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(en) Poland, rozbrat: LESS MYTHS, MORE FACTS ABOUT ROZBRACIE [machine translation]

Date Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:20:31 +0300

Conversation on the legal situation of the squat with Antoni Wiesztort an activist of the Warsaw and Poznan tenants' movement, a member of the Rozbrat Collective. ---- Stanislaw Krastowicz: When defending Rozbrat, the argument of unclear transactions with this plot or wild reprivatization is often raised. After the regime change, the city authorities were not to defend the social ownership of the area and to favor taking it into private hands. In July this year, the current Poznan authorities referred to such a narrative. They reject criticism of Rozbrat and claim that talking about wild reprivatization of this part of Poznan is "completely unjustified". What do you think the authorities' attitude is based on?
Antek Wiesztort:This position is rather a continuation of repression, which has been going on for the third decade. Materials that the city also revealed to us in the summer, documents from a query in the state archives, opinions of an expert and lawyers experienced in the matter of reprivatization in Warsaw - all this leads to two conclusions. First, each subsequent cycle of privatization of this plot on Pulaski took place in dubious legal circumstances. Secondly, after the regime change, the authorities participated in this process in a way that should be called encouraging privatization. The Poznan City Hall in the Grobelny era and earlier did not care about this public property now valued at about 5 million zlotys. The current authorities, however, do not condemn those times to this day, the main ambiguities are still silent, and in their place arguments for the right to privatization are duplicated."Sklot Rozbrat: facts and myths" is simply too many myths and too few facts.

What myths about Rozbrat have been repeated by the authorities in this position?

The opinion that there was no wild reprivatization here comes down to the argument of one important judgment of the Poznan District Court in 2002. The city was to apply for public property at the expense of private ownership of the plot on behalf of the Treasury.

In 2002 the court approved the privatization of the area. It was, however, a bizarre verdict, brushing against graphomania. Nevertheless, the city was very poorly prepared for the trial, it simply did not care about winning, nor did it appeal the sentence. Today, unfortunately, the new team repeats without much reflection the thesis of the court, which simply did not stick together.

The judge challenged the post-nationalization of the area along with the workplace, which the Nazis created on it during the occupation. She provided two important arguments in favor of the privatization of this plot - both incompatible with the factual and legal status. First, she stated that there could be no nationalization of the workplace in this area, because there was no workplace, only a meadow. The court itself ignored the archival materials to which it had access, and this was clear evidence of the existence of buildings, machinery, in other words the workplace. Against the backdrop of war damage, in the face of Nazi plunder of industry, such a not fully stolen factory was worth its weight in gold. It gave a chance for any production and rebuilding of the city, as well as earnings and hunger for dozens of Poznan families. Formally, the state took over this plant in 1946,

So what. A court in 2002 stated that there was a meadow there, not a plant. The city authorities, however, took it seriously, failed to distinguish the meadow from the buildings and did not appeal.

Secondly, the court stated that the private pre-war owner of the Pulaski meadow had restored its ownership right after the war, before it was socialized with the workplace. Even if the state were to take over the plant (although the judge denied that the plant was here), it could not take over the private land on which the plant stood. Interestingly, this kind of argument of a Poznan court in 2002 contradicted the ruling of the Supreme Courtissued in an identical case the year before, that is in 2001, the Supreme Court unequivocally stated that the acquisition of state-owned enterprises based on the same act as the acquisition of the Pulaski plant, included the land on which these enterprises stood. "Whatever their property was." Without the ground underfoot, the plant just couldn't function properly. Private owners were only entitled to damages upon request.

Before the felic sentence in 2002, the city authorities did not mention this favorable judgment of the Supreme Court. They also did not submit an appeal in which they could rely on this ruling to save the multi-million assets.

By the way, the district court, as if to prove that he did not attach any importance to the case, committed obvious sell-offs, to which the city also did not react. He stated, for example, that the pre-war private owner, Szczepan Jelenski, restored the possession of the plot on Pulaski after the court decision of 1945, but based on the law of 1946, i.e. one that did not yet exist, was established a year after that decision. If it does not sound credible that the post-war court knew how to travel in time, it was another inaccuracy that should lead the Poznan authorities to look into this case more closely, and finally - to appeal against the privatization order. However, they did not.

We can only guess why the Poznan district court issued such a judgment and the city defended the public interest so weakly. In Poland, at that time something that officials called " tape reprivatization " developed in Warsaw: the more privatization the better, skip the inconvenient facts, set a standard. Ideological, cross-party agreement to a neoliberal course in the country led to piecework plunder. The judgment harmful here to the city was made during the largest scams on the real estate market, which in Poznan revealed, among others in the form of so-called testament scandal .

For the bourgeois, liberal public opinion, the decisions of the PRL authorities and courts are still illegal, or at least suspicious.

In part, this is not surprising. Taking over public areas or workplaces from the People's Republic of Poland is simply a liberal version of the same "fight against communism," which the right wing and the nationalists have been eagerly pushing for three decades after the political change. In the name of such anti-communism, for thirty years, large parts of large cities and entire towns, from Gdynia through Warsaw to Szczawnica, have been taken over. Everywhere this involves the liquidation of workplaces, the withdrawal of social access to services or mass evictions. It is only as a result of struggles of tenants or other social groups that it turns out that many acquisitions are legally questionable or even criminal. Liberals and conservatives fight eagerly and knightly for "rape of private property" in the previous system. At the same time, they are not able to stop the loss of social control over urban areas and their mass looting in the current system, for which they are responsible.

In addition to the fact that the fight against communism is one of the most profitable interests in the country to this day, the ardent criticism of "tarnishing private property" after the war also results from a misunderstanding of the realities of those times. At the beginning of the war, the largest Polish cities were mainly private property. Poznan was 70 percent private, also in the pre-war capital city 95% land was in private hands of a relatively small group of residents. It should be remembered that after the war, in a ruined country, pre-war private property often paralyzed efforts to rebuild cities from ruins.

