Lech Kaczyński

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Lech Kaczyński (2006) Signature of Lech Kaczyński

Lech Aleksander Kaczyński ( [ˈlɛx alɛk'sandɛr kaˈtʂɨɲskʲi] , listen ? / I ) (born  June 18, 1949 in Warsaw ; † April 10, 2010 near Smolensk , Russia ) was a Polish politician. Audio file / audio sample

Kaczyński was a member of the Polish Senate (1989–2005) and Polish Minister of Justice (2000–2001), co-founder and first chairman of the national conservative Law and Justice Party (2001–2003), mayor of Warsaw (2002–2005) and from December 23, 2005 the fourth President of the Third Polish Republic until his death .

His twin brother Jarosław Kaczyński was Prime Minister of the country in 2006 and 2007.


Lech Kaczyński with his wife Maria

Lech Kaczyński was born as the son of Rajmund Kaczyński and Jadwiga Jasiewicz (1926-2013), who both fought against the Wehrmacht in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 in the ranks of the Polish Home Army . Two of his great-grandfathers were high officers in the tsarist army .

Together with his twin brother Jarosław , Kaczyński stood in front of the camera in the Polish children's film O dwóch takich, co ukradli księżyc (Eng. The two moon thieves ) by Jan Batory in 1962 . In this film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Kornel Makuszyński from 1928, the brothers played the main roles of Placek (Lech Kaczyński) and Jacek (Jarosław Kaczyński).

In 1972 Kaczyński graduated from Warsaw University with a law degree . From 1972 he worked as a research assistant at the University of Gdansk , where he received his doctorate in 1980 and completed his habilitation in 1990 . From 1996 to 1999 he worked as a university professor at the University of Gdansk and from 1999 at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw .

Kaczyński was born with Maria Kaczyńska . Mackiewicz married. Their daughter Marta was born in 1980.

On April 10, 2010, Kaczyński and his wife died in the plane crash near Smolensk near the Smolensk-Nord military airfield .

Political career

Democratic opposition in the communist era

From autumn 1977 Kaczyński worked as an activist for the opposition committee for the defense of workers (Polish Komitet Obrony Robotników ) and between 1978 and 1980 in the Free Trade Unions of the Coast (Polish Wolne Związki Zawodowe Wybrzeża ) in Gdansk. Both organizations were incorporated into the newly founded, independent trade union movement Solidarność in 1980 .

In August 1980 , Kaczyński was one of Solidarność's legal advisors in the Gdańsk shipyard . During the war he was interned between December 1981 and October 1982. In the following years he worked in various functions as an employee of Lech Wałęsa in the underground structures of Solidarność .

Political career from 1989

In early 1989 Kaczyński took part in the round table negotiations and was a senator in the Polish Senate from 1989 to 1991 and a member of the Polish Sejm from 1991 to 1993 for the Center Alliance (Polish Porozumienie Centrum ).

From 1992 to 1995 he headed the Supreme Control Chamber , a central body of financial control. He ran for the office of President of the Republic in 1995 , but gave up before the first ballot in favor of Jan Olszewski . In the government of Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, Kaczyński was Minister of Justice from 2000 to 2001. From November 18, 2002 until he took office as President, he was Lord Mayor ( City President ) of Warsaw .


On March 19, 2005, Kaczyński officially announced his candidacy for the Polish presidential elections in autumn 2005 and on October 9, 2005, in the first ballot, he came second behind the candidate of the Civic Platform (Polish Platforma Obywatelska ), Donald Tusk . This qualified him for the runoff election against Tusk on October 23, 2005, which he surprisingly won with 54.04 percent and a turnout of 51 percent. The success of his Law and Justice party was thus complete after the previous victory in the parliamentary elections .

Political positions

Foreign and EU policy

Kaczyński on a state visit to Ukraine in July 2007
Kaczyński with the German Federal President Horst Köhler in April 2008

In terms of foreign policy, Kaczyński supported democratic forces in the former Soviet neighboring states and their efforts to gain sovereignty. Among other things, he advocated the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the democratic forces in Georgia and Belarus , which ran counter to Russian interests and was linked to criticism from Moscow.

On September 11, 2006, Kaczyński met Israeli President Moshe Katzav in Jerusalem . Katzav praised Kaczyński's stance in the fight against anti-Semitism , and the Polish President in turn offered to increase the Polish UN contingent ( UNIFIL ) in Lebanon .

In terms of EU politics, Kaczyński advocated strong Polish sovereignty vis-à-vis the European Union as well as a uniform EU-wide Eastern policy and advocated a delay in the introduction of the euro in Poland and a referendum on this question.

In the field of energy policy, he was particularly committed to reducing the energy dependency on Russian oil and gas supplies and for a common EU energy policy. His relationship with Germany and Russia was viewed as suspicious, not least because of the construction of the Northern European gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea . The common interests in the dispute over the Northern European gas pipeline ensured rapprochement between Poland and the rest of the Baltic Sea countries.

