When evaluating others, remember - everyone has their own value system
It was 1982, late evening in May.
I was sitting in car in Wroclaw at Perec Square, waiting for the right moment to drive away.
I just wanted to go home.
It was not easy at all. A regular fight began on the square.
I did not take part, although I hated the power system in Poland with all my heart.
I can hear the ZOMO unit - militarized militia - coming in my direction. I crouched as much as I could, I would like to fall underground. Maybe you won't notice?
They noticed me: "Commander - someone is sitting here!"
The commander opened the door of my Syrena. This was the official brand name of my car.
"What are you doing here?"
The only answer that came to mind was "I'm scared".
Distress, I must have tickled his ego enough because he only hit the roof of the car with his truncheon.
"Fuck off!" - he shouted and the group left.
I was relieved to follow this command.
Syrena - in English: mermaid - was a popular Polish car with a 41 HP two-stroke engine.
Photo from the Museum of Urban Technology in Kraków.
After a few months of hard work, I was terribly tired.
Every day after eight hours of work in the state clinical hospital, I started the second - definitely more difficult job.
How did I become an underground activist?
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It started in February 1982.
Two months after the introduction of martial law in Poland.
Rysiek (Richard) Wojtasik came to me unexpectedly.
I had known him for several years.
I bought electronic components from him and from the mid-seventies also unofficial, uncensored books.
From him I obtained books such as "The Archipelago Gulag" by Alexander Solschenizyn, "Beautiful Twenty Year Old" by Marek Hlasko and many others. We were buddies.
This is what he looked like when I met him.
When Richard came in and I locked the door behind him, he asked bluntly:
"We are founding the Radio Solidarność underground group - do you want to participate?"
"For sure!" - I answered without thinking.
If I thought about it, the answer would be the same anyway.
I was aware that I received this proposal for purely pragmatic reasons.
Richard had poor eyesight and had neither a license nor a car. I had both.
The fact that I studied electronics like Richard at the Wroclaw Technical University was less important here.
To be precise, Richard finished his studies, but did not approach defending his thesis. He didn't need it for anything. When I got to know him better, I understood why he chose this path.
He was seven years older than me.
When Solidarność was founded in August 1980, I was fresh out of college. I haven't worked yet, so I couldn't go on strike.
In August 1980 my wife and I spent our vacation in Sozopol, Bulgaria.
"Brezhnev comes to you!" - We were startled every day by a tourist from Ostrava (Czechoslovakia).
He heard the radio "The Voice of America".
When we returned to the country, we found Poland completely changed. Euphoria and relief after the signed contracts were felt everywhere - the country awoke from lethargy.
What did I live on back then?
I have repaired the radio and television sets.
The repair center was located near Jedności Narodowej Street.
In December 1980 I started working in the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine at the State Clinical Hospital in Tytus Chałubiński Street under the direction of Professor Aroński.
I signed up for solidarity and, after a month of work, was elected chairman of the circle - the smallest organizational unit in the Solidarność. The boss himself, Professor Aroński, was in solidarity with us.
As an electronics specialist, I was responsible for the technical medical equipment, but I was also involved in pacemaker implantation procedures.
My tasks included measuring the sensitivity threshold, i. H. the lowest level of pulse voltage at which the patient's heart has responded correctly by contraction.
I had an interesting job. For a year, up to martial law, I was fully involved in both professional and trade union work.
On the night of December 12-13, 1981, when martial law was introduced, I was with my mother.
After hearing about martial law on TV, I took the train to Wroclaw. I saw the ZOMO troops in front of the Solidarity headquarters in Mazowiecka Street and a day later in front of the Technical University.
Brezhnev did not visit us - it was not necessary ...
Impotence is probably the most accurate expression of the feelings that tormented us then.
When Richard offered to work on the underground solidarity radio in February, my answer could not have been otherwise.
And then start it ...
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Richard was a great organizer. First of all, when it comes to dealing with technical issues.
He had many friends and always knew when to meet to solve a problem.
And I served him as a driver.
The idea was not bad - the Syrena was a widespread vehicle in Poland at the time.
I didn't hide underground like many others, which was a big advantage.
Thanks to me, he has increased his work effectiveness many times over. Every day we visited several addresses in and around Wroclaw. I was available to him all day on weekends.
After the curfew was lifted in May, we worked late into the night.
Because of the conspiracy, I didn't know where Richard was sleeping. I left him near his "cave" late at night.
The next day he showed up in my apartment in Biskupin (Wroclaw district), and we set off right after lunch.
I had many opportunities to get to know Richard better. He was an extraordinary man - sensitive to human suffering.
He helped others, even when he needed help himself.
If he wanted to do something, he would go on until he got it.
It was extremely effective, probably thanks to its persistent pursuit of the purpose.
If something did not work, he rejected the ineffective method and set about solving the matter from another side.
He was a realist, he didn't set goals that were impossible to achieve. Many thoughts about his goals - that they were utopian. This was sometimes even said about the goals Richard had achieved.
Wojtasik was a workhorse, he requires it of himself and others.
He was a Catholic, a very religious man - he had extensive contacts with clergymen.
He most often greeted people with "God bless you!".
When the wind blew strong, he always said, "I think the devil hanged himself."
Sometimes he took me to the people he visited. Most of the time - due to the rules of conspiracy - I had to wait in the car. Sometimes such a wait took several hours.
What did Richard accomplish through these visits?
Many things - especially the supply of components for transmitters, but also the construction of the transmitter housing and the transmitter antennas. He consulted his colleagues - radio frequency specialists.
Andrzej Giszter was one of them. I met him back then.
Andrzej was also an electronics engineer, a great specialist in FM transmitters.
I also met "Emil" - that was his nickname. Today I know that this is George (Jerzy) Weber, professor at the Agricultural University (currently University of Life Sciences).
After the introduction of martial law in December 1981, he led a protest strike at the university after which he never returned home. He received a study leave from the rector and organized the solidarity radio team in the underground on behalf of RKS.
RKS - Regional Strike Committee.
In mid-August 1982, when the new university authorities canceled his vacation, he decided to reveal himself. He handed the group management over to "Augustyn" Tadeusz J and was interned on his return to work.
On one of these visits I also met Dr. Richard Wroczyński.
He was a technical assistant for "Emil". As an employee of the Wroclaw University of Technology, he was very familiar with the technology of transmitter construction. Our transmitters were originally built and tested in his apartment.
I was asked by Richard Wojtasik to build timer circuits that delay the switching on of the transmitter, that the transmitter layer has time to escape from the roof. Marek J. later took up this task.
I also bought 4.5-volt 3R12 batteries and assembled them into packages.
They served as a power source for transmitters.
Can you imagine what my life was like? A few hours of sleep, work in a hospital, then stressful activities in an underground organization. The basic principles of the underground had to be maintained.
We had to compromise on these principles. It was possible to hide so deeply that every contact was prevented. Then of course any activity would be excluded. Work efficiency was extremely important.
How can you build an FM transmitter?
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This requires knowledge and practice in the electronics profession.
Amateurs can also produce such a device with low output.
I built an FM transmitter right after I finished school.
It had low performance and a range of around 500 meters.
I remember trying it in Brzeg - a town between Opeln and Breslau.
It was summer 1974. My sister Ewa sat in front of the FM radio tuned to my station's frequency and I slowly walked away and counted according to the steps. From here I know that after about 500 double steps - and that I was already big at the time so that you can count safely in meters - the range slowly ended.
The transmitter was a small circuit board with an approximately 69 MHz generator, a miniature microphone and a frequency modulator.
At that time the FM frequency range was in Poland: 65.5-74.0 MHz.
Board size: 5 cm x 4 cm. No housing. The transmitter was powered by a 9 volt battery.
To give you an idea of what it could look like, I found something on the Internet:
Copy of the picture from the page "Electronics for everyone" 6/2011
The picture shows a similar electronic device - unfortunately I have not photographed my transmitter.
I built it not to compete with my favorite radio three.
In "Welcome to the Three" I listened to the cabaret Elita, Jacek Fedorowicz and many other great artists.
No, I had no such ambitions at the time. I was shortly after graduating from high school and didn't yet know that I was living in a country with a totalitarian system.
Such a device, which I have described above, was absolutely not suitable for our purposes during martial law.
We needed professional transmitters with more power. In order to cover a large part of the city the size of Wroclaw on FM waves, we needed transmitters with a power of about 10 to 30 watts. The one made and described above had a maximum of 0.2 watts.
The biggest problem was to get a high frequency power transistor that can amplify the signal transmitted to the antenna.
