Antoni Matuszkiewicz

* 1945

  • "When I first went to Turnov, I was accomodated in the flat of an SSM (Czechoslovak Socialist Youth Union) official who had gone to a camp in Moscow or something, and his flat was available, and they put me there. When I saw the apartment - guys, there was nothing there that wouldn't be communist! Except for some local map and a guidebook, there were only works by communist classics and so on, and there were busts of Lenin and Engels. I went into the bathroom and there was a huge towel hanging there with an inscription of Communist Youth Congress, I don't know of which one. When I arrived the second time with my wife, they accomodated us in the open-air museum in Semily, where there were very nice ladies, and I told them how I had stayed in Turnov, and they told me that not everybody, let me believe them, that not everybody's home was like that."

  • "It was an amazing time, full of chaos, but at the same time [full of the feeling] that we were doing something. Finally we are doing something, finally books are being published, only within Solidarity, only within the trade unions you can make copies and read, but it's being published. I can print all sorts of things in my newspaper, I can write. Of course we are also aware of the question of whether or not the Russians will come in. It's been hanging over us all the time, everybody knows about it, but it's as if we are supported by a kind of naive faith that maybe it will turn out well, that it won't be like Czechoslovakia or Hungary, when there are ten million of us."

  • "And then it's the night of 12-13 December and my colleague and I are sleeping in that hotel [the Grand in Sopot]. Suddenly we wake up, we see people in uniforms in the hotel, wearing helmets, with protective shields on their faces and with batons, and our first reaction was: 'Oh, so that's it!' It was a moment like now in Ukraine when they were attacked, 'Oh, that's it.'We were used to all kinds of provocations and uncertainty, and suddenly you see that this is really happening."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Velké Poříčí, 23.08.2022

    duration: 02:51:49
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The Solidarity era was amazing. Full of chaos, but we were finally doing something

Antoni Matuszkiewicz in 2022
Antoni Matuszkiewicz in 2022
photo: Post Bellum

He was born on 13 August 1945 in Lviv to a Polish family, both his parents were teachers. In January 1945 his father was arrested by the Soviets and taken to the Donbas. He returned home after the birth of his son in September 1945. In the spring of 1946 witness´s family emigrated to Poland. They settled first in Oleśno and later in Świdnica in Lower Silesia, where the witness spent his childhood and adolescence. In 1968 he completed his history and cultural studies at the University of Wrocław and started to work in the library and later at the museum in Świdnica. He finished his museum studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. In 1980 he worked at the museum in Wałbrzych and joined the independent trade union movement Solidarity. In 1981 he started publishing the magazine Niezależne Słowo (Independent Word) under the patronage of Solidarity, and in December he participated as a correspondent in a meeting of Solidarity leaders in Gdańsk. Just before the martial law was introduced, he was arrested by the police in a hotel on the night of 12-13 December 1981 and he spent three months in prison. After being released he lost his job and made a living by casting candles. He raised two sons with his first wife. He has written 16 collections of poetry and three books of prose. Since 2008 he has lived with his second wife in Martínkovice near Broumov and has been involved in the organisation of the Days of Poetry in Broumov. In 2022 he was living in Martínkovice.