Another controversial issue with Germany was the planned center against evictions in Berlin , which was sharply criticized by Kaczyński. In Germany, his objections met with a mixed response. Federal President Horst Köhler, for example, advised “to take the fears in Poland and the Czech Republic seriously”, while the President of the Association of Expellees , Erika Steinbach , blamed Poland for tensions between the two countries. The political shift to the right in Poland was largely regretted by the German media landscape. Kaczyński and other members of his national conservative party found a publication in which he and his brother were mentioned in the left-wing alternative taz on June 26, 2006 on the satirical page “The Truth” as an insult and thereupon initiated an investigation. The article and the reactions to it even intensified the resentment between Poland and Germany (see “ Potato Affair ”). Shortly after the taz publication, Kaczyński canceled the regular three-way talks with the Chancellor and the French President as part of the “ Weimar Triangle ” for health reasons.

After the failed first referendum in Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon , Kaczyński refused to sign , since he saw the treaty as irrelevant. After the positive second referendum in Ireland, he finally signed the contract.

Kaczyński was positive about the US missile shield with the stationing of missiles in Poland.

On November 23, 2008, shooting, possibly by Russian soldiers, occurred near his convoy while visiting Georgia. Russia denied this and accused Georgia of staging, the Polish secret service suspected the same.

Domestic politics

His political orientation was considered conservative, Catholic-national and anti-communist .

Kaczyński called for a fight against social differences and for more equal opportunities between the regions and wanted to give citizens a feeling of security. He promised an expansion of the state's social benefits, supported child- and family-friendly social policies and wanted to strengthen the president's position in the Polish constitution, following the example of France and the United States .

His constant concern was not to let the common history be forgotten. Another focus of his activity was the clarification of the communist past and punishment of the perpetrators. He pleaded for an end to the "line of business" (Polish Polityka grubej kreski ), which had contributed to the fact that many former officials and unofficial employees of the former Polish security services remained undetected after 1989 and continued to hold influential political offices and economic positions, or obtained (see “ Wildstein's List ”). As part of this policy, the Military Reconnaissance Service , which was accused of having links with the Russian Military Intelligence Service ( GRU ) and with the criminal underworld, was disbanded on September 30, 2006 .

When the new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, succeeding his twin brother, made his government statement in parliament on November 23, 2007, Lech Kaczyński was on a state visit to Georgia. It was the first time that the Polish President did not attend the Prime Minister's declaration of government and a clear sign that the relationship between the two politicians was very tense.

Kaczyński has been in favor of reintroducing the death penalty in Poland since the 1990s and was critical of homosexuality. As mayor of Warsaw, he had a demonstration of homosexuals, locally and Equality Parade (Pol. Parada Równości ) known not approved in the years 2004 and 2005. These decisions were judged by the European Court of Human Rights as a violation of the right to freedom of assembly . Political opponents of Kaczyński, especially the Union of the Democratic Left (Polish: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej ), which emerged from the communist Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) , mockingly described his positions and those of his party as " Kaczism ".

Death and funeral ceremonies

The Kaczyńskis' coffins in the presidential palace chapel

On April 10, 2010, Kaczyński was on his way to a memorial ceremony in memory of the murder of Polish officers by the Soviet secret service in Katyn, Russia in 1940 . His plane, a Tupolev Tu-154M of the Polish Air Force , crashed while approaching the Smolensk-Nord military airfield , killing all occupants. According to the constitution, Sejm Marshal Bronisław Komorowski took over the official duties of the head of state as President of Parliament and ordered a seven-day state mourning.

One day after the accident, Kaczyński's body was transferred from Smolensk to Warsaw. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took part in the farewell ceremony in Russia . The identification of Maria Kaczyńska was more complex and was carried out in Moscow. That is why her coffin reached Warsaw two days later. The journey of both coffins from the airport to the presidential palace was accompanied by thousands of people. The coffins were laid out in the chapel of the presidential palace, where around 180,000 people said goodbye to the presidential couple before the funeral.

The official funeral services began on April 17, 2010. In the morning at 8:56 am, people across the country thought with a minute's silence and a siren sound. A great prayer was held on Piłsudski Square in Warsaw. An altar was set up there, in the background large-scale pictures of all crash victims were shown and all names of the victims were read out individually.

Memorial plaque for Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria in Lublin

The funeral ceremony took place on April 18, 2010 in Kraków's St. Mary's Church . From the church the coffins were brought on carriages to the foot of the Wawel Hill, from where they were carried to the crypt of the Wawel Cathedral . The coffins lie together in a sarcophagus. TV cameras followed everything up to the cathedral. Around 150,000 people watched the ceremony on the market square and in front of large screens on the Błonia meadows and the Łagiewniki sanctuary. As on the previous Sunday, most stores across the country were closed, at least during the ceremony. And in the few open shops, alcohol was not allowed to be sold until 8 p.m. The ceremony was so extensive that the churches in the immediate vicinity of St. Mary's Church were also required for its preparation and therefore numerous masses had to be canceled on that day.

Numerous high-ranking politicians from abroad were invited, but some of them had to cancel their visit because most European airports were closed due to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull . These included Swiss President Doris Leuthard , US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel . Federal President Horst Köhler and Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle attended the funeral service as representatives of Germany .

