Commentary Jan Olszewski 1930-2019

Testament of wisdom from ex-Polish PM

Jan Olszewski is a symbolic figure who cuts across all modern politicians wishing to write history according to pre-conceived notions, writes Łukasz Kobeszko.

Its not his impressive CV which really defines him, rather the fact that he represents the passing generation of Poland’s intelligentsia. A generation that was complex and one which had to make very hard choices in a world far away from current twitter storms and Facebook fights. 

A generation which did not live by PR and whose journalists were not just instruments of propaganda. Representatives of a world which we are already beginning to miss. 

He said that what differentiates patriots from nationalists is that patriots can understand the feelings that other nations have

Jan Olszewski was not afraid to say things which were risky and unpopular. In the last few years of his life he argued for Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation pointing out that just as for Poles Bandera was a terrorist, so was Piłsudski as far as the Russians were concerned. He said that what differentiates patriots from nationalists is that patriots can understand the feelings that other nations have. That you cannot see the world purely through one’s own interests and to see one’s own as always being right. 

One of his last statements before he passed away came just after the tragic death of Mayor Paweł Adamowicz. He called for national reconciliation, ending senseless theatrical hatred between political actors on both government and opposition sides. That was his testament of wisdom. 

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