Jozef Mackiewicz: "In the shadow of the cross"


Jozef Mackiewicz: "In the shadow of the cross" – presentation of the book

Thursday 28 May 2009, 8:00 pm

Polish Institute

Jozef Mackiewicz: "In the shadow of the cross" (Attraktor Kiado, translated by Lajos Palfalvi) – presentation of the book

28 May 2009. (Thursday), 6 pm.

A discussion about the publicistic tome analyzing the easter politics of the pope Jan XXIII. Participants of the discussion: Laszla Grob – director of the Publishing House and Lajos Palfalvi – literature critic, translator of the book.

Józef Mackiewicz (1902–1985) was a prominent Polish language writer and publicist. He was an enthusiastic anti-Communist, but during his life Mackiewicz was attacked as well by the left as by the right. The Polish nationalists hated him for desecrating Polish national values. In fact Mackiewicz was an enemy of narrow ethnic nationalism - he regarded himself as a citizen of the multinational Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Jozef Mackiewicz was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In 1907 his family moved back to Wilno (Vilnius) (today Lithuania) - his family was Polish-Lithuanian gentry. Mackiewicz studied natural sciences and before the Second World War he worked as a journalist in the Wilno Słowo (The Word). Between October 1939 and May 1940 he was a publisher and editor-in-chief Gazeta Codzienna, Polish language daily in Lithuanian-ocuppied Wilno. In his articles Mackiewicz tried to start dialog between Lithuanians and Lithuanian Poles. After annexation of Lithuania by Soviet Union, he worked as a laborer. In 1942 he was a witness of massacre of Jews by Nazis in Ponary - he described this event in his book Nie trzeba glosno mowic {It should not be spoken loudly). In 1943 (with consent of Polish authorities) he assisted in the first excavations of the mass-graves of the Polish soldiers killed by Soviet NKVD in Katyn 1940.

His prose is extremally realistic - Mackiewicz believed there were no untouchable subjects. In 1957 Mackiewicz published Kontra, a narrative account of the particularly brutal and treacherous handover of thousands of anti-Soviet Cossacks by British soldiers in Austria.

Amongst others he wrote: Droga do nikąd (The Road to Nowhere), Zwyciestwo prowokacji (Victory of provocation), W cieniu krzyza (In the shadow of the cross).

His voluminous output as a writer of fiction and a publicist has been undergoing an unusual revival after many years of marginal interest.

Polish Institute
Budapest, VI. Nagymezo u. 15.