Burial place controversy

At the request of the Kaczyński family, the Metropolitan of Kraków , Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz , approved the burial of the presidential couple in the crypt of the cathedral of the Kraków royal castle Wawel . Despite the state mourning, this decision sparked discussions in Poland.

The Wawel Royal Castle was the residence of the Polish kings for centuries, and Krakow was the country's spiritual, cultural and political center during this period. Almost all Polish kings (including those who had their residence in the new capital Warsaw ), the four national heroes Józef Poniatowski , Tadeusz Kościuszko , Józef Piłsudski and Władysław Sikorski as well as the two national poets Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki have their eternal resting place here. Today the Wawel is one of the most important national symbols.

Many Poles believed that a politician like Kaczyński should not have found his eternal peace between Polish kings and national heroes. They criticized Kaczyński's administration even during his lifetime and accused him of a lack of political success. In surveys in February 2008, his popularity ratings had fallen significantly below those of Prime Minister Donald Tusk or his party colleague Zbigniew Ziobro and have not recovered since then. For this reason, protests against this decision took place in several cities in Poland in the days following the decision on the Wawel as a burial site.

Awards and honors


  • Adam Holesch, Axel Birkenkämper: From Kaczynski to Tusk - a German-Polish tragedy? Bouvier Verlag, Bonn 2008.

Web links

Commons : Lech Kaczyński  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Lech Kaczyński  - in the news

Individual evidence

  1. Lech Kaczyński ( memento of January 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) in nauka-polska.pl
  2. Poland's President Kaczynski dies in a plane crash. SPIEGEL ONLINE GmbH, accessed on April 10, 2010 .
  3. Poland's President Kaczynski is dead. N-tv Nachrichtenfernsehen GmbH, accessed on April 10, 2010 .
  4. The Swedes and the annoying gas . February 9, 2007
  5. Poland's new president reiterates criticism of displaced persons . FAZ.net of October 24, 2005
  6. Köhler warns against rewriting history. Spiegel-Online from September 2, 2006
  7. Article of the taz Poland's new potato. Villains who want to rule the world. Today: Lech "Katsche" Kaczynski . dated June 26, 2006
  8. The square of the triangle. SPIEGEL online from July 7, 2006
  9. https://www.welt.de/politik/article2167346/Warum-Kaczynski-ploetzlich-auf-die-EU-Bremse-tritt.html
  10. ↑ Change of heart - Kaczynski signs the EU treaty - and even praises him.
  11. W Gruzji ostrzelano konwój prezydenta Lecha Kaczyńskiego.
  12. n-tv.de, shots at the president? Moscow sees "provocations". Nov 24, 2008
  13. Jak służby zmieniały zdanie - Przeczytaj raport ABW o strzelaninie w Gruzji. ( Memento from December 22, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Dziennik, Nov. 27, 2008
  14. Thomas Urban: The intellectual fighter. ( Memento of April 11, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Online edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, accessed on April 10, 2010
  15. Tilman Müller: The Born Patriot. stern.de, accessed on April 10, 2010
  16. ^ ZDF - Commentary on Kaczyński ( Memento from October 14, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  17. Agentem GRU jest się do końca życia. Interview with Wiktor Suworow on GRU and WSI (Polish)
  18. ^ Polish Radio, October 6, 2006
  19. Deutsche Welle in their Treffpunkt Europe Podcast from August 5, 2006 ( Memento from October 18, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  20. Jump to the right in Poland. n-tv from October 24, 2005.
  21. The Parliament. No. 11/2006 of March 13, 2006 Published by: German Bundestag.
  22. Case of Bączkowski and others v. Poland. (Application no. 1543/06).
  23. ^ Coffin transferred to Warsaw: Poland pays Kaczynski last respects. in Spiegel Online , April 11, 2010 called on April 11 of 2010.
  24. Poland pays Kaczynski last respects.
  25. ^ Poland mourns: Hundreds of thousands in mourning for Kaczynski. Mirror online.
  26. Medvedev lays roses on Kaczynski's coffin.
  27. Poland bows to Lech Kaczynski.
  28. Merkel and Obama cancel their participation in the funeral service.
  29. ^ Coffins of the presidential couple arrived in Cracow.
  30. A place among kings. FAZ
  31. Kaczynski is supposed to find rest next to kings. In: The world .
  32. Honesty instead of pathos. derstandard.at, April 15, 2010, accessed on May 1, 2010 .
  33. The German-Polish Calendar: German-Polish Chronicle February 2008. www.de-pl.info, February 28, 2008, archived from the original on May 23, 2009 ; Retrieved May 2, 2010 .
  34. Debate about burial, protests intensify. derstandard.at, April 15, 2010, accessed on May 1, 2010 .
  35. Kaczynski is buried next to kings.
  36. Presidente Cavaco Silva reuniu-se com homólogo polaco Lech Kaczynski
  37. Wayback Machine. March 4, 2016, accessed August 22, 2019 .
  38. FG Forrest, as www.fg.cz, 2015: Seznam vyznamenaných. Retrieved August 22, 2019 (Czech).
  39. Saakashvili: Lech Kaczynski was hero of Georgia. ( Memento from July 13, 2012 in the Internet Archive )