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Adam Sandauer is dead. Anti-communist opposition activist, social worker, founder of the “Primum Non Nocere” Patient Association was 72 years old

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Adam Sandauer, anti-communist opposition activist, participant in the student protests in March 1968, founder and first chairman, later honorary chairman of the “Primum Non Nocere” Patient Association, died at the age of 72. “The man who gave the rights of patients their rightful place in the health care system, the man thanks to whom we have the institution of the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights. A great loss. The memory of him will remain forever alive,” the Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski wrote on Twitter.

His wife Beata informed about Sandauer’s death in an interview with the Polish Press Agency.

Adam Sandauer was born on December 17, 1950. He came from the family of the writer and literary critic Artur Sandauer and the painter Erna Rosenstein. “Father’s family came from Sambor. My grandparents were the first generation to break away from Judaism and start using Polish on a daily basis,” Sandauer wrote in his memoirs published on his website.

In 1968, Adam Sandauer became involved in the printing and distribution of protest leaflets against the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia and against the arrests of students after the events of March 1968. The high school student was impressed by the protests broken up by the militia and workers’ activists.

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Adam Sandauer. Photo from December 30, 2011 PAP/Tomasz Gzell

“On March 8, I arrived at Krakowskie Przedmieście in the afternoon, after school. I remember the crowd, the stinging smell of tear gas, broken windows in the Kultura cinema, where militia units from Golędzinów (the precursor of ZOMO) were supposedly stationed, trash on the streets, the crowd rolling around. I was 17 years old I was in my senior year and I was impressed by the protesting students,” he recalled.

Relegated from studies

A few months later, SB officers discovered Sandauer’s links with the illegal student movement, but the criminal proceedings against Sandauer were discontinued in 1969 due to an amnesty. Years later, he regarded the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968 as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the communist regime. “These people usually felt Polish and did not even know Hebrew. Worse, some of them had previously cut themselves off from their families when they emigrated to Israel after the war. A dormant conflict was awakened, blaming the assimilated Jews for the situation and social protests. Several thousand Polish people. Only a few went to Israel. We went to see emigrating friends to Dworzec Gdański, it made a terrible impression “- he wrote on the website.

Sandauer was briefly expelled from his studies at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw, which he started in October 1968. He returned to the university in 1971. Ten years later, he defended his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. As he himself mentioned, he gave up his activities against the system for many years. He returned to it after the creation of “Solidarity”. He was one of the initiators of collecting signatures for an appeal for the release of political prisoners. He established contacts with the Moczulskis and the circles of the Confederation of Independent Poland.

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He became involved in the activities of the KPN

In 1990 he was dismissed from the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. “For me, a former opposition activist, the world collapsed in the Third Polish Republic,” he recalled. In his opinion, it was a consequence of his father’s support for the regime of General Wojciech Jaruzelski. As he explained, his father was seriously ill and not fully conscious – he died of brain cancer. Although he had never belonged to the Polish United Workers’ Party, after the imposition of martial law, he became a member of the National Council for Culture, an organization that supported Jaruzelski.

Adam Sandauer did not return to scientific activity. He founded a company importing electronics to Poland. He became involved in the activities of the KPN. Among other things, he was the party’s adviser on social and economic matters. He was also a publicist. In 2001, as an independent candidate, he unsuccessfully ran for the Senate.

He was injured by a medical error that led to the deterioration of his health. Since then, he has been involved in helping other victims. He founded and for many years headed the Patient Association “Primum Non Nocere”. He was one of the initiators of the civic coalition under the slogan Health is a right, not a commodity.

Campaign for the creation of the Office of the Patient Ombudsman

From 2000, he campaigned for the creation of the Office of the Patient Ombudsman as an institution helping the injured, the victims of medical malpractice.

He belonged to the Free Speech Association. He became a member of the Social Committee of Support for Jarosław Kaczyński in the early presidential elections in 2010, and in 2015 he participated in the election campaign of Andrzej Duda.

In 2016, he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda. In 2019, he was awarded the Cross of Freedom and Solidarity

Niedzielski’s reaction

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski tweeted on Wednesday that Sandauer’s death was a “great loss”.

“Adam Sandauer is dead. A man who gave patients’ rights their rightful place in the health care system, a man thanks to whom we have the institution of the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights. A great loss. The memory of him will live forever” – said the minister.

Main photo source: Tomasz Gzell/PAP

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