Jewish groups expressed sorrow this week following the death of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Poland’s first post- Communist prime minister, on Monday. He was 86.

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.

“Tadeusz 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.

Lauder cited 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 racism.

“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 visionary.”

“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 statement.

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.”

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