The Sejm of the Republic of Poland established the year 2022 as the year of Józef Mackiewicz, “recognizing the greatness of his achievements persistently supporting the ideas of Poland’s independence, freedom and friendly coexistence of the people of Central and Eastern Europe, unwavering resistance against communism and the universal values of his literary prose”. 441 deputies supported the resolution, all of them were in favor, one vote was against, no one abstained.
The resolution recalled that Józef Mackiewicz was born 120 years ago – on April 1, 1902 in St. Petersburg, while he spent his childhood and adolescence in the Vilnius Region. His patriotism and courage as well as anti-communist mood were also emphasized.
“In Vilnius, he survived the Soviet occupation, and after the city was under German occupation, he refused to publish a collaborative periodical in Polish. When he published several anti-Bolshevik texts in “Goniec Codzienny”, he was accused of collaborating with the Germans.The head of the Information and Propaganda Office of the Vilnius Home Army District, Zygmunt Andruszkiewicz, and an outstanding writer and soldier, Sergiusz Piasecki, rescued him from his conviction. After the war, he was cleared of the allegations of collaboration. In May 1943, with the consent of the Polish underground authorities, he witnessed the exhumation of the bodies of officers murdered by the Soviets in Katyn, which was lead by the Germans,” reads the resolution.
The document abundantly invokes the writer’s literary achievements. Not only was his first collection of short stories and reportages “Bunt rojstów” mentioned, but also the author’s greatest works: “Road to Nowhere”, “Karierowicz”, “No Need to Speak Out” or “The Colonel Miasojedow Case”. The reportage “Ponary-baza” was also mentioned, about the German murders of Jews, which was published in Rome, as well as the first book about the Soviet genocide against Poles in English, “The Katyń Wood Murders”, where he was an eyewitness to the events.
“On the factual level, which Mackiewicz took special care of, he presented the life of the inhabitants of the Polish-Lithuanian-Belarusian border against the background of groundbreaking historical events and referred to the multinational tradition of the First Polish Republic. He was an implacable enemy of totalitarianism, especially communism, he searched for everything that could connect the inhabitants of Central and Eastern Europe, including the anti-Bolshevik opposition in Russia, on the way to the freedom of nations. From the artistic point of view, these were texts combining facts with literary fiction, containing excellent descriptions of nature and a masterful presentation of the psychological motives of the novel’s heroes. He created an original model of a fictional and documentary novel that epically depicts the image of reality. In many reportages, the writer showed the irretrievably lost Eastern Borderlands of the great Republic of Poland. His life motto were the words: Only the truth is interesting,” we read in the resolution.
The resolution also reminds us that the work of Mackiewicz was forbidden and almost available in the times of the Polish People’s Republic. It was only after the development of publishing houses in the second circulation that the world began to familiarize itself with the writer’s work, which is considered extremely highly among critics and researchers of literature.
Until the end of his life, the writer and his wife Barbara Toporska lived in Munich. Józef Mackiewicz died on January 31, his wife passed away on June 20, 1985. They were both buried in London.
Translated by Joanna Zawalska.