Essays (Berkeley, 1986).
8. Ashes and Diamonds, 73.
9. Ibid., 73.
10. Ibid., 117.
11. J. Andrzejewski, Popiol i diament (Warsaw, 1963), 178-9.
12. Wajda went even further by choosing this man as the protagonist for his film. Popiol i diament was released on 3 October 1958, ten years after the book first appeared, and was massively successful. The film won a number of awards including: FIPRESCI Award, Venice, 1959; CFFMA Award, Vancouver 1960; Otto Selznick Silver Laurel, West Berlin, 1962; the Crystal Star of the French Motion Picture Academy, Paris, 1962; Annual Film Critics Award, Prague, 1965. A. Wajda, Ashes and Diamonds, Kanal, The Generation, New York, 1972; Andrzej Wajda, Three Films, London, 1984. Like Konwicki, Andrzejewski did not like the film and complained that it did not represent the spirit of the book because it chose to portray only selected watki (threads) of the plot. Andrzejewski doubted that any film could adequately portray the full complexity of the novel. J. Trznadel, Hanba domowa: rozmowy z pisarzami (Paris, 1988), 82.
13. Ashes and Diamonds, 213.
14. Ibid., 171; Popiol i diament, 277. Of the eighteen Chopin Polonaises, Kotowicz calls for the A-Flat 'Heroic' Polonaise, Op.53 (1842).
15. Prologue to Tyrtej, Tragedia fantastyczna in: Cyprian Norwid, Pisma Wszystkie, J. W. Gomulicki (ed.), (Warsaw, 1971). Wajda has a white horse running around in the background just after this poem is quoted in the film, perhaps a symbolic allusion to General Anders, commander of the Polish army in the middle east, who in 1946 boasted he would return to Poland on a white horse, signifying that he would restore the pre-war government based on an alliance of Church, military, bourgeoisie and landed gentry interests. Anders never returned. He died in London in 1972.
16. S. Wyspianski, Dziela zebrane, L. Ploszewski (ed.), (Krakow, 1958-60).
17. Ashes and Diamonds, 148-9. A reference to the opening line of the Polish national anthem: 'Poland is not yet lost, as long as we are living . . .'
18. Anon., 'Socialist Realism', Universities and Left Review, no.7 (Autumn, 1959) 57-67. The situation of socrealizm was to change considerably after 1949 when, under the guidance of Jakub Berman, it became Party policy adopted at each annual writers' congress, to foster and publish socrealizm in a Polish variant. Socrealizm was formally introduced by Minister for the Arts Sokorski at the writers' conference in 1949, and even though it was adopted and ratified with solemnity at each annual writers' congress, it was abandoned with the thaw of 1956. Jakub Berman was the main architect of Polish socrealizm. He had spent the war in the USSR, and was one of the authors of the Party's ideological programme which included the decision to collectivize agriculture. He was responsible for ideology, education, culture, propaganda, security and foreign affairs. He lost these posts in the scramble of 1956 when he was also expelled from the Party. He was judged by the Party to be responsible for the period of 'errors and distortions' and finished his working days as an editor at the Ksiazka i Wiedza publishing house and retired in 1969. His main assistant in attempting to neutralize ZLP as a political force was Jerzy Putrament, who is generally thought of as an un-talented 'Chekist', and for whom most Polish writers have not a good word to say. See: Teresa Toranska, Oni: Stalin's Polish Puppets (London, 1987); D. Pirie, 'Engineering People's Dreams: An assessment of Socialist Realist Poetry in Poland 1949-55', in A. Czerniawski (ed.), The Mature Laurel: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry (Bridgend, 1991), 133-60.
19. Also: M. Kierczynska, 'Mlodziez podziemia w powiesci Andrzejewskiego', Kuznica, nu.23, 1947.
20. C. Milosz, The Captive Mind (Harmondsworth, 1980), 105.
21. Z. Herbert, 'Interview with Jacek Trznadel', Partisan Review, liv, no.4 (1987), 564-65. Trznadel, on his own admission, had been an ardent member of the Socialist Youth Movement in his younger years, and had kept a portrait of Stalin on his wall, but became a critic of the regime in the 1970s. His interview with Herbert was one of a series of interviews with writers who had been significant in the Stalinist years and were published as Hanba domowa (Domestic Shame) (Paris, 1986).