But what did we have Richard Wojtasik for?
He also made contacts among railway and militia employees.
And that's where the power transistors for our first transmitters came from.
Getting these transistors wasn't the only technical problem.
The transmission antenna itself is a very important element.
A good antenna can significantly improve the range.
Transmitters had to be set up quickly.
That is why we decided on a mobile solution. Our antennas were attached to aluminum tent poles. These half meter pipes are telescopically extended like vacuum cleaner pipes, but stiff.
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One day when I was traveling with Richard as usual, my apartment was searched. Apart from the solidarity stamp and a few leaflets, they found nothing.
Because they were looking sloppy. We lived in a rented apartment in Biskupin. We had a storage room outside the apartment. In addition to a large number of current copies of the illegal RKS "daily newspapers", the antenna masts - those made of aluminum and some elements of the transmitter housing - were stored in this room.
I could easily explain the cases. At that time, the Polish security service SB did not know what our transmitters looked like.
RKS - Abbreviation Regionalny Komitet Strajkowy - in English Regional Strike Committee.
They ordered the solidarity badge to be hidden on a kilim hanging on the wall.
When my wife Danusia asked provocatively whether to throw her on the ground and kick her feet, they just shrugged.
They went away without finding anything.
In June 1982 my boss at the State Clinical Hospital, Professor Aroński, contacted me:
"Either go or I'll fire you!"
I did my job well - the only reason was my commitment to solidarity, which he does.
I suspect he was pressured by the SB in this case. Because of my activities for solidarity before martial law. The search also revealed that I am not an admirer, General Jaruzelski.
I chose the first option. I quit by mutual agreement.
I even preferred it. From August I was able to devote myself entirely to the work for radio solidarity.
From then on, I stopped working until my trip to Austria in November 1982.
Please don't ask me what I've been living on - especially not my wife's salary.
I received money from Richard for additional fuel for Syrena.
No permanent job was required to make money during this time. I didn't have time to spend money myself.
If I had time, I could make money by creating useful electronic devices - the market took everything back then.
Unsuccessful attempts to broadcast radio programs
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We had two unsuccessful attempts to send.
The first broadcast was scheduled to air on June 20. There was no emission for prosaic reasons.
Our first transmitter was ready for use. It had an aluminum case, but the batteries were packed together with a rubber band. We connected the batteries outside with a solder cable. The batteries fell apart during transport to the sending location and reconnection was not possible without the appropriate tools.
Simply bad luck. It happens.
Batteries were already installed in the transmitter box for the second show, which was announced on July 27th. An antenna and an acoustic signal from a cassette recorder had to be connected to this box.
The dump near the Wroclaw - Mikołajów train station was chosen as the broadcasting location. We were there with Richard, gave the head of the set group Zygmunt Pelc a transmitter, a tape recorder with cable and antenna and then waited for the broadcast on the car radio. At the announced time, the FM transmitter signal appeared. Unfortunately, there was silence - only a carrier wave, as "Emil" also found in his apartment in Popowice, where he was tracking the emission. It was the first and only transmitter, so Georg Weber decided to bring him back and bring him to Ryszard Wroczyński's apartment. At that time, it was the only place where transmitters could be attached. It turned out that the cable that connects the tape recorder to the transmitter has come loose.
The broadcasts were prepared by the recording studio group that created the cassette. I didn't know anyone on that team at the time. These tapes reached us at the last minute before we handed over the transmitters to Zygmunt's Pelc Group.
After two unsuccessful attempts, we changed the design of the transmitter. The whole, including a tape recorder and batteries, was mounted in a case. The only external element was the antenna. The antennas were installed on the roofs a few days earlier. It was a pretty safe job. Such antennas do not differ significantly in appearance from the television antennas commonly used at that time.
The setters only had to bring the transmitter to the roof, connect the antenna cable to the transmitter and press the timer activation button at the right moment. And then they left the building quietly so as not to attract attention.
It was widely believed that counterintelligence was used to create illegal radio programs and that someone who was caught would spend many years in prison. I don't know how it really was. I could definitely be interested in being captured.
Now, in 2020, it is clear in retrospect that we chose a good form of underground action.
Despite many informants, the security service did not find any trace in almost all underground structures that would lead them to us.
Of course, they learned about Richard Wojtasik, but only when he came to them himself.
He simply used the amnesty of July 22, 1983.
But you can read about it in the book "Solidarity in the ether. It's about Wroclaw radio operations". Authors: Małgorzata Wanke-Jakubowska and Maria Wanke-Jerie.
I knew three of the five characters in this book: Richard Wojtasik, Richard Wroczyński, and Zygmunt Pelc, or had the opportunity to learn about time during martial law while working for RKS.
Radio Solidarność's first broadcast
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On August 29, 1982 we finally succeeded.
The first radio program of the RKS Lower Silesia was broadcast. We have broadcast this and all subsequent programs on FM.
The programs and their dates were announced in leaflets and underground newspapers.
It took us many months of hard work to send the program.
During the radio we were with Richard in Andrzej Giszer's apartment. For this occasion, Andrzej converted a small oscilloscope into a wobuloscop.
Sample image from the wobuloscop. Found in the forum on the Internet.
The wobuloscop showed all transmitters in the FM range.
We were very happy that new stations appeared one after the other alongside the state channels.
It was a complete success.
In the first broadcast, the chairman of the RKS Władysław Frasyniuk appealed to the residents of Wroclaw to take part in the demonstration on August 31 on the occasion of the second anniversary of the signing of the Gdansk, Szczecin and Jastrzębie agreements.
You can listen to this broadcast in Polish at:
Wroclaw - underground solidarity radio
Yes. We went and showed solidarity symbols that were banned by the authorities.
I saw a burning military vehicle on the Grunwald Bridge. I've seen a lot of people - I've probably seen the greatest manifestation in Wroclaw history.
For the first successful broadcast, we prepared four channels that were placed by a group of Zygmunt Pelc on the roofs of selected high, mostly eleven-story buildings.
The action to restore the transmitter after the broadcast
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One of these locations was the house on Chorwacka Street in the Różanka district.
After the broadcast we went there with Richard Wojtasik.
It was around midnight on the 29th / 30th August 1982.
In fact, we decided to sacrifice transmitters after the issue. The risk was enormous. A station can be easily located when transmitting. The broadcast lasted 23 minutes - enough time to find all four stations. Back then, SB had the best equipment, which was imported primarily from East Germany - the GDR.
We have long observed whether suspicious vehicles were waiting for us. Everyone was suspicious - luckily, they were all empty, nobody was watching the area.
At midnight we decided to act.
Joseph B., who lived nearby, stayed and watched. I went to the roof of the house with Richard Wojtasik.
It had 11 floors and we took an elevator to the top floor - from there to the roof and found the box and antenna that the Zygmunt Pelc Group man had left behind.We moved the transmitter to Joseph B.'s basement. The next day he was taken to Richard Wroczyński's apartment.
We used this transmitter again for the second broadcast. It was enough to change the batteries and the cassette.
After the first broadcast, the pressure by Richard Wojtasik (his nickname "Joseph") decreased. There weren't that many urgent issues to deal with. I guess we visited about half of the places at that time compared to the time before the first broadcast.
Even later, despite the fact that the pace of our work slowed down a bit, I was busy all the time.
August 31, 1982
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I stood in a crowd in front of the Grunwald Bridge. I had the bridge in front of me and Grunwaldzki Square behind. At some point the crowd cried out for satisfaction and applause. A cloud of smoke appeared in the middle of the bridge. It was hard to see anything from my seat, but people shared news of the Border Guard Army's burned vehicle.
Photo from https://polska-org.pl/
At this point it was no longer possible to use the car. I suspected this earlier and left the Syrena in the courtyard of the house in Biskupin where I lived.
When I walked through the park, I was surprised to see a policeman wearing a white helmet riding a horse. He drove a few yards near me, but somehow, I didn't feel threatened. I saw several such police officers on horseback.
The demonstration was long. The demonstrators overran the city for many hours.
This demonstration, and in particular its massive support, surprised everyone.
After the demonstration, I returned home late in the evening.
What was my surprise when it turned out that my wife was not there? Danusia also wanted to take part in the demonstration, but for obvious reasons she couldn't be with me.
In the morning we were with Richard in an apartment on Sienkiewicza Street and listened to the conversation’s militia and SB on scanners.
I knew Danusia would go to Grunwaldzki Square. It was late at night and I had no idea where to look for her.
I decided to look for her. I knew there was a curfew due to the demonstrations, but my wife was more important to me. It sounds buzzing, but I really didn't care if I legally leave the house or not.