Today, beneficiaries of reprivatization often emphasize that their activity is historical justice, because they cancel the theft of someone else's property. After a devastating war, securing private property for a small part of society was the least of the problems. It was more important that the country should not starve. The idea was that plants could start production, that people could work, where they could live, etc. In the case of the plot on Pulaski, it was primarily about securing a functioning, former German enterprise, so that it could produce furniture - beds for plundered hospitals, benches for damaged schools, etc. Before the power secured it, ordinary people did it, just like ordinary people took the ruins of the capital before the government decided to rebuild it.

Besides, today the authorities also use expropriations, not for cheap municipal housing but for example for the construction of highways or open-cast mines. The bourgeois public opinion does not threaten the governments of the Third Polish Republic.

You told me earlier that the topic of political involvement of the pre-war owner of this plot, Szczepan Jelenski, is also interesting?

Yes. Reprivatization is always connected with history. In the struggle around Pulaski's property, the current authorities clearly have a conscience - how a free democratic state can harm the heirs of a "Polish engineer injured by the commune and the Nazis." Is this, however, to justify today's activities of the Darex company, extorting loans by it, or plans for the elite development of part of Wedge of Greenery in Pulaskiego area?

However, if we are to focus on the figure of Szczepan Jelenski, let's talk about all its sides. For example, Jelenski wrote the most infamous pages of Polish anti-Semitism. He was, among others editor-in-chief of the pioneering Jewish eater magazine in Poland, coming out under the name "Role". The weekly, producing, for example, maps of Polish cities with an indicator of their "consumption" began to be published by his father, Jan Jelenski. Several scientific studies have been written on the subject of "Role", including by Malgorzata Domagalska "Poisoned grain". It is quite symbolic that today opponents of fascism in Poznan operate in the former area of the last editor of the legendary Rola. Jelenski might consider the old fragments of the weekly a prophecy, for example "from under the earth anarchism is poured into the audience at once and under the slogan of" freedom "spreads terrible terror."

Let's get back to the right topic - what happened next?

There was already a Polish factory here, which was founded on the basis of the aforementioned German company. However, the legal situation in the land and mortgage register was not ordered. After nationalization, the book still had Jelenski's name on it, and his daughter entered her in the 1980s. After changing the system in 1989, the actions of public institutions to defend the social character of the ownership of the plot at Pulaski are - to put it mildly - very slow. The inefficient effort only causes that Jelenski's daughter leaves the area to Darex Sp. z oo does this , incidentally, after the a court decision is made arguing that the real owner of Pulaski is the State Treasury, but the state must finally enter the land and mortgage register. The authorities are extremely slow again, it takes them over two years to submit such an application. Darex notices the authorities in their land and mortgage register, inattention to the authorities. However, the court also enters a reservation in the book that the issue of ownership is inconsistent with the actual legal status.

Meanwhile, Darex immediately after obtaining an entry in the book takes the pledge of plots for Pulaski loan for an amount five times greater than the value of its purchase in the same year. After that, hearing about the company in Poznan has been lost for over 20 years. The company is practically not interested in land, does not pay property tax, does not conduct any activity.

What about the company that operated here?

In fact, the largest initiative in the fight against the privatization of this area was shown by representatives of the workplace operating in this area until the early nineties. The plant was liquidated in 1994 and formally there was no one else to take care of the area, court cases, etc. In such circumstances, the aforementioned district court began to act strangely.

Abandoned buildings, which were systematically "cleaned" by scrap metal, were taken by Rozbrat. In the second half of the 1990s and at the beginning of the 2000s, former employees of this plant came to Rozbrat - out of sentiment. It was a furniture center associated with the furniture factory in Swarzedz, which was also collapsed.

If Darex took over this land from his daughter Jelenski, who was entered in the land and mortgage register, did he not act in the so-called good faith It would mean that his hands were clean.

No. First of all, when the state-owned plant operating here was experiencing financial difficulties, Darex rented part of the area and warehouses from him. He paid him for it. He was therefore aware that the area was owned by an entity other than Jelenski's daughter. Secondly, as if buying this land, Darex paid very little money, as if he were buying an entry in the land and mortgage register rather than real land. The entry was enough to take a loan that he did not repay. We have an expert opinion on this transaction. There can be no question, therefore, that Darex was not aware of the legal situation and bought the land "in good faith." It was not "good faith."

Does this mean that it was only a scam, a phishing loan ...?

Everything points to it. The situation began to develop unexpectedly today: the debt is growing, but the market value of the land began to grow much faster. Especially since it becomes clear that Poland is joining the European Union. Real estate prices have exploded after 2004. Now the value of this land is PLN 4-6 million - depending on estimates. In any case, it is many times more than the debt itself with huge interest.

I do not know whether Darex himself became active from that moment or whether - in my opinion more likely - Poznan developers found him. The "game" began to take over this land from Darex for investment. We have in our internal studies a diagram of relationships between several representatives of several developers and people whose names appear, among others in the courts on the occasion of the Darexu case. These are well-known companies on the Poznan market and, inevitably, also associated with the political power in this city.

Rozbrat stands on the road to taking over this land. For five years, we have been dealing with our prescription - since the city cannot secure the social character of the ownership of this land, we are trying to do it. As it has been repeated several times on various occasions, it would be absurd if it turned out that the company that had extorted the plot, took a loan against its pledge and never repaid it, was not interested in the area for over 25 years, did not fulfill its obligations , was to have greater rights to it than our community, which at the same time works for the city and defends the interests of its inhabitants.

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