Władysław Broniewski

Władysław Broniewski. Scanned fromJulian Tuwim:Listy do przyjaciół pisarzy, Czytelnik, Warsaw 1979
Władysław Broniewski, 1940. Fundacja Ośrodka KARTA
Остап Тарнавський, Літературний Львів, 1939-1944: спомини (Львів, 1995), с. 39-40
The new regime took measures to keep the Polish group of writers. Lviv still had one third of Polish population, even though their numbers were reducing due to continuous displacements during the entire period of the first occupation. They started issuing a newspaper in the Polish language, the "Czerwony Sztandar" (The Red Banner), where Polish authors could publish their pieces. [[...]] The editorial board of the "Czerwony Sztandar" was placed in the building of the former concern "Wiek Nowy" at No 4, Sokoła street. [...] In January, 1941, a new Polish magazine in Polish language came out in Moscow, the "Nowe Widnokręgi" (The New Horizons). The editorial board of the magazine had Wanda Wasilewska as an editor-in-chief, Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, and Julian Przyboś. In fact, the real editors were Helena Usijewicz, Zofia Dzierżyńska and Broniewska as political instructors. Later, there was also a resolution to publish a quarterly of Polish literature in Kyiv, at the Union of Writers. They invited to the editorial board of this publication Jan Brzoza, Oleksa Desnyak, Stanisław Lec, and Jerzy Putrament, while Elżbieta Szemplińska was appointed as a chief editor. However, the war with Germany did the ill service to this publication. Some works by Polish authors were coming out in Ukrainian translations in Ukrainian issues. It was a chance for some Polish authors to get their desired fees. To be true, the Polish writers who were doing the best in being published were those with access to Russian magazines and other publications. The lead belonged to Wanda Wasilewska and Władysław Broniewski.
Петро Панч, "Львів, Коперника, 42", Вітчизна, 1960, № 2, 172
Polish writers who found themselves in Lviv fleeing the German fascists felt confused and depressed. The tragedy of his people, led by Pilsudski supporters to disaster, especially deeply touched the famous poet Władysław Broniewski. No less depressed were the writers Adolf Rudnicki, Leon Kruczkowski, and Jalu Kurek. Their novels "Żołnierze" (Soldiers), "Kordian i cham" (Kordian and Scurvy), "Grypa szaleje w Naprawie" (The Flu is Rampant in Naprawa) had already been widely known to Soviet readers. There were also writers who lived in Lviv, such as Galina Górska, Jan Brzoza, and a Jewish poet Kenigsberg. At the end, the meeting was also joined by Wanda Wasilewska. In her short fur coat, in soldiers boots and an ear-flapped cap, she came from Rivne, where she met the Red Army that were storming their way forward to Western Ukraine.
Aleksander Wat. Mój wiek: Pamiętnik mówiony (Warszawa 1990), s. 260
Then, out of nowhere—a meeting. I don’t remember who called it. A meeting of the literary left in the broadest sense of the word. Well, they really didn’t have their bearings yet: they saw me as an old Bolshevik, me and Władzio Broniewski. And so they elected me to chair the meeting, saying that we had to join forces, and so on, elect a board. And even though my principal intention was to hide in the provinces, I made an appearance there to help find Ola. The wave had already caught me.
Aleksander Wat. Mój wiek: Pamiętnik mówiony (Warszawa 1990), s. 263
The elections to the board. Dan and Korneichuk drew up the list of course. Dan was elected to the organizational committee, Broniewski, a few Ukrainians [according to the newspaper "Vilna Ukraina" from October 22, 1939  Stepan Tudor, Petro Karmanskyi, Vasyl Pachovskyi, Mykola Matiyiv-Melnyk], including two or three Ukrainian nationalists, two Jewish writers. The other Poles were Boy Żeleński and myself. And later on when Wanda Wasilewska arrived, she was co-opted as well. The general secretary was Korneichuk’s factotum, a Ukrainian, Churkovsky, 
Aleksander Wat. Mój wiek: Pamiętnik mówiony (Warszawa 1990), s. 264
Of the people on the board, there was Dan, a party member or former party member—he was probably out of the party by that time. Wanda Wasilewska was apparently not in the party either, but she had been connected with the Soviets for a long time. And me, a renegade for many years, a sympathizer. And Broniewski, a sympathizer.
