Published: September 11, 2015
“Do we know what caused the outbreak of the strike in the Gdansk Shipyard? Is the truth so hard to bear that it is easier to blindly accept Borusewicz’s version of events that the strike was organized by five people: Bogdan Borusewicz himself, Jerzy Borowczak, Bogdan Felski, Ludwik Prądzyński and Lech Wałęsa?” asked Krzysztof Wyszkowski in his 2012 article Solidarity as Incuriosity.
Despite its increasingly noticeable incongruity, we indolently accept this story, which has been recounted to us for years in its falsified and deceitful version, when it would be so easy to prove its falseness forced upon us simply by applying general knowledge and basic logic. This article will reveal the truth, unknown and shocking when compared with its popular substitute. I will describe in detail how the decision about the strike was made, who and why made it, what outcomes were expected, how it was organized and what really happened. The description provided will be that of a witness and participant of those events. Describing the truth is only a part of my objective since I find it equally important to expose the fundamental historic lie used to cover up the truth. This primitive lie has grown over the years adding many layers, while the truth at its core can be unearthed through examining the details. I hope that my recollection and comparison of those details will confront this lie as well as the people who invented and supported it.
First, news, unconfirmed at the time, about industrial protests around the country were reported to the WZZW (Free Trade Unions of the Coast) at the beginning of July 1980. The news quickly spread and social dissatisfaction, more and more often expressed by means of protests, became obvious. The strikes became the main focus of WZZW.
Gathering and verifying information in order to see the true picture of what really was happening in Poland was of top priority to WZZW. The spontaneity of the strikes and the randomness of their locations, often distant from one another, made them different from any past social tensions in Poland.
The strike in Tczew, the town neighboring Gdańsk broke out in the first days of July and was followed by strikes in Lublin, Świdnik, Ursus, Sanok, Tarnów, Mielec, Poznań, and many other big cities and small towns. Easy access to information about these outbreaks seemed rather odd. Initial conclusions would suggest that either the authorities were too stunned by the strikes to immediately react, or they had simply no intention of concealing the news for their own deliberate reasons. We had no doubts that that climate of social tension would, sooner or later, provoke strikes in Tri-City of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot.
In the meantime, Anna Walentynowicz, member of WZZW who was approaching retirement, had become a victim of continuous persecution by the management of Gdańsk Shipyard. Increasingly harassed for months, disciplined for things she had not done, deprived of bonus payments, bullied by security guards, and eventually transferred to another post for no reason, Anna Walentynowicz filed an appeal with the TKO (Local Board of Appeals). WZZW awaited the TKO’s decision, knowing that if the legal action had been unsuccessful, we would have to use different means to defend Anna.
However, the TKO’s decision, made in mid-July, was a favorable one to Anna, granting her transfer to the previous post. Gdańsk Shipyard, though, regarded this decision as invalid and appealed it. Nevertheless, the case seemed to be turning in favor of Anna, who on July 28 received a written confirmation of the TKO’s decision, granting her a return to her previous post. The case appeared to be finally over.
The main focus for WZZW at the time was on getting ready for potential strikes in Tri-City. A variety of scenarios was considered. This process led to a significant disagreement between Bogdan Borusewicz and the other leaders. Kuroń and his follower Borusewicz insisted on organizing an immediate strike in the Gdańsk Shipyard. Their plan had nothing to do with Anna Walentynowicz, since her case was positively concluded at that time. Kuroń and Borusewicz simply thought that they should follow suit and initiate a strike in Gdańsk Shipyard, in order to trigger strikes across the Coast. Others disagreed, for although we all realized that tensions were bound to reach Tri-City, we considered their idea to have been rushed and unfounded at that moment.
Drawing the right conclusions from the series of strikes across Poland and how quickly they were suppressed with promises of a pay rise, Andrzej Gwiazda wanted to achieve more than just a pay rise if a strike was to break out in the Gdańsk Shipyard. Therefore, he thought the action would require a solid preparation and the entire WZZW agreed, except of Borusewicz, who was controlled by Kuroń and insisted on immediate strike.
However, Gwiazda’s arguments were strong. He thought, and rightly so, that mid-summer was not the best time to motivate people to strike, especially considering that shipyard’s employees pay was better than in most factories on the Coast. His main consideration was to introduce and popularize the ideas of WZZW, and that meant preparing appropriate strategy and materials. None of us believed that we could legally achieve free trade unions, but the point was to use the strike to promote them in order to expand the size and influence of WZZW in Tri-City. Gwiazda supported the need for a solid preparation. He repeated again and again that we would have only one chance and one attempt, and we could not afford to waste it by rushing things.
There was another, even more important reason for not rushing things. We all felt that the social dissatisfaction across Poland was not entirely accidental. We intuitively suspected that communist authorities found the strikes unusually handy, and might have even instigated them, which only encouraged us to take things slowly.
Borusewicz would not listen, but he had no alternative, being a solitary representative of the KOR (Workers’ Defense Committee) with little support from the majority. In his instrumental, exploitative attitude towards WZZWs, he failed to notice that many of their members formed a strong and active alliance, and although they respected Borusewicz, that respect did not extend to Kuroń. Therefore, none of Kuroń’s demands were popular among union members and they were not prepared to act just because Borsuk (Borusewicz’s nickname) wanted to impress his master.
It is worth mentioning, perhaps, that for years, Borusewicz has been denying that it was Kuroń, who insisted on organizing the strike in Tri-City. The result of this lie is the same as of his other lies, the loss of Borusewicz’s credibility. Back in 1991, a journalist asked Borusewicz if it was Jacek Kuroń who pressured WZZW to organize the strike, and Borusewicz denied as usual, claiming there was no pressure whatsoever. The funny thing was that it was Kuroń himself, who in endless interviews, freely admitted how he contacted Gdańsk on a regular basis, wondering what they were still waiting for.
"Kuroń was raging, saying that the entire Poland was striking and we were doing nothing,” Andrzej Gwiazda recalled in his book.
Also Henryk Wujec, another KOR member and a friend of Borusewicz, recalled in a TV interview, 30 years after the August strike, what KOR told Borusewicz during his pre-strike visit in Warsaw, “The entire Poland is striking. What are you doing up there in Gdańsk, why aren't you striking yet?” and Borusewicz assured them that the strike was being organized.
This version, though, was not convenient for Borusewicz in the context of his later story about the strike having been organized only for the purpose of Anna Walentynowicz's defense. For this reason, he finds this subject difficult, either agreeing, or disagreeing with his KOR master.
In the meantime, there were no indications that any major factory in Tri-City was planning a strike action. The WZZW decision was to wait a few weeks, prepare well for the strike, wait for the return of those who were on leave, and try to get a better idea of real communist government’s intentions. The situation of Anna Walentynowicz seemed stable, and some WZZW members were away from Gdańsk, including Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda. Borusewicz was not happy, but having had no alternative, he had to relent.
Within the following two weeks, the entire situation changed and a series of events occurred. The TKO’s decision regarding Walentynowicz was overturned on August 2 due to the appeal by Gdańsk Shipyard’s directors to the Ministry of Labour. Immediately thereafter, Walentynowicz was subjected to spiteful bullying, which included detaining her unlawfully in security guard’s office for several hours.
Within days, her fight became about something entirely new than merely a transfer to her previous post. Walentynowicz was dismissed from work and she reported Gdańsk Shipyard’s security guards to the Prosecutor claiming they committed a criminal offence against her. Walentynowicz stood no chance at that point and it became apparent that the Gdańsk Shipyard’s directors had their own, specific plans regarding her. The sole fact that her dismissal involved the Ministry of Labor suggested that Anna Walentynowicz’s fate was decided by authorities much higher than just those at the Gdańsk Shipyard.
The story of Anna Walentynowicz and the harassment she was subjected to was described in detail by Sławomir Cenckiewicz in his book Anna Solidarność (Solidarity Anna).
The official notice of dismissal was handed to Anna on August 7, stating that she was “subject to a disciplinary dismissal due to violation of basic working duties.” Cenckiewicz in his book quoted Anna’s distressing statement of her last hours at the Gdańsk Shipyard: “On August 9, on my way to collect my salary, I was physically assaulted by four security guards. They grabbed me so violently that they wounded my hands. They seemed scared when they saw blood, but they still dragged me in a van and drove me to the personnel office. A staff member handed my salary to me saying ‘you will never win, it’s like tilting at windmills.’ I wandered around Gdańk with my head down. I felt beaten down and completely broken. I recalled what I used to say to myself, that no one could ever have a reason to dismiss me. Now, I was dismissed and that dismissal was based on article 52, which refers to sabotage, drinking, stealing… How could I live without the shipyard? This was the end of me.”
Although Anna Walentynowicz had been a victim of harassment, her dismissal was still astonishing, mainly because it seemed to be a pointless move on the part of the authorities.
I was, at that time, jobless since I too was dismissed earlier in April that year. I was around and I had a lot of spare time on my hands, and for that reason I was the second person, after Jan Karandziej, to whom Borusewicz turned in order to organize a protest in Anna’s defense. Borsuk said he would approach three associates he had inside Gdańsk Shipyard, two of whom were WZZW activists, Bogdan Felski and Ludwik Prądzyński, in order to trigger the strike as soon as possible. Janek Karandziej was, together with Andrzej Gwiazda, a member of WZZW founding committee and was as surprised by Borusewicz’s impatience as I was.
Despite the fact that we both were strongly affected by Anna’s brutal dismissal, Borsuk’s attitude remained suspicious.
After the spring purge, which saw most of WZZW activists dismissed from the Shipyard, Anna Walentynowicz became a victim of an incomprehensible attack. It didn’t take a genius to understand that had the authorities been genuinely concerned that the series of strikes would eventually reach the Gdańsk Shipyard, they would have hardly dismissed Anna in such a provocative manner, having known for certain that it would meet with WZZW outrage. Indeed, Anna’s forthcoming retirement would have made her practically insignificant in the eyes of the authorities. In connection with other minor incidents, her dismissal had a scent of provocation. It was so suspicious, we could hardly ignore it, especially that many of WZZW members, including Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda, were not in Gdańsk at the time.
By dismissing Anna the communist authorities sent a very confusing message regarding their intentions; her dismissal was irrational. We needed to fully embrace the events around us and choose the best line of defense. But first, we needed to wait for all WZZW activists to gather together.
Taking advantage of their absence, Borusewicz was suddenly proposing a very serious action; an action, concerning the same shipyard where ten years before the pacification action against striking workers ended with workers being wounded. We just failed to understand Borsuk’s impatience, and he couldn't justify it either. Anybody thinking logically would realize that it made little difference whether WZZW reacted to Anna’s dismissal within days or weeks, so there was no reason whatsoever for not waiting for all activists to come back and go on strike with a clear plan that all of us agreed to.
We expressed our reservations to Borsuk immediately at our first meeting. However, he had already made his decision. He also suggested that it was in agreement with Andrzej Gwiazda, what later turned out to be a lie. It also turned out that he had already set the date of the strike for August 12 before he even suggested the action. I and Jan Karandziej realized that the strike could not have been organized within several days. It became clear that Borusewicz must have begun his preparations before he even approached us, and that made us even more nervous.
Although Borsuk refused to listen to any of our arguments and it was clear that he already made up his mind, only a few hours later he decided there was not enough time left to prepare, and therefore decided to postpone the strike – by one day. He informed us that Wednesday, August 13, was the date he would give to his three acquaintances from the shipyard.
During the days leading up to the strike, we were meeting with Borsuk twice, sometimes three times a day. There was a lot to discuss, but the reason was also that we were wavering in our decisions. Despite our hesitation, though, we knew we would not just passively stand by and watch.
Several days before the strike I fetched a last batch of independent publishing materials from Warsaw. We contemplated how to use them. Borusewicz intended to hand out leaflets on the trams on early Wednesday morning and he wanted us to do it as well. We were making plans regarding who would take which route.
At that time it turned out that Borsuk also prepared an appeal to the shipyard workers and he was about to have it printed. We were astonished that he would have materials printed on behalf of WZZW members, without consulting their content with anybody. Borusewicz’s excuse was the lack of time to do so. Both I and Jan were very anxious about it, but Borusewicz was determined and he informed us that he was going to the printing house.
Although no one asked, it was pretty clear that Piotr Kapczyński would be in charge of printing. He was at the time behind all WZZW printing works and no serious piece could have been printed without his involvement. Kapczyński recalled that moment years later, saying that, “On Sunday August 10, I returned home after a few days and nights of printing a report by the Experience and Future discussion club. I used a duplicating machine at Józek Przybylski’s. I was exhausted and all I wanted was some sleep. However, I was awaken by Borusewicz, who told me to get the duplicator into a flat in Wrzeszcze in order to get some leaflets printed. I took the machine there on Monday morning, and Borusewicz brought paper. He explained the leaflets were for the purpose of the strike and he also went to see the lads from the Gdańsk Shipyard. He said that if they managed these first few days, we had a chance. We finished printing in the early hours on Tuesday and had some sleep. Later, I took the leaflets to Leszek Zborowski, Tomek Wojdakowski and others. I reckon there were around 5 thousands leaflets. Their quality was poor, as we only had some offset ink at our disposal.” I will refer to Piotr’s recollections later on, since they are extremely relevant to Borusewicz’s subsequent stories.
In the meantime, Andrzej Gwiazda returned to Gdańsk unexpectedly, followed by Joanna. It turned out that Andrzej’s mother was in hospital, critically ill. Although nobody knew that then, Gwiazda’s return prompted Borusewicz's strange behavior. He was no doubt taken by surprise by Gwiazda’s arrival. Gwiazda, on the other hand, on top of his family problems, was also faced with the important news of Anna Walentynowicz’s dismissal. Walentynowicz recalled that she went to Gwiazda, where there were a few other WZZW members, and told them, “You will have to act without me, guys, I don’t exist here any longer.”
However, Gwiazdas’ attention was focused completely on his ill mother, and that situation reduced our contact with them.
The fact that Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda had no idea about Borusewicz’s preparations for the strike emerged by accident. We were aware that Borsuk was dishonest when he said earlier that Gwiazda agreed with his strategy to go on strike. Andrzej Gwiazda had little time and was not in the state of mind to carefully consider Borsuk’s actions. He also saw the need to begin preparations for the action in Anna Walentynowicz’s defense, as it was obvious that WZZW would not leave her without help. Absorbed with his mother’s illness, Gwiazda seemed relieved that Borusewicz took all those preparations on his own shoulders. Therefore, Andrzej and Joanna Gwiazda turned up in Anna’s flat, where together with Jan Karandziej and Bogdan Borusewicz they made final corrections to the content of the appeal directed at Gdańsk Shipyard’s workers.
Despite Gwiazdas and Walentynowicz supporting the need to start organizing Anna’s defense, they thought it was best to postpone the actual strike until the return of remaining WZZW activists, in order to discuss the details with the full group. No actual date of the strike was set, although it was obvious that it would happen within the following few weeks.
It would soon become clear that Borusewicz’s plan was entirely different. He planned to put his plan into action within the following days, behind our backs and against the existing arrangements. His behavior can only be perceived as either an unhealthy ambition or simply a provocation. At the time, though, neither I, nor Jan Karandziej were able to draw such far-reaching conclusions. We thought that Borsuk was just overzealous and overexcited.
Therefore, we were not surprised to see him the following day, but we were surprised to hear him say that a decision had been made to start a strike action on the date he had set earlier. He clearly indicated that everyone was aware and agreed to it. We were still reserved, given that only a day earlier we all decided to begin preparations, without setting the date of the strike. Borusewicz explained the decision to start the strike earlier was based on the fact that all preparations were practically done, so there was no reason to wait any longer. We had no idea that he lied to us. Unaware, we were getting ready for the following Wednesday, whereas Gwiazdas and Walentynowicz perceived Borusewicz’s actions as simply preparations for the strike, which date and details were still to be confirmed.
Borusewicz’s stance was even more bizarre, considering his rejection of any earlier suspicions regarding the intentions of authorities. Our opinion, strongly shared by Andrzej Gwiazda, was that Anna’s dismissal could have been an attempt of provocation, since it made no sense. Gwiazda, preoccupied with his mother’s illness, had no time to analyze the situation at the time.
In the meantime, Borusewicz came to see us again to say that the final date of the strike had been postponed to Thursday, August 14, due to several unfinished matters.
At the same time something significant occurred, that being Borusewicz mentioning Wałęsa’s name when discussing details of our preparations. Immediately, our suspicions were aroused. We were curious what role Borsuk planned to assign to Wałęsa, or rather why he decided to involve him at all. He assured us that the only thing he needed Wałęsa to do, was to encourage the shipyard workers by using his position of a witness to the tragic events of December 1970. For a long time we had considered Wałęsa an untrustworthy coward, so Borusewicz’s idea seemed a huge misunderstanding.
It turned out that there was no time to protest, because Borsuk had already informed Wałęsa about the details of the plan. Having noticed our dismay, he assured us that Wałęsa would have nothing to do with the actual strike action. His assurances, though, did not ease our fears, since the fact that Wałęsa knew about it, was enough to alarm us.
Borusewicz decided to send Wałęsa with a group of other workers to distribute leaflets on trams on a route from Tczew. Little did we realize that the history would become a lie and Wałęsa was in fact elected and coached to be the strike leader.
However, before the historical facts were distorted, Borusewicz repeated in each interview, “...I organized workers into groups, to distribute leaflets on trams used by staff to get to work. The route from Tczew was assigned to Wałęsa and his comrades from Stogi…”
The main disadvantage at the time was Andrzej Gwiazda’s unavailability, so neither I, nor Jan Karandziej could consult him with our reservations regarding Borsuk’s odd impatience and his sudden rush of trust towards Wałęsa.
In the meantime, August 14 has arrived. From an early morning, following Borsuk’s plan, we were to distribute leaflets on the trams by which workers used to commute to work. Three small groups were assigned to distribute huge amounts within limited time, and we could only hope that all would go smoothly. One group of two was to start distributing leaflets on the route from Sopot Wyścigi, another one on Gdańsk Przymorze route, and one more on a route from Tczew, Gdańsk's neighboring town. As it later turned out, only two out of those three groups were distributing the leaflets.
Things started to go wrong very quickly and soon the entire strike was hanging by a thread. Jan Karandziej, assisted by Mirek Walukiewicz and Mietek Klamorowski, had received no leaflets until 4am that day. As he recalled years later, “Following Borusewicz’s instruction, I personally went to Gdynia to pick up the leaflets from a man I knew nothing about and whose name I can’t remember. Since no one was in, I waited all night, until he turned up at 4am. I took a bag full of leaflets and went back home. Except from the leaflets regarding Anna Walentynowicz, I had others, such as a large amount of KOR’s Worker issue, with a calendar of strikes that broke out across Poland, instructions on how to strike, and some books by independent publishers. Our group was to distribute the leaflets on August 14, on the route from Oliwa. Each pack included a leaflet regarding Anna, a leaflet on how to strike, and a July issue of KOR’s Worker. We put them together in advance. Shipyard workers started their shifts at 6am, whereas mine and Mietek Klamorowski’s start time was 7am (we worked at Gdańsk’s Engineering Works Enterprise). Mirek Walukiewicz worked at Bimet and also started at 7am. Leszek Zborowski was unemployed and Andrzej Runowki was with the army. We started at the crack of dawn. We got on trams at Przymorze, each getting on a different carriage, and we worked through a few carriages each, getting off about three stops later. Then we went back and repeated the operation a few times, until 6am, when we dispersed, each to our own assignments…”
Jan was lucky to manage to come back from Gdynia and complete his task. My group experienced problems. I was to meet Tomek Wojdakowski very early in the morning at Sopot Wyścigi stop. I set an alarm and I went to bed rather late. The alarm did not work and when I woke up, I had only few minutes to get to our meeting point. I grabbed the bag with leaflets which I got ready in advance, and which had earlier been delivered by Piotr Kapczyński, and I ran through the horse racing tracks to reach the tram stop. I was a few meters away, when the tram’s doors shut. I had no choice, but to wait for the next tram, whereas Tomek was on his way to Gdańsk. I was worried that because of me being late he was left alone to distribute the leaflets, and that was no easy task. I found out later that he was accompanied by Borusewicz, who got off at Przymorze, whilst Tomek carried on. I distributed as much as I could on the next tram and continued on the same route several times, going back and forth, eventually ending up at the Gdańsk Shipyard’s entrance, wondering what I should do next.
The plan involved a third group, led by Lech Wałęsa. Not only Wałęsa himself failed to turn up, but also no one else from that group covered the Tczew route. The reason was that Wałęsa simply did not inform anyone. Sometime after the strike, Sylwester Niezgoda, who was part of the group from Stogi, tried to convince that he was there distributing the leaflets together with Kazik Żabczyński. Niezgoda was at that time Wałęsa’s best friend; therefore he was approached by press numerous times after the strike to give information about Wałęsa’s past. When asked what he was doing that morning, Niezgoda used Borusewicz’s story and started talking about distributing leaflets on the Tczew route. He found the story harder and harder to maintain, because of the inconsistencies, and in time he changed it to a version of himself distributing the leaflets at the entrance gate number 3 to Gdańsk Shipyard. This was another lie, because firstly no one coming from Stogi received any leaflets, and secondly Niezgoda turned up at the strike in Gdańk Shipyard only on Saturday.
In time, Borusewicz managed to create his own version of events. His account of events is a mixture of some truth, a lot of half-truths and a huge dose of treacherous, manipulative and, at the same time, primitive lies. These lies, thanks to propaganda, were declared as the truth despite the fact that none of them make any sense.
Although Borusewicz is responsible for these lies, he is not the only one who falsifies historical facts. Not many realize that the famous Borsuk for many years said very little on this subject and very rarely spoke about the details. It is obvious why – he realized that all his lies would be exposed by his colleagues from WZZW.
Within years, many of the WZZW activists disappeared from view, and those who were still present in the public sphere found it difficult to attract media attention. In that very moment, Borusewicz decided to establish his extremely harmful lie as the official history. He started lying right from the beginning, when describing his pre-strike preparations.
