POLAND Soldiers’ Wives & Spies
The 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia shown from the perspective of one of the five invaders, Poland. Days of the invasion depicted through declassified reports sent by collaborators and spies, who worked in Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot, to the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party. The public sentiment of shock and panic; the ignorance and indifference of the society; strikes and protests; the Sopot International Song Festival; and the omnipresent surveillance by the Security Service in the coastal Tricity. All this provides the setting for the story of three women.
The wives of three soldiers who took part in the invasion relate the previously unknown circumstances of their husbands’ unexpected deployment. The women give an account of the reactions to the news that their men would participate in an attack on the neighbouring country. They talk about the disinformation and the fear, but also the absurdities within the Polish army, not ready for action. They describe the surreal atmosphere of waiting for the men to come back. Back to a country barely recovering from WWII, already occupied for over 20 years by the USSR, now suddenly in the role of an occupier. They share their memories of dilemmas and conflicts within their families, where the anti-regime viewpoints approving of the opposition (the future Solidarity, then nascent on the Polish coast) at times made them choose between “a husband occupier” and “the right thing.” About the loneliness in which they carried, bore and brought up children. About being ostracised and excluded by their friends and others.
The women’s stories are counterpointed by footage of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on the one hand, and on the other, the everyday life of the coastal city and resort in the 1960s. Tanks crossing the southern border. Citizens of Prague protesting in front of columns of soldiers. Slogans written on city walls: “Brothers, go back home.” At the same time: the Sopot beach, girls in bikinis, and the Song Festival opening at the Forest Opera. Beat music, and rifles pointed at pedestrians in Prague. Stylish outfits, celebrity hosts and the crowd admiring them.
This compilation documentary will consist of archival footage, coded telegrams to the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party read off-screen and the women’s stories. It will contrast a regime-centered perspective with a personal view of reality. A collage image of those days will juxtapose the absurdity of Poland’s totalitarian actions—within its communist subjugation—with the everyday life of its citizens. Citizens who invaded their neighbour, at the same time printing leaflets against the intervention and dancing the twist on Saturday night after a week’s work at the shipyard. Songs from the Festival will appear alongside footage of Cold War manoeuvres and the women’s stories; this will take the movie beyond the historical and political narration of this event, whose 50th anniversary is marked in 2018. In this setting, the secondary characters will stand out amid the drama, deemed the largest military operation in Europe since WWII.