Aleksander Wat. Mój wiek: Pamiętnik mówiony (Warszawa 1990), s. 384
 […] She [Wanda Wasilewska] went to Kiev soon after this, where she was given a triumphal welcome. She went with her husband, Bogatko, a former bricklayer, a fantastic athlete, a truly handsome young man,always game for anything. He was intelligent, quick, with a sense of humor, strong, cheerful. She was popular with those strong guys. Apparently she loved Bogatko very much.
After they came back from Kiev, one afternoon there was a mass rally out on some square; Wanda was going to give a report on Kiev. I went with Broniewski and Bogatko. It was the usual bombast—a happy life, everything is rosy, all the clichés that were ever used in the press. But she spoke with real passion, fire. A tough, dry, big-boned woman, with a broad, flat face, large powerful eyes; her gestures were passionate.
Afterwards, Bogatko said to Broniewski and me, “Let’s go to a bar.” And so he dragged us to a bar; he drank like mad. And just imagine, in a bar full of Soviet officers, Bogatko started telling us all sorts of other things right after that meeting, his voice booming, “Remember when you go to Kiev, as Soon as you get to Kiev, when you take your first step off the train, grab onto your bags with one hand and your cap with the other, or they’ll snatch it right off your head.” I’m only telling you of one incident, but there were many such incidents with Bogatko.
Later on, when I was already in prison, they put a Ukrainian in our cell who told me about Bogatko’s death, a story that would later be confirmed by Broniewski. Two NKVD men went to Bogatko’s place and shot him dead. The culprits were never found, which must be unprecedented in the annals of Soviet crime. It was always the crimes that were not discovered, though the culprits were always known—but in this case the culprits were not found, a first. The newspapers said that Ukrainian nationalists had killed him. But there’s no doubt that it was the NKVD. Broniewski, who always maintained good close relations with Wanda, right to the end, confirmed that to me. 
Aleksander Wat. Mój wiek: Pamiętnik mówiony (Warszawa 1990), s. 289
Broniewski was already having problems. He was walking around Lwów in a daze, seething, gritting his teeth, reciting his poetry wherever he could. They arranged a New Year’s ball for the children, and he was to be one of the performers. Panch forbade Broniewski to read any patriotic poems. All the same he read “Goes the Soldier out of Bondage.” Finally, Panch got up and made a point of leaving the auditorium. That was right before Broniewski’s arrest. But still Broniewski was raving on about a Soviet Poland and singing songs like “Moskva moya, Moskva moya” (Moscow, my Moscow”). He had all that inside him at the same time, meaning that his emotional experiences were in a frenzy before he intellectualized them: a patriot, Poland, Poland’s defeat, the Soviets, their friendship with the Germans, not being allowed to read anti-German patriotic poems. But it was a long way from his guts to his head. When it finally got there, he could think quite logically. He had horse sense, common sense. But it took a very long time for it to get there. 
Aleksander Wat. Mój wiek: Pamiętnik mówiony (Warszawa 1990), s. 303-305
And then all of a sudden one day in Lwów, Daszewski comes to see us and says, “I’m having a party, can you come? I’m inviting a few people.”
“What is it, your birthday?” I asked.
“Doesn’t matter. I’m not saying.”
And I said, “We don’t go out, especially at night.”
“You absolutely must come.” He made us promise to come.
A couple of days later I was in the union where I still had some unfinished business. Later that evening, around five or six, there was to be a poetry reading—Leon Pasternak, Stanisław Lec, a few others— but it was Lec and especially Leon Pasternak who urged me to go to the party.
And so we went. Daszewski arrived. Ola wasn’t sitting with me, and Daszewski took Ola—he knew that if she was there, then I’d be there, too—he took her, Peiper, and Broniewski’s wife, Marysia Zarembińska, out to the theater’s black limousine and brought them to the club. The reading was over. I looked around for Ola; she wasn’t there. They told me that she had gone on ahead with Daszewski and had left word for me to follow. And so of course I followed. That was a foregone conclusion since Ola was already there. Then Dan grabbed me. He was very pale, and he said several times, with great emphasis, “Aleksander, I beg you, don’t go to that bar!” I had suspected I would be arrested; I imagined that they would come at night, drag me from the house, search the apartment. It never entered my mind that it would happen in a bar. And so I glanced over at Dan in surprise. Why was he insisting so vehemently, I wondered. Was he concerned about my reputation with the authorities; was he watching out for me, trying to keep me out of trouble? And so, because he made such a point of it, I am absolutely convinced, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Dan knew about it, meaning that Dan had been assigned to me. But still he was favorably inclined toward me.