22. A. Zagajewski, 'From the Little Larousse', in J. Kott (ed.), Four Decades of Polish Essays (Evanston, 1990), 371. Also: S. Mrozek, 'Popiol? diament?', Kultura (Paris), no. 1 (1983), 22-41.
23. Comments cut from Tygodnik Powszechny no. 50, quoted in: Report on Materials Censored, GUKPPiW (1-5 December 1974).
24. J. Trznadel, Hanba domowa: rozmowy z pisarzami (Paris, 1988), 85.
25. T. Konwicki, Moonrise, Moonset (London, 1988), 57.
26. B. Klimaszewski (ed.), An Outline History of Polish Culture (Warsaw, 1983), 314.
27. The Captive Mind, 107 and 109.
28. J. Trznadel, Hanba domowa: rozmowy z pisarzami, 77.
29. The Captive Mind, 109.
30. J. Trznadel, Hanba Domowa, 75-6. J. Andrzejewski, 'The Slipper' (1953), 'Great Lament of a Paper Head' (1953), 'Golden Fox' (1954) published collectively as Zloty lis (Golden Fox) (Warsaw, 1954); translation of 'Golden Fox' in: M. Kuncewicz (ed.) The Modern Polish Mind (London, 1963), 208-28. Welki lament papierowej glowy was his first anti-Party piece, a satire on the twaddle dished up to desperate readers kept ignorant by the censor, an audience that was fickle and lacking in judgement - appears as 'The Great Lament of a Paper Head' in Polish Perspectives, xxvi, no.3 (1983), 40-8.
31. J. Trznadel, 78.
32. J Andrzejewski, Ciemnosci kryja ziemie (Warsaw, 1957).
33. W. Gomulka, O aktualnych problemach ideologicznej pracy partii (Warsaw, 1963), 53; M. Waller, The Language of Communism (London, 1972), 64-5. D. S. Mason, Public Opinion and Political Change in Poland: 1980-82 (Cambridge, 1985), 14.
34. J. Andrzejewski, Brainy raju (Warsaw, 1967).
35. P. Raina, Political Opposition in Poland: 1954-77 (London, 1978), 80-1. Polish publishing: 1960: 7,305 titles, of which 1,451 were literature, poetry or criticism; 1964: 8,260 titles of which 1,149 titles were literature, poetry or criticism. Rocznik statystyczny 1966, Warsaw, 1966.
36. J. Karpinski, Count-Down, 151. Also: William Woods, Poland: Phoenix in the East (Harmondsworth, 172), 169. It is possible that as many as 20 per cent of the union were Party members.
37. P. Raina, Political Opposition in Poland, 164-5.
38. Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855). Although the play occupies a special place in Polish poetry, many claim Dziady is unstageable because its length, style and allusiveness make it unacceptable to modern audiences. Parts of the play have been translated into English, but the full work is not available: B. Taborski, Polish Plays in English Translations: A Bibliography (New York, 1968). Part III can be found in: H. B. Segal, ed., Polish Romantic Drama (London, 1977).
39. P. Raina, Political Opposition in Poland: 1954-77, 121-2. The allusion is to Jan Kott's influential lectures, published in English as Shakespeare our Contemporary (London, 1967).
40. J Karpinski, Count-Down (New York, 1982), 151.
41. P. Raina, 164-5.
42. Z. Herbert, 'Interview with Jacek Trznadel', Partisan Review, liv, No.4 (1987), 570-1. Also: J. Rupnik, The Other Europe (London, 1989), 217.
43. J. Andrzejewski, Apelacja (Paris, 1968).
44. L. Kolakowski, 'Tezy o nadziei i beznadziejnosci', Kultura, 6/285 (June 1971), 3-21.
45. R. Hammer, 'Poland: Its writers and the Censor', Index on Censorship, iv, No.1 (1975), 30.
46. The book was eventually published by the emigre and underground press NOWa: J. Andrzejewski, Miazga (London and Warsaw, 1980).
47. For those blacklisted in 1976 see: J. L. Curry, The Black Book on Polish Censorship (New York, 1984), 385-6.
48. S. Balbus, 'The Great Silence of the Black Hole: Literature in the Face of Communism', in: A. Michalow and W. Paclawski, Literary Galicia: From Post-war to Post-modern (Krakow, 1991), 48-9.
49. J. J. Lipski, KOR: A History of the Workers' Defence Committee in Poland 1976-1981 (Berkeley, 1985), 467-8: Amnesty International Report 1977 (London, 1977), 259-63. It is as well to stress the 'literary' input to the founding of KOR; among the founder members were Jerzy Andrzejewski, Stanislaw Baranczak, Jacek Kuron, Edward Lipinski, Jan Jozef Lipski, Antoni Macierewicz, Andrzej Szczypiorski, Waclaw Zawadzki, Bogdan Borusewicz, Anka Kowalska, Wojciech Onyszkiewicz and Adam Michnik.
50. Table 48, 'Tytuly i naklady dziel niektorych pisarzy polskich', Ruch Wydawniczy w Liczbach XXXIII: 1987 (Warsaw), 1989).
51. J. J. Lipski, KOR: Workers' Defense Committee in Poland 1976-81 (Berkeley, 1985), 138. Introduction to Czarna ksiega cenzury PRL (Uppsala-London, 1977-78). J. L. Curry, The Black Book on Polish Censorship.
52. T. G. Ash, The Polish Revolution (London, 1983), 19.
53. A. Chmielewska, 'The Campaign', Zapis, no.4, 1977, in A. Brumberg (ed.), Poland: Genesis of a Revolution (New York, 1983), 227-36. Also: J. J. Lipski, KOR, 138. Bohdan Rolinski is probably one of the most poisonous characters on the Polish literary scene. Lipski lists him as one of those who slandered KOR, accusing it of being in the pay of the West German intelligence service. B. Rolinski, 'Mial to byc diament' 'It had to be a diamond' - a reference to Andrzejewski's novel) Zycie Warszawy, 8 January 1977: in this article he accuses Andrzejewski of sociopolitical fickleness, and characterized KOR's guiding principles as a mix of utopianism, Trotskyism, Social Democracy, Zionism, Christian Democratism and NEP. In 1991 Rolinski published Przerwana dekada, interviews with ex-First Secretary Edward Gierek, in which Gierek claimed that he had been misinformed and kept in ignorance about the state of the economy in the late 1970s.
54. Trznadel, Hanba domowa, 83.
55. J. R. Fiszman, Revolution and Tradition in People's Poland (Princeton, 1972), 223.
56. Anon., 'Jerzy Andrzejewski: Obituary', Polish Perspectives, xxvi, no.3 (1983), 38-9. The same journal also published a short extract from 'The Great Lament of a Paper Head', carefully dated 'September 1953' to show that this was nothing new. Before that only 'Running Low', an extract from Juz prawie nic, had appeared in the journal in September 1980, when, under the impact of Solidarnosc, censorship had virtually collapsed. Needless to say Andrzejewski's career after his flirtation with socialism is hardly mentioned in the official biographical material such as J. Krzyzanowski (ed.), Literatura polska: przewodnik encyklopedyczny (Warsaw, 1984), and W. Sadowski, Andrzejewski (Warsaw, 1975), which devotes most of its space to his early life and an extended discussion of Ashes and Diamonds. AndrZejewski's involvement in the underground publishing industry and in KOR were clearly a grave embarrassment to the Party.
57. C. Milosz, The History of Modern Polish Literature (Berkeley, 1983), 493.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||Polish novelist|
|Publication:||Journal of European Studies|
|Date:||Dec 1, 1995|
|Previous Article:||Boris Eikhenbaum. Voices of a Russian Formalist.|
|Next Article:||Four Frenchwomen's narratives of World War II.|