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Stories From The Eastern West
34 minutes | a month ago
After the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east in 1939, many thousands of Polish families were deported to Siberian forced labour camps. There they not only faced bitter cold but constant hunger. Then Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, and the families that were now allowed to leave tried to get as far south as possible. In many cases, only their children made it all the way to safety in Iran. Some Polish orphans were resettled in places like South Africa and Mexico, but a group of 700 would end up travelling on a US Navy ship to the small island nation of New Zealand, on the other side of the world. How did the children survive their perilous journey from Siberia to Iran, and end up in a place called Pahiatua in the New Zealand countryside? How did they adjust to a new life surrounded by sheep and cattle, and what happened when the camp they had begun to call home was finally shut down for good? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [02:10] Deportation from Eastern Poland to Siberia [06:15] Everyday life in the Labour Camps [09:30] The USSR joins the allies, amnesty, and getting out of Russia [12:08] The Polish Army gathers orphans from the countryside [14:30] Arrival in Pahlavi and Isfahan [16:25] Iran becomes dangerous and the children need to be resettled [17:05] Leaving for New Zealand on a US Navy Transporter [18:45] Arrival in Wellington and the camp in Pahiatua [21:21] Life in the countryside [23:49] The NZ government takes over caring for the children [25:18] Settling down, finding careers and getting married [28:03] Living the two cultures side by side [28:50] The arrival of Stefania's parents [30:30] Finding your place in the world Further reading / watching Polish Children of Pahiatua // on the Wellington City Council website Dzieci z Pahiatua // on ArchiwumEmigranta.pl (Polish) The Story of 700 Polish Children // Documentary (1966) on NZOnScreen.com The arrival of the Polish Children in Wellington // Newsreel (1944) on NZOnScreen.com Credits Written, produced & presented by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Thanks This episode was produced with help from the Embassy of Poland in Wellington. We'd like to extend many thanks to Ambassador Zbigniew Gniatkowski and Anna Gołębicka-Buchanan for helping us get in touch with the protagonists of our episode. We'd also like to say thank you to Stanisław Manterys, Malwina Zofia Rubisz Schwieters and Jozef and Stefania Zawada for telling us their story, and to Karolina Palej for her assistance.
28 minutes | 2 months ago
As much as The People’s Republic of Poland may seem a distant country hidden behind the Iron Curtain, it was an open and welcoming one... towards other socialist states. Student exchange programmes were one of the many ways of building international socialist partnerships. The Vietnam War was just ending when Hai ‘Nam’ Bui Ngoc had reached university. He was one of the few lucky ones given a chance to travel to the other side of the world to study ship building. After a few weeks spent travelling by train from Hanoi to Warsaw, he saw everything other than what he had imagined. But this was only the beginning of his incredible journey... Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:08] What does Nam mean? [02:09] The end of the world: growing up during the Vietnam War [07:14] Moving to Poland to study shipbuilding [12:51] Vietnamese secret agents appear [13:51] Becoming a guru [15:21] Love [16:30] Escape [20:44] 'What saved me was a hand' [23:22] Asylum in France [24:13] Problems in heaven & a difficult return to Poland [25:36] Where home is Further reading & watching Nam’s martial arts school // official website June 1976 and the Workers’ Defence Committee // an article on the Workers Defence Committee on Poland.pl Polska PRL 1974 r // Polish news chronicle from 1974 on Youtube Polska 1975, Polska Kronika Filmowa // Polish news chronicle from 1975 on Youtube ( Life In Gdansk ) (1971) // British Pathé footage of Gdańsk in 1971 on Youtube Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Edited by Wojciech Oleksiak & Adam Zulawski Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
29 minutes | 3 months ago
In August 1980, after the firing of popular shipyard worker, Anna Walentynowicz, a strike broke out at the Vladimir Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk. Suddenly this massive complex on the Polish coast, with 16,000 employees and of huge strategic importance for the Polish economy, was under worker occupation, and every day other workplaces in Gdańsk and around the country started joining in. Very soon the communist leadership in Warsaw realised that this wasn't just another strike they could snuff out with promised pay rises, or indeed by force. As for the shipyard workers, they realised that this was a chance to force the government to accept something they had long been fighting for… trade unions that were independent from the state, and run by the workers themselves… So who exactly was Anna Walentynowicz and how did her firing provoke a strike that took hold of the country? Why did Henryka Krzywonos stop her tram on a busy intersection in Gdańsk? How did a shipyard become a focal point for the battle for freedom and democracy? Did the strikers ultimately get what they were fighting for? