(JNS.org) Jewish organizations are mourning the death of former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who died Monday at the age of 86.
Originally a journalist, Mazowiecki joined Poland’s Solidarity trade union movement in the 1980s, which helped end communist rule. He then became Poland’s first non-Communist leader since the 1940s and helped the country transition to a liberal democracy.
“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," American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris said in a statement.
Mazowiecki was also noted for support of Polish Jewry, re-establishing diplomatic relations with Israel in 1990 and condemning anti-Semitism.
“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...May his memory be for a blessing,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said in a statement.