Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the prime minister of Poland from 1989 till 1991 and the first non-communist prime minister in Central and Eastern Europe in the post-WWII period, died on October 28. He belonged to the same brilliant generation of courageous individuals always ready for sacrifice, also represented by Vaclav Havel and another Pole, Bronislaw Geremek.

Mazowiecki was one of the founders of the Catholic Intelligentsia Club and the highest moral authority for the Polish political and intellectual circles. After the martial law was declared in Poland in 1981, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Communist authorities. Yet he never tried to take revenge. He always believed that the power was to be taken from the Communist Party through negotiation. He became one of the key participants of the Polish Round Table Talks in 1988 that brought the landslide Solidarity victory on June 4, 1989. In August 1989, the Polish Sejm elected him prime minister, and his government carried out fundamental reforms, returning Poland to Europe.

I am proud that I knew Pan Tadeusz when he was the editor-in-chief of the Tygodnik Solidarnosc. He helped me a lot with his advice and with his ideas when I worked on my book on the Polish Catholic Church…

Now he is gone. But he will be remembered as a Man Who Helped to Open a New Era—and not only for Poland!

  • Lilia Shevtsova