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Wacław Masełko (* 1943)

Chcieliśmy czegoś lepszego, chcieliśmy więcej swobody, wolności

  • urodzony 24 października 1943 r. w Hodowicy koło Lwowa, obecnie Ukraina.

  • w 1945 r. przyjechał wraz z rodziną na tzw. Ziemie Odzyskane i osiedlił się w podwrocławskim Jagodnie,

  • ukończył zasadniczą szkołę zawodową we Wrocławiu,

  • zatrudnił się, tak jak jego ojciec, na kolei,

  • w 1968 roku ożenił się z Mirosławą Pawłowską z Żernik Wrocławskich,

  • ojciec dwóch córek,

  • w 1968 r. zamieszkał we Wrocławiu przy ul. Kamiennej

  • w 1974 r. rozpoczął pracę we wrocławskim MPK jako kierowca autobusu, gdzie pracował do 2003 r.,

  • 26 sierpnia 1980 r. wziął udział w strajku solidarnościowym w zajezdni autobusowej nr VII przy ul. Grabiszyńskiej,

  • członek Solidarności od 1980 r.,

  • na emeryturze od 2003 r.

Wacław Masełko was born on the 23rd of October 1943 in Hodowicy near Lviv. After the war, his family moved to Jagodnie near Wrocław. His father worked in the railways and his mother was a housewife. He went to primary school on Brochów, then he enrolled in basic vocational school at the Poznanska street in Wroclaw. He wanted to go to a technical school, but he had to think about taking up a job as soon as possible because of the difficult financial situation of the family. He decided to follow his father’s footsteps and found a job in the Polish State Railways. In 1968 he married Mirosława Pawlowska, with whom he has two daughters. In 1974 he changed his place of employment - he started working as a bus driver in Wroclaw Municipal Public Transportation Enterprise, because - as he admits - work was well paid. Wroclaw of those years appears to him as grey and dull, especially when you compare it to the present look of the city.

Like most drivers he belonged to Solidarity since 1980. But he was not involved in any union activities. He did not know that on the 26th of August 1980 a strike at depot No. VII broke out on Grabiszynska Street, where he was working. As he remembers, on that day he worked on the second shift and when he went to work, he was surprised by the absence of trams and buses on the streets of Wroclaw: “I see that nothing is running. Neither trams nor buses, something must have happened. But whoever knew passed it onto others: yep, there is a strike. And I came in the afternoon to work because I had to report to the depot [No. VII]. There was a watch at the gates, strangers were not allowed, only employees. So during the time of the strike, which lasted five days, I did not come home.

Wacław Masełko, after joining the strike, did not participate in the work of the Intercollegiate Strike Committee. He stresses that life went normally on the depot, except that no buses were leaving it. To kill time, the drivers were repairing their machines, talking, wondering what the finale of the strike would be. “The atmosphere was very cool. Something is going on, so maybe we’ll win something. But later, it was clear that no agreements were signed, some of us were devastated.”

A surprise to Mr Masełko was the fact that the leader of the strike was Grzegorz Piórkowski, who belonged to the Communist Party. He also mentions other people who participated in the strike: Tomasz Surowca, Wladyslaw Frasyniuk and Krzysztof Turkowski - a historian who slept by his side on the bus.

A major experience was the holy mass, which was held at the depot. It was attended not only by the strikers but also by many residents of Wroclaw, the families of the strikers, who stood at the gate of the depot. Mr. Waclaw then met with his wife and daughters: “It was a great joy.”

He admits that while the strike was accompanied by fear, not only against what might happen in the depot, but also of the consequences that it may have. Courage was passed on by the citizens of Wroclaw, coming towards the gate and shouting: “Hold on!”. Mr. Waclaw had a camera, which documented the reality of the strike: “I cannot say whether the attitude of my wife to my involvement was favourable. In any case I was taking pictures [during the strike], I had a plate, I had a camera then and even at home, in the bathroom, the two of us would develop the photographs. Later, as I walked to work, it’s me who circulated those pictures.” Unfortunately, he gave the negatives to the colleague from the union, whose name he forgot.

After signing the agreements of August and once the strike had ended “we had to go back to work. [...]”. The reality was that as soon as the signing of the Agreement [in Gdansk] took place, straightway in the morning the buses had to go on routes, right? And people were so favourable, came even with flowers.”

After a brief euphoria and satisfaction with the achievements of the strike, came the martial law, which Mr. Waclaw, like most Poles, found out about from the television speech of Wojciech Jaruzelski. In the pre-election period in 1989 he was not involved in union activities, he watched the Round Table debate from Germany, where he went for work purposes. Until 2003 he worked as a driver in Wroclaw MPK. He is currently on retirement.

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

  • Witness story in project 1980: A Turbulent Year in Poland and the Czechoslovak Reaction (Katarzyna Bock-Matuszyk)