Marian Pankowski, a writer best-known for his cutting literature on Poland during the Nazi occupation and the socialist regime, died in Brussels on April 3, 2011...
Marian Pankowski, photographed by Elżbieta Lempp
Marian Pankowski, a writer best-known for his cutting literature on Poland during the Nazi occupation and the socialist regime, died in Brussels on April 3, 2011
Marian Pankowski was born on November 9, 1919 into a family of labourers. He studied Polish literature at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, but his education was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. He took part in activities of the September campaign and later joined the Union of Armed Struggle. He was arrested in 1942 by the Gestapo and spent three years as a prisoner in Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen and Bergen-Belsen.
In his youth Pankowski wrote poems of a predominantly idyllic nature. The war divested him of these romantic notions and he took to writing texts that were of a critical nature, scoffing maryrdom and national traditions that irritated both the local PRL authorities and Poles in exile. He himself had settled in Belgium, studying at the Université Libre in Brussels and contributing to the Paris-based journal Culture between 1953-1959.
He gained literary fame in 1959 with his short story Matuga idzie. Przygody" / "Matuga Comes. Adventures, which disparaged the great tradition of national glory and martyrdom. This cynical tone extended into many of his later works, with controversial social and political themes set against the backdrop of the occupation. His works weren't appreciated in Poland until the 1990s.
He died in Brussels, Belgium on April 3, 2011 at the age of 92.