Adam Michnik

Adam Michnik ( [ adam mixɲik ], born October 17, 1946 in Warsaw) is a Polish essayist and political writer, editor in chief of the left-liberal largest daily newspaper in the country Gazeta Wyborcza and former anti-communist dissident.


People's Republic of Poland

Adam Michnik was born in 1946 in Warsaw, the son of Ozjasz Szechter and Helena Michnik. Both parents were before the Second World War, active in the ( politically meaningless ) Polish communist movement: The father, who was of Jewish origin, was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine, then part of the Communist Party of Poland ( KPP ); the mother was a functionary of the Communist youth organization.

Michnik himself already showed very early commitment to society. In elementary school (then up to the eighth grade) he was a member of the Communist scout group Hufiec Walterowski ( " General Walter Regular "), which had been founded by Jacek Kuroń 1957, with whom he later worked in the anti-communist opposition. After one connected to the Hufiec Walterowski theater group had listed critical pieces, the group was disbanded in 1961. Michnik then founded with other former members of a private discussion circles in which young people met who were disappointed by the reality in communist Poland.

1964 Michnik began at Warsaw University to study History. A year later he was first expelled from the university after he had distributed an open letter Jacek Kurońs and Karol Modzelewskis was called in to the reforms of the political system in Poland. He received a further reference in 1966 because he had organized a discussion meeting with the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, who had recently been excluded from this because of its criticism of the leadership of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party.

He was eventually referred definitively the University of Warsaw, as he had been actively involved in the so-called "March events" in 1968. This was to nationwide student protests, which extended to a political crisis in their relationship eventually many critical intellectuals (eg Zygmunt Bauman ) had to leave the land of Jewish origin in a climate of anti-Semitism. Immediately after his university reference he was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison for hooliganism.

As early as 1969 he was released early due to an amnesty, but he was forbidden to continue studying at a university. It was not until the mid 1970s, this ban was lifted, so that he could make in distance learning at the University of Poznan his degree in History.

After his release from prison, he worked for two years as a welder before he was through mediation Jacek Kurońs personal secretary of the opposition writer Antoni Słonimski († 1976).

After the strikes in Radom 1976 he was again along with Kuroń of the founders and most active members of the " Committee for the Defense of Workers " ( Komitet Obrony Robotników, KOR ) ​​, a mainly supported by intellectuals opposition group. In addition, he was in 1978 one of the founders of the company for academic courses ( Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych ) the so-called Flying University.

From 1977 to 1989 he was also editor of independent underground magazines (eg Krytyka ) and in the direction of the largest underground publisher Nowa. From 1980 he supported as a consultant, the independent trade union Solidarity. When martial law was imposed in December 1981, he was, like many other well-known opposition interned. They offered him to release him if he went into exile, but he refused and justified in an open letter became known to General Czeslaw Kiszczak. He was then charged with " attempting to overthrow the socialist system " and remained until 1984, on remand, as the prosecutor kidnapped his process. In prison, he went on a hunger strike for several weeks, in order to enforce a degree of his trial. In 1984 he was granted amnesty in 1985 but was arrested again and this time, was sentenced to three years in prison for involvement in preparations for a strike in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, on the Lech Wałęsa was active. In 1986 he was pardoned again.

Turning and Nachwendezeit

1988 Michnik was a member of the semi -legal Koordinationsskomitees Walesa. He was actively involved in the preparations and actual negotiations of the Round Table (February to April 1989), where he again met General Czeslaw Kiszczak, this time as a negotiating partner. At the roundtable, the progressive participation of the opposition and the event, part of democratic elections on 4 June 1989 negotiated.

Once the negotiations Michnik received by Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa the order for the election campaign of his " citizens' committees " ( Komitet Obywatelski ) a nationally published newspaper solidarity choice issue ( Gazeta Wyborcza Solidarność ). Although initially planned as a pure campaign newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza appeared on and is now under Michnik, the largest circulation daily newspaper in the country.

Michnik himself was elected after the election victory of the opposition for the " Citizens Committee " in the Sejm and supported as an MP and editor of Gazeta Wyborcza chose Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister and presidential candidate in 1990. Having this was inferior to Wałęsa and disintegrate the " Citizens Committee " drew Michnik back from the policy and no longer stood in the Sejm elections in 1991.