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:02] 1980s Poland: a country on the verge of a revolution [05:09] The strike starts at the shipyard... [07:19] ...and spreads to other workplaces in Gdańsk [12:10] How it looked from the other side of the fence [13:39] The strike becomes a country-wide protest [17:05] The protesters meet with the government delegation [22:00] The Gdańsk Agreement is signed [23:45] 'Solidarity' is founded by members of the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee [27:40] Credits Further reading Poland's Walk To Freedom in 13 Iconic Photos // photo reportage on Culture.pl When the Stars Came Out for Solidarność // article on Culture.pl The European Solidarity Centre // the building's launch, on Culture.pl The Gdansk Agreement // on Wikipedia.org Further watching Who is Anna Walentynowicz? // an hour-long documentary about Anna Walentynowicz and the 1980 strikes (Polish/German with English subtitles) Robotnicy 1980 // a documentary about the strikes and negotiations at the Gdańsk shipyard (Polish only) Further visiting Stocznia jest kobietą - Shipyard is (a) female // a mobile app and audio tour that lets you discover the history of the Gdańsk shipyards through the eyes of the women who worked there. Android phone users can find it here. European Solidarity Centre // a museum in Gdańsk dedicated to the shipyard and the history of the Solidarity movement. Anna Walentynowicz Exhibition // a special exhibit on the grounds of the shipyard dedicated to the work and activism of Anna Walentynowicz. Presented in the shed she used to work in. The Institute of Urban Culture in Gdansk // free walking tours of the shipyard and other historic areas in Gdańsk. Credits Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Wojtek Oleksiak & Adam Zulawski Hosted by Nitzan Reisner, Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Many thanks to Joanna Duda-Gwiazda and Andrzej Gwiazda, Henryka Krzywonos, Aleksander Maślankiewicz, Halina Lewna and everybody else we spoke to along the way during the making of this episode. And a special thanks to Anna Miller from the Arteria Association and Metropolitanka Group in Gdańsk, for her knowledge and assistance. Also be sure to check out our special mini-series on the democratic revolutions of 1989: The Final Curtain. You can also find it in our feed.
31 minutes | 4 months ago
Chernobyl had cast a shadow over our childhoods. It was reportedly the cause of all the chronic diseases we’d struggled with. In the summer of 2018, we went there. We wanted to walk into the belly of the beast, to debunk any nonsense around it. To hear about the doom, catastrophes, and everyday struggles. But what we came back with was something else entirely – a beautiful and uplifting tale about love. Love for home, love for nature, love for people. Something stronger than the biggest nuclear accident in the history of humankind. With uncertain times ahead of us all… it has given us the hope that we can overcome a whole lot, if only we care. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! If you happen to be a Russian speaker, you can listen to the original (Russian) version of this episode. Time stamps [00:00] Why we went to Chernobyl [05:50] We find Evgeny, a former teacher [07:57] ‘In 1986, nobody expected it...‘ [09:11] People weren’t informed about the disaster [10:11] The evacuation of Chernobyl [11:55] Evgeny returns to Chernobyl for the first time [14:19] Evacuation centre dilemmas [16:45] Chernobyl clean up [20:45] Evgeny returns for good (and bad) [24:40] Did other people try to come back? [25:49] Living in Chernobyl in 2018 More about Chernobyl 4 rooms // a sound art project showing you what the empty spaces of Chernobyl sound like Drone fly-by // see Chernobyl’s abandoned places for yourself from a bird’s-eye perspective Haunting Images // a photo gallery with photos taken by Lasse Damgaard The Babushkas of Chernobyl // a documentary movie about a group of older ladies living in a distant corner of the exclusion zone Credits Written & produced by Żenia Klimakin & Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Nick White & Adam Zulawski Hosted by Nitzan Reisner, Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Guitars by Michał Przerwa-Tetmajer Special thanks: State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management, Ygor Egorov, Serhyi Dmytriyev, Julia Kononenko
1 minutes | 5 months ago
Announcing Season III
This year, we've travelled to the far reaches of the globe for you: we went deep down into the Chernobyl Exclusion zone, visited New Zealand, and went back in time and space to deliver yet another set of stories that changed our world. Stay tuned: the first episode drops July 16th! Like our show? Get our newsletter!
