Adam Michnik is Editor in Chief of the Warsaw daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. His newest book is The Trouble With History: Morality, Revolution, and Counterrevolution.

Stendhal’s Grudge

Georges Danton; drawing by David Levine

Julien Sorel’s grudge bred that peculiar amalgamation that was the tragic experience of all the revolutions of the twentieth century. A begrudged rebellion and the need for vengeance changed a rebel into an executioner—the heirs of Robespierre and Danton, Julien Sorel and Auguste Blanqui, taught us that. We listen very carefully to the words of the rebels who wish to turn everything upside down. And we closely watch their hands. We know all the sins and villainies of this world of ours. Sometimes Stendhalian fury grips us.

On Andrei Sakharov

Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, Moscow, March 1987
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov—there was the man and there is what he accomplished. I saw the man only once in my life—on October 16, 1989, almost two months before he died in December of that year. That is why I will speak about what he did.

After the Smolensk Crash: “A New Community” of Poland and Russia?

Following is a special appeal by Adam Michnik, the editor in chief of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, concerning the April 10 plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, in which Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and dozens of senior members of the Polish government and military perished. The 94-member Polish delegation was coming to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyń massacre, in which 22,000 Polish military officers were murdered by Soviet security forces. The massacre was named after one of the places in which it happened, the forest of Katyń, close to Smolensk. For many years, the Soviet leadership assigned blame for this crime to the Nazis and, until the recent tragedy, the leaders of post-communist Russia have been reluctant to acknowledge Russia’s responsibility for the killings. —Irena Gross

On the Side of Geremek

The following is based on the speech given by Adam Michnik at the funeral of the historian Bronislaw Geremek, an early adviser of the Solidarity movement and former foreign minister of Poland, who died in a car accident on July 13 at the age of seventy-six. In the face of …

After Five Years

The Iraq war deeply divided democratic public opinion all over the world. It divided the community of former dissidents of Eastern Europe, too, including the authors of this text. Adam Michnik supported the invasion while János Kis opposed it. We have been united in the struggle against Communist totalitarianism. In …

The Polish Witch-Hunt

Recently, the Polish government attempted to strip Bronisław Geremek of his seat in the European Parliament, to which he had been elected in 2004. The Parliament immediately voted to condemn the Polish government’s action. One of Poland’s most distinguished public figures, Geremek was a leader of Solidarity and a former …

A Death in St. Petersburg

Speaking at the grave of Galina Starovoitova after she was murdered in St. Petersburg on November 20, one of the Russian mourners recalled that terrorism in Russia is nothing new. But the nineteenth-century terrorists, so perspicaciously depicted by Dostoevsky in The Possessed, terrible as they were, had a certain ethics: …

On Zbigniew Herbert (1924–1998)

He marked his epoch. He was a powerful essayist, an author of remarkable plays, and a poet of genius. He created his own language, a language of humble heroism, of self-ironic courage, and of romanticism—the romanticism of a soul that cherishes the classical canon of beauty, the European way of …

An Embarrassing Anniversary

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the events of 1968 raises troubling questions. What was the Prague Spring? A moment of liberation or the result of Communist intrigue? A reform aimed at destroying the Communist dictatorship or a masquerade staged to save it? And who were the people responsible for the Prague …

An Appeal

To our Governments and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations The world must take action to bring the war in former Yugoslavia to an end. Two and a half million people have been driven from their homes in a program of “ethnic cleansing.” Thousands of civilians have been massacred.

Poland and the Jews

The following was given as an address by Mr. Michnik in April at Central Synagogue in New York on receiving the Shofar Award “for leadership on behalf of justice, equality and commitment to the rights of the individual according to the finest tradition of Judaism and the Jewish people.” I …

My Vote Against Walesa

The following was written before the Polish election in December. It first appeared in the Warsaw daily paper Gazeta Wyborcza, of which Adam Michnik is editor-in-chief. This is a strictly personal reflection. I feel obliged to publish it for the sake of all those who do not understand what has …

The Two Faces of Europe

A French friend said to me two years ago that there were two ways for Poland to emerge from its appalling crisis. The first would be through common sense: a miracle would happen and angels would descend to free Poland from communism. The second would be through a miracle: the …

Letter from the Gdansk Prison

Adam Michnik, one of the best-known leaders of the opposition in Poland, was sentenced on June 14 to two and a half years in prison. Two other Solidarity leaders, Bogdan Lis and Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, were sentenced along with him. The three men were arrested in February after attending a meeting …

In Investigation Prison

The historian Adam Michnik was one of the most active members of KOR—the Workers’ Defense Committee—and during 1980 and 1981 was an adviser to Solidarity in Warsaw. Of his many important publications, the best known are The Church, The Left, A Dialogue, and Letters from Bialoleka. He was arrested on …

The Polish Resistance

What has characterized the situation in Poland over the past year is not so much the country’s grave economic crisis as the increasingly clearer manifestations of the resistance of society against the arbitrary behavior of the authorities. Having arisen and developed from different roots, this resistance is gradually taking on …