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For a Polish-Russian Dialogue: An Open Letter

On the morning of February 29, the group that undertook to deliver the enclosed open letter went to the Warsaw offices of the TASS and “Novosti” press agencies—requesting that the letter be transmitted to the people of the USSR. The representative of the “Novosti” agency refused to accept the text, using as argument the brief of his agency, which, in his words, functions exclusively in the direction Moscow–Warsaw, and not the other way around. The representative of TASS accepted the text, but subsequently, on the evening of March 1, announced by telephone to one of the group delivering the letter that as representative of a government agency he cannot transmit it because he does not agree with its content.

To: Sergei Averinpsev, Abel Aganbegian, Anatolii Ananiev, Sergei Antonov, Iurii Afanas’ev, Grigorii Baklanov, Alexei Batalov, Andrei Bitov, Alexander Bovin, Helena Bonner, Pavel Bunich, Fedor Burlatskii, Lurii Burtin, Igor Vinogradov, Andrei Voznesenskii, Alexander Gelman, Daniil Granin, Sergei Grigoriants, Vitalii Goldanskii, Vladimir Dudintsev, Evgenii Evtushenko, Viktor Erofeev, Oleg Efremov, Sergei Zalygin, Tat’iana Zaslavskaia, Veniamin Kaverin, Elem Klimov, Igor Kon, Iurii Koriakin, Alexander Kushner, Vladimir Lakshin, Gennadii Lisichkin, Dimitrii Likhachev, Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovskii, Bulat Okudzhava, Gleb Panfilov, Vasilii Polikarpov, Gennadii Popov, Anatolii Pristavkin, Valentin Rasputin, Anatolii Rybakov, Andrei Sakharov, Anatolii Strelanii, Arkadii Strugatskii, Boris Strugatskii, Mikhail Ulianov, Iurii Chernichenko, Lidiia Chukovskaia, Oleg Chukhontsev, Mikhail Shatrov, Mikolai Shmelev, Konstantin Shcherbakov, Natan Eidelman, Alexander M. Iakovlev, Egor Iakovlev

We address you, distinguished creators of Russian culture and learning, with words of respect and salutation. We hope that this year brings you more joy, freedom, and peace.

We firmly believe that changes are taking place in your country that are essential to the whole world. We in Poland listen to news of you with great attention and hope. We rejoice in every fact portending the rebirth of Russian culture and of the cultures of other peoples of the USSR; the restoration of the memory of distinguished works created within the country or in the emigré community; as well as the democratization of public life. These facts also give us cautious hope for a breakthrough in relations between our nations.

We think that the time has come for public dialogue, a dialogue between free and independent people, unhampered by official guide-lines and the agreements of diplomats. We are prepared to undertake such a dialogue with all the peoples of the USSR. But in the meantime we are addressing you, Russians.

The problem that especially weighs on Polish-Russian relations has been and will remain the matter of the Katyn murder of Polish officers in 1940. This murder, committed by Stalin’s and Beria’s executioners, and also the subsequent lies about this crime, have poisoned our mutual relations. And so with even greater gratitude do we remember today the voices of those Russians who for years demanded that the truth about this subject be told. Today, when in the columns of Soviet newspapers we find the names of the victims of Stalin’s crimes—scholars and writers, military men and politicans—we ask you to publicly speak up on the matter of the Katyn murder.

The truth must be loudly proclaimed. We are moved to these words by the debt of memory toward the murdered, and by the conviction that it is a necessary condition for a radical change in relations between our nations.

We desire relations based on friendship of the free with the free, the equal with the equal. We desire relations from which servility, lies, and the threat of force will have been eliminated. We know that nothing here can be decreed from one day to the next. And yet we believe that our nations must enter on this path—in the name of truth, in the name of common sense, in the name of a better future. We want our letter to be read as a friendly voice in the Polish-Russian dialogue. For if not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Jacek Bochenski, Andrzej Boguslawski, Marian Brandys, Zbigniew Bujak, Andrzej Drawicz, Kazimierz Dziewanowski, Marek Edelman, Jacek Federowicz, Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, Bohdan Galster, Irena Galster, Waclaw Gajewski, Bronislaw Geremek, Julia Hartwig, Jerzy Holzer, Witold Karczewski, Krystyna Kersten, Jan Zielanowski, Stefan Kieniewicz, Jan Andrzej Kloczowski, Jan Kofman, Wlodzimierz Kolos, Tadeusz Konwicki, Krzysztof Kozlowski, Andrzej Krasinski, Marcin Król, Ryszard Krynicki, Wladyslaw Kunicki-Goldfinger, Zofia Kuratowska, Jacek Kuron, Father Wieslaw Lauer, Tadeusz Lepkowski, Tadeusz Lomnicki, Stanislaw Lorentz, Andrzej Mandalian, Adam Michnik, Artur Miedzyrzecki, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Daniel Olbrychski, Father Stanislaw Opiela, Edmund Jan Osmanczyk, Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz, Henryk Samsomowicz, Andrzej Stelmachowski, Julian Stryjkowski, Jerzy Szacki, Klemens Szanlawski, Andrzej Szczeklik, Jan Józef Szczepanski, Janina Szczepkowska, Andrzej Szczepkowski, Father Józef Tischner, Jerzy Turowicz, Andrzej Wajda, Lech Walesa, Zbigniew Wójcik, Wiktor Woroszylski, Jacek Vozniakowski, Krystyna Zachwatowicz

translated by Klara Glowczewska

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