Is it worth being a Rejtan?

Author:Marek Safjan
DOI:http://doi.org/10.1111/eulj.12363
Publication Date:01 Mar 2020
EPILOGUE
Is it worth being a Rejtan?
Marek Safjan
*
At the end of my term of office at the Constitutional Tribunal my collaborators gave me a replica of Jan Matejko's
painting Rejtan.
1
The attitude of Rejtan has always been really close to my heart. Rejtan is a Polish Don Quixotein a
moment of helpless despair, Rejtan did not want to let the King and members of the Senate and the Sejm enter the
Parliament hall, in order to prevent the signing of theTreaty of the Partition of Poland. At that moment, it was only a
symbolic gesture. Rejtan's gesture was as ineffective or even useless as the one of Don Quixote.
Is this a convincing analogy to my own stances? I am not sure, but perhaps the similarity results from the fact
that I have always had a built-in opposition to whatever I sense to be in clear contradiction with my beliefs, sensitiv-
ity and worldview. The virus of discord which I contracted in 1968, at the very beginning of my student career,
during the student strikes at the University of Warsaw, caused a feeling of helplessness, humiliation and shame. But
that was only until 1980then everything changed radically. At that time, I experienced at Warsaw university an
atmosphere of freedom and courage in expressing opinions. The Rejtan's attitude could be turned into actionfrom
passive, silent resistance and gesture, transformed into action and a real change of reality. With the outbreak of what
*
Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Union, Luxembourg.This article is based on a speech delivered on the occasion of the reception of the
author's Liber Amicorum: K. Szczepanowska-Kozłowska (ed.), Profesor Marek Safjan znany i nieznany. Księga jubileuszowa z okazji siedemdziesiątych urodzin
(Beck, 2020) at the University of Warsaw on 9 January 2020. Redacted and translated from Polish to English by Anna Dziegiel and Pawel Granicki.
1
Rejtan or the Fall of Poland (Rejtan. Upadek Polski) is an oil painting by the Polish artist Jan Matejko, finished in 1866, depicting the protest of Tadeusz
Rejtan (lower right) against the First Partition of Poland during the Sejm Session of 1773. Both a depiction of a historical moment, and an allegory for the
surrounding period of Polish history, the painting is one of Matejko's most famous works, and an iconic picture of an emotional protest.
Received: 22 June 2020 Accepted: 22 June 2020
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12363
162 © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Eur Law J. 2020;26:162165.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/eulj

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