NEW YORK, Oct. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC mourns the passing of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, one of the great figures in the epic Polish struggle to oust Communist rule and restore democracy to his native land.
A founder of the Solidarity movement, a journalist, and a proud Catholic, he was appointed prime minister in 1989. He served for 15 months in that position, the first non-Communist to head an Eastern-bloc nation since the late 1940s. He continued to serve as an advisor to Polish presidents, helping to shape a democratic, pluralistic Poland, and his counsel was sought by the UN and world leaders.
"Tadeusz Mazowiecki will long be revered as a passionate, principled and fearless activist and visionary. His calm and reasoned approach was critical to bringing about Poland's historic transformation from harsh Communist rule to the vibrant democracy that exists today," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.
AJC has special admiration for Mazowiecki, said Harris, who has visited Poland many times over the past 23 years and met him. 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.
"Throughout his long life, Mazowiecki courageously focused on bettering Polish society for all Poles, affirming the core values of democracy and respect for human dignity, and speaking out against anti-Semitism," said Harris. "We will miss him greatly, even as his imprint on the history of his beloved nation is unquestionably indelible."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee