Monday, November 4, 2013

Jewish world mourns passing of former Prime Minister Mazowiecki; human rights activist.

The Jewish community will remember him as a symbol of dialogue and extraordinary wisdom and goodness in difficult and rebellious times. The World Jewish Congress also paid tribute to Mazowiecki as “one of the architects of the modern, democratic Poland and as a friend of Israel and the Jewish people.”

The Jewish world mourns a human rights activist.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki, considered a friend of Israel, was renowned for fighting anti-Semitism died on Monday in Warsaw, Poland. He was 86.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a great statesman and friend,” Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, said in a statement issued Monday.

He stated that Mazowiecki had been an activist for human rights and against discrimination. In 1960, Kadlcik said, Mazowiecki had written that “the fight against anti-Semitism is not any merit or any humanitarian gesture of mercy; it is not only a struggle for the dignity of the Jews, but as much a struggle for our own dignity. It is a struggle for the dignity of all.”

It was under the Mazowiecki government that Poland re-established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1990 and opened Polish airports for Jews leaving the then-Soviet Union.

In a statement, WJC President Ronald Lauder said, “The Jews are grateful to Tadeusz Mazowiecki for his staunch defense of their rights as Poland emerged from Communism, and for his help in resolving the crisis of the Carmelite convent on the grounds of Auschwitz in the early 1990s. He will also be remembered for speaking out against anti-Semitism clearly and unequivocally and exposing war crimes as special rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia. May his memory be for a blessing.”

Tadeusz Mazowiecki. From editor to Prime Minister.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki, went from editing small Roman Catholic publications to becoming the prime minister of Poland and the first non-Communist to head an Eastern bloc nation since the late 1940s.

President Bronislaw Komorowski ordered flags on government buildings to be flown at half-staff.

Mr. Mazowiecki, a journalist by profession, worked under the radar for years to ease restrictions on human rights and helped form the Solidarity trade union movement. By the end of 1989, the Berlin Wall had fallen, Communist governments in Moscow’s other satellite states had collapsed and the Cold War division of Europe was over.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who grew up in Communist East Germany, said that Mr. Mazowiecki made “an unforgotten contribution to overcoming authoritarian

In the June 1989 vote, Solidarity won overwhelmingly in the districts it was allowed to contest and, after parliamentary maneuvering with minor parties, was able to form a government. Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, head of the Communist government, asked Mr. Walesa for three candidates, of which he would select one as a Solidarity prime minister. He chose Mr. Mazowiecki. Many still believe that the Vatican influenced his choice, given Mr. Mazowiecki’s role as an influential editor of Catholic weeklies and monthlies. Mr. Mazowiecki’s V-for-victory sign to the chamber on appointment became the symbol of Poland’s triumph over Communism.

His early life and influences.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki was born on April 18, 1927, in the city of Plock, in central Poland. His brother died in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II.

Mr. Mazowiecki studied law at the University of Warsaw and in 1953 began editing a Catholic weekly He was fired because of his opposition to the Communist government. He started an organization of Catholic intellectuals and a new Catholic monthly.

In 1961 he was elected to the Polish Parliament, where he led the opposition to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and unsuccessfully pushed for an investigation of the police massacre of striking Gdansk shipyard workers in 1971. As a result, he was barred from running for re-election in 1972. He then devoted himself to building alliances between the intelligentsia of the left and the fledgling Polish labor movement.

He was married twice; both wives died. He had three sons, Wojciech, Adam and Michal.

Tributes poured in globally for Mazowieck, who has been credited with helping to foster democratic change across Eastern Europe.

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