All phones were turned off for demonstration as in December 1981.
I got in the car and went to my sister-in-law's apartment in another part of Wroclaw on Młodych Techników Street.
The streets were empty, I bypassed the Grunwaldzki Bridge because I knew that this burned vehicle was still there, and drove over the Peace Bridge. I came to my sister-in-law without any problems. I woke them up, but unfortunately, they didn't know anything about Danusia's fate.
I came back across the Sikorski Bridge (I don't remember that bridge's name at the time, but it was definitely different). Right after the bridge, just before Księcia Witolda Street, the militia stopped me.
"Don't you know, citizens, that it's a curfew?"
"Oh, I didn't know!" - It was a straight lie.
"Open the trunk!"
I did what he ordered and I was horrified because I had a large supply of tent poles in the trunk. We used these as antenna masts.
This amount would be enough for several tents.
But the militia officer was rather disappointed with this view. He asked me where I lived and advised me which way to take to avoid coming across ZOMO.
The ZOMO barracks was around the corner on Księcia Witolda Street.
I came home without any obstacles and without my wife.
I imagined she was going on the "health trail".
This is what we called the way in which protesters were mostly treated back then.
Two rows of ZOMO people with sticks, between which the demonstrators run.
Danusia came home healthy and alert in the morning.
It turned out that our friends kept her at Grunwaldzki Square because of the curfew and stayed in an apartment there.
The balance of the demonstration in Wroclaw on August 31, 1982 - four firearms killed and twelve wounded, but I found out much later.
We couldn't complain about boredom.
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In September we visited Biskupin together with Richard "Leon" - Tadeusz Kozar, an astronomer from the University of Wroclaw. I remembered this visit because it was very useful to me five months later in Trieste, an Italian port city.
But I'll write about it later.
"Leon" then showed us professional FM stations. They were panels that were firmly connected to BNC plugs.
At the end of September, exactly on the 28th, we broadcast our second program.
I went privately with the Syrena to Warsaw.
It was not a happy trip. The transmission fell 20 km before Warsaw. I dragged the car to a workshop in Warsaw and after clarifying my matter, I returned to Wroclaw by train.
When I later met Richard Wojtasik, I got him 30,000 zlotys to repair the car.
I was surprised - I went to Warsaw privately and I hadn't expected anything of the sort. I would probably make it, because for a professional it wasn't money that was a problem, but how to spend it wisely.
I accepted the money, signed the receipt and finished.
It was only many years later that I learned about the source of money from the film "80 million solidarity".
In Wroclaw, two days before martial law, solidarity activists paid out from the Solidarność union bank account and hid PLN 80 million.
I looked for my receipt in the book 'Kajetan Archives or 80 million in bills'. Unfortunately I have not found something like this.
There I found receipts from Richard Wojtasik.
The Warsaw auto repair shop did a great job and after two weeks I was able to pick up my Syrena.
During this time I saw a portrait of Walesa hanging on the wall during one of my visits with Richard Wojtasik - I no longer remember who. Graphic, signed by well-known artist Jacek Fedorowicz.
The hosts give it to me spontaneously.
Caption: "Portrait of an unknown man with a mustache (second half of the 20th century)"
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We broadcast the third program on October 25th, and then the authorities achieved "great success".
On the roof of one of the houses on Buska Street they found our station in the act - or rather after the act, because the program was broadcast until the end.
A note was attached to the transmitter:
"Warning, the transmitter is defending itself!"
They called for sappers who found nothing dangerous.
They even showed the broadcaster on television news for all of Poland.
None of us were caught then or because of later programs.
When General Jaruzelski announced in autumn 1982 that he would release citizens to their families in the West, I decided, on Richard's conviction, to take this opportunity.
"You will be more useful to me there than here", he argued.
He meant coordinating orders for electronic components for transmitters.
Danusia stayed in Poland - because we wouldn't both get passports at the same time.
In fact, when I was already in Vienna, she was denied a pass several times.
She also studied and did not want to interrupt her studies.
On November 5th, three days before the planned fourth broadcast, I boarded the Syrena and drove to my sister's in Vienna.
At this time Richard Wojtasik brought me a letter of conduct:
Text in English: Wroclaw November 3, 82nd. Person who presents this letter is authorized to place orders and purchase components for radio RKS NSZZ "Solidarność" Lower Silesia. Please provide comprehensive support.
It was a letter on tissue paper. Signed by Pinior and Bednarz. Both ran the RKS underground.
I made a copy before I sent it to Paris - so I can show it to you now.
Richard gave me a phone number from Seweryn Blumstein's Paris office.
It was not my first trip to the west.
I went to Vienna for the third time - for the second time by car.
In Czechoslovakia, on the Austrian border in Mikulov, about 500 m before the border, a soldier stood with a rifle and stopped all cars. He checked whether people were traveling with a passport. After such a check, if everything was OK, the vehicle was allowed to approach the border.
And there was this infamous "iron curtain". This role was taken over by an iron lock in the form of a heavy steel tube with a diameter of approx. 40 cm. mounted on concrete supports. It was opened in the direction of Czechoslovakia with the help of an electric motor (not like a railway barrier upwards, but horizontally). Even with a raging truck, it would not be possible to cross the border.
But since I was crossing the border legally - well, a few little things like this foreword and Walesa's portrait were well hidden - so this lock slowly opened from my Syrena.
Then a few hundred meters to the small bridge where Austria started.
Barbed wire was visible on both sides of the street.
As I learned later, there were mine fields here.
In the West
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More precisely, it would be "in the south" because Vienna is about 400 km south of Wroclaw.
I was in the West anyway.
I lived in my sister Barbara's apartment in Vienna in 1090.
I called Paris from her. I got a mailing address and a contact with a man who organized deliveries to Poland.
His name is Krzysztof (Christoph) Rafał Apt.
Mr. Krzysztof was co-founder and first administrative director of "Zeszyty Literackie" periodical Polish book on major literary events. He is now a retired professor of computer science at the University of Amsterdam.
I sent Mr. Krzysztof a long letter describing our activities for Radio Solidarność in Wroclaw. I have attached to the letter the original of the above-mentioned letter of recommendation signed by the heads of the RKS Lower Silesia. That's how our correspondence started.
The correspondence has been preserved. Both the letters I received from Mr. Krzysztof and Richard, as well as my drafts. My brother-in-law in Vienna had a typewriter that I liked to use. I have a childish handwriting, so I preferred to send typed letters. In this way my letters have been preserved.
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In the second half of November 1982 I visited Andrzej, a colleague from Breslau, who was living in Vienna with his wife at the time.
It was a purely professional relationship, it had nothing to do with solidarity.
I took the subway U2 from him to my sister's apartment.
At that time, I didn't know the city well. I accidentally got off the subway too early. I thought it wasn't here, so I got back on the subway.
I was surprised to find that in the next subway car, a man was doing the same thing - he got out and in.
I remembered the Polish crime series "Hot Lives" - an episode that was filmed in Vienna.
The next time, this time at the right Schottentor station, I got out. Without looking around, I quickly went to the exit. On the way I saw this man on the screen of a color monitor on which the subway driver was watching the passengers getting on and off. He quickly followed me at a distance of about 100 m.
When I disappeared from the corner of the stairs, I quickly ran to the exit and stood behind a pillar. I had the directorate of the Austrian police in front of me.
I was reassured by the sight of a policeman standing guard at the entrance.
In an instant I heard rapid footsteps - someone ran up the stairs.
I decided to meet him, but so that the policeman could see me.
I went straight to the man who followed me. When he saw me, he didn't slow down, bypassed me, and went away. Our eyes met briefly. I never saw him again.
I have a job
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After a month, I found my first job in the West. I worked as an electronics engineer, i. H. in my profession building pulse power supplies in a small company Schock Electro-Optic. This company received an order from Siemens. The power supplies produced were to be used at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. I have dealt with production and technical control. I got a work permit from the employment office in Vienna, so I worked legally.
In December 1982 my friend Joseph B., also an electronics engineer, came to Vienna from Poland. The one who helped us get the transmitter back after the first successful broadcast.
He was determined to emigrate to the United States.
I took him straight from the train to the refugee camp in Traiskirchen. A few weeks later the boss of the company I worked for hired him in Austria.
My German was very crooked at that time, so we communicated with the boss and other employees in English.
The meeting in Trieste
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In January 1983 I received a letter from Mr. Krzysztof Apt from Paris.
Among other things, he wrote:
"... Our electronic affairs expert has lived in Trieste for several months. He was responsible for building pre-built transmitters, the scheme of which I sent to you. I would suggest that you go to Italy to meet this man. A few years ago, it was possible to get a transit visa for 5 days. Of course, we will cover the travel and hotel costs by sending you money in advance by post. I suggest you go to Trieste in early February. Today I spoke to this man who would be very happy to see you. Please let me know as soon as possible if you agree to this trip. If so, please give me the price for the ticket with the couch (the train to Trieste leaves Vienna at 2 p.m. and arrives in Trieste in the morning) ... "
I wanted to accomplish the mission that Richard Wojtasik had entrusted to me. I decided to go there.
In early February, after receiving an Italian visa, I took the train to Trieste. Nice port city, although completely different from other Italian cities.
I got to know several Italian cities: Venice, Padua, Ferrara, Bologna, Florence, Pisa and Rome during my trip to Italy with my wife in September 1981. We drove there with Syrena.
The train arrived early in the morning. I only made an appointment with the gentleman in one of the cafés in the evening.
I have booked accommodation in a small hotel. I shouldn't come back to Vienna until the next day.
I spent the whole day exploring the city.
In a foreign city more than in museums I am interested in the atmosphere of the city.
Walking the streets tells me more about the city than a guide. I got the historical facts about Trieste from the tourist information.
I visited the port, several old churches and also the city center near the port.
In the evening at the agreed time, I was sitting in a café.
A man, I think older than me, sat down and we talked in Polish.
We had a lively discussion about radio solidarity.
Suddenly he asked me if I know Panel FM transmitters?
Immediately afterwards, the second question was: Can these transmitters be positioned far apart during operation?
I remembered those channels in "Leon's" apartment. I saw her by chance, but my answer satisfied him. I suspect that he later confirmed my credibility in Paris. Well, a letter of conduct could have intercepted the Polish security service and replaced someone in my place.
I remember that he said that the largest subsidies in Italy received solidarity from ... the Italian Communist Party.
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I came back to Vienna.
I was very sad to be separated from my wife. I called her in the office whenever I had the opportunity.
We didn't have a phone at home in Wroclaw.
I used cipher when I submitted information for Richard.
The code was very simple. Instead of the names of electronics companies, we used the names of automobile companies. Mercedes was Motorola, Volvo was Valvo and General Motors was National Semiconductor etc.
The main thing was that nobody would connect these conversations or letters with the broadcasters. I also used different names for Richard - different each time.
In the spring I read Georg Orwell's books '1984' and 'Farm of the Animals', which were published by the publisher Paris Kultur.
I met through friends with Zofia R., who ran a Polish bookstore in Vienna.
When she rented a new local for the Polish bookshop in the 7th district near Burggasse, I helped her as much as I could - I paint the walls of the bookshop.
Also, on the Sunday after mass, I helped her with Syrena to transport the books near the Polish church in the third district in Vienna.
Seven people worked in the company where I worked together with Joseph and me.
One of them was the Czech Karel S. from Brno. We made friends. He was a nice young man. He reached Austria by car through Yugoslavia. He illegally crossed the green Austrian-Yugoslav border.
I remember returning home from work with Joseph and Karel.
When the weather was fine, we walked through Vienna's Meidlinger Hauptstraße - a beautiful pedestrian zone. We admired the friendly 12th district. I didn't know then that I would live here in five years.
We entered the beer hall at the U4 subway station.
Joseph is a storyteller. He told interesting stories about his family. He came from eastern Poland from the Ukrainian border.
At the beginning of the war, his father was exiled deeply to Russia. He was lucky enough to stay in the European part of Russia. There were several of them. They were not guarded; they were given an ax and were supposed to cut down the forest and look for food themselves. He escaped on foot. When he was in Ukraine, a Ukrainian let him spend the night. A sound woke him up. Guests came, other Ukrainians, and they discussed loudly how she would "cut the Poles' neck". The host also spoke like this, but does not reveal him.
At work, I was promoted to production manager. Promotion was not linked to a wage increase, but I still felt better.
In May Joseph flew to the United States.
My work ended in the summer. The project was completed and there were no new ones.
A story about the Czech, who spectacularly managed to escape across the border to Austria in a hot air balloon, was then heard in the press.
He prepared for a long time and waited for the moonless night and the right wind direction.
The balloon was huge because the gondola was protected from possible projectiles by a steel plate from below. He even took his bike with him ...
Danusia my wife
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After several rejections, my wife Danusia unexpectedly received a passport in September 1983 and came to Vienna by train.
She still had three semesters at the business university.
I took this photo in September 1983 in the center of Vienna in front of the Votivkirche near the university.
Three weeks with my wife! I am lucky!
It was all the more difficult for us to separate when she had to return to Wroclaw at the end of September.
How did I become a programmer?
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Through a friend Hania W., I worked as a programmer at Austro-Schnee. The company mainly dealt with janitorial work, e.g. B. Snow removal.
The head of this company bought a computer system and needed IT specialists.
That's how my career as a computer programmer started, which I still do today.
I learned programming during my studies. At that time, I only knew one method of writing programs: now archaic hole pattern cards.
I quickly switch to working on the console. I used the Cobol language back then.
The company usually employed Poland to clear snow. When it snowed, they came to the company and were taken to the right places to do hard work. One of the programs I wrote there was used to create snow removal routes.
Hania W.'s parents organized social gatherings for the Poles in Vienna. These meetings were very exciting. I met a lot of interesting people there.
All my work in Vienna was legal - I always had a work permit. Thanks to that, I had no problems extending my Austrian visa every year.
I bought a used Fiat 125p from a Pole who worked in Iraq and decided to emigrate to Australia.
So, I had two cars.
I found out that there is a Polish company Polservice that takes a toll on people who legally work in the West. In return for 20% of the gross salary, you could get a consular passport for yourself and close to family members. It was a good solution for me.
Of course, it's a shame to pay so much money, but the possibility of unlimited visits to Poland was very tempting.
I have contacted the Polish commercial agency in which the Vienna branch of Polservice was located.
On December 9, 1983, I signed a contract with Polservice. As part of the contract, I should pay 2,500 Austrian schillings a month to Polservice.
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This year was not very happy for me like 1948 for the hero of the Orwell book.
I received the consular passport in January after handing over my previous passport to the Polish consulate in Vienna.
When I first came to Poland, I visited Karel's parents in Brno to give a letter and a few little things from their son from Vienna.
Of course, I met Richard Wojtasik in Wroclaw. We have discussed my next steps for ordering components for transmitters in detail.
During a visit to the W. family in Vienna, I met the twin sisters S. - solidarity activists.
One of them, Danusia S., asked me to go to Warsaw and meet some people on her behalf.
In February I took the train to Warsaw to Poland. I took a berth and read 'Literary Notebooks' (previously mentioned Zeszyty Literackie from Paris).
Well, I completely forgot about preventive censorship in Poland.
The Polish customs officer reminded me of this. I stopped reading during the inspection, but left the Literary Notebooks book in a gray envelope from Paris Culture above.
As a result, I got off with a customs officer in the border town of Zebrzydowice.
I shouldn't finish reading this book. They wrote my data, confiscated the book and released me. I came to Warsaw on the next train.
At the request of Danka S., I visited Halina Mikołajska - KOR activist, actress and director. I met her at home. Ms. Mikołajska was sick and received me in bed. I gave her what I had to convey, now I don't remember what it was.
KOR - Komitet Obrony Robotników - The Workers' Defense Committee was founded in 1976.
Then I went to the old town in the Archdiocese of Warsaw. I spoke to Anna Fedorowicz - Jacek Fedorowicz's wife, who is very committed to humanitarian aid. I visited more people back then. Today I only remember these two - probably because of the familiar names.
After clarifying the matter in Warsaw, I arrived by train to Wroclaw.
Danusia would pick up her consular passport soon.
We decided to drop out of college and go to Vienna together next month in March. I have started to deal with resettlement goods.
I met Czeslaw H. with the W. family in Vienna. He emigrated to the United States and asked me to bring him a package of books to Vienna. He gave me the address to friends in Psie Pole in Wroclaw. I took the package of books and didn't look inside - I put it in the trunk of the car.
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On March 6th Danusia and I made a trip to Vienna. The car was heavily loaded.
At the border in Boboszów, the customs officer told me to get everything out of the trunk. The control took a long time. In the books for Czeslaw H., customs officials found negatives of photos from the demonstration of August 31, 1982 between the pages. I was really surprised. It didn't help us much. Instead of going to Vienna, we were arrested in a military barracks in Kłodzko. Danusia in one cell and me in the other. After two days on March 8th, we were taken to the Arrest investigation in Wałbrzych.
