A Look at 'Nine Days That Changed the World'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 12, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Continuing with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and he is now joined by a very special guest, his wife, Callista, who's from Wisconsin, who's also president of Gingrich Productions. They're here to talk about their new documentary on Pope John Paul II, "Nine Days That Changed the World."

Nice to see you, Callista.


VAN SUSTEREN: Before we get on to the DVD, which I have seen an enjoyed immensely, I do have to mention this plane crash because it talks about John Paul II going back to Poland, so -- and you knew -- you knew two people on the plane this weekend?


CALLISTA GINGRICH: Yes. We were saddened to learn that two of the people that we interviewed for this movie were on plane with the Polish president. One was Anna Walentynowicz, who was a Solidarity leader with Lech Walesa. She is in our movie and she unfortunately was killed, as well as the president of Poland's chief of staff. So our condolences go out to the Polish people.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, in watching the movie -- and Callista -- the thing that struck me and -- is that, you know, it's about John Paul II going back to Poland for nine days. But what struck me is also the story about Poland and how Poland lost the war twice, first to Germany in '39 and then to the Soviet Union. I mean, this is so much also a story about Poland.

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, you know, Callista's half -Polish, and I think that's part of what was so touching for us in making the film. Her father's family came from near Krakow. And it's really -- I mean, in many ways, it's a tragic history. The country disappears in 1795, comes back in 1918 on Armistice Day in World War I, and in 1939 is occupied by the Germans and by the Soviets. And then the Germans get defeated after a horrible, horrible occupation in which one out of every five Poles died. Then the Soviets take over.

So if you're -- you know, if you're John Paul II as a young man, you're living through this. And I think that Callista, from her standpoint of her father and his family, really had a sense of enormous sympathy for what she was -- what we were filming and the people we were interviewing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Callista, you know, the -- Pope John Paul II, who was Polish, grew up in Poland and did so much to fight the religious repression in Poland when he was there. And then he became pope and who would have -- who would have thought, finally, the Italians were no longer popes anymore. It was a Polish pope.

CALLISTA GINGRICH: That's right, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: And what it meant to Poland.

CALLISTA GINGRICH: He was the first Polish pope ever in the history of the Catholic church. There had been 400 years of Italian popes. And so the Polish people were really excited. All of a sudden, this was something great that was happening to Poland. And he went back to Poland in June of 1979 and he reengaged the Poles with their Polish culture. They have a very rich heritage, and he made them feel good about being Polish again. He also reconnected them to the Catholic church. And through doing these true things, he gave them the courage to stand up and fight the Soviet dictatorship.

VAN SUSTEREN: What I didn't know which I learned in the movie is that he had originally wanted two days in May.


VAN SUSTEREN: And he said, I just want to come back for two days in May, and the Soviet -- and -- or the -- there was a lot of pressure from the Soviet Union to make that not happen.

CALLISTA GINGRICH: Right. Right. Well, he initially wanted to go in May, to go for the anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Stanislaus, and the communists said, No, there's no way we're going to let a Polish pope go back to Poland to honor a martyred Polish saint. But after negotiations, they decided that instead of two days in May, he would go back for nine days in June.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, how much credit to you assign to Pope John Paul II, in terms of democracy in Poland?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I think the key thing and the reason that Callista and I decided to make this movie with Dave Bossie and Citizens United, and Kevin Knoblock, who did a great job directing, is that when we did a film on Reagan that you may remember, we interviewed Lech Walesa in Gdansk, the former president of Poland, and we interviewed Vaclav Havel in Prague. Both of them said to us this visit was the key moment in beginning to break down the Soviet empire. And both of them said to really understand what happened in the Soviet empire, you had to understand these nine days.

CALLISTA GINGRICH: Right, and it really is a story of human liberation, revealing Pope John Paul II's very powerful message of freedom through faith.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, and I guess in -- it just was so timely watching this for me, is that, you know, to understand the Poles and to realize how important John Paul II was, Pope John Paul II was to them, and how much they've achieved, and then to go back to this plane crash over the weekend.

NEWT GINGRICH: The great tragedy is that a very significant percentage of the most pro-American Polish leaders were on this particular plane to go to honor those who'd been killed in the Katyn Forest by the Soviets. And it's an enormous tragedy. We have -- one of the people who's advised us is a Polish newsman who's with us this weekend, and these were his personal friends. So it was just -- it was a devastating loss for the country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where can someone get this movie, Callista?

CALLISTA GINGRICH: You can go to Ninedaysthatchangedtheworld.com for more information and to buy the movie. We're also having screenings at various Catholic universities. We go to Catholic University here in Washington tomorrow night. We're going to Ave Maria on Sunday evening, and next Monday, we'll be at Georgetown University.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's a great movie. It's fascinating, and it's also a piece of history. Thank you both.



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