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Nowa Wies





Stefan’s decision to buy land in Klodzka Valley, building a house and move from a big city to a village was so interesting, because elderly people are rather reluctant to move anywhere. Before the interview, Stefan wanted me to watch a film about building the TV transmitter on Sleza mentioned in the interview. It was the anniversary of that event in 1998, when the film was made. It was a nice experience, and besides I knew what to ask about. Stefan has been interviewed before, so I did not have any problems. He was not afraid of talking. As Stefan mentioned, our interview took place in a really good atmosphere.

At the beginning I would like to thank you for the invitation. Could you introduce yourself?
Section 2
You have already mentioned the way you came here, but I would like you to go back to the times when you lived in a big city, in Wroclaw. What did you do there? Where did you work? You have mentioned that you work with groups of people, could you clarify it a little bit more? What were your interests?
As my generation has a quite complicated life story, so a similar situation is with me. Till the War I completed two classes of secondary school, and during the occupation I attended a secret school. I graduated the school after the war. Because I was afraid of my deportation to Germany, I worked as a volunteer in a German factory “Oftbon”. I worked only three months there since the Russians came and as soon as Polish government called up all the railway workers to work I started working in Przemysl. Then I was sent to Szczecin, but I decided to go to my cousins in Wroclaw instead to join the Institute of Technology as 215th student. I talked to Professor Kazimierz Daszewski, who admired my grades as well as the knowledge of Greek, Latin and French. But except of studies I wanted to start any kind of work [and] not be a burden to my mother. Initially I worked as a school clerk responsible for parents’ funds and after some time I started teaching science at the secondary school for working people in Poniatowskiego Street and others. I consider that moment to be very motivating for me; when a young man is supposed to teach others he must be sure of his knowledge.
After my studies I worked for the Polish Radio, but after six months there was a reorganisation and we worked for the development of radio services of the country for some years. Then it was all joint with the Polish Post and Telecommunication and I worked in department of communication. We tried to develop broadcasting radio programmes by means of high voltage installations, but we failed. They came back to the idea much later, and now communication is also supported this way. It was a kind of developing work and at the time a broadcasting station on mountain Sleza was about to be build. I was asked to cooperate.
Everything was going quite slowly until Mr Wojciech Dzieduszycki very intelligent, good journalist of great personality, decided to take care of the matter. We went to the local authorities, to Mr Bronislaw Ostapczuk, who strongly supported us. So there was establishing meeting of the Committee for Building Regional Television Station in Wroclaw on 4th July the corner stone was put there, building was completed on 29th October and it was opened on 5th December, but it was equipped later, so we could start broadcasting on 1st February. I personally took part in it; then I became a manager of the broadcasting station. The station was on the top of Sleza and the office was in Wroclaw. Together with Mr Ostapilczuk we wanted to widen the range of the activities; so in an official letter to the vice Prime Minister Mr Jaroszewicz, we suggested starting TV set factory in Wroclaw. Jaroszewicz sent it to the Ministry of Industry - and engineer Kiejstut Rzemejtis signed on 26 February 59 the act establishing “Elwro” as a factory of parts for TV sets, analogue and digital devices. I, working on Sleza, was a spiritual protector of the factory. The first manager of the factory was introduced to me and later he was employing his staff sitting in my office. It was in years ‘59 and ‘60. We all were friends.
I was always [being] invited to the factory and during one of such visits director Mr Marian Tarkowski offered me to come to work to the factory. I still wanted to work on Sleza, but after I got stacked in snow up to my chest, [that] convinced me to join the factory. I was vice director responsible for investments, but after a couple of months he quit the job leaving for Warszawa. Then I was in a way forced to become a director. My humanistic interests helped me much then. I did not have any conflicts with other directors responsible for technology or economy, because I did not know much about it. I could evaluate their work only. So I worked there between 1963 and 1968 but after a serious clash with the association I went to work as a engineer responsible for development of digital counting technology for eight years. Obviously not only thanks to me there were many new devices and technologies developed at that time, but I certainly took a part in it.
One day I was called by a Regional Communist Party Chairman - and I never belonged to that organisation - Mr Ludwik Drozdz offered me to take care of the Centre of Medical Diagnosis, because he was aware of the fact that doctors would not know how to deal with modern equipment, so he wanted somebody like me. In the contract a trip to USA was mentioned to see how it all worked there. I said that I wanted to see it all working there first. So on 1st October 1976 I became the director of Centre of Medical Diagnosis and it was opened on 2nd May 1977. I had to take real risks to make it real so fast. At that time building industry in Poland did not work well. There were always some difficulties. All dead lines were regularly postponed. I played a kind of poker with the people who worked on that building. I forced them by means of various tricks to put all the parts that were specially brought to the building site, immediately. Then I told a story of a contract with the Americans, that if they did not fit all the devices till a certain time, we would lose a guarantee for it. And it all cost 1,600,000$. Although they all were making some difficulties, nobody was willing to take such responsibility. So till 31st March a computer could be installed.
Then was the second stage, when I told everybody that Mr Drozdz invited Mr Gierek - the chairman of Polish United Workers’ Party - for the opening at the beginning of May. Mr Drozdz was amused with that idea, because he knew that nobody would call Gierek to confirm it. On 30th April at 11 PM everything, including electric light was ready. At that time workers finished a pavement in front of the building of DOLMED and directors were carrying their tools, I also helped a bit, because the workers were so tired. After we start our work Mr Drozdz called me and told that Gierek would come, and he did. All were impressed, I personally did not care much for it. I worked there until 1982, when I decided that my role was completed and I got back to “Elwro” to work as a manager of the design department between years 1982 and 1987, when I was sent to Leipzig to stay there till 1990. On 15th August I went there and my wife on 10th December 1987 went to Libya and I finished my job in Leipzig on 30th June 1990, got back to “Elwro” and after some time I retired. Between 1991 and 1993, asked by a friend of mine, I worked in a private business. Then till June 1994 I worked alone to finish my professional activity.
Section 4
It looks like you lead a very rich social life. You moved here when you were already retired: I would like to ask if you treat this house as a kind of a haven of calm and forgetfulness, an escape from the city?
As I mentioned our coming here was quite accidental, not planned. It brought us to this particular situation. In the city we used to lead a life rich in various events; we used to go to the opera, to theatres, we were watching some festivals. We lived in the centre of the city, so we used to spend our time in a very active way. And then quite unaware of it we moved to the village, but my interest remained the same. It followed me, because in men’s life we keep our habits, interest, contacts, everything. We were especially happy when various people were coming to see us. We did not lose touch with our friends, relatives. There some acquaintances of ours, who come every year with two tents - they are about to arrive today. They will spend two weeks. Very nice people, one does not lose touch. We make fires, chat and [laughs] drink.
As far as my heath I am quite all right. I do not suffer from any diseases; nothing even less serious, but one gets older with time. For example in 92 when I heard a gossip that everybody kept wondering why such old man as me started building a house, on my way to church with Michal, who was seven then, I decided to prove that I was strong enough and so we were racing till the church; he could not reach me. I would not be able to do it again. It all has gone. Of course I move around the area, go for walks, but the vital strength is not the same. But it still does not disturb to devote my time to my hobbies: reading and watching. My wife keeps on complementing on my memory. I do remember lots of things, but one cannot be sure for how long. Surely living here in this clean environment helps a lot. There is no industry round here. Only a Fabotek’s sawmill, but it does no harm.
But your question, as I understand it, was about possibilities of a working man living here. I convinced our friend that lives in Geneva with Polish citizenship, to buy a piece of ground near here; they bought it together with her classmate, who as a engineer works in Wroclaw. I told him that it would be possible to do exactly the same work here. Once we went to Geneva. Basia brought us to the house of Mr and Mrs Pelczarscy. He is a designer. He works at home connected with the whole world through the means of the internet. It is also possible here in Poland. I remember a conversation with the president of Ericson company. He came to Wroclaw to watch a football game and by that occasion he wanted to have a word with somebody from “Elwro” since we had some things exported from them. Because I did not know much about football, we had to talk about something else.
