Sunday, August 2, 2015

In Warsaw, a Monument to the End of Censorship

The communist censors' black pens cease and the written word flies free.  

The end of censorship in Poland. The Communists, who ruled Poland  for fifty-four years, from 1945 to 1989, destroyed books, “cleansed” academic and public libraries, banned and harassed dissenting authors and kept a firm hand on all written material. Everything, including magazine and newspaper text, poetry, books, school texts, song lyrics, etc  had to be submitted to the censors in order to be published. A secret book of guidelines listed topics which could not be mentioned.

This relentless censorship led to the rise of underground presses and publications.

The sculpture shown here is a long black pathway, reminiscent of the black markings of the censor’s pen. The black path begins at the former communist party headquarters and ends with the soaring liberation of free thought.  

The monument starts at the former Communist Party Headquarters

Lovely ironic footnote: The former communist party headquarters building in Warsaw now houses  the Polish stock exchange.

Poem by Czeslaw Milosz

Human reason is beautiful and invincible.
No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books,
No sentence of banishment can prevail against it.
It establishes the universal ideas in language,
And guides our hand so we write Truth and Justice
With capital letters, lie and oppression with small.
It puts what should be above things as they are,
Is an enemy of despair and a friend of hope.
It does not know Jew from Greek or slave from master,
Giving us the estate of the world to manage.
It saves austere and transparent phrases
From the filthy discord of tortured words.
It says that everything is new under the sun,
Opens the congealed fist of the past.

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