14 minutes | a year ago
EWA & LENA
How a teen's letter to a stranger in the Soviet Union led to a long-distance friendship that has lasted decades. Like many teens growing up in the People’s Republic of Poland, Ewa decided to send a letter to a stranger in the Soviet Union. Lena from Moscow wrote back to her, and they quickly found they had a lot in common, including a love of both dogs and Vysotsky records. They continued writing as they entered new phases in their lives. They began careers, started families, and of course there were the revolutions that changed everything around them from communist to capitalist. And they're still writing today... forty years later. How did Ewa find her penpal? Did the 1989 revolutions affect their friendship? And why have they never met? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Click here to listen to the Polish version of this episode! Time stamps [01:35] How Ewa found Lena [03:48] Instant friends [06:38] Exchanging gifts by post [08:49] The fall of communism [11:58] Still writing, but will they ever meet? Further reading / watching Poland's Walk to Freedom in 13 Iconic Photos // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl Posters of Solidarity from 1980 to 1989 // on Culture.pl A Pen Pal's Tales of Life in the Former Soviet Union // on FEE.org Postcrossing.com // a community that exchanges postcards with random people around the world Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
19 minutes | a year ago
How a giant communal song festival helped Estonians regain independence from the USSR. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. In the Estonia Kaie Tanner grew up in, learning Russian at school was compulsory, and her mother and her friends often sang 'forbidden songs' at home – Estonian folk songs that the Soviet authorities disapproved of. Music was a huge part of her life, but she didn't expect that it could help her country win independence. But in 1987, when Kaie Tanner attended the massive Estonian Singing festival as a teenager, something unexpected happened. After the officially sanctioned event had finished, the hundreds of thousands of Estonians stayed and kept singing their own Estonian folk songs all through the night – and the Soviet authorities were powerless to stop them. What was the Singing Revolution? How did it lead to the independence of Estonia and the other Baltic states? Was it possible for Estonia's Russian- and Estonian-speaking citizens to finally move on from past resentments? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [02:07] A childhood in Soviet-dominated Estonia [06:27] How Estonians tried to sing their country into independence [10:01] Was the USSR military intervention successful? [12:38] Independence! Kaie becomes a music teacher [14:53] A country comprised of two peoples [18:24] Credits Further reading / watching The Singing Revolution // on Wikipedia.org The Sound of Freedom // on Local-life.com The Baltic Way // on Wikipedia.org Thanks This episode was produced with help from the Embassy of Poland in Tallinn. We'd like to extend many thanks to Ambassador Grzegorz Kozłowski, who kindly greenlighted our co-operation, and to Sławomira Borowska-Peterson, who helped us understand Estonian history, society and reality much better. Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
21 minutes | a year ago
How a Romanian mining town that lost its mine fought to turn its remains into a cultural hub. In our second and final episode on Ion Barbu and the town of Petrila, we learn how the mine, the town's main employer, was unable to achieve profitability in the new era of capitalism and was closed down for good. Ion had spent 15 years of his life at the mine, and for him and many others it was more than just a place of work. So when the mine's crumbling buildings were in line for demolition, Ion decided to try and save them by using art to revitalise the town. What happened to the town once the mine closed? Did Ion manage to save the buildings of the former mine? What happened next? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:23] Why the mine was closed? [03:07] Meeting another miner: Cenusa Catalin [09:55] Ion gives us a tour around a gallery in Deva [11:30] What does the process of closing a mine look like? [16:26] Ion gives us a tour around the Plumber's Museum [19:05] The many more museums that Ion wants to open [20:38] Credits Further reading / watching Ion Barbu // on BeyondCoal.eu Photo gallery from our trip to Petrila // on Culture.pl Beneath the Surface: The Occult Inspirations of Poland’s Legendary Naive Artist Coal Miners // on Culture.pl Author Małgorzata Rejmer on Romania & Albania // interview on Culture.pl Planet Petrila: Documentary Feature Trailer // on Youtube Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Clara Kleininger was our associate producer for this story Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
19 minutes | a year ago
How a Romanian miner made political caricatures at a time when making fun of the country's leadership could mean a visit from the secret police. After finishing university in 1978, Ion Barbu was assigned to the Petrila mine as a topographer. He only intended to be there briefly, but despite attempting other jobs such as local reporter and museum curator, he ended up staying at the mine for the next 15 years... How did Ion balance being both a miner and a political caricaturist? What happened when the secret police arrested him for mocking the Romanian president? How does he recall the sudden and violent fall of the Ceaușescu regime? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [02:04] How Ion became a miner... [05:04] ... and a caricaturist [09:50] The Securitate, the dreaded secret police of communist Romania [12:34] How did the political changes look from inside the Petrila mine? [16:47] Ion explains why 'We should say goodbye to the past laughing' [18:42] Credits Further reading & watching 'Islands of culture' shape the future of the Jiu Valley, Romania // on Just-Transition.info Beneath the Surface: The Occult Inspirations of Poland’s Legendary Naive Artist Coal Miners // on Culture.pl Author Małgorzata Rejmer on Romania & Albania // interview on Culture.pl Planet Petrila: Documentary Feature Trailer // on Youtube Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Clara Kleininger was our associate producer for this story Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski The last song was performed by Fanfara Minerilor din Cavnic
20 minutes | a year ago
How a single mother in Kyiv experienced the end of the USSR and survived the harsh economic realities of life in post-communist Ukraine in the early 1990s. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. Iryna Tkachenko is a music conservatory graduate and journalist who became a single mother just a couple of years before the demise of the Soviet Union and the political and economic turbulence that followed the fall of the Iron Curtain. Her wage as a radio journalist wasn't really enough to survive, but after the complete collapse of the Ukrainian economy, you were considered lucky to have a job at all. She bought clothes at second-hand shops and travelled to Moscow to buy things that you couldn't get in the mostly empty stores of Kyiv. She took on extra jobs and did whatever she could to survive but never lost her positive outlook on life. How did Iryna end up selling toy cars on the streets of Kyiv? How did she and her friends react to the putsch of August 1991? How did she cope with the early days of capitalism? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:10] An unusual single mom [06:00] How Iryna became a businesswoman... for one day only [07:50] The August Coup & the uncertainty it brought on [11:17] Why didn't she go to work abroad? [14:15] And what was she doing instead? [19:10] Credits Further reading Photos of Everyday Life in Ukraine in the 1990s // on Slate.com Wearing Adibas & Fuma: Memories from Growing up in the 1990s // on Culture.pl Anne Applebaum Recalls Poland's Food Revolution // on Culture.pl Coup of August 1991 // on Wikipedia.org Andrei Sakharov // on Wikipedia.org Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak & Żenia Klimakin Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
22 minutes | a year ago
EDGAR & MICHAEL
How East Berlin's leading political cabaret tried to get their message through despite strict state censorship... and what happened when the system they were laughing at ceased to exist. For the citizens of the GDR, laughter was often the best medicine when dealing with the absurdities of the political system they lived under. And if you were a resident of East Berlin, there was no better place than Kabarett Distel (meaning 'thorn' in German). The content of Kabarett Distel shows was strictly censored, so performers had to find clever ways to fully communicate with their audience – who would be focussed on every word and facial expression. Even if it was likely that the Stasi secret police was watching. As the regime began to crumble, late 1980s members of the cabaret joined other East Germans on the streets to demand democratic reforms. How did the cabaret respond to the tumultuous events of 1989 and the opening of the Berlin Wall? How did Kabarett Distel adapt to the new democratic reality, where you were suddenly free to say what you like? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:01] Laughing at the system [06:00] Testing the boundaries of censorship [10:13] The final years of the GDR [12:43] The fall of the Berlin Wall and what it meant for Kabarett Distel [14:32] Unification, scandal & the Stasi [18:22] Staying relevant & funny in a free system [19:59] Almost time to pack our suitcases Further reading History of German Kabarett // on Wikipedia.org Polish Cabaret under the Communist Regime // on Culture.pl Kabarett Distel // official website (German only) Credits Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
19 minutes | a year ago
Meet the headstrong musician who's been viciously rebelling against both of the systems he lived under... and created some truly worthwhile art along the way. Tymon Tymanski came of age in the 1980s, probably the bleakest years of the communist regime. Much like teenagers in the West, he turned to punk rock and artistic rebellion as a way of protesting the stagnation of the society he lived in. He met like-minded young people at the University of Gdańsk, played in various bands, and formed the avant-garde art group Totart, whose absurd, and often obscene, performances and happenings aimed to provoke disorder and outrage. Then, in 1989, the whole system came tumbling down. Like other artists, Tymon had to adapt to the new reality of total artistic freedom and economic uncertainty. How did Tymon and his band Miłość (Love) end up creating a whole new musical genre? What did the arrival of free-market capitalism in the 1990s mean for artists and musicians? Is it possible to remain uncompromising as an artist and still pay the bills? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:25] Coming of age in the 1980s [04:08] The origins of Totart [06:12] Absurdity & transgression [08:43] 1989 & the end of censorship [10:48] A new band & a new music genre [13:29] Disillusionment & surviving as an artist Further reading Tymon Tymanski // biography on Culture.pl Yass: The Jazz, The Filth & The Fury // on Culture.pl 9 Politically Influential Singer-Songwriters from Europe under Communism // on Culture.pl Rock Music and the Fall of Communism // on Wikipedia.org The Walls Must Tumble: 10 Polish Songs about Freedom // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Music by Tymon Tymański, Sni Sredstvom Za Uklanianie, Tymon Tymański & The Transistors, and Totart Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
24 minutes | a year ago
How a banned singer-songwriter became an unwilling musical hero through his home-copied cassettes. Jacek Kleyff was an increasingly popular topical songwriter in 1970s Poland. But he was unwilling to bend to the demands of the communist state's censorship, so the authorities reacted by banning him from appearing in public, including radio and TV. But he didn't stop recording, and his songs, circulated through the underground on home-made cassettes, became anthems for the Polish democratic opposition. What did Jacek do when he was blacklisted by the communist authorities? How did he become a cult figure within the Polish opposition? What did he do when the regime fell? Find out in the latest episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Click here to listen to the Polish version of this episode! Time stamps [01:25] Coming of age during the grim 1970s in Poland [03:56] Jacek founds the Salon of Independents and becomes an oppositionist [06:23] Salon gets banned, Jacek goes on to play solo [09:57] Jacek writes a song which... starts a revolution [15:22] Jacek gets banned for life and casts himself away... [18:15] ... but still makes some noise from the underground [20:35] The system's gone. What does it mean for Jacek? Further reading Jacek Kleyff // biography on Culture.pl 9 Politically Influential Singer-Songwriters from Europe under Communism // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl A Long Way To Freedom: Banned Photos From Poland's 1980s // on Culture.pl Rock Music and the Fall of Communism // on Wikipedia.org The Walls Must Tumble: 10 Polish Songs about Freedom // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski Special thanks to Lauren Dubowski for her brilliant translation of 'Sejm'
24 minutes | a year ago
How an East German cameraman filmed the first major demonstrations in the GDR from the top of a church steeple in Leipzig. A month later, East Germany would effectively cease to exist. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. Siegbert Schefke was officially unemployed after being fired from his job as a building engineer. Unofficially, he began to arrange for diplomats to smuggle videotapes from East Germany to be broadcast on West German TV stations. As it happens, most East Germans could also pick up Western TV on their receivers. Siegbert didn't really know how to use a video camera, but that didn't really matter, what mattered was that the world could see what was really going on behind the Wall. How did Siegbert and his friend Aram Radomski end up filming the first major protest in the GDR on 9th October 1989? How did they outfox the Stasi and get the footage to the West? Find out in the newest episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:08] Born in the GDR [03:50] From part-time revolutionary to full-time revolutionary [06:22] Smuggling videotapes to the West [08:40] Foreign diplomats & secret codes [11:11] The Monday Demonstrations in Leipzig [14:27] Making history [18:22] The day the Berlin Wall fell [21:12] What next? Further reading Siegbert Schefke // short biography on Revolution89.de The Monday Demonstrations in East Germany // on Wikipedia A Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig // on Spiegel.de 'I was very angry for 30 years' // interview on AlJazeera.com Sex, Karate & Videotapes: The VHS Craze of the 1989 Transformation // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
24 minutes | a year ago
How Polish opposition activists began transmitting their own pirate radio and 'hacked' communist-run state TV. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. Wojciech Stawiszyński was an opposition activist, who suddenly found himself in charge of running Radio Solidarność, a mobile radio station that would be the voice of the pro-democracy Solidarity movement. Their success depended on a sophisticated game of cat and mouse with the authorities, with each broadcast taking place at a new location. In the darkest period of martial law, they had to resort to incredibly complicated ways of operating, funding, broadcasting and even communicating with each other. Did they make it through? Did they manage to outmaneuver the communist secret services? What happened when communism was gone? Find out in the latest episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Click here to listen to the Polish version of this episode! Time stamps [01:08] How Wojciech found himself in charge of the outlawed Radio Solidarność [03:50] How do you reach listeners when the secret police is on your back? [05:55] Radio Solidarność programme content [09:05] Outsmarting the communist regime with technology [14:35] Hardships and low points [16:42] How to live a dangerous dual life [20:36] Adjusting to capitalism after 1989 Further reading Radio Solidarity, On The Air, Defies Polish Regime // on NYT.com Poland's Walk to Freedom in 13 Iconic Photos // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl Posters of Solidarity from 1980 to 1989 // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Music by Blue Note Sessions Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