He told me about the company’s problem with young engineers. According to him, when the young staff spends lots of time in an office in a big city, they keep thinking about their free time, when they could go surfing. That was why they decided to move some of the design offices to the seaside. So the workers could go surfing straight after their work. It is also possible here. Of course there are some fields (areas of work?) that demand collective work with expensive equipment. We do not have; but it should not be considered as a serious problem, because sooner or later we got on to this train, when it will be going at a high speed. We do not need to be afraid that we will not be on time, because progress is so remarkable, that once one gets to the train he or she will get somewhere. Everything is up to young, dynamic people, that are fed up with the city life. Every time I go to Wroclaw I can feel sulphur in the air, it is very hard to breathe during hot days. Everything is in mess after the flood. We got some money from the world that has to be used till the end of the year, so they dug up all the streets in the city centre. Generally it is unpleasant and dangerous. So I still hope that all people that do special kind of work will move. If I was younger about 30-40 and somebody asked me to organise such design office here in this area, I would gladly do it. That is what I think.
Section 5
You mentioned that the local society looked at you with respect. Knowing your age, they were surprised that you decided to build a house. I would like to ask how did you acclimatise here in this village environment?
The village is not so big, it used to have 100 houses with 400 dwellers, and now there is about 30 something with about 100 inhabitants. There are lots of old, ill people, retired ones and lots of widows. There are also some families with perspectives. They have very gifted children. I happened to work with some of them. One was coming here to learn how to operate a computer, others to practice their foreign languages, namely French, English and German. Let me add that I also learned Latin, Greek. I used to write letters to my mother in French, I learned German during the War and bits of Russian enough to communicate. After I got back from USA in 1977 I decided to learn English more seriously. And I continue it till today.
Together with my wife we found our place, we have certain position here. She as a doctor is very needed here in the village. She helps our neighbours not taking money for it and they will either bring some eggs or help in the garden. They do not like to be somebody’s debtor. But we like it here. I have some friends - not in the very village - in Bystrzyca, in Miedzygórze, in Goworów. One has to keep in touch.
Section 6
Can you remind us if anybody advised you to come here? Did you have any friends here? How did it all happen that you came here?
I am not sure whether I have mentioned it, but it all was quite interesting. So my wife was in Libya and I was back in Wroclaw. Once I wanted to meet my cousins - they live in Wroclaw - and when I called them to make an appointment they told me that they were going to Klodzko to buy some land. They asked me to join them, because there was still some land to be bought. To my own surprise I agreed, so we went together. They were at the lawyer office in Klodzko, but I did not accompany them. Later we came here. My cousin showed me round explaining the conditions. The owner, Mr Zbyszek, came with his mother. He showed me the ground to be sold. It was 350 metres long and 150 metres wide. When I asked about the price, it was embarrassingly low. So I asked him to lower it a bit - such a psychological trick - then I promised to cover all the expenses. Till today he has got - although he is not aware of it - regular pension from me. He is always surprised when we see each other and I hand him some money. He keeps wondering why, and I promised to explain everything one day. I personally think that I have a lifetime debt to pay off. I bought it in such occasional (unusual?) conditions.
When we bought it, my cousins were going to build something. I started to be interested in it and then I met Mr Wojnarowicz. Later everything went at its own pace. If it were not for the money from Libya we would never be able to do anything. But it came true.

As you already said, you bought a large area before you came to live here; how did you imagine life and running it all here?
Whatever strange it may sound, in spite of my interests and qualifications I did not know anything about the subject. It was all spontaneous, because the price was really low it did not demand any efforts, at the time I did exactly the same as my cousins did. But later, when I became an owner I started thinking of any kind of hut, I had a contact with the architect, I got projects of a house and there was this money from Libya. In 1991 electricity posts were put in here. So it started in 1992. I knew that when it would be completed we either have to live here or we would have to sell it. Mr Wojnarowicz told me that his house in Sulistowiczki was broken into several times. He even found the remains of cigarettes. It could have been burnt. Since we decided to stay here, we never leave the house empty. Sometimes we asked Mr Zbyszek to sleep here, when we both have to leave.
