Sorrow and Pain, Torment and Martyrdom Sorrow and Pain, Torment and Martyrdom
Ewa Partum, active poetry: Taduesz Peiper, “Sam chcę nadać sobie imię”, 2009. Photo: Zofia Waligóra Foto-Medium-Art Gallery (CC BY 3.0)

Sorrow and Pain, Torment and Martyrdom

The Latter Years of Tadeusz Peiper
Mikołaj Gliński
time 10 minutes

The 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence is behind us, but the odd and complex ways in which the Polish identity has manifested itself over the years continue to fascinate the editorial staff of “Przekrój”. Here, we look at the never-finished work of Tadeusz Peiper, who thought that streetlamps lit during the day were turned on to acknowledge his greatness.

Warsaw, 1957. A small neglected flat on Wołoska Street in the district of Mokotów. Inside, one can hardly squeeze through the endless piles of paper, heaped up into whole labyrinths and gorges. There are cobwebs in the corners and hanging from the ceiling.

Bathed in a dim light, a man is sitting at a desk, hidden behind a stack of papers, writing on scraps of paper:

“I keep my thick volumes of the Dictionary of the Polish Language atop my closet. I stack them vertically. None of them have been targeted by the spiders – except one. The exception was the volume for the letters T-Y!”

The volume simply covers all the headwords starting from T to Y, but the man sees the combination ‘T-Y’ as standing instead for the Polish word ty, ‘you’, writing:

“Apparently the spiders are trying to communicate with me: ‘You are the target of our attacks!! You, you!!’”

This man is Tadeusz


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Stanisław Szukalski’s Delirious Creativity
Mikołaj Gliński

To mark the centenary of Poland regaining its independence, we have been taking a closer look at the odd relationship Poles have with freedom. In this final instalment in the series, I team up with Stanisław Szukalski as he searches for traces of ancient Poles on Easter Island and explores the theory of Zermatism – a concept that would embarrass many of today’s Turbo-Slavs.

USA, April 1940. Stanisław Szukalski sits listening to crackling sounds coming from a radio receiver. An American correspondent is reporting from the Swedish town of Bohuslän on Hitler’s ongoing invasion of Denmark. Szukalski is suddenly struck by the name. Bohuslän, after all, is obviously none other than Bogu slan, the old Polish roots meaning ‘sent to God’. Szukalski spends the following day poring over the oldest available maps of Europe. After many hours, he reaches an extraordinary conclusion: the map of Scandinavia turns out to be filled with names that clearly point to Polish (i.e. Slavic) origins. What’s more, such place-names are to be found all over Europe, as well as on other continents; even, most intriguingly, in the remotest seas. Szukalski will dedicate nearly the next 50 years of his life to solving this puzzle. During this time, he will discover a completely different story of mankind, one in which the Poles played a significant role.

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