Petr Blažek: Ryszard Siwiec 1909–1968
The Czech-English publication, published jointly by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes of the Czech Republic and Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, offers all basic materials available about Ryszard Siwiec, a 59-year-old Polish citizen, who committed self-immolation in a Warsaw stadium on September 8, 1968 in protest against the August Occupation of Czechoslovakia by armies of Warsaw Pact countries and the participation of the troops of the Polish People’s Republic in the invasion.
Alongside Jan Palach’s protest, the self-immolation of Ryszard Siwiec is one of the best described and most documented. This has made it possible to explore the issue of the motivations of not only of Siwiec but also the others who chose this form of protest. In my opinion, their aim was not merely pure protest. Ryszard Siwiec, Jan Palach et al decided to undergo enormous suffering and sacrifice their lives in order to shake others up in such a way that they became aware of the monstrosity of the evil around them, to galvanise them into action and into defending values that had been violated. In so doing they not only helped bring about the fall of dictatorships – they also changed the consciousness of others.
Istytut Pamieci Narodowej, ÚSTR, Prague 2015, 1st edition, bound publication, 248 pages, ISBN 978-83-7629-847-4 (IPN), ISBN 978-80-87912-33-1 (ÚSTR)