Jerzy Borejsza

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Not to be confused with Jerzy Wojciech Borejsza, Polish historian.
Jerzy Borejsza
Jerzy Borejsza
Born 1905
Warsaw, Russian Empire
Died 1952
Warsaw, Poland
Other names Beniamin Goldberg
Ethnicity Jewish
Citizenship Polish
Occupation Head of the communist press
Known for Co-founder of Union of Polish Patriots

Jerzy Borejsza (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjɛʐɨ bɔˈrɛjʂa]; born Beniamin Goldberg; 1905 in Warsaw – 1952 in Warsaw), was a Polish communist activist and writer, chief of the communist press and publishing syndicate in the Stalinist period of the People's Republic of Poland.

Biography[edit]

Borejsza was born as Beniamin Goldberg to a Polish Jewish family.[1] He was an older brother of Józef Różański – later a member of Soviet NKVD and high-ranking interrogator in the Polish communist Ministry of Public Security.[2] As a youth, Borejsza sympathized with the Zionist radical left and anarchic political factions.[2][3] After he got in trouble with the Polish authorities, his father sponsored his residence in France.[3] Borejsza studied engineering, then Hispanic culture at the Sorbonne, and remained deeply involved with the politics and activism of anarchism.[3]

After his studies, Borejsza returned home and was briefly enlisted in the Polish Army in the late 1920s.[3] In 1929 he joined the Communist Party of Poland (KPP) active in the Second Polish Republic,[1] and was imprisoned several times in the years 1933–1935 for agitation and political propaganda.[3]

After Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, Borejsza became a vocal supporter of the new communist regime, publishing Polish language translations of Soviet propaganda.[4] He served as director of the Ossolineum Institute in Lwów (Lviv) in 1939–1940.[1][3] After the war, he aided the transport of most of Ossolineum archives to Wrocław, following the transfer of the Polish city of Lwów to the Ukrainian SSR. He was one of the founders of the Union of Polish Patriots – precursor to the puppet government of future People's Republic of Poland.[3] Borejsza served in the Red Army, and then the Polish First Army, reaching the rank of major.[1][3]

He joined the new pro-Soviet Polish Communist party, the Polish Workers' Party,[1] and became a deputy to the State National Council.[3] He organized much of the communist propaganda in the early days of communist Poland, and was a leading figure in the implementing of state control over the world of Polish culture, including censorship in the People's Republic of Poland.[2][3][5][6][7] He created the giant publishing house Czytelnik (Reader).[1] Borejsza favored a moderate approach to culture control: what he called a "gentle revolution".[6] He supported establishing cultural relations with the West, and himself traveled to United States and the United Kingdom.[3] In 1948 he was one of the main organizers of the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Wrocław.[3] He fell out of favor with the Stalinist hardliners who saw him as too independent, too hard to influence, and not radical enough. His political role diminished in the late 1940s, particularly after the disabling injuries he suffered in the car accident in 1949.[2][3][6]

Borejsza received the medal Polonia Restituta.[3] He was buried at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw.[3]

Works[edit]

  • Hiszpania 1873–1936 (1937)
  • Na rogatkach kultury polskiej (1947).

Quotes[edit]

  • Czesław Miłosz, Polish writer and Nobel Prize winner, once wrote in his memoirs about Borejsza: "The most international of Polish communists. (…) He built from nothing, starting in 1945, his paper empire of books and press. "Czytelnik" and other publishing houses, newspapers, magazines; all was dependent on him – jobs, publications, wages. I was in his stable, we all were."[8]
  • Maria Dąbrowska, Polish writer, wrote about him in her memoirs: "He created a large organization, an organization encompassing the publishing – newspapers-books and readers, created with almost an American flare. But the aim of this organization was a slow and deliberate Sovietization and Russification of Polish culture."[9]
  • Jan Kott, Polish writer, wrote about him in his memoirs: "...simply known as the Boss. (…) Czytelnik was a state within a state (…) especially for writers. "[10]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f (Polish) Borejsza Jerzy at WIEM Encyklopedia
  2. ^ a b c d Marci Shore, Caviar and ashes: a Warsaw generation's life and death in Marxism, 1918–1968, Yale University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-300-11092-8, Google Print, p. xvii
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o (Polish) Jerzy Borejsza at Dia-pozytyw
  4. ^ Piotrowski, Tadeusz (1997). "Polish Collaboration". Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918–1947. McFarland & Company. p. 78. ISBN 0-7864-0371-3.  Google Print, p.78
  5. ^ (Polish) JERZY BOREJSZA in Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego
  6. ^ a b c Andrzej Paczkowski, Jane Cave, The spring will be ours: Poland and the Poles from occupation to freedom, Penn State Press, 2003, ISBN 0-271-02308-2, Google Print, p.193
  7. ^ Tomas Venclova, Aleksander Wat: life and art of an iconoclast, Yale University Press, 1996 ISBN 0-300-06406-3, Google Print, p.193
  8. ^ Czesław Miłosz and Madeline Levine, Milosz's ABC's, Macmillan, 2002, ISBN 0-374-52795-4, Google Print, p.67
  9. ^ As cited by Jerzy Robert Nowak, News of Polonia Pasadena, California September 2007
  10. ^ Jan Kott, Still Alive: An Autobiographical Essay, Yale University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-300-10561-4, Google Print, p.172-173

Further reading[edit]

  • E. Krasucki, Międzynarodowy komunista. Jerzy Borejsza – biografia polityczna, Warszawa 2009. ISBN 978-83-01-15841-5
  • J. Centkowski, Jerzy Borejsza (1905–1952), in: Materiały Pomocnicze do Historii Dziennikarstwa Polski Ludowej, J. Centkowski and A. Słomkowska (red.), z. 4, Warszawa 1974.
  • B. Fijałkowska, Borejsza i Różański. Przyczynek do dziejów stalinizmu w Polsce, Olsztyn 1995., ISBN 83-85513-49-3
  • Z. Gregorczyk, Działalność Jerzego Borejszy w okresie lubelskim, in: Prasa lubelska: tradycje i współczesność, J. Jarowiecki et al. (red.), Lublin 1986.
  • K. Koźniewski, Rogatywki Jerzego Borejszy, in: Zostanie mit, Warszawa 1988
  • E. Krasucki, Ujmując w dłoń skalpel materializmu. Wizja kultury socjalistycznej w publicystyce Jerzego Borejszy z „Lewara” i „Sygnałów” (1934–1939), in: Społeczeństwo – polityka – kultura. Studia nad dziejami prasy w II Rzeczypospolitej, T. Sikorski (red.), Szczecin 2006.