Instead, he focused on his work as a journalist and editor in chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, which was under his leadership as the most widely read and opinion-forming daily newspaper in Poland. Agora SA, the publishing company of the Gazeta Wyborcza specially founded, is now one of the leading media groups in Poland. Michnik is keen not personally own shares in Agora to still belong to their management.

As editor in chief of Gazeta Wyborcza Michnik represents an economically and socially (left - ) liberal course. At the beginning of the 1990s he supported the free market "shock therapy" by Leszek Balcerowicz and later the Polish NATO and EU membership. Of all the political parties Michnik was the Freedom Union ( Unia Wolności ) the next.

In addition, it calls for the proposed by Tadeusz Mazowiecki round-table policy of " thick final stroke " ( gruba Kreska ). Accordingly, ( non-criminal ) is not seeking confrontation with the political leaders of the communist regime in favor of social peace. In this sense he was reconciled in a 2001 interview with the signature "bury the hatchet " ( Pożegnanie z bronia ) publicly with General Czeslaw Kiszczak, who was formerly responsible for his imprisonment.

Criticism of former companion

The previously very closed Polish opposition split after 1989 into several wings: ua a left-liberal, pro-Western intellectual, were symbolic figures for Michnik, Tadeusz Mazowiecki or Geremek, and on the other hand, a more conservative and populist, whose most extreme representatives representing clerical, nationalist and tend to be anti-Semitic positions. For the latter, Michnik is a bogeyman as an atheist and a representative of a Western-style left-wing liberalism. Here also the Jewish origin and communist sentiments of his parents he often criticized for.

A middle position represented Wałęsa and therefore fell out with Michnik: The Solidarity chairman and later became president supported quite profound reforms towards democracy and market economy. But he warned, push on weltanschaulichem area a rash adaptation to the West, as Michnik they propagated. The majority of the population think conservatively and was arrested deep in the traditions of the Catholic Church. Wałęsa threw Michnik ago, with its radically democratic postulates to overwhelm the society and thus to split.

Even liberal former friends take Michnik his " conciliatory " attitude toward the representatives of the former communist regime's evil. Also, are sometimes criticized him for being too uncritical of the person and politics of the then President Aleksander Kwasniewski. The campaign led by Michnik Gazeta Wyborcza against lustration, the systematic analysis of the communist regime was, according to the critics counterproductive, they have the run of Jarosław Kaczyński Law and Justice Party paved the way to electoral victory in 2005.

Unexplained role in the Rywin affair

Into the twilight Michnik became associated with the so-called Rywin affair. The film producer Lew Rywin (including The Pianist, Schindler's List, Hitler Youth Salomon ) sought Michnik 2002, allegedly on behalf of a " group that has the power " on. This so Rywin would provide for payment of a bribe of 17 million dollars that the publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza could acquire a majority stake in TV channel Polsat. This would not have been possible under the applicable antitrust laws. Michnik published after six months of hesitation, a recording of the conversation, sparking a scandal that has not been finally clarified. Michnik was alleged to have made ​​the process too late and also publicly before the next committee of inquiry unclear information.


  • Reason not to go into exile:
  • About his reconciliation with his former persecutors:
  • About the Polish position on European integration:
  • About his Polish- Jewish identity:
  • About the Iraq war: Question:

Works (selection)

  • The Church and the Polish left. From confrontation to dialogue. Kaiser, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-459-01275-7.
  • ( with Włodzimierz Brus and Ferenc Fehér ): Poland - symptoms and causes of the political crisis. VSA -Verlag, Hamburg 1981, ISBN 3-87975-199-4.
  • (Ed. with Helga Hirsch): Polish peace. Essays on the concept of resistance. Red Book -Verlag, Berlin, 1985, ISBN 3-88022 -305- X (Red Book 305).
  • Letters from Prison and Other Essays. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, etc., 1986, ISBN 0-520-05371-0 ( Studies in Societies and culture in East Central Europe 2 ).
  • The Long Goodbye by communism. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1992, ISBN 3-499-13072-6 ( Rororo 13072 Rororo current).

Secondary literature

Prizes and Awards (selection)

Adam Michnik was honored for his journalistic and political commitment of many international institutions: