about the project
oral history archive
collections
contact
about emigration museum in gdynia
search
A A contrast version
+add your story
 Karolina Magier i Ryszard Biliński

Karolina Magier and Ryszard Biliński, photography by B. Ostrowska
 

Karolina Magier

I left in October 2005 and I came back in October 2010. I spent exactly five years in emigration. I left because I was so lucky (despite that I didn’t left it to my fate) and I’d won a green card. It allows me to settle in the US and commence work there. I was living in Brooklyn, New York, where all the world lives, I guess.

The reason for my departure was quite mundane. In a sense I followed my heart yet my mind said something different. And now my mind convinced me to come back. In the US I had a typical life of an economic emigrant, performing low-paid and uninteresting works. However, I managed to graduate from college; my major was social work with the intellectually disabled. In Poland I work in my profession, I am a teacher at a special school.

Ryszard Biliński

I was born in 1948 in Gdynia. I was raised in Pustki Cisowskie and I worked as a sailor in the Gdynia port. On 11th December 1981, two days before introducing martial law, I sailed from Gdynia on “Szczawnica”. On 13th December, I was in Denmark. I decided not to go back to Poland.

For one and a half year I tried to bring my wife and daughter to Denmark but they couldn’t get their passports issued. Many of my colleagues were in the same situation, separated from their close ones for months. After long and unsuccessful negotiations with the Polish authorities we decided to commence a hunger strike in Copenhagen. The protest received full coverage in the Danish media. We were supported by the Danish government and even the Queen of Denmark gave us her support. On 9th day of the strike Polish communist authorities allowed my wife and daughter to visit me.

In 1992, I came to Poland for the first time. Eleven years later, in 2013, I came back for good.

interview excerpts
: / :
Karolina - I haven’t really left
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Karolina - Emigration fortitude
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Karolina - Wiping out memories of the first days
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Karolina - Gdynia will always be our Gdynia
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Ryszard - One and a half year of waiting for asylum
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Ryszard - Hunger strike in Denmark
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Ryszard - Missing Poland and working
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Ryszard - Return to Poland after a long time
>>> Read the transcription
gallery