His lies were well defined by Remigiusz Okraska, author of a Book-interview with Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda, “...a false version of events is being promoted – that allegedly Bogdan Borusewicz and Lech Wałęsa, assisted by a few young workers from Gdańsk Shipyard, were the only organizers of the strike. This version of events has gained a lot of popularity, and has been reiterated as the obvious truth, despite the fact that Borusewicz needed nearly a quarter of the century and a good few years after the fall of communism, to suddenly remember it.”
In reality, Borusewicz started to lie in a series of interviews he gave exactly 11 years after the August strike. Not exactly a quarter of a century, but it is still a long time, and that’s significant. However, for brave Borsuk and Wałęsa to be born, someone had to be a liar.
When Wałęsa who was lifted onto workers’ shoulders and carried out of the shipyard in the middle of the strike, and announced a leader of the victorious revolution, media worldwide wanted to know all about him. Mainly where he came from, and who he was before the strike. Wałęsa found himself in an uncomfortable position, because he knew that none of the WZZW activists, who knew him best, would verify his false biography.
On one hand, his heavily promoted alleged activity in WZZW was to justify his unexpected role as a leader, but on the other hand, Wałęsa the hero did all he could in order to cut his past WZZW ties. Even Borusewicz, supportive of Wałęsa years after strike, was not willing to praise the new leader shortly after the strike.
Wałęsa desperately needed a witness, who would confirm each and every lie, and it was not too hard to produce one. Jerzy Borowczak consented, in exchange for his own imaginary role of the opposition activist, and later for a number of positions and benefits they brought. Uninhibited and silently supported by Borusewicz, Borowczak committed a historic fraud. Years later, Borusewicz simply signed his name under this fraud, and the two liars replaced the truth with their own, primitive and audacious lie. Here I will explain how it happened.
In numerous, willingly given interviews, Borusewicz has been firmly maintaining for good few years now, that the decision to go on strike was his and his only. He did not consult it with anyone; in fact, he did not inform anybody about his concept. In 2002, interviewed by Gazeta Wyborcza, he stated, “It was my decision.” He has insisted on this for years, and even 12 years later, in Polityka, we can still read that, “Now or never – thought Bogdan Borusewicz.” He allegedly organized the strike in secret, involving in his plans just three young workers from Gdańsk Shipyard, who were also WZZW activists. He is most specific about it in his book-interview, Jak Runął Mur (How the Wall Collapsed). Asked who decided to start the strike, he firmly says, “It was my decision and mine only. I did not consult it with anyone. I knew I had to make it happen, despite the risks.” In the same interview, he also adds, “I wrote the text and signed it as the Committee for Free Trade Unions for the Coast and the editorial office of The Coast Worker. I did not consult the content of the leaflet with anyone either.”
It is striking that Borusewicz should even think that he needs to emphasize this lack of consultation about the leaflet.
Borusewicz’s account could be compared with Jan Karandziej’s Gdański Sierpień ’80 (The Gdańsk August 1980), published by IPN (the National Institute of Rememberance). Jan Karandziej recalled then that, “After the dismissal of Anna Walentynowicz we decided to mobilize our forces and use whatever means we could, in order to defend her. We met and we decided to make an appeal to all Anna’s fellow workers in Gdańsk Shipyard for their help in defending Anna. During that meeting, with the involvement of Bogdan Borusewicz, Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda, we edited a leaflet, appealing to all Gdańsk Shipyard’s workers.”
Of course, such version of events does not match Borusewicz’s, about him having single handedly planned, prepared and instigated the strike, but he still insists on his absurd lies. However, his story about not consulting the leaflet with anyone and signing it on behalf of WZZW activists is very significant. In his eyes, it brings glory and applause. In his eyes, it shows bravery and huge sacrifice of a single individual - himself.
However, if we do assume that his story is true, it would only be a proof of his ugly attitude and atrocious provocation. Had he really, as he admits, signed his own, personal protest on behalf of other WZZW activists, without their knowledge or consent, it would have been the worst fraud, or even treason. Such sort of action would be a calculated exposure to a serious risk of all WZZW activists.
Let’s assume for a second that all Gdańsk Shipyard’s workers, upon Borusewicz’s call, go on strike and are faced with the same reaction from authorities as back in 1970, resulting in innocent people’s death. All those who signed the appeal would not only be responsible morally, but would face repercussions from the communist government. Thanks to Borusewicz’s “heroic stance,” people who knew nothing about his action would go to prison for organizing it. Borusewicz, despite thinking only about himself, must also realize the consequences, because in the same interview he says, “I was aware that if the strike went wrong or caused bloodshed, I would end up in prison, with a long term sentence.” Whereas it is obvious that anybody whose name was signed under the protest would also have gone to prison. The difference would be that Borusewicz would be the only one to know why they were in prison.
Ironically, but also fortunately for Borusewicz, the fact that only Wałęsa and Karandziej knew about the actual date of the strike, protects him from this serious allegation of crime. Anna Walentynowicz, Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda knew about the strike in the defense of Anna, but not about the date Borusewicz set. Additionally, Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda only found out by accident, because they would have still been on their holiday if not for their family problems, and in such case Borsuk, signing the leaflet on their behalf, would be just using their name for his personal revolution.
Nevertheless, the remaining people who signed the appeal, including WZZW activists beyond the editorial office of The Worker of the Coast, were not informed about Borusewicz’s intentions. If he was not protected by the media propaganda, Borusewicz would have a hard nut to crack – instead of boasting about his “heroic” conspiracy, he would have to explain his fraudulent activity and lies.
The most striking question would be what motivated someone to make such an irrational and risky decision? Why, after the group decision to defend Anna Walentynowicz, he decided to act alone, in a rush and behind the backs of WZZW activists? What drove him to lie and deceive in order to make a decision to rush the strike against any reasoning? What could have made Borusewicz to set his logic aside and go against the action we all agreed upon to do instead… to do instead what?
Was it an act by someone possessed by sick ambitions, or did Borusewicz know something nobody else knew? I am unable to answer this question. I think that time will tell.
I don’t think there is a single interview with Borusewicz, in which he would not emphasize that only the following three workers from Gdańsk Shipyard knew about his decision to go on strike: Ludwik Prądzyński, Bogdan Felski and Jerzy Borowczak, as well as the "chief revolutionist," Lech Wałęsa.
In his interview for Tygodnik Powszechny when asked who organized the strike, Borusewicz answers in his typical manner, “I organized it with three shipyard’s workers, Jerzy Borowczak, Ludwik Prądzyński and Bogdan Felski. They were the only ones who knew about it.” In time he added Wałęsa’s name to this group and maintained his version ever since. The reason for this lie was not only his compulsive boastfulness, but also the need to limit the number of witnesses to what really happened. It was a simple attempt to eliminate those who partook in the organization of the strike, and whose testimony would significantly differ from his own. However, this lie is perhaps the most unreasonable of all the lies he has repeated for years.
In a 2005 interview, Borusewicz said, “On Tuesday, I met lads who knew nothing about the strike to remind them which routes they would be distributing leaflets on and what time on Thursday morning.” This is absurd. If we follow Borusewicz’s logic, we would have to conclude that printer machine operators worked with their eyes closed, distributors did not read or think about what they were distributing, and those who prepared banners did that in the darkness in order not to see what they were doing.
Borusewicz has simply made a fool of himself. His compulsive need to boast made him forget not only his WZZW colleagues, but even his own wife, Alina Pienkowska. She reported in one of her interviews, “Bogdan said that I was not present at a meeting on August 10, which involved a large group and was arranged in Piotr Dyka’s yard in order to avoid being overheard. I don’t mind, although I was definitely there.”
Pienkowska also said, “Another, independent meeting took place at Janusz Satora’s, where lads from Elmor were informed about the strike, but no date was confirmed. Bogdan was absent, but I was there.” It is worth recalling the earlier statement by Piotr Kapczyński, WZZW activist and printing machine operator, “He explained the leaflets were for the purpose of the strike and he also went to see the lads from the Gdańsk Shipyard. He said that if they managed these first few days, we had a chance.”
Borusewicz himself recollected in his 2005 interview that „Grzegorz and Tomasz Petrycki, who studied at ASP (Polish Academy of Fine Arts), prepared banners with three different demand statements.” Did Borusewicz think that the artists wrote those statements without any knowledge about the strike? He obviously thought that the brothers had been convinced their banners would be displayed at a modern arts exhibition. Borusewicz must have also thought that those of us who distributed leaflets, one of which was on how to strike, did it without knowing about the strike. How is it logical?
I would be curious to see how Borusewicz could link his version, about nobody knowing anything about the strike, with a declaration below that confirms my direct participation in the organization of the strike. I received it nearly a year later, in July 1981, when Wałęsa’s verbal assaults directed at former WZZW Solidarity activists intensified. As an anonymous WZZW activist, I was issued this declaration by my well-known friends from WZZW, in a bid to protect me from slanders from Wałęsa and his comrades, who at the time were trying to defame the MKZ (WZZW Committee) printing house, which I co-founded and where I worked. The declaration did not protect me from Wałęsa’s harassment, but it remains a written confirmation of my part in the strike organization. At the time this declaration was issued, Borusewicz was not yet distorting historic facts, and his signature is visible next to Alina Pienkowska’s and Joanna Gwiazda’s. Since Borusewicz claims that I knew nothing about the strike, why would he sign a written declaration confirming my direct participation in the pre-strike arrangements?
Here is how it went... or maybe it didn’t go quite like that… or maybe it went completely different…
Both Borowczak and Borusewicz have claimed that the motivation for the strike and the rushing of its start was to defend Anna Walentynowicz. Although this seems right, Borusewicz’s intentions were subsequently discredited when he began his slandering campaign against the very same Anna Walentynowicz, only a few months after the strike. His actions led to Anna’s exclusion from Solidarity, which she co-founded. Borusewicz’s attitudes will be described in detail further on.
However, even following Borusewicz’s own statements, one must arrive at a conclusion that his intentions remain unclear. According to Borusewicz’s version, the strike was a protest against Anna’s dismissal. Both Borusewicz and Borowczak tried to stick to the same version regarding the origins of the strike.
Following that version, Borusewicz said that, accompanied by three shipyard workers, he went to Piotr Dyka’s house, where a group of Gdańsk opposition celebrated Dariusz Kobzdej and Tadeusz Szczudłowski’s release from custody. It is curious that out of all WZZW activists, Borusewicz chose to go there with exactly those three people, considering that none of them took an active part in the WZZW demonstration demanding the release of the two opposition activists. Could he have known that Anna Walentynowicz would be there, announcing that she was dismissed from work?
Whatever his motivation was, all four of them attended that gathering, and that is the only true fact in Borusewicz’s story. There are a few versions of what happened at the gathering. According to the most popular one, Anna showed up and informed them about her dismissal. Upon learning about it Borusewicz and his three companions went outside where they made a decision about the strike.
As befits a liar, neither Borusewicz, nor Borowczak remember their stories in detail; therefore none of the stories is identical. Even the trivial matter of what date that “historic” meeting took place seems impossible to establish. The discrepancies are visible to the naked eye and it does not require an expert to notice them.
In 2000, the "historic" meeting was claimed to take place on August 10, but in 2005 the date changes to August 8 before being confirmed as August 10 again. It remains August 10 through the 2010, but in the same year there are a few more dates mentioned – August 7 and August 8. August 7 is the date given in 2012, as well as August 10. This range in dates is based on only several interviews.
Eventually Borusewicz decided that August 10 was the most suitable date, and he made it official in his Jak Runął Mur book. Reports by those "prominent witnesses" are subject to constant alterations. Following interviews they gave over the years, one cannot help, but feel confused.
According to some reports, Wałęsa was present at the gathering, and he was the one who came up with the idea of the strike, exclaiming that Anna Walentynowicz needed to be defended. Other reports say he wasn’t present at the meeting, and it was Borusewicz who decided on the strike, attending the meeting only to inform Wałęsa about the strike and urge him to join in. There is another version, with both of them finding out about Anna’s dismissal during the same gathering, and spontaneously deciding to organize the strike; and one more, in which Borusewicz went to the gathering in order to change the date of the already confirmed strike.
In 2010 interview for a historical portal, Borowczak said, “We went to a meeting on Sunday, August 10, where Anna Walentynowicz turned up and informed us that she had been dismissed from Gdańsk Shipyard. Wałęsa came up with the idea that we needed to defend Anna and the best way to do it was to organize a strike.” Later in the same year, Borowczak told Newsweek: “The date of the strike was decided two days before it broke out, but we knew about the strike back on August 8.”
I realize that it is not easy to get this story straight, and not only will the readers struggle, but also its narrators. It is not hard to understand why, considering that Borusewicz, eager to recruit supporters for the purpose of his lies, called Borowczak a WZZW activist, when no one from WZZW knew Borowczak at all; at the same time Borusewicz referred to the actual WZZW activist as “lads who were dismissed from Gdańsk Shipyard.” Dreading confrontation with the truth, Borusewicz denied any links with those, whose help he used to establish his name in the public awareness. Both he and Wałęsa replaced WZZW activists with deceitful, subservient Borowczak.
Interviewed by Gazeta Wyborcza, Borusewicz said: “The most prominent leaflet distributors were young lads, previously dismissed from Gdańsk Shipyard: Andrzej Karandziej, Mieczysław Klamrowski oraz Runowski, whose first name I can’t remember.” Therefore, Borusewicz christened Jan Karandziej Andrzej, and he can’t remember the name of one of his closest associates from WZZW – Andrzej Runowski.
WZZW activists are not exactly surprised with such stance from Borusewicz. As time tells, Borusewicz treated WZZW members instrumentally and when he realized they would not agree with his lies, he did what he could to eliminate them from history. He is so brazen in lying that he does not even care to remain consistent or logical.
Interviewed by Tygodnik Powszechny, he said, "I organized the strike with the help of three young shipyard workers. I began preparations after Anna Walentynowicz's dismissal. Organization took around three week (!), secret meetings, attempts to mentally prepare these people." Walentynowicz was dismissed on August 7, whereas the strike broke out on August 14, and ended two weeks later, on August 31. If Borusewicz started his "mental preparations" and secret meetings after Anna's dismissal and they took him three weeks...? This means that he finished organizing the strike at the same time this strike ended with signing historic agreements.
In a TV program Sierpień 1980 (August 1980) he announced proudly, “I made the decision to organize the strike and I started preparations around July 1...” In those nonsensical statements Borusewicz does not mind that there were no signs of any strike on July 1 across Poland, not to mention that Anna Walentynowicz was to be dismissed nearly a month later. Such is the inconsistency of majority of Borsuk’s tales.
