(This book of interviews, conducted by journalist Teresa T...)
This book of interviews, conducted by journalist Teresa Toranska with five high officials of postwar Poland, is fascinating. The Solidarity period enabled her to shed fresh light on the politics of the 1945-70 era. Berman, Ochab, Staszewski, Werfel and Julia Minc all belonged to the team sent to Poland by Stalin to help build his new order, Soviet-style. All five were prewar communists who believed communism was the wave of the future. All except Staszewski continued to believe it, despite the post-1945 horrors. Toranska recorded what they told her about Poland's new order and in particular about the impact of the 1956 denunciation of Stalin, the 1968 anti-Semitic drive and Walesa's denunciation of a system which has failed to deliver what the people want. There are several gems: Berman's account of the Kremlin stag party at which he danced with Molotov and Stalin wound the gramophone; Ochab's story of his early contacts with the Chinese preparing to break with Moscow; Staszewski's tale of Khrushchev saying that Bierut's fatal heart-attack had been brought on by Staszewski's reports on the 1956 revelations. Toranska ably seized her opportunity to record these insiders' tales.
Following World World War II she graduated from the Warsaw University"s Department of Law.
She was perhaps best known for her award winning monograph, Oni (English: Them: Stalin"s Polish Puppets). She worked as a journalist for the popular Polish weekly „Kultura” in the 1970s, and then throughout the following decade, for the leading Polish émigré literary journal Kultura paryska, banned in communist Poland and published in Paris, France. Her book Them (Oni) was a breakthrough best seller that led to frequent parallels with Oriana Fallaci as a superb interviewer.
Her probing interviewing style is perhaps best demonstrated by her disrobing on camera expose of the communist strongman General Wojciech Jaruzelski.
In the 1990s, Torańska hosted two television programs for Telewizja Polska (TVP): socio-political „Teraz Wy” (Now You) and historical „Powtórka z Parliament-u” (Rehash from the Parliament). Torańska wrote the screenplay for a documentary film Dworzec gdański (Gdańsk Main Station) directed by Maria Zmarz-Kozanowicz.
Torańska was perhaps best known for her award winning book Them: Stalin"s Polish Puppets (Oni), published in the United States by HarperCollins. Teresa Torańska died unexpectedly on January 2, 2013 after a long illness, just one day after her 69th birthday.
Torańska was buried on January 9, 2013 at Powązki Military Cemetery.
The movie, which premiered in 2007, told a story of the Polish Jews forced to leave Poland after the political crisis of March 1968. Before her death in 2013, she was a contributor to Poland"s second-largest daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, conducting interviews with the leading Polish political figures.