Polish President Lech Kaczynski died April 10 in a plane crash in Russia

Date: 
04/13/2010
PolishPresandwife

President Kaczynski and his wife as pictured on the President's official website

Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 95 others including dozens of top government officials were killed in a 20-year-old Russian plane that had been recently refurbished. Russian Air Control had advised the planes experienced pilots 3 or 4 times to not land but divert to Minsk due to extreme dense fog but they attempted to land anyway at Smolenski Airport and apparently the plane broke up after hitting trees on it's decent. President Kaczynski and his wife were traveling as part of a delegation to take part in a commemoration of the 1940 Russian Katyn Forest massacre of thousands of Poles.

Kaczynski and his brother-his elder by 45 minutes-were born in June of 1949 in Żoliborz, Warsaw; son of Rajmund and Jadwiga Kaczynski. Their engineer-father was a World War II resistance fighter and their mother was a war nurse who later went on to earn a PhD in literature and taught at the Polish Academy of Sciences. As a child, Lech starred in a 1962 Polish film, The Two Who Stole the Moon (Polish title O dwóch takich, co ukradli księżyc) with his twin brother Jarosław.

Lech Kaczynski was a graduate of law and administration of Warsaw University. In 1980 he was awarded his PhD by Gdansk University. He later assumed professorial positions at Gdansk University and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Kaczynski brothers were activists in the anti-communist opposition and went on to serve as advisers to Solidarity founder Lech Walesa.

In 1978 he was married to Maria Kaczynski, an economist. They had a daughter, Marta, who earned a law degree from Warsaw University and a PhD from Gdansk University. Kaczynski served as Poland's justice minister in 2000-2001. In 2002, Lech Kaczynski was elected the mayor of Warsaw by a large margin. In October of 2005, Lech Kaczynski became Poland's third elected president since the end of its Communist era.

As stated in the AP 2010 article, in Kaczynski 2005 campaign, he made clean government a key pledge - a promise that resonated after a string of corruption scandals that saw ex-communists swept from power.

"Our country needs renewal, the renewal of public life," Kaczynski said.

In 2008, as a friend of Poland's Jewish community Kaczynski became the first head of state to attend a religious service at a synagogue in Poland. As mayor, he promoted a planned museum on Jewish history by donating city land to the project.

The Polish President was planning on visiting the Chicago Polish Museum of America on May 1, 2010. Maria Ciesla, President of Polish Museum of America expressed her grief to Our Urban Times stating, "Our sympathies are with the Kaczynski family and the families of all those killed in the plane crash. This tragic event is a personal loss for The Polish Museum of America. Many of the people who were killed visited with the Museum officials and staff in preparation for a visit of President Lech Kaczynski on May 1. May they rest in peace."

Kaczynski was killed along with wife, Maria. The couple's daughter, Marta; two granddaughters, Ewa and Martyna; his twin brother, Jaroslaw; and the twins' mother, Jadwiga, survive him.

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