The following text is not a historical study. It is a retelling of the event of the witness’s life based on the memories recorded in the interview. The narrative was written by external collaborators of the Memory of Nations.

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Krzysztof Grzelczyk (* 1957  )

„Solidarność” to nie tylko związek zawodowy.

  • ur. 3 lipca 1957 w Krośnie Odrzańskim, województwo lubuskie, Polska.
  • Absolwent Instytutu Nauk Politycznych na Uniwersytecie Wrocławskim.
  • W okresie PRL działał w opozycji demokratycznej. W latach 1978-1979 był rzecznikiem Studenckiego Komitetu Solidarności we Wrocławiu (Polska), dwa lata później zakładał NZS na swoim wydziale (Instytut Nauk Politycznych Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego).
  • Sekretarz redakcji Radia Solidarność.
  • Represje: wielokrotnie zatrzymywany na 48 godzin, w stanie wojennym został internowany na okres od 13 grudnia 1981 do 3 lipca 1982.
  • W latach 1985–1992 przebywał na emigracji w Kanadzie
  • W latach 2005–2007 z ramienia Prawa i Sprawiedliwości był wojewodą dolnośląskim
  • Odznaczony Krzyżem Oficerskim Orderu Odrodzenia Polski (2007), wyróżniany także przez organizacje społeczne.

Krzysztof Grzelczuk was born in Krosno Odrzanskie in 1957. In 1957 he began his studies at the Institute of Political Sciences at the University of Wroclaw. In May 1977, having been informed previously, he took part in the rally under the Jan XXIII monument, where the massage about the creation of the Student Committee of Solidarity was announced. It earlier operated in Krakow. Not until December (1977) was the Student Committee of Solidarity in Wroclaw formed. At the turn of the years (1977/1978) Krzysztof Grzelczyk joined the Committee. In March 1978 he became the spokesman of the Committee in Wroclaw; at that time spokesmen for the opposition acted openly, i.e. they were known to the security services. In 1979 he was one of the co-founders of the Social Self-Defence Club in Wroclaw. During the next months, Krzysztof Grzelczyk was engaged in the issue of the Bulletin of Lower Silesia (monthly) “ we wrote about what was happening in the country”, the issue of ’up to date’ leaflets, because the bulletin was published once a month and we had to inform people about what was happening on an ongoing basis” (about strikes in another towns and for example reprinting the demands of Gdansk “we handed them out at the factories”). On 26 August the strike broke out in Wroclaw. Krzysztof Grzelczyk found out about the fact when he noticed that the public transport in the city did not functioned. “I lived at Wieczorek Street, which today is called Wyszynski Street, and it was close to the tram depot at … street, Olbin depot. Slowinska Street, as far as I remember. And I just went on foot, from the house it was about 10-15 minutes to this place. And as I guessed, I saw tram drivers with white and red bands on their arms. I asked them about the obvious thing, because I knew that they went on strike, but I just asked them if the strike had broken out. They said yes, in the whole city, and that the strike headquarters was the VII Depot at Grabiszynska Street”. Students joined the strike. The Interfactory Strike Committee at Grabiszynska Street. Every new person had to be given credibility to by someone, who was already inside. Strike identity cards were issued. People previously trained, like Krzysztof Grzelczyk, were engaged in the printing of leaflets during the strike. People who went outside the depot often had some tasks, like contact with other work places. “Some of our representatives had already started to work” in the Interfactory Strike Committee (Międzyzakładowy Komitet Strajkowy, MKS), which was composed of representatives of different striking work places”. Support of the demands of Gdansk (solidarity strike), “I reported to Krzysztof Turkowski the proposal of signing the list of the demands of Gdansk, on the ground that this was a solidarity strike”. During the strike a concert „prepared by the artists specifically for the striking workers” took place, as well as a mass- “several thousand people who came from the city supported us”. At the same time, the situation outside of the depot: ”this atmosphere in the city was noticeable everywhere”, private cars carried passengers of not functioning city public transport. Krzysztof Grzelczyk recalls euphoric mood on the streets, a sense of waiting for actual changes. „Security Services workers were certainly among strikers”, provocations by militia and inside the strike provocations were likely. “The print-outs appeared, looking like a duplication, prepared in such way especially by the opposition with several names of people from the opposition, who were there at the place of the strike as persons supporting the strike. There were short biographical notes about each of us, but constructed in such a way so as to show our not the best side in the eyes of the workers […] It was clearly UB’s (Department of Security) provocation”. A Polish television crew arrived at the place of the strike, which was regarded as a provocation. The representatives of other media, including foreign ones, appeared. “People from other towns came”, a delegate from Warsaw – Jarosław Kaczynski appeared. The strikers had contact with Gdansk. „We sent out delegations, which were supposed to bring confirmation” of the demands of Gdansk, brought to Wroclaw, signed by Anna Walentynowicz. Krzysztof Grzelczyk mentions, that the citizens of Wroclaw knew about the strike on the coast, opposition activists were waiting for the specific situation, downtown trains were spotted arriving from the coast with inscription “Wroclaw, when will you finally start to strike!”. Workers were aware of the scale of this strike, although probably not from the beginning. For all people involved “Solidarity” created later was not only a trade union, but a civil movement. During the strike life went on, let’s call it “daily” life. Printing trainings, lectures about the trade union movement and history of Poland, common guitar playing and singing took place. Everything was managed by the Interfactory Strike Committee. “Occupational strike consisted in being on the territory of the work place which leads the strike. Contact [with families and loved ones] was possible at the gate. No one outside of strikers was allowed to enter the depot, expect, of course, some exceptions”. Krzysztof Grzelczyk says that the family supported him. Krzysztof Grzelczyk recalls his entire activity in the opposition. Typing and printing leaflets. In March 1978, he took part in the meeting at Mr. and Mrs. Gleichgewicht, during which he was arrested by the Security Services and registered. From this moment, he was known to the Security Services, consequently he became the spokesman of the Student Solidarity Committee, thus- a public person. All of this caused that contacts with militia became a normality. No paralyzing fear but awareness of the situation. “Being heard by the Security Services or being arrested is not pleasant, when the martial law was introduced and when tanks and people with guns had just emerged, it is not really something that made everyone celebrate. I’m sure that we all in a way worried about what could happen next, but… I don’t use the word fear, because fear paralyses and we were not paralyzed. We could worry about something, we weren’t heroes in this sense, we were just ordinary people”. The Gdansk Agreement was announced at night. „I remember the morning when everyone went out, that it’s over, what a relief.” Workers returned to their duties. It was common that workers made up for the hours of strike, working on days off or after hours. A great sense of responsibility of workers for work places. After the strike a „Solidarity” carnival took place, then “it seems to me that it ended after several months”. Tiredness with the entire situation and poor economic situation were noticeable. “The authorities aimed at confrontation, so naturally heated up tension was of course in their interest”. Weakening of “Solidarity’s” power took place and in December 1981 it collapsed due to the introduction of the martial law. “Bad authority – good nation and we start from scratch”. Involvement in strike and then activity in „Solidarity”, professional work, internment in connection with the martial law, all those situations influenced Krzysztof Grzelczyk’s life, for example he postponed the defense of his master’s thesis for two years, “I went out of prison in July ’82 and in September defended my thesis.”. „People returned from prison to their work places, I had nowhere to go, because my workplace was the Solidarity Regional Management, obviously resolved, illegal [in relation to the martial law].” At the time, Krzysztof Grzelczyk cooperated with “the Bulletin of Lower Silesia […] I couldn’t get a job connected to my qualifications. I had a teaching specialization, so I should work in a school. I even found myself a school in ’82 or ’83, I don’t remember exactly, I found out from my friends that they have a vacancy, it was September already so they needed someone urgently […] and the head teacher said to me ‘you must understand, Sir”. This is why I worked at church renovations and then moved to Canada.

© Všechna práva vycházejí z práv projektu: 1980: A Turbulent Year in Poland and the Czechoslovak Reaction