To many Poles, Lech Kaczynski, who has died in a plane crash at the age of 60, was the epitome of steadfastness. He was a dedicated Catholic and staunch advocate of moral clarity in public life.
But to others, his socially conservative opinions were out of step with a modern Poland.
It was acting where he first found fame, when as a child he starred with his twin brother Jaroslaw in a popular film, “The Two Who Stole The Moon.”
But it was not acting that became his true vocation. Living under the repressive system of communism, Kaczynski decided to devote his life to politics by joining the ranks of the democratic opposition. He completed his higher education at the faculty of law and administration at the University of Warsaw and defended his doctoral dissertation in labor law in 1980.
When in December 1981 the communist regime declared martial law to crack down on the pro-democracy movement, Kaczynski was among those interned for his involvement in the Solidarity organization, where he served as an adviser to a strike committee. He spent almost one year in an internment camp.
As soon as he was released, he returned to Solidarity and resumed his underground struggle against the draconian restrictions on civil liberties.
In 1989, Kaczynski participated in the peaceful negotiations between the weakening regime and the democratic opposition known as “the round table talks,” which eventually triggered the slow demise of the communist system.
Overview of the Solidarity union in Poland