Another example is that Borusewicz has repeated for years that he made the decision to organize the strike in Anna Walentynowicz’s defense after her dismissal. At the same time, though, he said he had gone to hiding into his friends’ flat 10 days before the strike, or even as early as August 1, according to other sources (he most often sticks to the version of 10 days). He was more precise in his book, “I went into hiding 10 days before the strike, using a flat on Matejki Street in Wrzeszcze, which belonged to my friends, Mr and Mrs Kiliński…”
Again, his inconsistency with dates is very obvious. Everybody in Poland knows that the strike started on August 14. If he, the organizer, went into hiding 10 days before, he must have done it on August 4, whereas Anna Walentynowicz found out about her dismissal on August 7. If Borusewicz indeed organized the strike in Anna’s defense, as he has always claimed, he would have started his preparations before her dismissal even took place – is he able to foresee the future, or is he simply lying?
In another interview, talking about three shipyard workers, Borusewicz said: “The three of them found out about the strike’s date around a week before it broke out, whereas Wałęsa found out a few days before. The original date of the strike was set to be August 12.” Again, if he was honest about those date, it would mean that all those people found out about the strike in Anna’s defense, before she was actually dismissed.
Borusewicz seemed to be able to foresee the future in the past as well. In 2005 interview, he spoke about the pre-strike preparations: “I knew three lads in Gdańsk Shipyard - Bogdan Felski, Jerzy Borowczak and Ludwik Prądzyński. I met them regularly during July. I warned them that after Kołodziej’s and Walentynowicz’s dismissals, they would be next in line, they would be sacked.” Here Borusewicz warns the workers that they would follow Anna’s suit – a month before she found out about her dismissal!
Those statements are truly perplexing, but they are still not the top of Borusewicz’s future-foreseeing capabilities. He reaches the top level with his story about another WZZW activist, Andrzej Kołodziej. Kołodziej was a very active and very brave WZZW member, who was employed by the Gdańsk Shipyard. He was well-known to all his co-workers because he used to hand out leaflets and independent press publishing openly during lunch breaks.
Due to his activity, he was sacked from Gdańsk Shipyard at the beginning of 1980. He wrote in his memoirs that a few months before the August strike he was advised by Borusewicz to withdraw from public eye. He remained inactive for some time, until Borusewicz advised him to apply for a job in the Paris Commune Shipyard in Gdynia. Such advice was that of a man cut off from reality. Borusewicz advised an active, and spied upon by authorities, member of WZZW, who was removed from Gdańsk Shipyard exactly for those reasons, to apply for a job in another shipyard in TriCity, claiming that if he told a little lie about his previous conflict with his supervisor, he would manage to deceive the directors of that shipyard and get a job.
Andrzej Kołodziej took that advice and… he was offered a job in Gdynia Shipyard a day before the strike in Gdańsk broke out. On top of this odd, even inconceivable situation Borusewicz advised Kołodziej without even a shred of expertise on the subject. At that time Borusewicz lived off the help from his mother, who lived in the USA. Until his later employment in Solidarity he had never been employed by any corporation, whether state-owned or private. His experience or knowledge about job hunting was basically none. And yet he could have predicted that his advice would produce a job for Kołodziej.
It is worth recalling another statement by Borusewicz, from his famous book. Talking about how he tried to motivate the three young workers to organize the strike, he said: “I told them that if we failed to defend Walentynowicz, they would be next, because the authorities made their decision to dismiss workers and they would be affected.”
Therefore, Borusewicz convinced the young workers that the aim of authorities was to dismiss all WZZW members, when at the same time he convinced Kołodziej that the very same authorities, that sacked him from one shipyard, would give him a job in another one. Following Borusewicz’s distorted logic and taking aside reason, one could perhaps see sense in all this...
Joanna Gwiazda thought the entire situation was strange and she expressed it clearly in her book, “It was striking that one WZZW activist, Anna Walentynowicz had been dismissed, whereas another activist, Andrzej Kołodziej, was offered a job in one of the key shipyards in TriCity.” Andrzej Gwiazda went even further, when he said: “Kołodziej’s admission to Gdynia Shipyard proved that the strike was instigated on a very high level of management, because no director of a renowned factory would have courage to employ a well-known revolutionist during such time of tension across the country.” Joanna added: “We do not know to this day whether it was about Wałęsa having Gdańsk Shipyard at his disposal, or whether the authorities hoped that Kołodziej would drive Gdynia Shipyard workers to go on strike as well.”
The answer perhaps, is that WZZW never made any plans of a strike in Gdynia Shipyard, and neither did Borusewicz. The fact remains that Borusewicz, when persuading Kołodziej to seek employment in Gdynia Shipyard, did not mention anything about his plans to strike. Kołodziej, just like majority of his WZZW colleagues, knew nothing about Borusewicz’s plans regarding the strike in Gdańsk Shipyard until it actually broke out.
I must recall a certain fact, consistently ignored by today’s propagandists, and concealed by Borusewicz himself. I consider this fact extremely important in the context of the events that led to the August strike. This fact remains partly secret, due to Borusewicz’s efforts. Perhaps it is Borusewicz’s reluctance, and – in my view – his inability to explain this fact, what makes it so significant.
On the early morning of Thursday, August 14, Borusewicz got on the tram at Sopot Wyścigi stop, with our colleague, a well-known WZZW activist Tomek Wojdakowski. He got off three stops later and, according to his own statements, being tired after a sleepless night, he went to a flat in Gdańsk Wrzeszcze, where he was supposedly hiding for the previous ten days. He went to bed. In the meantime, the strike broke out in Gdańsk Shipyard. Alina Pienkowska communicated it to Kuroń, who then informed Radio Wolna Europa (Radio Free Europe). When Borusewicz woke up, he allegedly heard on the radio that his plan had worked out and the entire shipyard was striking. Such is the official version of the events.
It is a very odd situation indeed that the man, who claims to have single handedly planned, organized and caused the strike, completely disappeared for the whole two days, exactly at the moment when his mission was being implemented. What’s more, he has no explanation to offer. There is no interview, no statement, no memory, and no report by Borusewicz on where he was during those two days, and more importantly, why he was not participating in the strike of his own doing? Other WZZW activists were in the center of the strike and other strikes in other factories. These activists were the people Borusewicz “forgot” to inform about his plan. When asked about his whereabouts during those two days, Borusewicz’s reaction is always the same. He says he did not go to Gdańsk Shipyard, because he knew things were under control there. He went to Gdynia Shipyard instead to support the solitary Andrzej Kołodziej.
He said in his book, “Our entire group was in Gdańsk, whereas Kołodziej was on his own in Gdynia, so I went to see how I could help Andrzej.” He also added, “Andrzej was alone… I was there on a Friday night.”
The question is how Borusewicz managed to assess the situation in Gdańsk Shipyard, if he didn’t go there?
What’s more important is that his answer does not explain anything, because we all know that the strike in Gdańsk Shipyard broke out on Thursday morning, whereas Borusewicz admitted that he only reached Gdynia Shipyard on Friday night. Therefore, between the outbreak of the strike and his appearance in Gdynia, he had entire Thursday, Thursday night and the entire Friday.
How can we understand all this? Borusewicz, who always took the total responsibility for the strike organization, that he managed single handedly and in total conspiracy, is not there during its outbreak, and remains absent during the following two days. He, the one and only organizer of the strike, does not even bother to inform other WZZW activists, who find out about it from external sources.
The important aspect of this situation was that no one anticipated any of the events that occurred during the following few days. The best scenario hoped for and expected was a series of short protests in several departments, and Anna hopefully getting her job back.
