Cover

The entire Polish press speaks with one voice in bidding farewell to Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the country’s first prime minister after the fall of communism in 1989, who died on October 28.

Adam Michnik, current editor-in-chief at Gazeta Wyborcza and a former leader of the anti-communist opposition movement between 1968-1989, pens a tribute to his former colleague in a startling black-and-white front page, writing that Mazowiecki “knew Polish misery and glory” like no other and “for a long time was a symbol of the democratic opposition and the Solidarity trade union”.

Michnik stresses that Mazowiecki

was a man of dialogue – who could engage with people from opposite camps [...] He was an example of a patriot free of national egotism and ethnic nationalism. He was a democrat who respected pluralism and the ability to compromise.

Mazowiecki was often criticised for the so called “Thick Line” policy, in which he aimed to draw a line under the country’s past and focus on the future but which was often misinterpreted as a reluctance to settle scores with members of the communist regime.

However, now even former opponents such as Bogusław Chrabota, editor-in-chief of the conservative Rzeczpospolita salute Mazowiecki’s courage

In 1989, he embarked on a mission that he knew was nearly hopeless. Did he make mistakes? At that time, I thought there were plenty of them: inconsistent vetting [...], languid decommunisation, lack of bold reprivatisation. Today, I have doubts as to whether this could really have been done any differently and faster.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki will be buried on November 3 with highest honours, while President Bronisław Komorowski is also considering declaring a period of national mourning.