20 minutes | a year ago
How a photographer from London gave the rest of the world a glimpse of everyday life behind the Iron Curtain. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. The Polish-British photographer Chris Niedenthal found himself in the heart of Communist Poland in the 1970s and 80s, documenting both how ordinary people lived, as well as the major political events leading up to the collapse of the Soviet-backed regime. His photographs ended up in major Western periodicals, such as Newsweek, Time, Der Spiegel and Forbes. Through his camera, he created a window into the Polish People's Republic for the rest of the world to peer through. His iconic photograph of an armoured vehicle in front of a poster for the film ‘Apocalypse Now’, taken after martial law was declared in Poland, remains one of the defining images of the period – but how did he end up taking it, and what happened next? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter. Time stamps [01:07] How he came to Poland [04:15] The election of John Paul II and how it changed Chris’ life [05:30] Martial law and Chris’ most iconic photo [10:04] Other revolutions Chris witnessed and photographed [12:59] How he happened to be the first photographer to shoot the fall of the Berlin Wall [16:00] What did Chris do after communism had ended? Further reading Chris Niedenthal // biography on Culture.pl The Communist Regime in Poland in 10 Astonishing Pictures // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl Capturing a Country's History in One Single Picture // on Culture.pl ChrisNiedenthal.com // Chris's official website Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski Music by Blue Dot Sessions & SIR HARDLY NOBODY (Chris Niedenthal's band)
25 minutes | a year ago
How a well-known opposition leader evaded capture by the communist authorities for almost five years. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. In the early 1980s, Zbigniew Bujak was the head of Solidarity in the Warsaw region, a pro-democratic labour movement that was gaining in strength. So much so, in fact, that the communist leadership declared martial law in December 1981 in order to stop the opposition dead in its tracks. Hundreds of political activists were arrested, including much of the leadership of Solidarity. But Bujak managed to go into hiding before they had a chance to find him. Making use of an underground oppositionist network as well as methods of masking his movements, he managed to evade capture for five years. Keeping Zbigniew in hiding became crucial for the underground opposition since not only was he orchestrating anti-regime actions, but his continued freedom remained a symbol of the secret police’s weakness. How did his hiding end? What was the long-term impact of his activity? What did freedom mean for Bujak himself? How does he remember the shift of power from his own perspective? You’ll find all the answers in the opening episode of Stories From The Eastern West’s new mini-series The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Click here to listen to the Polish version of this episode! Time stamps [01:45] Life in 1970s Poland [04:51] Zbigniew Bujak starts his anti-regime activities [09:47] Martial law [11:25] Going into hiding [17:17] Arrest. What next? [19:37] Glasnost: what it means, and what it meant for Poles [22:37] Communism is gone. Who takes over now? Further reading Zbigniew Bujak // biography on Wikipedia.com Poland's Walk to Freedom in 13 Iconic Photos // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl Posters of Solidarity from 1980 to 1989 // on Culture.pl One Photo, One Story: The Round Table Talks // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
1 minutes | a year ago
Announcing: The Final Curtain
THE FINAL CURTAIN: a new series of personal tales from the Eastern Bloc’s demise. Launching August 23rd in the Stories From The Eastern West feed! The year 1989 saw a big change. All of Central and Eastern Europe took a U-turn within less than three years and transformed from the grey land behind the Iron Curtain into several independent, quickly developing, free market democracies. The team behind Stories From The Eastern West is marking this occasion with The Final Curtain, a special mini-series featuring personal tales from the Eastern Bloc’s transformation. Through these remarkable accounts told by people who lived through circumstances we would now hardly believe, The Final Curtain offers an important snapshot of a pivotal moment in Europe’s history. Find out more on SFTEW.com as well as our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for our newsletter.