Even back in 2005 Borusewicz recalled those expectations clearly, “It was to be a one, perhaps two and maximum three day strike. Even the outbreak would be a success, and if it concluded with achieving our objectives, it would be superb.”
This statement is significant, because it leads to a specific conclusion. If Borusewicz expected the strike to last a day, maybe two, the obvious thought is that his two-day disappearance meant he simply never had any intention of participation in his own strike, or even to check upon it!
Anna Walentynowicz addressed Borusewicz in an open letter back in 1997, in which she referred to Borusewicz’s interview, “The Strike Was a Cool Calculation.” Sarcastically, she wrote, “Reading that interview, I found out that Borusewicz and Kapczyński printed the leaflets with no date of the strike on them, but just the information about Anna Walentynowicz. In secrecy from WZZW, Borusewicz decided to organize the strike. He took responsibility for the strike, which for him meant delegating to three shipyard workers and then went to bed. He woke up relaxed and rang Warsaw to find out that a massive strike broke out in Gdańsk Shipyard. It turned out that your cool calculation gave you a chance, Mr Borusewicz.”
It is not surprising that Borusewicz avoids the subject of the “lost” two days, significant days for that matter. He has been searching for a credible alibi for years now, when a strange thing occurred. Suddenly, after all those years, Andrzej Kołodziej came to Borusewicz’s rescue, offering him his absurd assistance. I have to point out that such stance from Kołodziej has been a huge and not entirely understood astonishment for many of us. To be fair, he is not the only person, who, as a result of his contacts with Borusewicz, changed his mind over the years in order to provide nonsensical testimony. However, his motivation remains unclear, but clear is the fact that his behavior considerably discredited his credibility.
I don’t find it easy to write about this situation, mainly because Andrzej was a brave and very active member of WZZW. His solitary involvement in Gdynia Shipyard strike has been considered a big achievement and I respect him for that. His testimony on many other subjects matters were real attempts to find out the truth. However, on the subject of Borusewicz, Kołodziej adopted an attitude of stretching and twisting facts for the sake of his friend’s image. Kołodziej does it against the truth and his own credibility, and his behavior poses many questions regarding its hidden motives.
The aim of my testimony, though, is to tell the truth about those events and therefore I have to write about Kołodziej.
What did he do? Years after those events, he suddenly decided to provide Borusewicz with an alibi the latter longed for and desperately needed. Kołodziej confirmed that he met Borusewicz in Gdańsk Shipyard on the first day of the strike, August 14!
Speaking on the TV program Pod Prąd (Against the Current), Kołodziej said, “I was in Gdynia on August 14, the day of the strike. The strike in Gdańsk Shipyard broke out a day before and I arrived at Gdynia Shipyard after a full night at Gdańsk Shipyard, where we made last arrangements with colleagues, mainly with Borusewicz. I arrived with materials, the first batch of leaflets that were already printed.”
In his book Gdyńscy Komunardzi (The Gdynia Communards), Kołodziej described his alleged meeting with Borusewicz at Gdańsk Shipyard, “The three of us left: B. Borusewicz, A. Butkiewicz and I. They were the only ones who knew about me starting my job at the Paris Commune Shipyard in Gdynia on that day. Bogdan had a plan. "You have to start a strike in Gdynia Shipyard, he said.” In time Andrzej Kołodziej would repeat this story numerous times.
Why is his story astonishing? Simply because it can’t possibly be true! It can’t be true, because Borusewicz was not present at Gdańsk Shipyard on Thursday, August 14! There is nobody else who could genuinely confirm Borusewicz’s presence at Gdańsk Shipyard during the first two days of the strike. Andrzej Butkiewicz was not there either on that Thursday night.
The most ironic about this situation is that Borusewicz himself confirms his absence from Gdańsk Shipyard on that Thursday night. He has been saying for years quite openly that he went to Gdańsk Shipyard on Saturday, August 16, which was the third day of the strike. He stated precisely in his 2000 interview that he went there on Saturday, and that was after his Friday night visit to Kołodziej in Gdynia.
Borusewicz recalled, “On August 15, I went to the Paris Commune Shipyard in Gdynia, the same way other people from Gdańsk opposition managed to reach those on the strike in the Gdańsk shipyard. Andrzej took over Gdynia Shipyard radio and organized the strike committee. I supported him and then I went to Gdańsk Shipyard the following day, Saturday afternoon.”
His memories are exactly contrary to Kołodziej’s. Borusewicz first went to Gdynia, two days after the strike broke out in Gdańsk. Then, on Saturday, he went to Gdynia. Kołodziej could not have spoken to him in Gdańsk, and therefore, he could have not received the order to start a strike in Gdynia. Borusewicz was absent from Gdańsk Shipyard on Thursday and Friday. All those who were there at that time know about it. I know about it, because from the moment Borusewicz arrived at Gdańsk Shipyard, I spent the following few days beside him.
Kołodziej also knows that, and there in no option of a mistake, because Kołodziej clearly said and repeated that it was at Gdańsk Shipyard that he was ordered by Borusewicz to start the strike at Gdynia Shipyard, and we know that the strike there started on Friday, a day before Borusewicz went to Gdańsk Shipyard.
It must be emphasized that the version about Borusewicz’s presence at Gdańsk Shipyard on the first day of the strike emerged a few years after its outbreak. Before that, Kołodziej never mentioned about his alleged meeting with Borusewicz. It is intriguing why Kołodziej suddenly decided to claim that he instigated the strike at Gdynia Shipyard on Borusewicz’s order? Why does it suddenly matter to Kołodziej that Borusewicz is involved in situations that he had nothing to do with? The first day of the strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard was internal and no one knew how it would end.
Other factories, such as Elmor, Techmet, other shipyards and public transport workers, were only planning at that time their own strike actions in case the shipyard's continued to last. On that first day of the strike, no outsiders, other than Wałęsa, had any input in the shipyard's internal matters. The only people with WZZW connection, beside Walentynowicz (who arrived with other shipyard workers) and Wałęsa, present on Thursday, August14, were Bogdan Felski, Ludwik Prądzyński, and Piotr Maliszewski, Anna's associate. All of them were employed by Gdańsk Shipyard, same as Alina Pienkowska, who worked on the Shipyard reception. There were no WZZW members, who would not be employed by the Shipyard present. Certainly, there was no Bogdan Borusewicz there.
Other WZZW members were at their own workplaces, observing the strike's course of action, and looking for ways to join it. Being the author of these memoir, I can confirm that the only person present on the day, and not employed by the shipyard, was myself. I was not there to represent anybody, because I would not have been able to prove it. I was there to observe the events, staying at intervals to avoid raising suspicions.
A few days prior to the strike, I brought a batch of independent publications from Warsaw, and I travelled between home and the shipyard in order to fetch them in small numbers to avoid suspicion. My regular trips made me a familiar face to the shipyard's security at the entrance gate, enabling easy access. The shipyard workers craved any independent press and were happy with even the tiniest amounts. The well-known WZZW activists began making their appearance in the shipyard only on Saturday.
Regarding his presence in Gdańsk Shipyard on the night of August 14, Kołodziej wrote, "We went to the strike center, where, unsurprisingly, many WZZW members were, including Bogdan Borusewicz, Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda, Alina Pienkowska, Anna Walentynowicz, and Lech Wałęsa."
