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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Bogdan Borusewicz

Interviewed December 10, 2023

But at the same time I was striving to live a normal life in this abnormal time [Mr. Borusewicz went into hiding during Poland’s period of martial law from 1981 – 1983]. I had dates with my fiancée, Alina Pienkowska, who was also an activist in the democratic underground. She was arrested in my apartment, incidentally, she had come over to warn me; I was able to make my way out, she got nabbed, but after she got out she helped me, supported me, organized apartments and people, so I met with her often.

So in this underground movement in this abnormal situation, we still tried to live normal lives, we had a daughter. A daughter was born to us, and we decided to marry, to legalize this relationship. You could only do it at a Catholic church, so I made that decision, so that my girlfriend would feel more secure. So we were married before one priest who gave us a clandestine marriage ceremony. And later, many, many years later, we went over to a civil registrar’s bureau to legalize it – this was in liberated Poland already. But what I am saying is that I made an effort to live a normal life, and just like many of my male friends who were in hiding – just to have that sliver of normalcy around them. But alas, of course gradually many were arrested in turn. I was able to stay in hiding for a rather long time.

There was one story, illustrating the powerlessness of the Security Service. One morning, a group of political police stormed in to search Alina’s apartment – and this was just one room with a kind of kitchenette. They had heard that there were male voices talking there at night, and thought that I might be visiting her. I wasn’t there. These were some friends from the Documentary Film Studios, who used to come when they were busy with something. They were the ones who made the film Robotnicy 80 [Workers 1980] about the strike. But, anyway, the bug [microphone] in the apartment picked up some male visitors … and so the political police barged in during the morning, searched the apartment, and then all six of these Security Police surrounded the crib of my daughter, Kinga. Because she was really a spitting image of me.

So they just stood and watched, and watched some more – because here was proof of their powerlessness and their defeat – since they knew Alina was my girlfriend, of course they had been monitoring her, and here they see my daughter, who is my offspring, so clearly to everyone. So they stood there for a half hour or more, contemplating their own powerlessness.