Adam Michnik
Adam Michnik (ˈadam ˈmixɲik; born 17 October 1946 in Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

, Poland) is the editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza
Gazeta Wyborcza
Gazeta Wyborcza is a leading Polish newspaper. It covers the gamut of political, international and general news. Like all the Polish newspapers, it is printed on compact-sized paper, and is published by the multimedia corporation Agora SA...

, where he sometimes writes under the pen-names of Andrzej Zagozda or Andrzej Jagodziński. In 1966–1989 he was one of the leading organizers of the illegal, democratic opposition in Poland. A historian, essayist, and political commentator, he is the recipient of laureate of many awards, including a Knight of the Legion of Honour and European of the Year
Europeans of the Year
The "Europeans of the Year" award was established in 2001 by European Voice to honor influential European citizens who have mostly affected the European legislative and policy agenda. The annual award is officially supported by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt...



Adam Michnik was born to Ozjasz (Uzziah) Szechter, the first secretary of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine
Communist Party of Western Ukraine
Communist Party of Western Ukraine was a political party in eastern interbellum Poland. Until 1923 it was known as the Communist Party of Eastern Galicia.Young Communist League of Western Ukraine was the youth league of the party....

 and his wife Helena (née Michnik), a historian, children's book writer and Communist. Michnik is of Jewish descent. His half brother, Stefan Michnik
Stefan Michnik
First Lieutenant Stefan Michnik born 28 September 1929 in Drohobycz was a Stalinist judge in postwar Poland, implicated in the arrest, internment and execution of Polish resistance fighters including Major Jerzy Lewandowski, Major Zefiryn Machalla, Colonel Maksymilian Chojecki and others....

, was a judge in the 1950s during the period of Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 and currently resides in Sweden. He publicly admitted passing death sentences on Polish anti-communist resistance fighters, such as Major Zefiryn Machalla
Zefiryn Machalla
Zefiryn Machalla , was a major of the Polish Army and participant of the Polish September Campaign. In the interbellum period, his talent was highly praised by the Polish Army Headquarters, for his outstanding bravery, Machalla was nominated for the Virtuti Militari cross.In late 1939, after Polish...

. In October 2010 Polish prosecutors issued an official European Arrest Warrant
European Arrest Warrant
The European Arrest Warrant is an arrest warrant valid throughout all member states of the European Union . Once issued by a member state, it requires the receiving member state to arrest and transfer a criminal suspect or sentenced person to the issuing state so that the person can be put on...

 (EAW) against him. However, on 18 November 2010 the court in Uppsala refused to extradite Stefan Michnik back to Poland explaining that his alleged criminal acts committed under Stalinism fall under the statute of limitations in Sweden.


While attending primary school, he was an active member of Walter’s Troop in Polish Scouting Association (ZHP), which was led by Jacek Kuroń
Jacek Kuron
Jacek Jan Kuroń was one of the democratic leaders of opposition in the People's Republic of Poland. Kuroń was a prominent Polish social and political figure; educator and historian; an activist of the Polish Scouting Association; co-founder of the Workers' Defence Committee; twice a Minister of...

. During secondary school, the Walter’s Troop was banned, and he began to participate at meetings of Klub Krzywego Koła (Club of the Crooked Circle). After its closing in 1962, with the encouragement from Jan Józef Lipski
Jan Józef Lipski
Jan Józef Lipski was a Polish critic and literature historian, socialist politician, and notable Freemason . As a soldier of the Home Army , he fought in the Warsaw Uprising...

 and under Adam Schaff’s protection, he founded a discussion club Hunters of Contradiction Club (Klub Poszukiwaczy Sprzeczności). Disappointed with life in the People's Republic of Poland, young people were discussing ways to change it. They read and analyzed the classical texts of leftist thinkers.

In 1964 he began studying history at Warsaw University. A year later he was suspended because he disseminated an open letter to the members of Polish United Workers' Party
Polish United Workers' Party
The Polish United Workers' Party was the Communist party which governed the People's Republic of Poland from 1948 to 1989. Ideologically it was based on the theories of Marxism-Leninism.- The Party's Program and Goals :...

 (PZPR) among his school mates. Its authors, Jacek Kuroń
Jacek Kuron
Jacek Jan Kuroń was one of the democratic leaders of opposition in the People's Republic of Poland. Kuroń was a prominent Polish social and political figure; educator and historian; an activist of the Polish Scouting Association; co-founder of the Workers' Defence Committee; twice a Minister of...

 and Karol Modzelewski
Karol Modzelewski
Karol Modzelewski is a Polish historian, writer and politician.He is the adopted son of Zygmunt Modzelewski. Professor at the University of Wroclaw and the University of Warsaw, he was a member of the Polish United Workers Party but was expelled from it in 1964 for opposition to some policies of...

 appealed to begin repairing the political system in Poland. In 1966 he was suspended for the second time for organizing a discussion meeting with Leszek Kołakowski, who was expelled from the PZPR several weeks earlier, for criticizing its leaders.
In 1965, the PZPR forbade his texts to be printed. Since that time he was writing under a pseudonym to several newspapers, for example: “Życie Gospodarcze”, Więź”, “Literatura”.

In March 1968 he was expelled from the University for his activities during 1968 Polish political crisis, that began after censors forbade an adaptation of Mickiewicz’s “Dziady
Dziady was an ancient Slavic feast to commemorate the dead. Literally, the word is translated as "Grandfathers". It was held twice every year . During the feast the ancient Slavs organized libations and ritual meals...

” to be performed in the National Theatre. He was arrested, and sentenced to three years imprisonment for his “acts of hooliganism”, chiefly for his participation in the March Events.
In 1969, he was released from prison under an amnesty, but he was forbidden to continue his studies. Not until the middle of the 1970s was he allowed to continue his studies of history, which he finished at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...



After he was released from prison, he worked for two years as a welder at the Róża Luxemburg (Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

) Industrial Plant and then, on the recommendation of Jacek Kuroń
Jacek Kuron
Jacek Jan Kuroń was one of the democratic leaders of opposition in the People's Republic of Poland. Kuroń was a prominent Polish social and political figure; educator and historian; an activist of the Polish Scouting Association; co-founder of the Workers' Defence Committee; twice a Minister of...

, he became private secretary to Antoni Słonimski.

In 1976–77 he lived in Paris. After he returned to Poland, he got involved in the activity of Workers' Defence Committee
Workers' Defence Committee
The Workers’ Defense Committee was a Polish civil society group that emerged under communist rule to give aid to prisoners & their families after the June 1976 protests & government crackdown...

 (KOR), which had already existed for a couple of months. It was one of the best known opposition organizations of the '70s. He became one of the most active opposition activists and also one of the supporters of the Society for Educational Courses (Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych).

Between 1977 and 1989, he was the editor or co-editor of underground newspapers published illegally, samizdat
Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader...

: „Biuletyn Informacyjny
Biuletyn Informacyjny
Biuletyn Informacyjny was a Polish weekly published covertly in occupied Poland during World War II.It was started in November 1939 in Warsaw as the main press release of the SZP, the first underground resistance organisation in Poland. Soon it was taken over by the Armia Krajowa and the Bureau of...

”, „Zapis”, „Krytyka”. He was also a member of the management of one of the biggest underground publishers: NOWa.

In years 1980–1989 he was an adviser to both the Independent Self-governing trade union "Solidarity" (NSZZ „Solidarność”) in the Mazovia Region and to Foundry Workers Committee of “Solidarity”.

When martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 was declared, in December 1981, he was at first an internee, but when he refused to sign, a ”loyalty oath” and assent to voluntarily leave the country, he was jailed and accused of an “attempt to overthrow socialism”. He was in jail without a verdict until 1984, because the prosecutor’s office prolonged the trial on purpose.

Adam Michnik demanded to end proceedings against himself or have his case dismissed. Meanwhile, he wanted to be granted the status of a political prisoner, and went on a hunger strike in jail. In 1984 he was released from jail, under an amnesty.

He took part in an attempt to organize a strike in the Gdańsk shipyard. As a consequence, he was rearrested in 1985 and this time sentenced to three years imprisonment. He was released in the following year again under another amnesty.

Activity since 1989

In 1988 he became an adviser of Lech Wałęsa
Lech Wałęsa
Lech Wałęsa is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity , the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 95.Wałęsa was an electrician...

’s informal Coordination Committee, and later he became a member of the Solidarity Citizens' Committee
Solidarity Citizens' Committee
The Solidarity Citizens' Committee , also known as "Citizens' Electoral Committee" , previously named "Citizens' Committee with Lech Wałęsa" was an legal political organisation of the democratic opposition in communist Poland...

. He took an active part in planning and preliminary negotiations for the Round Table Talks
Polish Round Table Agreement
The Polish Round Table Talks took place in Warsaw, Poland from February 6 to April 4, 1989. The government initiated the discussion with the banned trade union Solidarność and other opposition groups in an attempt to defuse growing social unrest.-History:...

 in 1989, in which he also participated.
Adam Michnik inspired and collaborated with the editors of the Ulam Quarterly prior to 1989 that journal pioneered the World Wide Web in the USA.

After the Round Table Talks, Lech Wałęsa told him to organize a big Polish national daily, which was supposed to be an ‘organ’ of the Solidarity Citizens' Committee, before the upcoming elections. This newspaper, under the Round Table agreement, was Gazeta Wyborcza
Gazeta Wyborcza
Gazeta Wyborcza is a leading Polish newspaper. It covers the gamut of political, international and general news. Like all the Polish newspapers, it is printed on compact-sized paper, and is published by the multimedia corporation Agora SA...

("Election Newspaper"), because it was supposed to appear till the end of the parliamentary election in 1989. After organizing this newspaper on the basis of journalists who worked in the „Biuletyn Informacyjny”, Adam Michnik became its editor-in-chief.

In the elections to the Contract Sejm
Contract Sejm
Contract Sejm is a term commonly applied to the Polish Parliament elected in the Polish parliamentary elections of 1989. The contract refers to an agreement reached by the Communist Party and the Solidarity movement during the Polish Round Table Agreement. The final agreement was signed on April...

 on 4 June 1989 he became a Member of Parliament from Lech Wałęsa’s Solidarity Citizens' Committee electoral register, as a candidate for the city of Bytom
Bytom is a city in Silesia in southern Poland, near Katowice. The central-western district of the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Union - metropolis with the population of 2 millions. Bytom is located in the Silesian Highlands, on the Bytomka river .The city belongs to the Silesian Voivodeship since...


Between 12 April and 27 June 1990 Michnik together with Bogdan Kroll, director of the central archive Archiwum Akt Nowych, and historians Andrzej Ajnenkiel
Andrzej Ajnenkiel
Andrzej Ajnenkiel is a Polish historian. He specializes in the political history of Poland and the history of Polish law, especially constitutional law....

 and Jerzy Holzer
Jerzy Holzer
Prof. dr hab. Jerzy Stanisław Holzer is a Polish historian. He specializes in the Polish history, German history, and the Polish-German relations....

 had access to the archives of the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs (MSW). This group was called “Michnik’s Committee” and was brought into being by an initiative of the historian Henryk Samsonowicz
Henryk Samsonowicz
Henryk Bohdan Samsonowicz is a Polish historian specializing in medieval Poland, prolific writer, and professor of the University of Warsaw...

. The result of three months' work was a short official report which stated that archives are incomplete.
Both as a Member of Parliament and as editor of Gazeta Wyborcza
Gazeta Wyborcza
Gazeta Wyborcza is a leading Polish newspaper. It covers the gamut of political, international and general news. Like all the Polish newspapers, it is printed on compact-sized paper, and is published by the multimedia corporation Agora SA...

he actively supported Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Tadeusz Mazowiecki is a Polish author, journalist, philanthropist and Christian-democratic politician, formerly one of the leaders of the Solidarity movement, and the first non-communist prime minister in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.-Biography:Mazowiecki comes from a Polish...

’s government and his candidature in the presidential election campaign
Polish presidential election, 1990
The 1990 Presidential elections were held in Poland on Sunday, November 25 , and Sunday, December 9 . These were the first direct presidential elections in the history of Poland. Before World War II, presidents were elected by the Sejm, but the Sejm was abolished in 1952. The leader of the...

 against Lech Wałęsa in 1990. After the breakup of the Citizens’ Committee and Mazowiecki's failure, Michnik withdrew from his direct involvement in politics and did not run for a seat in the next parliamentary election
Polish parliamentary election, 1991
The Polish parliamentary election in 1991 to the Sejm and the Senate of Poland was held on October 27. In the Sejm elections, 27,517,280 citizens were eligible to vote, 11,887,949 of them cast their votes, 11,218,602 of those were counted as valid. In the Senate elections, 43.2% of citizens cast...

, instead focusing on editorial and journalistic activities. Under his leadership, Gazeta Wyborcza was converted into a widely read and influential daily newspaper in Poland. On the basis of Gazeta Wyborcza assets Agora SA
Agora SA
Agora Spółka Akcyjna or Agora SA is a Polish media company.It is owner or co-owner of:* a national daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza,* a daily called Metro in several large Polish cities,* 3 regional weeklies,...

 partnership came into existence. Currently (in May 2004) it is one of the biggest media concerns in Poland, administrating 11 titles monthly issued, portal, outdoor advertising AMS, and shares in several radio stations. Adam Michnik does not have any shares in Agora and does not hold any office headship, excluding head editor, which is unusual in economic field in Poland. Michnik’s shares are kept by Agora.

Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki in his expose in September 1989 used a term broad-stroke policy which began new so-called broad-stroke attitude to political history of the most recent past. He is proponent and advocate of this term. In Gazeta Wyborcza he used his personal influence to protect General Wojciech Jaruzelski
Wojciech Jaruzelski
Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski is a retired Polish military officer and Communist politician. He was the last Communist leader of Poland from 1981 to 1989, Prime Minister from 1981 to 1985 and the country's head of state from 1985 to 1990. He was also the last commander-in-chief of the Polish People's...

 and General Czesław Kiszczak from the social- political- judicial cleansing campaign that refers to different periods when they held party and civil functions in People’s Republic of Poland (PRL). He postulated for quick and efficient adjudication of brought penal actions and to stop press battle. Crucial role played a famous interview “Pożegnanie z bronią. Adam Michnik- Czesław Kiszczak.” by Agnieszka Kublik and Monika Olejnik
Monika Olejnik
Monika Olejnik is a Polish radio, newspaper and TV journalist.She studied zoology at Warsaw University of Life Sciences. First she worked in Polish Radio I in a programme for farmers....

 which was published in Gazeta Wyborcza on 3 February 2001.

On 27 December 2002 Adam Michnik and Paweł Smoleński made so-called “Rywin affair
Rywin affair
The Rywin affair was a corruption scandal in Poland, which began in late 2002 while the post communist government of the SLD was in power...

” public and the inner history was supposed to be solved by specially called select committee.

In autumn 2004 due to health problems (he suffered from tuberculosis) he resigned from active participation in editing Gazeta Wyborcza and passed his duties to editorial colleague Helena Łuczywo.

On the anniversary of the introduction of martial law, on 13 December 2005, Michnik delivered exposition at the University of Warsaw (article published in "Gazeta Wyborcza") in which he appealed to president Lech Kaczyński
Lech Kaczynski
Lech Aleksander Kaczyński was Polish lawyer and politician who served as the President of Poland from 2005 until 2010 and as Mayor of Warsaw from 2002 until 22 December 2005. Before he became a president, he was also a member of the party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość...

 for statutory abolition for those who were responsible for the martial law. The article was a response to information about instituting an inquiry by Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance — Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives and prosecution powers founded by specific legislation. It specialises in the legal and historical sciences and...

 (IPN) against General Jaruzelski. Michnik appealed about abolition even earlier- in 1991 (during the exposition on Faculty of Law at University of Maria Curie- Skłodowska in Lublin (UMCS), "Gazeta w Lublinie" 11 December 1991) and also in 2001 in the article "Stan wojenny 20 lat później" ("Gazeta Wyborcza" 12 December 2001).

In October 2006 recordings of conversations (that took place in September 2006) between Michnik and a well known businessman Aleksander Gudzowaty
Aleksander Gudzowaty
Aleksander Gudzowaty is a Polish businessman and economist, one of the most richest Polish people.- Biography :...

 have been revealed. The conversations have been recorded surreptitiously unbeknown to both participants by Gudzowaty’s security. The businessman has accused journalists of Gazeta Wyborcza of being economical with the truth in their articles describing enterprises of Aleksander Gudzowaty and his company “Bartimpex” in the power industry. The criticism concerned mainly Andrzej Kublik and Witold Gadomski.

The case of revealed conversations arouse controversy among some journalists, mostly stemming form the vulgar language used by both interlocutors, from the announcements made by Michnik concerning punishing the two reporters pointed out by Gudzowaty and revealing that the information of Gazeta Wyborcza came for the secret service. Some journalists, including those fromf Gazeta Wyborcza sprung to Michnik's defence saying that they did not find the recorded conversations offensive.
Adam Michnik in his commentary in Gazeta Wyborcza
Gazeta Wyborcza
Gazeta Wyborcza is a leading Polish newspaper. It covers the gamut of political, international and general news. Like all the Polish newspapers, it is printed on compact-sized paper, and is published by the multimedia corporation Agora SA...

 criticized the method used to reveal the tapes and compared it to the methods used by KGB. He also denied alleged work of Gazeta Wyborcza for the secret service and its participation in the conspiracy aimed at Aleksander Gudzowaty
Aleksander Gudzowaty
Aleksander Gudzowaty is a Polish businessman and economist, one of the most richest Polish people.- Biography :...

. Both the columnists of Gazeta Wyborcza and some other journalists claim that the case of “Gudzowaty’s tapes” is exaggerated. According to others it was revealed on purpose, to cover another scandal, that is the revealing of Renata Beger
Renata Beger
Renata Beger is a Polish politician, a prominent member of the populist political party Samoobrona and a member of the Sejm between 2001 and 2007....

’s recordings.

He is a member of Association of Polish Writers and Council on Foreign Relations
Council on Foreign Relations
The Council on Foreign Relations is an American nonprofit nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs...


Awards and distinctions

  • Polcul Foundation Award(1980)
  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
    The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was created by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial in 1984 to honour individuals around the world who show courage and have made a significant contribution to human rights in their country....

  • Cena Pelikán 2007 (Czech Republic, Listy)
  • Prize winner of Prix de la Liberte of the French PEN-Club (1988)
  • Europe’s Man of the Year (1989) – prize awarded by the magazine La Vie
  • Shofar Award (1991) – prize awarded by National Jewish Committee on Scouting
  • The prize of the Association of European Journalists (1995)
  • Imre Nagy
    Imre Nagy
    Imre Nagy was a Hungarian communist politician who was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary on two occasions...

    ’s medal
  • OSCE Prize for Democracy and Journalism (May 1996)
  • Order of Bernardo O’Higgins (Chile, 1998)
  • One of 50 people on the list of ”50 Press Freedom Heroes” by the International Press Institute
    International Press Institute
    International Press Institute is a global organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of press freedom and the improvement of journalism practices. Founded in October 1950, the IPI has members in over 120 countries....

  • Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2001)
  • Erasmus Prize
    Erasmus Prize
    The Erasmus Prize is an annual prize awarded by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, a Dutch non-profit organization, to individuals or institutions that have made notable contributions to European culture, society, or social science. The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation was founded on 23 June 1958 by...

     (Netherlands, 2001)
  • PhD Honoris Causa in New School for Social Research, University of Minnesota
    University of Minnesota
    The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system and has the fourth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 52,557...

    , Connecticut College, University of Michigan
    University of Michigan
    The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

  • Chevalier of the Legion of Honor ( France, 2003)
  • Listed by “Financial Times
    Financial Times
    The Financial Times is an international business newspaper. It is a morning daily newspaper published in London and printed in 24 cities around the world. Its primary rival is the Wall Street Journal, published in New York City....

    ” as one of the 20 most influential journalists in the world.
  • Professor of Kiev-Mohylan Academy; 1 September 2006.
  • Dan David Prize
    Dan David Prize
    The Dan David Prize annually awards 3 prizes of $1 million each awarded by the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in the fields of science, technology, culture or social welfare. There are three prize categories - past, present and...

     award 2006
  • Patron of the Media Legal Defence Initiative
    Media Legal Defence Initiative
    The Media Legal Defence Initiative is a non-governmental organization established in 2008 to provide legal assistance to journalists and news media organizations, support training in media law and promote the exchange of information, litigation tools and strategies for lawyers working on media...

  • PhD Honoris Causa Charles University, Prague (Czech Republic)
  • 2010 Recipient of the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award
    Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award
    The Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award is given annually to people who have dedicated their lives to public service. It was established in 2000 by the Prague Society for International Cooperation and the Global Panel Foundation and is named in honor of the Prague Society's President Marc S....

  • Goethe Medal
    Goethe Medal
    The Goethe Medal, also known as the Goethe-Medaille, is a yearly prize given by the Goethe Institute honoring non-Germans for meritorious contributions in the spirit of the Institute. It is an official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany....



  • Letters from Freedom: Post-Cold War Realities and Perspectives, translated by Jane Cave, 1998. (ISBN 0-520-21759-4)
  • Church and the Left, (David Ost, editor), 1992. (ISBN 0-226-52424-8)
  • Letters from Prison and Other Essays, translated by Maya Latynski, 1986. (ISBN 0-520-05371-0)



  • “An Open Letter to International Public Opinion”. Telos 54 (Winter 1982–83). New York: Telos Press.

External links

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