GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991


It was on some April Monday. The "Wolę Być..." (I Prefer To Be) movement members had their weekly meeting near Plac 3 Krzyży square in Warsaw. Passing along the tiny park they saw the trees begining to be cut. It wasn't a fresh matter. One year earlier the area had been entered by an Austrian business, "Warimex" in order to build a hotel in the place where nearly sixty trees grew since the last war. Several protests arose, from the ecologists, from a neighbors committee and from the local "Solidarity". The case was delayed then while two expertises were being prepared. One of them concluded "yes", the other "no". Finally, Warsaw's vice-president Olgierd R. Dziekoński decided the trees to be cut and the hotel to be built. The growing capital needs many good hotel places to attract foreign businesspeople.

The young greens were desperate. For them it was clear: without the trees and the open air flow above them the air in Plac 3 Krzyży area would get much worse although it was already all but fresh. And the life has a value in itself. And after all, we prefer the sight of a green, shady park to just another large concrete building. What to do? At night someone wrote on the fence "Do not cut the trees!", "Ecology, not commerce!". Signed WiP (Freedom & Peace movement).

The "Wolę Być"'s came again the next morning and tried to stop the cutters. They tried to talk with the environment conservation department and with the investor. Tried to delay. One of the two cutting permissions was still to claim. Nothing. The decisions had been made, the money had been put in. Next day a few environmentalists came with banners and tied themselves to the trees with chains. Some others by the time rang up all the possible media. A crowd of reporters exceeded several times the small number of determined trees' defenders. The notices on the radio gave them some hope. In the afternoon a barricade was mounted by the main gateway. But the firm were vigilant and engaged some protection agency which made the "work" stop.

Next day was the day of confrontation. All the media took a mouthful of water, except for two or three reporters. The trees were being cut piece by piece, over the heads of the protesters. But it took the cutters a lot of trouble. The police called in by them did not want to intervene. "The people have got too much democracy nowadays" was a constaple's private comment. The passerbies were mostly indifferent, except some school children who shouted "Don't destroy the nature!" but eventually got scared of the police. The police turned useful anyhow, when the upset investor director spat at the face of a reporter taking photos from behind the fence. Some trees were still defended.

And it went on for the following days. But the young greens were not able to stay there all the time. The talks with Mr. Dziekoński proved in vain. The Warsaw Nature Conservation head officer was sympathetic but his opinion was not essential to the vicepresident. With about a week's delay, all the trees were cut. Most of them - on the Earth Day.

J. Pawel Listwan

GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991 | Contents