But the decision of coming here was not mine. It was up to my wife. She was offered a part time job here in Dlugopole Zdrój. She could not go back to the hospital in Wroclaw, because there was this opinion going on, that after coming back from abroad, doctors did not have to work. She opened her private practice and all went right. When I got back, after two years, I had time to help her. As we settled here for good, there were some ideas of for example planting some trees - we called it a little park. My wife spends a lot of time there adding new trees. We also have some space for fire bones (?) and a part of real forest. We also used to keep trout in two small ponds. Unfortunately some local kids were coming to take the fish, so I had to give it up. There also some fields on which we plant a thousand trees every year. The idea came mainly because there was a forest in plans, but it did not exist in reality. Those grounds used to belong to the state and local people cut many trees down. So I decided to fix. I think that one should support nature, at least here where it is possible. We destroy so much. There are some beech, pine and ash trees. It is hard to tell whether it is always going to be a thousand a year. The area is surrounded by three roads and near here there is our friend living in her house.
Section 7
These areas are really beautiful and many people would like to live here. I would like to know what made you living here?
It is hard to say that something fascinated me here. It was all by accident. I always liked Klodzka Valley - I used to go to Miedzylesie, Bystrzyca, Kudowa, Polanica, Duszniki and Ladek, but I never thought of living here. It came suddenly. We started living here and much later we got used to it. Of course we have got our various experiences. In the winter my wife had to dig a tunnel to drive from a garage. She had to leave a car in Jaworek and come here on foot. Last winter when we were visiting our friends in Miedzygórze on the way back our car got stuck in the snow, my wife walked home with Michal and called a snow-plough to get me out. It took some time.
But generally I must admit that there are many positive things round here. Beauty of the nature. For the first two years my wife used to sit and watch sunsets. It was very important to her [laughs], and I was asked not to disturb. We drive somewhere near here sometimes, but not too often. The area is beautiful - water and are not polluted. We are not exposed to anybody’s interference. Life in the village is easier. My wife has got a garden with fruit and vegetables, I am not really interested in it. We cannot plant fruit trees, because it is all regularly consumed by game. So we live here - for the first time on our own, because living in flats means that you live with others not necessarily in your own apartment. I am not a typical example of a migrant from a big city to a village in a so-called explosion of enthusiasm. My enthusiasm is more of an old man, but I try to imagine how I would be happy to come here at the age of 30 or 40 with this all-modern technology. I would surely love that. I could work at home as Mr Pelczarski does in Valey near Geneva. I felt at home in 94, when my wife started to be a real housewife. But unfortunately my age depreciates my confessions

And now I would like to ask you the most difficult question of all. What was entirely new, unexpected… that you had not expected before you moved here? Did you have to learn anything new?
Living in such beautiful area of Klodzka Valley teaches us lots of new things. After many years spent in the city, one learns how to deal with nature; not necessarily with plants, but for example with weather - all those downpours, storms, heavy winters - we had to find a solution to the problem of storing things, because the house has not got a cellar. We freeze our food. There are also some problems connected with security. We had to install various types of alarm systems.
Besides there is this interesting mentality of the local people. Lately I had an opportunity of taking part in a wedding. I was really surprised with the behaviour of the guest. There was this friendly atmosphere. Nobody got drunk. I even told my wife, as we were watching a video recording, that it was all connected with some kind of dignity. A blessing, everything flourishes at its own pace. This is the village I had not known. What I knew was based on literature. That was all. And suddenly it turned out to be different.
I sometimes think of Michal. I wish he could find the right woman, because it is vital, and stayed here. It does not really matter what his job would be. Any that would suit him. He could work in forest. Together with my wife we decided to make him our heir.
Section 8
How do you feel after the move? Have you lost or gained anything?
I have surely nothing lost. It is all I could be interested in. I am not a sport fan. I never go to big events with crowds of people. I can watch what I want at home. There are three main factors that have an influence on my current situation: general transformation in our country, a decrease of my physical and mental strength connected with my age and growing slowly fascination with my new life. I basically live an ordinary life the same would be possible on the outskirts of Wroclaw. We have got friends there. In the past we used to visit them regularly. Very charming people. He was a surgeon with gardening as his hobby. He would take me to his garden and show his all plants. He treated them like children, although he had two daughters. The same is here. One can have his or her hobbies.
