KAPUŚCIŃSKI crosses the border


In 1955, after completing my studies at Warsaw University, I began working at a newspaper called Sztandar Mlodych (The Banner of Youth). I was a novice reporter, and my beat was to follow letters to the editor back to their point of origin. The writers complained about injustice and poverty, about the fact that the state had taken their last cow or that their village was still without electricity. Censorship had eased—Stalin had been dead for two years—and one could write, for example, that in the village of Chodów there was a store but its shelves were always bare. While Stalin was alive, one could not write that a store was empty: all stores had to be excellently stocked, bursting with wares. So this was progress.

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