The hearing looked like this: the investigator would have opened my notebook with friends' addresses and asked about individuals. For women, regardless of age or level of awareness, I claimed that she was my lover.
It was more difficult with guys - I don't have any attraction for men. I've always said he's a beer buddy.
Of course, I told the truth where I got these books from. I was hoping that these Nobody hit me.friends of Czeslaw in Psie Pole would confirm my version.
During the interrogation in the room from a tape recorder, Jan Pietrzak's cabaret flew over the power outages in New York. I knew it before.
Another guy in the room repeated Pietrzak with a laugh:
"What a son of a bitch!"
There were two more men in the cell with me. A suspect of a concrete mixer theft said little.
The second, however, turned out to be an interesting man. We talked about the system prevailing in Poland.
He asked me about my wife. He described it to me and when I confirmed that it was Danusia, he said that she was cornering the guards. She asked to replace the aluminum bucket that served as the toilet in the cell.
And surprisingly, the guards carried out that order.
It was my companion out of the cell with another inmate who put Danusia's cell in order.
To tease me, one of the guards asked me if I would like him to sleep with my wife. I said he better ask my wife because I don't think he has a chance with her.
One day, a guard called me over for questioning. My cellmate told me to put on a thick sweater - it will hurt less if I get hit.
Interview with the SB officer
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Nobody hit me. They led me into a room where a man introduced himself by name when we were alone.
I don't remember the name - it was probably the wrong name anyway. He said he was an employee of the security service in Wroclaw.
I sat on a chair and waited to see what would happen next. And the guy used to say that I had arranged my life in Vienna and it would be a shame to lose everything. I was silent and he talked. I already knew that he wanted to persuade me to work together. I also knew that I would not choose it. Apart from the moral side of such cooperation, he threatened to lose my passport. I don't have it anymore anyway.
When he was done, he asked what I thought of it.
I said I could just as easily shape my life in Poland. I said I wish I could look into my eyes while shaving.
"You despise such informants yourself," I added.
"Well, don't overdo it." And so on.
He finally gave up and told me to sign a statement that I refused to help. This wording seemed too ambiguous to me, so I added in the statement that the help was to provide information about Poles living abroad.
This was my only contact with SB.
After I received copies of my documents collected by the SB from the Institute for National Remembrance (IPN) in 2007, this explanation could not be found there. There was also no mention of such a conversation.
Wroclaw - Warsaw 1984
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After 10 days in prison, Danusia was released. I four days later.
The colleague from my cell gave me a letter to send to his mother. I sent the letter immediately afterwards. His mother lived in Świdnica. I visited her in the summer and brought some uncensored books. Your son asked me for it.
Apparently Danusia should finish her studies with a diploma.
I got my Fiat back from the customs officials.
After a few weeks, Danusia and I received a letter from the Prosecutor's Office in Klodzko.
The prosecutor tried to convince us that the prosecutor is the defendant's best friend, because it is up to the prosecutor to prosecute him at all.
An interesting point of view.
She apparently wanted to silence her remorse for not being on our side.
I learned that these photo negatives found their way to Warsaw on Mysia Street. There was the Central Office for Control of Press, Publications and Performances. That was the name of the office.
"It all depends on what you think about these photos," she said.
I received information from this office in the mail that they were dealing with my case. In this letter, the room number and the name of the responsible officer were given.
I decided to go there.
I bought a large bouquet of flowers, a bottle of cognac and a chocolate box.
So armed I entered the office on Mysia Street in Warsaw and what I see: The entrance to the stairs - the room was on the first floor - is guarded by a security guard with a machine gun (I think, I dont know much about weapons). He had just argued with a woman who wanted to go past.
I entered quietly, so as not to attract the security guard's attention and take advantage of the fact that he had turned to his opponent.
There were a few ladies in the room and I had no way of doing it discreetly.
But since I've come this far, I've moved on. I knew the name of "my" employee, so I asked her.
I told her that I came from Wroclaw, gave the case number and that I would not intervene in the content assessment, just, I ask that I deal with this matter fairly quickly.
I gave her a bouquet of flowers.
"But I can't accept it!"
I put a bottle of cognac and a chocolate box on the desk.
"Well, I'm going to take flowers, but I'm not taking anything anymore!"
She accepted everything, probably nobody in this office had ever corrupted her. I bowed and went away.
After a week, I received a copy of the decision by mail from the office in Mysia Street.
It was posted there:
"Footage was not a threat to the security of the Poles" or similar.
Two weeks later, the Klodzko prosecutor sent the decision to close the case. Fast, according to the possibilities of our bureaucracy.
My next step was to apply to Polservice for a new consular passport.
Another trip to Warsaw. I showed the decision to close the case.
The Polservice employee was very skeptical about the convenience of applying for a passport.
I got a phone number from him that I had to call to find out about the progress of the matter.
I was insolent - I know, but without trying I wouldn't know if it was worth trying.
Don't forget that I had a great teacher - Richard Wojtasik.
Danusia got pregnant after seven years of marriage.
The birth date was May 1985. Then she would have the diploma in her pocket.
In December 1984 I called Polservice and the guy said to me: "Guess how the decision came about?" After that answer, I knew it was positive. The guy was very surprised that I was so confident. Another trip to Warsaw - this time because of a passport.
Return to Vienna
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After Christmas I went to Vienna with a new passport.
I am not superstitious, but at that time I avoided the border crossing in Boboszów.
I preferred to drive through Kudowa-Słone.
The Syrena stayed on the street in Vienna during my absence. Basia, my sister, told me that the vandal had destroyed her and after a while she was towed away by city services. Too bad I have experienced a lot with her. I only have a registration card and a green insurance card.
The correspondence with Mr. Krzysztof Apt was closed together with my problems in Poland in early 1984. The last letter was sent by him on January 29, 1984.
It was only in 2005 and now (March 2020) that we exchanged several emails about these memories.
The work was waiting for me - my boss was very happy to see me again. We agreed that I would work for him as a freelancer.
My friends gave me contact with Europrocess, where I found permanent employment.
I rented an apartment in the 19th district in Vienna. Two rooms with kitchen and bathroom. Inexpensive - that's enough to start with. It was enough for four years.
Danusia received her diploma in March 1985.
Immediately afterwards we moved to Vienna with the resettlement goods and an even more overloaded car - this time without adventure like last year.
I immediately terminated the contract with Polservice.
I paid all the debts, but did not return our passports and no longer crossed the Iron Curtain. At least until this iron curtain itself ceased to exist.
Polservice asked me to return to Poland immediately and return the passports.
I did not respond to this request.
In May 1985 we gave birth to our son Wiktor.
I write: "We gave birth" because I was present at birth all the time. For 18 hours. The birth lasted from 8:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. the next day.
I have no intention of earning earnings because I would be endangered by the prettier half of the world. However, Danusia was very happy when I was with her the whole time.
Interface to the WANG system
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I have two jobs - not the first time for me. At least I didn't have to work underground. I went to Austro-Schnee after work and on weekends. In July 1985 an acquaintance of the boss of Austro-Schnee visited me and offered me a job as an electronics engineer.
The temptation was great - the salary was also higher. From September 1st I was employed by the company "Electronics and Computer Technology". At the same time, I ended my job at Europrocess.
In the new company, my job was to create the printer interface for the Wang computer system. Do not worry, I will not burden you with technical terms - these memories are intended for laypersons.
Wang has created his own computer system. I previously worked at Europrocess on the Wang computer. This system had its own peripheral devices, such as printers. They communicated with the computer using the communication method invented by Wang.
My job was to connect another printer - not necessarily from Wang - to Wang System.
I started to work hard and after a year I was able to boast a printout of my device prototype.
Why after a year? Well, because I first had to measure and analyze the communication of the original printer. Then design the interface - an electronic device with dynamic memory and two processors.
To protect the interface from industrial espionage, I used programmable integrated circuits.
For laymen: I have created a very complicated but well-functioning device.
In Germany, a well-known computer magazine tested all printer emulations for the Wang system. There were five different interfaces for this system worldwide.
Guess which turned out to be the best?
I know I'm not humble, but why shouldn't I say I did exceptionally well?
If you are interested in the details of this interface, please visit my page:
Marek Wojcik - WANG printer interface
The boss needed additional electronics technicians, so I offered him Andrzej Giszter - this radio frequency specialist from Wroclaw. And Andrzej was employed there. We always got on very well. Same job, similar taste for music and books. We were never competitors at work.
