Jewish groups expressed sorrow this week following the death of Tadeusz
Mazowiecki, Poland’s first post- Communist prime minister, on Monday. He was
Mazowiecki, one of the founders of the anti-Soviet Solidarity
movement, was appointed as premier in 1989 and after serving for 15 months
continued as an adviser to various Polish presidents.
Mazowiecki’s silent, but effective diplomacy ensured that his country’s
transition was successful.
Together with [former president] Lech Walesa,
he laid the foundations for what is today the strongest country both
economically and politically in Central and Eastern Europe,” World Jewish
Congress president Ronald Lauder said on Tuesday.
Mazowiecki’s role in opening Polish airports to Soviet Jewish émigrés and his
efforts to repeal the 1975 United Nations resolution that equated Zionism and
“He will also be remembered for speaking out against
anti-Semitism clearly and unequivocally,” Lauder said.
David Harris, the
executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said that Mazowiecki “will
long be revered as a passionate, principled and fearless activist and
“Mazowiecki was key to transforming Poland’s relations with
world Jewry, restoring diplomatic relations with Israel in 1990 that had been
severed by Warsaw in 1967, and providing a critically-needed transit route for
Jews leaving the Soviet Union and going to Israel,” the AJC remarked in a
Piotr Kadlcik, the president of the Union of Jewish Religious
Communities in Poland, wrote that Mazowiecki was a friend of the Jewish
community and that Poland’s Jews would “remember him as a symbol of dialogue and
extraordinary wisdom and goodness in difficult and rebellious times.”