Władysław Frasyniuk

* 1954

  • „It was such an important moment that we can actually say it’s the new date of Polish independence. Because even the Communists had admitted that it was a point of no return and that even they didn’t want to live in a totalitarian country anymore, that they wanted to be decent people who could look in the mirror in the morning and shave themselves with a smile on their faces. They had admitted that it was a new chance, all the more so that we, who had come out from the underground, we said that democracy would give us a second life.”

  • „Right from the beginning I understood that the aggression and brutality force one to lose his emotions. You have to believe that there are little drawers in your head and the drawer labeled family and children is locked, you simply don’t react to that at all. You have to get rid of any identification, any thoughts that you might have influence over what’s going on, in the sense that if you started talking, you would save your child or wife. You have to strictly tell yourself that you have no influence and no control and the only thing you can do is to act morally. It’s not easy, I have to say.”

  • „They crammed me in a car and we rode to the headquarters just like in an American movie. I sat between two officers, with guns pointed at my head, and in the front seat there was another officer, who was turned to me, pointing his gun on my forehead. The entire time they threatened me: We’ll kill you and no one will ever know who did it. They transported me just like Germans had treated partisans in World War II, up to the moment when the driver lost control before a sharp curve and bumped into a curb. Then the one who was holding his gun to my forehead told the driver: ‘Careful, or you’re going to kill all of us, not just Frasyniuk!’”

  • „When we ended the strike after the Gdansk Agreement had been signed, I decided to go back to my company, there were borders opening up… If it wasn’t for professor Aleksander Labuda, who was sort of our intellectual adviser and who also participated in the strike. When he saw me getting on a bus and leaving the strike, he jumped on – he had never used foul language, it was the only moment I can remember – he got on and said: ‘Gentlemen, what are you doing? Don’t you realize what we have accomplished? Poland has changed.’ And I told him: ‘Sorry Aleks, I would like to get on the bus.’ And he, who had never sworn in his life, said: ‘Damn it, people, Solidarity, labor unions, we never had this in Poland, don’t fuck it up!’ And I was so shocked that I got out of the bus and became an activist – I don’t like the word – a labor union activist.”

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    Wroclaw, 28.08.2019

    duration: 02:33:20
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We have to be aware that these years of hard and hopeless work can seem useless to us

Wladyslaw Frasyniuk in a photograph from the 1980s.
Wladyslaw Frasyniuk in a photograph from the 1980s.
photo: Europejske Centrum Solidarnosci

Frasyniuk, a native of Wroclaw, graduated from an automotive technical school in 1974 and worked as a driver for public transport companies starting in 1976. In August 1980 he was the leader of workers’ protests in Wroclaw, a spokesperson of Inter-factory Founding Committee in Wroclaw (MKZ) since the creation of the labor union Solidarity, and then a director of MKZ from 1981. After martial law was declared on December 13, 1981, he escaped the arrests of Solidarity’s leaders, and hid for ten months while continuing to lead Solidarity illegally in the Lower Silesia region. He was arrested in October 1982 and spent four years (with short breaks) in prison. After he was granted amnesty and released from prison in 1986, he returned to Solidarity’s leadership in Lower Silesia. As a member of the National Executive Committee he participated in the negotiations between the government and opposition in mid-1989, which came to be remembered as the Polish Round Table Talks. After the fall of Communism and the first semi-free election in June 1989, Frasyniuk founded his own transport company, sat on the municipal board of Wroclaw and was elected deputy of the Polish Sejm three times. He was a chairman of the Freedom Union from 2001 to 2005 and continued leading this political party even after it was been renamed to the Democratic Party. He left the Democratic Party in December 2009 and has been involved in anti-government protests as a civil rights activist since 2016.