As I wrote earlier, Borusewicz was not there. Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda were not there at that time either, as confirmed by Joanna, who recalled, "On the night of August 14, we met at Ewa Szurtyka's, to prepare the strike demands that would suit the WZZW needs." Anrzej Gwiazda also denied Kołodziej's version about the WZZW members meeting that night at Gdańsk Shipyard. What is more, Gwiazda said that he actually paid a brief visit to the shipyard, very late that night, after spending all day in hospital, with his ill mother, meeting absolutely no one there, other than security guards he briefly spoke to before heading home. He described that event in his book:
“I got to the shipyard without attracting attention. There was no one at the third gate. I was handed a strike banner at the gate. The strike's demands, except the one about a commemoration board for 1970 strikes' victims, were embarrassingly shallow, such as jobs for Walentynowicz and Wałęsa, and 1500 PLN pay. Who would fight for that? I left shortly. He left to join Joanna and others in Przymorze and work on demands for the strike in his own company, Elmor, which was to start the following day, on condition that the shipyard workers would hold to their strike till then. Gwiazda was precise about when exactly he turned up at Gdańsk Shipyard to strike. We went over to the Gdańsk Shipyard at around noon on Saturday, to check what was happening there, work out some decent compromise, and decide what to do next and how to manage the strike."
We can only imagine why Kołodziej claimed he met them all at the shipyard at the same time and why he used those people to give Borusewicz credibility.
Borusewicz does not leave any doubts that he was not at Gdańsk Shipyard on August 14, reiterating his statement in numerous interviews, including the one for Gazeta Wyborcz in 2000. "I stayed away from Gdańsk Shipyard that night." In the same interview, he added, "Kołodziej started his job on August 14. He did not know about the strike. After his shift, Kołodziej went to Gdańsk Shipyard. He saw the strike was sustained, and that the strike committee had been formed. Therefore, he went back to Gdynia Shipyard and started a strike there on August 15."
Kołodziej does not stop at providing Borsuk with alibi regarding his whereabouts. He also tries to prove that Borsuk's disappearance at the time of the strike was due to his busy schedule as a result of the strike's success. It gave a start to another, seemingly insignificant lie.
During the first few years after the strike, Kołodziej talked about how important Andrzej Butkiewicz, our WZZW friend, was in Gdynia Shipyard's strike. That was a true fact. Butkiewicz was the second, next to Kołodziej, driving force of the strike. He opened and ran the printing house, later known as Gdynia Shipyard' Independent Printing House. Unfortunately, this fact was replaced with a lie when Andrzej Kołodziej decided to distort it for the sake of Borsuk's alibi. He chose a rather grotesque way to do it.
The new version of events concerning the printing house was formed during Borusewicz's interview, but interestingly, it was the interviewer, Edmund Szczesiak, who formed it. He referred to a friend of Borusewicz, Maria Koszarska, "On Friday, August 15, you asked her to activate a shipyard's printing house in Gdynia. Maria selected a brilliant professional from Graphics Company, Zygmunt Sabatowski. They went to Gdynia. Sabatowski turned all printing machines one by one, and began to print double sided leaflets. He had a young assistant, Danuta Jakusz, who focused on sorting the leaflets. Thanks to these two individuals, thousands of leaflets were produced daily, to be distributed around the Tri-City. This story in not very well known."
If the story was not well known, it was because it was totally untrue. Nevertheless, Borusewicz, grateful and "modest," replied, "You are right, I forgot all about it." Adding a few more nonsensical "facts," he managed to create another Borusewicz-style story. For his own benefit and with a single move, he crossed out the involvement of Butkiewicz, who was one of the most prominent WZZW members Borusewicz worked with at the time of WZZW.
I have no intention of taking away any respect from Zygmunt Sabatowski, with whom I later worked in the MKZ Gdańsk Solidarity. Sabatowski was a true professional and a solid person, who printed stuff during the martial law, and went to prison for it. The respect I have for him, though, cannot change the fact that he did not activate the printing house in Gdynia Shipyard. His name is simply used to give credibility to Borusewicz.
The fact remains that the people who activated the printing house in Gdynia were Andrzej and Maciek Butkiewicz, without Zygmunt Sabatowski ever being there. Andrzej and Maciek Butkiewicz arrived at Gdynia Shipyard on Friday, when the shipyard's printing house was still shut.
It was Andrzej who negotiated the opening of the printing house with the director of Gdynia Shipyard. When the director refused, Andrzej instigated and supervised its opening by the Shipyard workers. The day they entered the printing house offices, there was no one there and no printing machines were in operation. Andrzej and Maciek proceeded to activate the printing machines, at first alone, and later with the help of three young people sourced externally. The process took a few hours, before they could finally began printing. The printing office was rather small, with only these few people having had access to it. The printing house was guarded by a few shipyard workers, appointed by Kołodziej. He himself recalled that without exceptions, no one was able to access the printing office without permission. Absolutely no one was allowed, other than the few printing machines operators, who were given passes. Therefore, Zygmunt Sabatowski could not have been there before the printing house opening, and definitely not when Butkiewicz brothers activated it. This has been unambiguously confirmed by Andrzej Butkiewicz, and sustained over the years by Maciek Butkiewicz.
In Gdynia Shipyard's most guarded office, an additional person could not have gone unnoticed. The story about Sabatowski is absurd and the only reason for its fabrication was to give credibility to Borusewicz's incoherent lies. Neither Andrzej, nor Maciek Butkiewicz ever met Zygmunt Sabatowski in the printing office. There is no room for a mistake either, because a few months later Andrzej opened and ran the MKZ Gdańsk Solidarity printing house. The same one Zygmunt Sabatowski was employed by. They met there for the first time!
Both Sabatowski and Butkiewicz worked alongside at Gdańsk Solidarity, often conversing. Working in the same printing house, I participated in those conversations, having had met Sabatowski a few years earlier, when completing my apprenticeship under his supervision. We discussed a lot about the strike in MKZ Gdańsk Solidarity printing house. Sabatowski had never mentioned his alleged activation of Gdynia printing house. He simply couldn't.
Andrzej Butkiewicz was my best friend, right until his pre-mature death in 2008. We spent a lot of time recollecting those times and even writing memoirs. I know about his time at Gdynia Shipyard during the August strike. Andrzej decidedly denied having ever met Sabatowski there. Maciej, his younger brother supports his version to this day, recalling precisely people, who at that time appeared in the shipyard's printing house. He has never mentioned Sabatowski.
Such numerous lies flourished over the years, due to plausible stories, told in order to give credibility to serious, significant lies. It is not easy to discredit those stories without referring to numerous little details, which is most often absolutely necessary, because those seemingly insignificant stories are created in order to provide foundation to the falsehood forced upon us as an ultimate truth.
Kołodziej, suddenly becoming a very determined advocate of Borusewicz's lies, not only taking an unrewarding and difficult role, but often having to demonstrate rather stunning inventiveness in order to facilitate his elaborate lies.
Seeing a man of an unblemished reputation, with a history of devoted service to a noble cause, lying profoundly to provide Borusewicz with false alibi, one can't help but suspect a hidden agenda.
In a situation when the public is told that Borusewicz, driven by unselfish desires of an opposition activist, organized and caused the outbreak of the August strike in Gdańsk Shipyard, how can we fail to be stunned by so many questions without answers, so many perversions of the truth, and so many false reports, all in order to defend such falseness?
Source: wzzw.wordpress.com; Lech Zborowski by Kazimierz Maciejewski, May 25, 2013
Recommended documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=38&v=t4B7DgzDxsY