Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a democratic opposition activist and the first non-communist prime minister in Poland after World War II.
Tadeusz Mazowiecki died on October 28, 2013 in Warsaw at the age of 86. He was the last Prime Minister of the Polish People’s Republic and the first Prime Minister of the Third Polish Republic, elected after elections June 4, 1989. He held this office until 1991. The Masovian government carried out many thorough reforms, especially economic ones, including the so-called Balcerowicz plan.
Mazowiecki was one of the co-founders and chairman of the Democratic Union and the Freedom Union, as well as a member of the Sejm of the Polish People’s Republic of the 3rd, 4th and 5th term, a member of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland 1st, 2nd and 3rd terms of office (1991-2001).
From 2010, he served as the president’s advisor on domestic and international policy. He was a Knight of the Order of the White Eagle.
The beginnings of political activity
Tadeusz Mazowiecki was born on April 18, 1927 in Płock. He lost his father at the age of 11. Bronisław Mazowiecki, a famous doctor, died a year before the outbreak of World War II. In 1946, Tadeusz graduated from the Stanisław Małachowski Secondary School in Płock, then began law studies at the University of Warsaw, which he did not complete.
In 1949, he became involved with the Pax Association. Initially, until 1951, he worked in the group of the weekly “Dziś i Jutro”, then in the years 1950-1952 he served as deputy editor-in-chief of “Słowo Powszechny”.
He was the co-founder and in the years 1953-1955 the editor-in-chief of “Wrocławski Tygodnik Katolików”. In 1953, he published an article in “WTK” criticizing the activities of Bishop Czesław Kaczmarek, convicted in the same year in a show trial.
He stayed in Paks until 1955. He was then removed as the leader of the so-called Paks front – a faction opposed to the policy of too close to the communist authorities and entering into conflicts with the church hierarchy. The Frondist community later joined the Catholic Intelligentsia Clubs, established in 1956, of which Mazowiecki was a co-founder.
In 1958, he obtained permission from the authorities to publish the monthly “Więź”, of which he remained the editor-in-chief until 1981.
As a representative of the Catholic community who positively assessed Gomułka’s changes, in 1961 he ran for the Sejm from the list of the Catholic group and became a member of the Sejm of the Polish People’s Republic for the first time. He was elected for the next three terms (3rd, 4th and 5th) until his speeches were inconvenient and he was removed from the list of candidates.
In 1981, Tadeusz Mazowiecki became the editor-in-chief of “Tygodnik Solidarność”. After martial law was introduced, he was arrested and interned in Strzebielinek, then in Jaworze, and finally in Darłówko. He was one of the last to be released on December 23, 1982.
He created the underground magazine “21”. In May and August 1988, he participated in strikes in the Gdańsk Shipyard. A year later, he participated in the preparations of the Round Table and as an advisor Lech Wałęsa became one of the co-authors of this agreement.
Government of Tadeusz Mazowiecki
After the June elections in 1989, Mazowiecki became an MP of the Civic Parliamentary Club, and two months later he accepted the proposal of the head of NSZZ “Solidarność”, Lech Wałęsa, to create a coalition government, which, in addition to anti-communist opposition politicians, included ZSL and SD activists.
On August 24, 1989, the Sejm appointed Tadeusz Mazowiecki as the Prime Minister, and on September 12, it adopted the program assumptions presented by the Prime Minister and the proposed composition of the new government. In this way, Mazowiecki went down in history as the prime minister of the first non-communist government after the war, which carried out many thorough reforms.
Tadeusz Mazowiecki ran in the presidential elections in November 1990 against Lech Wałęsa. He lost in the first round, taking third place. After the defeat, considering it impossible to continue leading the government after the attacks on him and with decreasing public support, he resigned.
In April 1994, at the Unification Congress of the Democratic Union and the Liberal Democratic Congress, Mazowiecki was elected chairman of the newly established party – Freedom Union. He held the position until May 1995. He left the Freedom Union in November 2002.
In the years 1992-1995 (with breaks) he served as special rapporteur of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, as the only high-ranking official UN.
He received the title of honorary citizen of the city of Sarajevo, was also awarded the Golden Order of the Coat of Arms of Bosnia and received the Srebrenica Award in 1995.
On October 12, 2010, the president Bronislaw Komorowski appointed Tadeusz Mazowiecki to the position of Strategic Advisor to the President of the Republic of Poland.
Main photo source: Jacek Bednarczyk/PAP