At noon, President Bronislaw Komorowski opened an International Centre of Dialogue in a newly-reconstructed manor house in Krasnogruda in north-eastern Poland, close to the Lithuanian border.
The ceremony was attended by Anthony Milosz, the poet’s son, with his family, as well as representatives of Polish and Lithuanian governments.
An estate in Krasnogruda which belonged to the family of the poet’s mother used to be visited by Milosz in his youth. In 1989, he revisited the place after more than half a century, and it was then that an idea was first put forward to turn Krasnogruda into a centre for inter-cultural dialogue and a meeting place of writers, philosophers and artists from all over the world.
The opening of the Centre also inaugurated the three-day “European Agora – Visions of a Native Europe”, a series of meetings between enthusiasts of Milosz’s poetry, as well as an exhibition entitled “In Search of a Homeland”, the namesake of one the author’s prose collections.
Czeslaw Milosz was born in present-day Lithuania, to partly Polish, partly Lithuanian parents, and was brought up in the multinational milieu of Vilnius. He graduated from the University of Vilnius with a degree in law.
Before World War II he worked for Polish Radio for ten years. After the outbreak of war, he became active in underground circles in Warsaw, where he spent most of the Nazi occupation.
Between 1946 and 1951 Milosz served as a member of the Polish Foreign Service, but despite his initial sympathies for the new regime he eventually broke with the communist authorities and defected to the West.
As a cultural attaché in Paris he wrote “The Captive Mind”, a study on the predicament of the artist in the Soviet bloc which probed into modern society as one that has allowed itself to accept totalitarian terror.
In 1960, Milosz moved from France to the United States and taught for many years at the University of California, Berkeley.
During the communist period, his works were not officially available in Poland. In 1980, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for voicing “with uncompromising clear-sightedness man’s exposed condition in the world of severe conflicts.”
After the fall of communism, he returned to Poland and spent the last years of his life in the southern city of Krakow, where he died in 2004, aged 93. (mk/jb)
Audio by Agnieszka Bielawska