GB No. 4(23)/96
In the Gazeta w Krakowie of 25.07.96, an article by Katarzyna Bik appeared entitled Niech będzie muzeum. 50-lecie Nowej Huty. Portret dla dzielnicy (Let it be a museum. The 50th anniversary of Nowa Huta. Portrait for the district). The text informed its readers that the director of the steel works had established a group that was to prepare the conception and program of the Nowa Huta Museum. The institution was intended to present the past of the region, its history and prehistory, as the author put it "the medieval history of the district as well as achievements of the People's Poland (underlining by the author). Among representatives of several institutions from Kraków and Nowa Huta, also the Chairman of the Polish Ecological Club (PKE), Prof. Stanisław Juchnowicz belonged to the group.
I am against the idea of the museum and the participation of the Chairman of PKE makes me voice my protest publicly.
The justification of my attitude is following. PKE came into being to manifest the general protest against the madness and crimes of socialist industrialisation imposed from outside (promoted in the name of conquering the world by means of weapons and bringing deprivation of needs combined with total ecological disaster to the enslaved nations). The evil of the system was most drastically visible in Kraków. In this town, against elemental economical reasons (far from raw material resources and on the best soils) a most environmentally detrimental steelworks (of iron, steel and aluminum) was raised.
PKE initially focused on two demands: stopping 1. fluorine-emitting electrolytic aluminum production and 2. raw material production in the Nowa Huta complex, which is extremely dangerous for the environment. The project of necessary changes was published on the 31st of May 1981, signed by PKE and NSZZ "Solidarity" (sic!). The first demand - as it is widely known - was met by the communist authorities but the second one could not be dealt with any earlier than after the fall of the communist regime, and it was a source of unfortunate variances within PKE (I wrote about them in my book published last year).
Communist totalitarianism vandalised the most precious, historically as well as culturally, region of Poland, which deserved the name of "culturcide". The royal city was degraded (as its natural function of tourism, culture and science centre was violated) and widely destroyed (its architectural balance broken, its development deformed, rapid corrosion of its monuments, destruction of libraries and museums). These matters are widely known now and for the first time they were pointed out in the collection of papers issued by PKE for its 10th anniversary, entitled Klęska ekologiczna Krakowa (Ecological Disaster in Kraków) (Kraków, 1990).
Władysław Gomułka in his speech addressed to Primate Wyszynski, unintentionally summed up the situation saying that "Stalin was the one who helped us build Nowa Huta, he persuade us to do it, it was his initiative, I do not mean exactly Nowa Huta; he said, "develop heavy industry and we will help you". (The conversation between the First Secretary of KC PZPR W. Gomułka and Polish Primate Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski on the 11th of January 1960. Recorded on a cassette, published in the Myśl Socjaldemokratyczna no 2-3, p. 66. 1993.)
Lately one of our rare living political authorities, Jan Nowak Jeziorański, commented the affairs of Nowa Huta. Among numerous crimes of Polish communism he pointed at the deadly threat to Kraków, miraculously saved treasure of national heritage, posed by the complex that was to change the social class profile of the royal city (Gigantyczna oszustwo in Spór o PRL, Kraków 1996, p. 81).
The short remarks are probably sufficient to prove that the only proper conception of the Nowa Huta Museum is: HOW COMMUNIST TOTALITARIANISM DEFORMED AND DESTROYED THE ROYAL KRAKÓW, instead of the eulogy hidden behind the banner of historical perspective in the achievement of People's Poland, intended by the board of the steelworks. Only the first conception can be accepted by the organisation that has its roots in the protest against the mad doctrinal industrialisation of the city. Support for the idea promoted by the board of the steelworks would be like participation of Second World War victims (e.g. prisoners of the concentration camps) in organising a museum of "the achievements of the German army" in the war.
The crew of the metallurgic complex in Nowa Huta - although the plant is onerous in economical and ecological terms - makes a powerful pressure group respected by authorities of both local and national level. The opportunist politicians of various sorts, from the post-communist and post-solidarity leftist to self-styled rightist, vie for the workers' favours, as shown in the discussions about the future of the complex held in 1991. Despite the supposedly secured interests of the plant, its management, allied with "specialists" and "experts", wants to improve the image of the complex, e.g. in a neatly published and free brochure on the problems of industrial cities issued by the Committee of Environmental Engineering at PAN. The museum planned by the board is to serve a similar purpose.
Still, why does PKE, officially keeping its distance from politics, involves itself in such affairs that apparently collide with the values and aims declared by the organisation in its program? Why should it impair its own credibility?
Kraków, 1st Sept. 1996
Member of the Polish Ecological Club
PS. When the text was already prepared for printing, life added a practical conclusion to the affair. In the Gazeta w Krakowie of the 14th of September, an article Śmierdzący wschodni wiatr (Stinking Eastern Wind) appeared: on the 12th of July, a resident of the Czerwony Prądnik district phoned to the editorial office. She complained that she could smell an abominable odour in and around her house. Closer examination showed that the accepted limit of dusts emitted by the Nowa Huta steelworks had been exceeded. Such reports, which emerge now and then, but are rarely exposed to the public, spoil the efforts of improving the image of the plant; the support of the PKE Chairman may really be desired.
reprinted from Zielone Brygady, Sept. '96,
transl. M. Maciejewska