And so I went to the restaurant. There was a private room for the party. Who was there? The Broniewskis; Leon Pasternak (his wife was an actress who used to play theater); the Szemplinskis (Szemplinska and her husband, an athlete who, by the way, conducted himself splendidly); Peiper; Balicki, the actor, and his brother, who worked in publishing; Siemaszkowa, a graphic artist who became known after the war—she illustrated children’s books; and Wojciech Skuza. The Sterns had not been invited, but they were there in the restaurant. We were all at a very large table in that private room. There was another smallish table in one corner of the room. After a while a tall bald man came in and sat down at that table with an actress from the Polish Theater who was known for whoring with the Soviets and everybody else, a good-looking blonde.
Daszewski was distracted, nervous, in a state of excitement. He was constantly moving, making the rounds, asking if people had enough or wanted anything, saying he’d order this or that. A sumptuous feast. “A feast in time of plague.” Two or three times I asked Daszewski, “Come on, tell me, what’s the occasion?” And he would rub his hands and say, “You’ll see! You’ll see!”
At one point he was talking with that actress and the Soviet. Then he turned to us and said, “With your permission, a well-known art historian would like to join us.” A tall, thin Leningrader, one of those thin Russians, wearing a shapeless suit. A dry face, a bit consumptive-looking, a very caustic expression. With your permission, an art historian very interested in literature who would very much like to meet you and so on. And so everyone said, Of course! He sat at one end of the table, with a door covered by a curtain behind him, the actress on one side of him, Skuza on the other, the Broniewskis a few places from him, and me at the opposite end of the table facing him.
There was so much talk I couldn’t hear a thing. At one point there was an unpleasant exchange of words between the Soviet and Władek Broniewski. I could see Broniewski clenching his teeth, talking through his teeth. Now their conversation had started to turn nasty, really nasty. I could see Skuza lean in front of the Soviet and say something to the actress. And the Soviet slapped Skuza’s face and yanked the table-cloth—everything went flying, bottles, glasses, plates. (My memory is eidetic in this case, I’m not telling you anything but what struck my retina.)
That was probably a signal, because just then two short, athletic, square-headed types wearing dark blue suits came rushing out from behind the curtain. There was something dancelike, almost slow motion about the way they burst in, and then they began throwing punches left and right. I saw one of them struggling with Szemplinska’s husband, who was giving him a good drubbing—her husband was an athlete, a boxer, I think. Just then I was struck in the teeth and fell to the floor. Such a strong blow that even though I had fantastic teeth, hard as oak, I had a loose tooth for eight years after that. It came loose right away, but it didn’t fall out. My nose and teeth were covered in blood. Then I blacked out. In despair, Ola poured water on me. I didn’t know what was going on. She wanted to drag me out of there. A total panic—people were shouting in the other rooms, but no one was being let into our room. The door was locked, and it was only then that I saw that those two boxers were on the floor dead drunk, pretending to be drunk. They were lying on the floor pretending to snore, their eyes closed.
Ola saw Władek Daszewski slipping away and grabbed him near the cloakroom, saying, “Władek, what’s going on here?” But he—all he could think of was getting away. He didn’t answer. He grabbed his coat, which the attendant had ready for him, and flew out the door. But then Ola saw police on the stairs, the entire staircase lined with police, and they had let Daszewski pass. A moment later the police came into the restaurant and allowed no one to leave. 
Aleksander Wat. Mój wiek: Pamiętnik mówiony (Warszawa 1990), s. 292
The hard-nosed communists in the editorial office were afraid to talk to me. I even remember that Stryjkowski was afraid to talk to me; he kept giving me the slip. I was no longer a secretary at the union, and Panch would barely see me. There were many signs that I would be arrested. I was certain that Broniewski would be picked up too. In the Soviet Union you can tell about these things because a void forms around a person.