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In the fall of 1985, I was walking in a park near my apartment with my wife and son Wiktor.
Suddenly Danusia said:
"Marek, someone is photographing us!"
In fact, from a distance of about 100 meters, I noticed a man with a camera on a tripod with a large telephoto lens.
When I received my documents from the Institute for National Remembrance (IPN) in 2007, I found the photo there:
I only grew a beard in Austria in 1985.
Such a picture in the documents of the security service can neither come from the passport office nor from any other Polish office. You can also see trees in the background.
This is where Radio Solidarność's topic ends.
If you're interested in what happened next, read on.
I still have some interesting stories.
I have to admit that my life has always been very interesting.
Probably because most of the decisions I make are made spontaneously. I do not regret my decisions, although - in a later analysis - they could certainly be better.
In this book I want to describe these more interesting events from my life.
Of course, no life is just spectacular moments.
I also got to know the gray of life.
I haven't been bored since I was no longer a child.
It has to be my personality. I will always find something interesting.
Even now, when I'm retired, I not only write this book, but also create a family tree for myself and some friends. Such a family tree is an adventure with history. I also carry out orders for A1 Telekom.
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We were in 1985.
It took me another year to prepare to produce Wang's computer printer interface.
I have to admit that the boss Johann S., although I never liked him, showed a lot of patience.
The boss was a crook, who all parted with a dispute with all partners. With me too.
Andrzej Giszter told me that his daughter followed in her father's footsteps. When he transferred a large fortune to her account to avoid taxes, she put her hand on the money and broke all contacts with her father. They were people like that.
That was not important to me. I had my chance to prove myself and took it.
Back to the Wang interface: I have been to Germany and Luxembourg many times on this matter. Although I had to apply for a visa every time, it was never a problem.
In Hamburg I met François A., a customer of Electronics and computer technology.
François had his own company Lasersoft GmbH. We made friends.
I received orders from him for programs for German nuclear power plants.
He later convinced me and helped me to found my own company in Vienna.
He flew to Vienna and brought capital into his pocket - 40,000 German marks for the establishment of a limited liability company.
No receipts, nothing - he just put the money on the table and that's it.
But it was later in 1992. It took me almost 25 years to return these debts.
At the moment we are 1987. It was not a happy year for me. Something strange happened to me. I was always quite underweight, if not today, but then I lost more than 10 kg. I was also very thirsty.
I never liked visiting doctors and only did it when I really needed to. This time it turned out after a blood test that I had diabetes. An ambulance took me to the hospital with flashing lights. I found this ambulance signal exaggerated, but that was the rule here.
Then rehabilitation, nutrition training and those related to insulin injection. And somehow, I still live with it.
During the training, I learned that diabetics are advised not to have more than two children.
We had an only child - yes, so there was something to do in this area. 😊
We tried to compensate for this negligence and in December 1988 our second son Lukas was born.
Throughout 1988 I was looking for a larger apartment. It was not an easy task.
I could only arrange a tour after work.
Danusia was pregnant - she also took care of Wiktor.
I finally found a nice apartment in the 12th district. We still live here today.
Here we went for a walk in 1983 with Joseph B. and Karel.
An apartment big enough for four people. 106 square meters, four rooms, two toilets, stairs in the apartment. Large terrace of 50 square meters. Near the subway station. It was something for us. Someone gave up the apartment at the last minute and I found it.
We moved into the new apartment a week after the birth of Lukas.
I was also with Danusia during childbirth.
Imagine that he was wrapped in a baby sleeping bag after giving birth and washing and then I got Lukas in my hands. I sat in the hospital corridor for the first hour. What can I do? I told him what to expect at home that he had an older brother Wiktor.
Lukas was calm at the time; he was probably sleeping.
So, the relationship between father and son is gradually born.
Today Lukas is 31 years old and has his own son - my grandson.
My family has reached their full number of family members.
The year 1989 has come
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A year in which many European countries - including Poland - achieved full sovereignty. We came to the country with the whole family in August 1989. We received new passports at the Polish consulate in Vienna in July and the way home was open!
From now on I travel regularly to Poland.
When the Berlin Wall came down, I was in Stuttgart on business. I have seen and heard the undisguised fear of the impending reunification of Germany.
It is true that it is more important for the vast majority of people to have wealth in their own wallets than to free those who have been humiliated by the inhumane system from captivity. I saw it particularly well in Germany. On the next visit to the country, the division of the Germans into two groups was determined: "Westie", who previously lived in West Germany, and "Ostie", who came from the GDR.
After I started producing my interface for Wang Computer, the company sold more than 1,000 units.
The boss was with him at the Lockheed plant in California and also in Bahrain.
I also traveled the world a lot about this product.
The longest trip I made was to Johannesburg, South Africa, to train technicians to install customer interfaces.
I flew there in September 1990.
I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel.
A small line formed before entering the breakfast room. A handsome black man was standing in front of me.
The waiter asked me something in English and I didn't understand what he meant. I just felt like I should answer yes or no.
In this situation, I thought it would be better to say no.
The surprise on the face of the waiter and this African man in front of me made me realize that I had made a mistake.
I apologized and asked to repeat the question.
"Do you agree to share a table with this man?" asked the waiter, pointing to the black and personable man.
Of course, I agreed and apologized again.
Later we had an interesting conversation at the table.
Apartheid was history in 1990.
I only accidentally acted as the epigone of this ruthless system of racial discrimination.
In January 1991 we received Austrian citizenship.
It was important because we wanted to live here.
Two days in besieged Sarajevo
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As I wrote, I founded the company in 1992.
After founding the company, I had to take care of the customers myself.
I used my contacts with customers from the company Electronics and computer technology.
I received good orders from some of them.
In 1993 I contacted the Vienna branch of the UN.
There was a war in Yugoslavia and the UN organized humanitarian aid for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I got an order from the UN, exactly from the United Nation of Vienna - UNOV.
It was about creating a computer network using satellite telephony.
The place of implementation of the project was Zagreb - the capital of Croatia. It was a safe place since the front was far from Zagreb. And there, in the embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I first implemented this project.
The war raged in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo. Sarajevo was besieged since April 1992. You can read the story about the siege of Sarajevo here).
I should also train future users of the system.
It turned out that the UN cannot transport people from besieged Sarajevo to Zagreb, as this would violate international law. There would be no way to force these people to return to Sarajevo afterwards.
In order to avoid the suspicion of smuggling people, the only option left to me was to fly to the besieged Sarajevo and carry out the training there.
In May 1993, the Sarajevo airport was controlled by the UN troops, while the city and the airport were bombarded by Bosnian Serbs from the nearby hills.
In this situation, the man from whom I received this order, Olaf S., asked me if I would agree to fly to Sarajevo to continue the project.
It was not an easy decision. No money is worth risking your life. But this wasn't about money. There were people waiting for help.
I finally decided to fly to the besieged city.
When I write these memories, you know that I survived. I couldn't know that at the time.
I didn't mention it to my wife. It wouldn't help if she was worried.
All she knew was that I would go to Zagreb, where it was safe.
I received a light blue passport from the UN as a consultant.
In Zagreb, the UNHCR gave me a special card with a photo so that I could fly to and, more importantly, return from Sarajevo.
On May 18, 1993 at 1 p.m. I flew from Zagreb to Sarajevo with a Russian military plane. We flew over the Adriatic - because of the danger of being shot down. At the airport, I had to walk quickly, without a bulletproof vest, and with all the equipment I brought with me (two small printers and two laptops) into the protective tunnel, where it was relatively safe.
I heard the first shots immediately - a constant acoustic accompaniment to my stay in the city.
There was no customs or passport clearance. All were checked in Zagreb.
I was expected - two local humanitarian workers picked me up from the airport by car. Fast slalom ride on the road that leads from the airport into the city. After the explosions, I could see numerous craters that turned the road into a lunar landscape.
At around 5 p.m. I was taken to the Post and Telegraph Building. The multistory building was partially damaged. I couldn't see a single unbroken glass window. This is impressive! Sandbags everywhere to protect against snipers. There was also a sandbag on the windowsill in the room where I was staying.
The atmosphere was tense, but not nervous. There were many UN soldiers of different nationalities in the building and only a few civilians like me. I got something to eat in the canteen. Unfortunately, there was no water for washing. One of the soldiers lent me a bulletproof vest. It was stained with plaster, but it was anyway! Two days later, before I left, I left her at the airport.
Fortunately, the generator worked. Shortly before I left Vienna, I received printers and laptops. Now I had the opportunity to check it out. One of the computers could not start properly. I worked on it until two in the morning and finally managed to make it usable. Now I could finally get some sleep.