I think that you, as a young person would like to know a precise answer. I can tell it. When I was younger the conditions were different. I would never imagine living here at my young age. Perhaps my wife would work here as a doctor. I could possibly go to teach, because I have got proper qualifications, but I would like to do it. There are perspectives for all young people who would like to live in such area and work. One can do many things: write books - as some famous Polish writers did, living in such circumstances. I personally write letters. The one to Michal has already got 100 pages, but it is vast one. I think that a serious correspondence is a great way to express oneself intellectually.

These areas are inhabited by a village society - do not you feel as the intelligentsia déclassé?
Absolutely no. We have to be precise about the word an “intellectual”. It all started when the nobles lost our county, then they started creating intellectuals as a class. I think that its role in Poland is bigger than in other countries. Intellectuals to me do not have to be associated with the intelligence only. It is all about how do they adapt to reality. I never felt as a distinguished or déclassé intellectual. It was a free choice. I assume that you wanted to ask if I can find common subjects to talk about with the locals. The youth here develop in very good direction. Elderly people are simple, but it is not their fault, that they could not afford studies. I treat all as people. I stop on my way to church to greet gentlemen talking about the weather and I join the conversation, although I am not particularly interested in it. I would not like to isolate.
There are more contacts because of my wife’s profession. They used to come here to get a prescription or to ask about health problems. They are not highly educated, but some are really clever, very clever. It is worth talking to them. It is different than it used to be in Wroclaw. I did not sue to talk to others much. Just greetings and nothing else. Here, these relationships are much better. We have got some friends in the area. They are real intellectuals. We visit each other often. But there is something else I had to get used to. People here are more spontaneous. They can pay you a visit any time, when they feel like. In Wroclaw people used to call each other and make appointments, so when I came here I was a bit surprised, but as I mentioned I got use to it. We do not drink with wife, so we do not have such visitors, but we take part in various local events.
Section 9
I would like to ask if you have any memories from Wroclaw: perhaps you had you favourite cafe or something that you really miss?
I did not use to go to cafes at all - although there was a variety of them. Perhaps with the one exception. There was a cafe in the theatre “Kalambur” and I happened to go there; I even got a card of a member from its owner Mrs Hania Litwincowa. It did happen too often, but I used to drop in from time to time. There are some other things that I will never forget: Wratislavia Cantans festival. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or Messiah by Handel are simply amazing. I also like all gothic churches of Wroclaw. They are so big and magnificent. I only do not like the interior of the cathedral. The way it is decorated. It should be so modern. It soon will be one thousand years old. I also like some of the minor ones, but those gothic are the best. I prefer going to churches to going to cafes and restaurants. It never excited me.

Summing up our conversation, I would like to ask if you are satisfied with the decision you made to move here?
Honestly I do not think it was my decision. it all happened by accident, but I am fully satisfied, even happy. Most of all I want my wife to be happy. I call her 41-year-old wife, because we have been together for 41 years. She is a very good woman and I want her to feel good. And so she does. As well as I do. Well, I am on my own like I have never been before.
Obviously I am aware of all the dangers (risks?), but one should not...if man was afraid of everything, he should go down to a cellar and take some pills. There is no reason to be afraid of everything. The people here are good and calm. Of course there are some that are not - for example, those who used to steal our fish - but it would not be much safer in Wroclaw. Besides I have not stopped being attached to Wroclaw - there have been many years spent there - all my schools, studies; thousands of people I met, some of them are gone, some not - and lots of youth. Once I met a man 49 years of age, my colleague’s son - I saw him when he was 9. I thought that time passes by.
As I am finishing now, I would like to tell you that it was nice talking to you, since you are a person that creates a very specific atmosphere of conversation; it makes interviewer telling things that in other conditions would have been told and that is why I would like to thank you for the conversation.
Section 10
I also thank you a lot.