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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » November 19, 2008
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Last Communist Party Leader Dies
November 19, 2008   
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Mieczysław Rakowski, the last First Secretary of the now-defunct Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) and the last prime minister of communist Poland, died in a Warsaw hospital Nov. 8 at the age of 82 after losing a long battle with cancer.

In 1958-1982 Rakowski was editor-in-chief of popular newsweekly Polityka. He was considered to be one of the most reform-minded and liberal members of the communist party.

After 1989 Rakowski published a 10-volume collection of memoirs describing political life from 1958 to 1990. He stopped taking an active part in politics, becoming a rank-and-file member of the PZPR's successor, the Polish Social Democratic Party (SdRP). He was also editor-in-chief of Dzi¶ monthly, wrote for Trybuna and Gazeta Wyborcza dailies, and for a few years hosted a program on public television TVP.

"Rakowski was an extremely important figure not only in Polish politics but also in the country's life for several decades, and a person with huge achievements," said former President Aleksander Kwa¶niewski. "He was a man of great intelligence, huge commitment to Poland's national interests, regardless of their ideological dimension, and a man who supported Polish-German reconciliation. He created an outstanding newspaper that shaped generations of people who thought about Poland in a modern, common-sense kind of way. He deserves to be well remembered and honestly recalled," Kwa¶niewski added, calling Rakowski "a man of the left in a very European dimension."
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