27 minutes | 2 years ago
Finland + technology = Nokia, doesn’t it? Yes, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finland is responsible for many technological breakthroughs from the last couple decades, such as the SSH cybersecurity protocol used on over half of the world’s web servers, and Internet Relay Chat, which people born in the 1980s will remember as the first instant messenger. But back in the early 1990s, Finland’s tech scene was mostly just a lot of teenagers pirating software illegally. They would code at squat parties filled with cigarette smoke. None of the glossy corporate world that lay ahead was on anybody’s mind. In this episode, Molly Schwartz, who lived there for almost two years, goes on a journey to the roots of Finland’s tech transformation. She dives deep into 8-bit music, pixelated computer screens and the days when games were distributed on C-cassettes. Just how did this small, cold, dark and sparsely-populated country become an IT powerhouse? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [02:26] Wili Miettinen runs away from home and starts coding and… pirating[03:58] What were the beginnings of the Demoscene? [06:45] Demoparties![08:28] Why was it so difficult to create demos back in the early 1990s?[09:39] Demosceners start using their skills to make money...[12:28] … and serious business players take notice[14:40] Introducing Taneli Tikka[17:40] Taneli Tikka invents proto-Twitter[19:28] The demoscenes’ impact on the startup scene[23:02] Molly’s final monologue[24:45] Credits & thanks Further watching Second Reality PC Demo by Future Crew / on YouTube.com Making Of Second Reality / Future Crew / on YouTube.com Further reading Some hard data on the Demoscene / on Wikipedia Demoscene Still Alive and Kicking / on Wired.com Demoscene So Far / on a 90s-style Finnish blog How 1990s Polish Kids Discovered Nintendo through Piracy / on Culture.pl Thanks Wili Miettinen / for telling us about his personal experiences throughout his long career and how the tech industry grew out of squats and parties. You can find him on Twitter (where his username is, of course, OG): @wili Taneli Tikka / for talking to us about his experiences at Assembly as a teenager and how his forays into inventing social media. You can also find Taneli on Twitter: @tanelitikka Molly would also like to thank all the people who helped her along the way. Her special thanks go to Jussi-Pekka Harviainen, Pekka Aakko, Marko Reunanen and Jukka Kauppinen. Credits Written & produced by Molly SchwartzEdited by Adam Żuławski & Wojciech OleksiakScoring & sound design by Wojciech OleksiakHosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski
22 minutes | 2 years ago
During WWII, the Third Reich had a systematic policy of plundering artwork from countries they invaded. In occupied Poland, this took place on a massive scale. Over half a million individual works of art were taken over the course of the war, including countless national treasures. But while some of these works of art were destined for the walls of high-ranking Nazi party officials and the planned Führermuseum, others were marked for destruction. In fact, there was one particular painting that the Germans were really keen to get rid of. ‘The Battle of Grunwald’ was painted by Jan Matejko in the late 19th century and portrayed a battle that had happened over 500 years ago, so why did the Third Reich want it gone so badly? And just how would it avoid being captured seeing as it was 10-metres long and weighed nearly a tonne? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [00:58] How big is this painting then? [03:00] The evacuation begins [04:43] What makes this painting so wanted? [07:32] The journey continues and tragedy strikes [10:19] Time to hide this enormity somewhere safe... [14:48] ...with the hunt at its peak [16:09] The Germans are gone. What next? [18:20] Where is the painting today and is it worth seeing? [20:10] Credits Further watching / listening The Tale of the Battle of Grunwald / by the National Museum in Warsaw, on youtube.com (Polish Only) Hitler's Fuhrermuseum / by the Art Curious Podcast, an excellent episode about stolen art in WWII and Hitler's planned Fuhrermusem. Further reading The Battle of Grunwald Explained / on Culture.pl Jan Matejko's Battle of Grunwald / on Wikipedia.org The Battle of Grunwald (First Battle of Tannenberg) / on Wikipedia.org Nazi Plunder / on Wikipedia.org Thanks Prof. Maria Poprzęcka / for talking to us about the history of the painting and its incredible war-time adventures. Poprzęcka is a professor of Art History at the University of Warsaw and presents an art history show on Polish Radio. Piotr Lisowski / for talking to us about the painting and its restoration, and sharing with us its many secrets. Lisowski is a paintings conservator at the National Museum in Warsaw. The National Museum in Warsaw / for their assistance. John Beauchamp / for becoming Piotr Lisowski's English voice. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw. Grażyna Soczewka / for becoming the voice of Maria Poprzęcka. Grażyna is head of the Artists & Works section at Culture.pl and is our go-to voice for many of our videos. Credits Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Żuławski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski
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