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    Documentary on Longest Underground Strike in Martial Law Era Starts Shooting at Piast-Ziemowit Coal Mine in Bieruń

    The film documenting accounts of participants in the longest underground strike of 1981 has begun.

    After 38 years, the story of the Piast strike is being resurrected on the big screen! The documentary film “Save from Oblivion” is being shot at the Piast-Ziemowit coal mine in Bieruń, revisiting the longest underground strike of martial law in history. 

    The Solidarity Association to the Memory of Miners on Strike at the Piast Coal Mine 14-28 December 81, the group behind this project, have collaborated with the Polish Mining Group S.A. to bring the participants’ stories to life. A total of 45 people were handpicked to take part in the film, with renowned independent filmmaker Wojciech Wikarek at the helm. 

    For the first time in 38 years, the story of the Piast strike is being brought to life on the big screen. Don’t miss your chance to witness this historic project – the documentary “Save from Oblivion” is coming soon!

    Stanisław Dudek had just tied the knot when he found himself thrust in the frontlines of the 1981 strike. He recalls the bittersweet feeling of being a newlywed husband in the midst of a revolution. “I got married civilly on Saturday, and on Monday I went down and didn’t leave until Christmas to see my wife,” said Dudek, his voice heavy with emotion. “During that time, she spoke to me twice on the mine phone and cried. But I explained to her not to cry.” 

    With his wife seven months pregnant, Dudek knew it must have been a difficult time for her. To this day, she still doesn’t like to talk about it. But Dudek felt it was the best choice to keep them safe, avoiding the situation at Wujek. “So, we sat underground,” he said.

    He remembers that when he left at night after 10 days on strike, he was walking back to his family home along the fences around the lake and wading up to his waist in the snow because he saw a “strange vehicle” in front of his house. He explains that he thought the Polish riot police were waiting for him. It turned out in the morning that it was simply a broken-down bus. After that, he stayed in darkened rooms for several days and did not go outside, as his eyes had to adjust to the light. And he only moved in with his wife in January after their church wedding, because those were the times. Stanisław Dudek avoided the consequences, however, because he did not give his name anywhere and went on strike incognito. 

    Another participant in those events, Andrzej Włoszczyk, did not escape internment. At that time, he worked as a shift foreman in the electrical department on level 500 and while the strike was going on, he had to perform his duties, which was extremely difficult for him as he sympathised with the crew. He described his story in a book. He brought letters to the film set documenting the pressures exerted on him and documents relating to his internment, as well as souvenirs from that period – including a dyed cross made from bread that looks like leather. 

    “I believe that this story must not fade away, we need to talk about it, which is why, among other things, I tried to document it in my book,”

    emphasises Andrzej Włoszczyk.

    This is already the second project of this type. The previous one in 2006, “The Longest Shift”, involved 37 people.

    “It is easier for me to carry out this project because I was a participant in the strike and I know what it was like. But I didn’t know many of the stories, such as the story of Staszek Dudek, who stayed underground right after he got married… And there will probably be more such surprising stories, and our goal is first of all to record what people remember so that it won’t be too late. I don’t know if we’ll be the ones to finish the film or someone else, but we’ve started a good job because it needs to be documented. I remember that it was a rush for all of us, no one calculated, and we just went down, only then did we think about what might happen to us and we will remember it for the rest of our lives, the stress, the experiences and the conditions down there, these are things you don’t forget and you have to tell others about them,”

    says Wojciech Wikarek, who does not rule out standing on both sides of the camera during the filming. 

    An objective and impartial assessment of participants’ emotions is the goal of a new project, with an independent social assistant keeping watch to ensure the best possible results. After its completion, footage of the entire event will be presented – documenting the journey from start to finish. It promises to be an interesting and informative experience for all involved.

    Lasting two weeks, the underground strike at the Piast mine in Bieruń was the longest martial law protest of its kind. It was conducted 650 m underground and lasted from 14 to 28 December 1981. The miners, with food supplies withheld and lights going out, spent Christmas and Christmas Eve underground.

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