He set the direction of Polish politics
Boleslaw Piecha, MP
Many people who were dear to me and who I knew well lost their lives in the crash of the presidential plane at Smolensk. Prof. Lech Kaczynski, President of the Most Serene Republic of Poland, and his wife Maria died. My friends and colleagues from the Parliament, clergymen, generals and members of the Katyn Families died. It was a terrible shock to me. Through layers of sorrow and pain I can see some chaotic pictures of our numerous meetings, talks, plans for future. My recollections are swirling.
I knew President Lech Kaczynski for many years. We often talked; sometimes we disputed about Poland, her place in Europe and the world, her history, which he knew perfectly well, and her future. What struck me in every sentence of his was his pride of being Polish. It was also his concern for a worthy place of Poland in the contemporary world. President Lech Kaczynski was a great patriot and he spared no effort to strengthen and root patriotism in us, Poles, patriotism based on historical truth. I think that in the light of this big tragedy his attitude was an unequivocal testimony to Poland, Europe and the world.
President Lech Kaczynski was extremely sensitive to the fate of ordinary people. I remember his determination when he learnt about the tragedy of a 19-year old girl who had a car accident and remained in a coma in the intensive care unit in Torun. I remember his phone call to me asking me to help her. The doctors did not give her big chances but he kept helping. He did his best to help her although he did not know this girl personally. Today she is finishing her studies.
The tragedy at Smolensk has re-valued our public life strongly because it does not only connect the victims of the Katyn Forest with the victims of the presidential plane in a symbolic meaning but essentially ties the dilemmas of contemporary Poland with the choices of people living in the Second Republic of Poland. The victims of the Katyn Massacre in 1940, the masses of nameless Polish victims of the Soviet occupation during World War II and the death of the commanders of the underground Poland, murdered on the basis of the Moscow trials in 1945 are united by the highest value of life sacrificed in the name of patriotism and independent Homeland.
In the last twenty years of independent Poland the heir of this heritage turned to be President Lech Kaczynski, his collaborators and close political environments whose priority in public life was the question of historical memory and the highest national values. It was not by accident that President Lech Kaczynski restored worthy places to the heroes of the struggle for independence, who sacrificed their lives in the vast areas of ‘inhuman’ Soviet land, in the pantheon of the Polish history.
Today, almost 70 years later, God’s verdicts and history combined the death of the President of the Republic of Poland with the fate of the Polish victims of the Russian communism with whom – as one of the very few of his contemporaries – he shared the feeling of community of the tradition of independent Homeland. In Poland that regained its independence in 1989 he did not allow himself to be harnessed to the chariot of political correctness, breaking with the tradition of the elite of the Second Polish Republic with the motto, ‘Let us choose future’, the elite for whom sovereign Homeland and work for public good were the highest values.
In this dimension, showing political consistence and acting against the stream of the opinion-forming views concerning the so-called modernising model of the state, he won the recognition of Poles who elected him President of the Republic of Poland in 2005.
This year, when his term was about to end and the presidential campaign to start, Lech Kaczynski faced the challenge to remind Poles of his vision of the state. He was to speak against the opponents in the Polish political scene, their empty promises made to the society and against the derision of the values the late President of the Republic of Poland believed. This death cannot stop asking the fundamental questions about Poland’s place in contemporary Europe. The questions about the moral condition of our society that became his political last will. He again focused on the question of the truth and our responsibility for public life and the priority of the highest values over the fineness of daily news over the propaganda noise as the main tasks of Poland.
I am convinced that the legacy f Lech Kaczynski will set the direction of the activities of the Polish politics for years regardless of the efforts of the advocates of the liberal vision of Poland.