The next morning the same people took me to their headquarters. Apart from the UN armored car, I haven't seen any moving vehicles on the road. When getting in and out, you had to walk quickly to the specified location. There were places in the city that were safe from sniper and mortar fire. This knowledge was forcibly acquired by the city's residents.
The Organization for Humanitarian Aid (AHA) was headed by a Serb, professor at the University of Sarajevo, Sascha M. I showed the computers and printers I had brought with me. I discussed with Dr. Ajiz S. the technical problems related to the organization of communication between Zagreb and Sarajevo and between Zagreb and other logistics centers in Croatia.
I have set up a communication test between the AHA office and the Ministry of Communication in Sarajevo. During this session, I also conducted training for selected people.
I spent the second night in Sarajevo in the private apartment of Professor M., the head of the AHA. I met the nice family of the professor and we talked for a long time about life in war conditions, especially in the besieged city. I asked a young man if there were any cases where snipers shot from the roof of one of the higher houses in the city? The answer shocked me:
"Yes, there were a few such cases at first, but our boys were done with it quickly - forcing snipers to jump off the roof ..."
My return flight was planned for May 20, 1993. About twenty women were waiting for me in the AHA office. They asked me with tears in their eyes to send their letters when I arrived in Zagreb. I still remember this scene, although not very spectacular. I arrived at the airport by car as before - something like a Formula 1 rally with obstacles. The return flight also with a Russian military plane - you get used to it.
Immediately after my return to Zagreb, the first thing I did was go to the post office and send these letters. I find them as heavy as if they were made of lead.
Sarajevo was besieged for another two and a half years ...
I don't need to tell you how it affected me, my way of seeing the world.
I was always against the war.
Except for the few who, without risking anything, make a fortune trading arms, oil or, as famous Polish poet Tuwim wrote, an inch on cotton, everyone else is a loser in every war. How many unnecessary tragedies!
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I came back to Vienna. I was afraid to speak to Danusia.
I thought she would accuse me of withholding so important information about a life-threatening trip to Sarajevo.
However, she thanked me for saving her unnecessary worry.
You might get the impression that we are a perfect marriage. This is not necessarily true - our marriage is "normal" if there is one. Sometimes we had countless disputes for completely trivial reasons.
Does this seem familiar to you? I guess most people do that.
I hated these arguments, but I loved moments of reconciliation. The relief of finally being able to hug my wife. We both have a very strong and positive feeling for each other. I know that this is not the case in every marriage. We are happy.
I met my wife in April 1975 at the "Twenty-Year-Old" disco. It was a dormitory at the University of Wroclaw on Grunwaldzki Square.
I was at the Technical University just after my entrance exams. After graduating from the technical middle school in Radom, Danusia came to her sister in Wroclaw.
We both entered the country of lovers completely unprepared. Maybe it wasn't love at first sight, but it came surprisingly quickly. That spring I was amazed to see how the beauty of nature awoke in spring that I had previously ignored. I still like the early spring to this day.
Each of our encounters was special to me.
I was 21 years old and knew other girls, but I wasn't so involved in any of them.
Danusia was very against the authorities in Poland. I had to reach this view. I read and discussed a lot. It was a long time before I realized that the country in which I grew up was not as it should be.
Now what condition should the place be in?
I think the most important thing is democracy. The color of the ruling party doesn't matter much. Nowadays the differences between left and right are blurred.
It is more important for society to control any power.
Back to Danusia, I have never regretted that she became my life partner.
Today I would like to be able to argue with her again - strange, isn't it?
But I'll write about it later.
Our children grew up and when our younger son Lukas went to kindergarten, Danusia decided to work. I have not tried to influence your decision in any way. I wanted her to do what would bring her zest for life.
She enrolled in job search courses and was hired after a year, in spring 1995, as an accountant in a well-known auto repair company in Vienna with around 30 employees. She has an economic education. And that although it learned the economy of the defunct system of the so-called "economy of socialism", it could change.
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I guess I'll never be left with crazy ideas. On December 24, 1995, we landed with the whole family in Orlando, Florida. Well, an idea to spend the school vacation. I have not booked any accommodation
I rented a car at the airport. I got a brand-new Nissan Almera. We stayed in motels.
I was surprised by the positive behavior of the drivers in the USA. Nobody has tried to show that they have a better car, as is often the case in Europe. We visited the Kennedy Space Center, Sea World and on December 29th we drove to Miami.
Wiktor started coughing on the plane. At first, I ignored these symptoms.
Diseases usually go on their own.
In Miami we visited an acquaintance who gave us advice on where to go for help for Wiktor.
It was a Miami hospital. After the examination, it turned out that Victor had pneumonia.
"Either he flies back to Vienna under oxygen, or we treat him here in the United States."
I hadn't thought of insurance, but we decided to stay in this hospital. Lukas and I slept in a small hotel, and Danusia slept in the hospital with Wiktor in a separate room with no other patients.
Lukas was seven years old at the time, Viktor ten.
Viktor was released from the hospital two days later, on Silvester. He was given one last pill, an antibiotic, which he took the next day. The cough is gone.
I got a bill from the hospital for only $ 3,000. Well ...
We greeted the new year in Miami Beach.
In the morning we left Miami on the way back to Orlando. I chose a detour through Tampa on the Gulf of Mexico.
I really wanted to drive through the famous Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
This bridge is over 8 km long. Under the bridge you can see the sea - the Gulf of Mexico.
On the way we visited the alligator farm. We also stopped at the orange grove.
The weather was not good. It was raining and when we arrived at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge near Tampa, we could see nothing but fog and rain.
We drove back to Orlando, we still wanted to visit Disney World. We chose one of three near Orlando - Magic Kingdom. You have to spend the whole day on such visits.
The kids loved it. We maybe a little less.
We don't like the plastic world.
We also took a rental helicopter tour around Orlando.
The Universal Studio also had a lot to offer - behind the scenes of the films "Earthquake", "Back to the Future", "ET" and a whole host of others.
After two weeks we came back to Vienna on Thursday. Next Monday we all slept to work and school.
Jet lag - so they say.
Danusia felt comfortable at work. Initial fears of coping with the problems were quickly overcome.
Her sister from Wroclaw, a good economic specialist, was at her side with advice and action.
About my work
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One of my customers was Municipal Department 46. This department deals with traffic safety. You decide what shape the intersections or tram stops will be. I have created a personal injury database for them. The usual bumps were not recorded here. It was an interesting project.
My program made it possible to analyze accidents and investigate the effects of structural changes on roads on accident statistics.
I have been working on this project for more than ten years.
In 1996 I was commissioned by the Austrian Ministry of Science, Communication and Art to build a database on car accidents with property damage. This program was used by the police to enter traffic accident data.
This topic may seem uninteresting to the reader. I would agree with such a statement if there was not the need that we all feel - to secure the existence of our family and ourselves. Writing about money carries the risk of suspecting a materialistic stance.
The sight of a suitcase full of banknotes on film does not arouse my feelings. Neither positive nor negative. It's just a pretty hard-to-fake paper. Only the value we attach to these papers makes them valuable.
It would be enough if others stopped accepting bills and made them what they really are - paper.
I compare money with energy. If you lack energy, you feel weak. Similarly, lack of money creates fear of not meeting other people's expectations. Bills, purchases, everything is about money. Money is neither good nor bad - our intentions could be judged as such.
The same applies to the knife. It could be used for murder. But try to imagine a kitchen where a knife is missing!
Let's go back to my work. In February 1998 I started working on the project of the Austrian mobile operator Max-Mobil. Today this company is called T-Mobile.
It was the highest paid and very interesting order so far. It lasted three years. I will not describe the details of the project. If you are interested, please check out my website Just click here. The site is trilingual in Polish, German and English. Simply click on the appropriate flag to change the language.
I have just made friends with many customers. It was a special form of friendship because it was based primarily on common interests. But not only that.
I will jump 10 years into the future until 2009 to describe how I got to know Martin.
I have just finished working on a project and decided to rest for a month or two. I was really tired. A potential customer came to me. I didn't feel like it, but at his request I made an appointment for a conversation in the café.
I went there relaxed, the conversation was nice. I told you about my previous projects. When he asked me about the hourly rate, I gave a slightly higher amount.
"Well, when could we start?" - he asked.
He surprised me and I accepted his offer.
He had a small company that worked for Austria's largest telecommunications company Telekom AG - later A1-Telekom - and still works.
I worked there for three and a half years. When the project ended in March 2013, I thanked for the wonderful time I had worked with the best group of people. I was telling the truth, there was not the slightest argument during this time, despite the stress caused by the deadlines.
While I was working there, Martin invited me and the rest of our group to the Christmas meetings in the café.
Every year in June, he organizes strawberry parties in his apartment on the 26th floor. Even when I stopped working for him, I continued to receive invitations that I gladly accepted. It is still so today.
Now I'm doing small jobs for Martin again. I am retired but I am ready to work because I enjoy my job.
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Around 2007 I met Richard Wojtasik several times in Warsaw. He worked for a telecommunications company in the Mariott hotel building. Richard hasn't changed much. He wanted me to help him find a radio station - a rare and very large machine for a professional radio. The matter was very difficult and unfortunately I could not help.
We met again on August 31, 2010 to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the signing of the contract in Gdansk.
The meeting took place at Richard K.'s house in the Krzyki district of Wroclaw.
And again I took over the role of driver for Richard.
We could no longer diverge in our political views. He was a PIS fan. For me, this party was unacceptable, not because of the program, but because of undemocratic, too radical methods. I don't want to start a sterile political discussion here.
PIS - Prawo I Sprawiedliwość - Polish right-wing conservative party that is currently in power.
It was also Andrzej Giszter. He was modest and didn't say much. When Zygmunt Pelc started collecting bricks for the late President Lech Kaczynski, I asked Andrzej if he was also a fan of PIS?
I saw a huge relief on his face. "Finally, someone to talk to".
But with Richard Wojtasik we were able to go beyond the political differences.
Richard was suffering from cancer.
He asked me to go with Dr. Wasyl Nowicki speaking in Vienna.
Dr. Nowicki is Ukrainian, the creator of cancer therapy based on a drug called Ukrain.
An interesting character, I met him.
He speaks perfect Polish - he once worked as a Polish-Ukrainian translator in Warsaw.
I got all the details that Richard asked for. I offered financial help to Richard because this drug is very expensive, but unfortunately he refuses.
In February Richard's health deteriorated and he went to a hospice in Wołomin, a place east of Warsaw.
On February 26, 2011 we went to Wołomin with some friends.
When we arrived we saw a man who was finished because of the illness.
He was very weak and couldn't speak much.
We said goodbye and knowing that we saw him for the last time.
He died two days later.
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Let's go back to my wife and the beginning of the new millennium.
Through this constant job search I became a workaholic.
It was Danusia who asked me to do something together at least once a week.
Only for both of us.
When I think about it today, I think that her idea was the best in such a situation.
Most often we went for a walk in the old town of Vienna. We entered the café, and if there was anything interesting, the theater or cinema.
We had many wonderful moments together. The boys were big enough to stay alone in the apartment.
I noticed that my wife stumbles or loses balance more and more.
When we get into the garage by car, I said to her:
"Be careful, darling, when you open the door that you don't hit the neighboring car."
„Sure, I will be careful, "she replies and after a while accidentally knocks on the door of the neighboring car.
And some strange nervous ticks appeared on her beautiful face.
It came to the point that when I went with her, I thought how could I support her if she stumbled.
It became increasingly clear that something was wrong with her. In autumn 2002, she was dismissed from work after seven years without reason.
It was a long time before I persuaded her to contact a friend - my client - a neurologist for advice.
After examination and magnetic resonance of the head, a first diagnosis of Huntington's chorea was made. A genetic, incurable disease.
After the genetic test, we received 100% certainty.
I was interested in this disease and my hair was on my forehead. Incurable disease. The patient's condition slowly deteriorates systematically. Life expectancy 15 years from the first symptoms. This disease is extremely perfidious. With full consciousness, the patient gradually loses the abilities that are obvious to healthy people. Uncoordinated movements of the arms, legs and trunk. Slow speech loss, loss of ability to walk, difficulty swallowing. She was prescribed neurological medication, after which she felt much worse. She eventually rejected all of these drugs herself.
Communication with her is only possible in one direction.
She gets everything and understands what I say to her. However, it is by no means able to answer an easy question, not even one that can be answered with yes or no. The only information I can get from her is her emotions, her satisfaction or her nervousness. She became indifferent to everything around her.
She cannot focus on television. The same when I tried to read books for you.
I decided to keep her at home for as long as possible. It is out of the question to put them in a care facility. I know her and I know that she would feel rejected.
I have hired Polish nurses who live with us. She is usually cared for by Ms. Hania. A person from the village - a great housekeeper and very sensitive to her fate. Sometimes her daughter replaces her. I am not with you with these ladies. I don't want to burden my wife with additional, unnecessary jealousy stress. The carers look after them really well.
I assure Danusia every day how much I love her.
If she was healthy, she wouldn't hear it from me that often.
Do you understand now why I miss arguing with her?
Three years ago, I decided to go to a good osteopath with her. He did not want to agree to Danusia therapy. Only when I assured him that I would have no complaints if the therapy did not help did he agree to accept it privately. After two treatments, completely uncoordinated movements of the arms and legs disappeared.
Her torso and head are still moving uncontrollably, but this was the only time her condition improved.
And health problems again. This time it was Andrzej Giszter. He has a lung disease. Qualified for lung transplantation. He was convicted on an oxygen cylinder. Without it, he could suffocate at any time.
A couple of such operations are performed in Poland each year. The Vienna General Hospital is the world's leading hospital in this field.
Our colleague arranged for Andrzej the possibility of admission to the Hospital and surgery.
Unfortunately, this didn't happen because Andrzej disagreed - he said it would be better that way ...
He died in autumn 2014.
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A year ago I met Jurgen Weber - he was the first director of the underground solidarity radio. He was nicknamed "Emil".
He persuaded me to try to become an anti-communist opposition activist.
I tried and found a serious problem: how can I prove that I was working for underground at the time?
Security guards knew nothing about me and right. The situation at the IPN (Polish Institute for National Memory) was the same. All information about my activities during martial law time was missing.
Jurgen Weber of course wrote me a nice statement, but the Veterans Committee asked for at least two witnesses. Most friends are dead.
Finally I turned to the widow - Zygmunt Pelc's wife. She saw me several times when I came to them with Richard Wojtasik in 1982.
She wrote me a very good and factual explanation, and finally I received my honorary badge and ID by post:
Text in English: For services to independence 1956-1989.
It is in the drawer.
Well, I still got over 400 Polish zlotys a month from the Veterans Office.
Think for yourself if I deserve it.
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After 35 years, in early March 2020, I met my friend Grzegorz (Georg) Mieszczak.
He hasn't changed much.
During martial law, Georg produced large quantities of banned metal solidarity badges.
During an interesting conversation, he reminded me of how he came to us in October 1978 and did not find me. I was studying at the time and was in class.
They were waiting for me with Danusia and heard a sensational news on the radio - the Pole was elected Pope!
Such moments will be remembered for a lifetime.
We continued to talk about the portrait of Walesa by Jacek Fedorowicz.
It turned out that in January 2018 he bought the same portrait at the auction of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Aid and paid over ten thousand zlotys (around 2,800 dolars) for it.
Great Orchestra of Christmas Aid (WOŚP) an exceptionally successful charitable organization in Poland.
My Walesa portrait hangs in a frame in my room next to my grandfather's paintings.
My grandfather, Józef Wieżan, was the son of emigrants after the Polish uprising in January 1863. He was an artist and painter.
He lived in Dünaburg, Latvia, where he was murdered by the Gestapo in January 1942.
I have come to the conclusion that I can present this Walesa portrait to WOŚP auction.
It is certainly a souvenir for me, but I might as well make a copy and hang it up.
But is it really Jacek Fedorowicz's graphics?
I sent a request to Mr. Fedorowicz and quickly received a nice answer. Mr. Fedorowicz confirmed that this image that I scanned and emailed to him is certainly his work.
It was created using the serigraphy technique.
A limited number of these prints were made. This is one of the first - I've had it since mid-1982.
In 1984 Mr. Fedorowicz created 50 serigraphy prints of this portrait, and one of them just bought Georg.
I made a proposal to WOŚP to auction this portrait in Allegro.
Allegro is the only internet platform in Europe that is far more successful than Ebay in its own country.
I still need to get a certificate from Mr. Fedorowicz.
I was very happy to receive email correspondence with Mr. Jacek Fedorowicz.
His emails full of warmth and human friendliness have made me appreciate and respect this wonderful man even more.
He agreed to authorize my portrait.
The only thing that stands in the way are the restrictions associated with the current outbreak of the corona virus.
We agreed to contact us as soon as the fear pandemic restrictions were lifted.