Facing Poland's Censors

JACEK WOZNIAKOWSKI, director of the respected Roman Catholic publishing house ZNAK, pities Polish censors. ``They're completely confused,'' he says. ``It's no longer clear what is banned and what is OK.''

But the trend is positive. Mr. Wozniakowski is preparing to publish books that would have been banned only six months ago - everything from Jan Nowak's ``Courier from Warsaw'' about the noncommunist Polish underground in World War II to Zbigniew Nadler's book on East European nationalities. Mr. Nadler, long the head of the Polish section of Radio Free Europe, has been condemned as a traitor in his homeland.

``My biggest problem is getting books which used to be banned translated fast enough,'' he says, with a small smile. ``We've published the first volume of [British history professor] Norman Davies' History of Poland, but the translator's been dragging on the second volume. Both he and I never thought it would have a chance to be published - until now.''

Dealing with arbitrary bureaucratic decisions is still hazardous. A few weeks ago, Wozniakowski decided he wanted to publish a book, banned in Poland, which already had been put out by the exile Kultura publishers in Paris. The censor said no.

``I finally figured out that there was nothing wrong except that Kultura already had published it,'' he remembers. ``So I proposed changing the chapter headings and numbers, just to make it look a little different.''

Znak now is publishing the banned Kultura book.

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