Drugi Obieg (Polish Unofficial Publishing Network)

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Date: 1975

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature, Print Journalism


Artist: Many Polish authors whose work faced censorship

Confronting Bodies: The Polish government

Dates of Action: 1976, 1977, 1981, 1985

Location: Poland

Description of Artwork: The term Drugi Obieg, meaning second circulation, refers to the underground publishers and publications that began to appear in Poland in the mid 1970s. The publishers made an effort to make their publications seem legal based on agreements the Polish government had signed as part of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 regarding human and civil rights.

The Incident: In the mid-1970s the Polish constitution was revised, leading to protests from intellectuals. This led to the blacklisting of many Polish writers and many works were banned. Worker's riots and strikes helped in the forming of an underground information network. One of the first publications produced from this network was Zapis (Recorded Work) which was published in Britain and then smuggled in to Poland. Poland's leading writers contributed and helped found the publication. In 1977 another literary journal was published in the underground called Puls. This publication sought to unify writers. Martial law was declared in 1981 and many of the second circulation works were confiscated, including many copies of Zapis. The government failed to totally eradicate the underground publishing network however. In 1985 they introduced new laws to punish printers and distributors of illegal materials.

Results of Incident: In 1988 the publications of second circulation were widely available, especially on college campuses. Finally in 1989 after round table talks independent publishers were allowed to take part in the Warsaw International Book Fair.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia