Adam Michnik (Polish pronunciation: [ˈadam ˈmixɲik]; born 17 October 1946 ) is a historian, essayist, former dissident, public intellectual, and the editor-in-chief of Poland's largest newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. Brought up in a family of convinced communists, Michnik was one of the most relentless opponents of the communist regime, while remaining faithful to the left-wing ethos. A legendary figure of the Polish anti-communist oppostion, he was imprisoned, first, after the 1968 March Events, then, after the imposition of the Martial Law in 1981. Michnik also played a crucial role during the Polish Round Table Talks, as a result of which the communists conceded to call elections, which were subsequently won by Solidarity. Even though he has withdrawn from active politics he has "maintained an influential voice through journalism". He is a laureate of many awards and honors, including a Knight of the Legion of Honour and European of the Year.
Adam Michnik was born in Warsaw, Poland, to a family of Jewish communists. His father, Ozjasz (Uzziah) Szechter, was the first secretary of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine and his mother, Helena (Hinda) (née Michnik), a historian, communist activist and children's book writer. His half brother (on mother's side), Stefan Michnik, was a judge in the 1950s during the Stalinist period and is accused of passing death sentences on Polish resistance movement soldiers. He was forced to emigrate after March 1968; from then on, he supported the anti-communist civil resistance. His half brother (on father's side), Jerzy Michnik (b. 1929), after 1957 settled in Israel and then in New York.
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Famous KOR leader. While attending primary school, he was an active member of Walter’s Troop in Polish Scouting Association (ZHP), which was led by Jacek Kuroń. 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 and under Adam Schaff’s protection, he founded a discussion group, "Contradiction Hunters Club" (Klub Poszukiwaczy Sprzeczności) and became associated with the left wing student oppositionist group, the Komandosi. 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 (PZPR) among his school mates. Its authors, Jacek Kuroń and Karol Modzelewski appealed for a beginning of reforms which would repair the political system in Poland. In 1965, the PZPR forbade his texts to be printed. 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. Since that time he wrote 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. The crisis was ignited by the ban of Kazimierz Dejmek's adaptation of Adam Mickiewicz’s “Dziady” (Forefathers' Eve) in the National Theatre. The play contained many anti-Russian allusions, which were greeted with enthusiastic applause by the audience. Michnik and another student, Henryk Szlajfer, recounted the sitation to a correspondent of Le Monde, "whose report was then carried on Radio Free Europe". Both Michnik and Szlajfer were expelled from the university. Upon their expulsion, students organized demonstrations, which were brutally suppressed by the riot police and "worker-squads".
Władysław Gomułka used Michnik's Jewish background to wage an anti-Semitic capaign, blaming the Jews for the crisis. Michnik was arrested and sentenced to three years imprisonment for “acts of hooliganism”.
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.
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After he was released from prison, he worked for two years as a welder at the Róża Luxemburg (Rosa Luxemburg) Industrial Plant and then, on the recommendation of Jacek Kuroń, 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 (KOR), which had already existed for a couple of months. It was one of the best known opposition organizations of the 1970s. 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: „Biuletyn Informacyjny”, „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 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 
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In 1988 he became an adviser of Lech Wałęsa’s informal Coordination Committee, and later he became a member of the Solidarity Citizens' Committee. He took an active part in planning and preliminary negotiations for the Round Table Talks 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 ("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.
Between 12 April and 27 June 1990 Michnik together with Bogdan Kroll, director of the central archive Archiwum Akt Nowych, and historians Andrzej Ajnenkiel and Jerzy Holzer 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. 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 he actively supported Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s government and his candidature in the presidential election campaign 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, 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 partnership came into existence. Currently (in May 2004) it is one of the biggest media concerns in Poland, administrating 11 titles monthly issued, portal gazeta.pl, 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 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 which was published in Gazeta Wyborcza on 3 February 2001.
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 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 (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).
He is a member of Association of Polish Writers and Council on Foreign Relations.
Awards and distinctions 
- Polcul Foundation Award(1980)
- Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award(1986)
- 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’s medal
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Prize for Democracy and Journalism (May 1996)
- Order of Bernardo O'Higgins (1998)
- One of 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the International Press Institute
- Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2001)
- Erasmus Prize (Netherlands, 2001)
- PhD Honoris Causa in New School for Social Research, University of Minnesota, Connecticut College, University of Michigan
- Chevalier of the Legion of Honor (France, 2003)
- Listed by Financial Times as one of the 20 most influential journalists in the world.
- Professor of Kiev-Mohylan Academy; 1 September 2006.
- Dan David Prize award 2006
- Patron of the Media Legal Defence Initiative
- PhD Honoris Causa Charles University, Prague (Czech Republic)
- 2010 Recipient of the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award
- Goethe Medal (2011)
- 2012 PhD Honoris Causa Klaipėda University, Klaipėda(Lithuania),2012
- 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)
- What was the nationality of the stuffed teddy bear the reaction of Adam Michnik to the accusations towards Andrzej Wajda's Katyn in the French Le Monde, April 2008, originally published in Gazeta Wyborcza, English translation by * salon.eu.sk
- A Miracle a column about Czechoslovakia, published as a part of the * Czechoslovakian dossier, a special project of the Czechoslovakian Bridges Association and * salon.eu.sk
- After the Velvet, an Existential Revolution? a dialogue between Adam Michnik and Václav Havel, English, originally published in Gazeta Wyborcza, November 2008
- "The Polish Witch-Hunt" The New York Review of Books 54/11 (28 June 2007) : 25–26
- “An Open Letter to International Public Opinion”. Telos 54 (Winter 1982–83). New York: Telos Press.
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- Judt, Tony, Postwar; A History of Europe since 1945, p.694
- His father was a Jew and communist activist. His mother was also a communist activist Pacholczykowa, Alicja (2010-2011). "Ozjasz Szechter". Polski Słownik Biograficzny 47. Polska Akademia Nauk & Polska Akademia Umiejętności. p. 585.
- Pacholczykowa, Alicja (2010-2011). "Ozjasz Szechter". Polski Słownik Biograficzny 47. Polska Akademia Nauk & Polska Akademia Umiejętności. p. 585.
- Judt, Tony, Postwar; A History of Europe since 1945, p.433
- "World Press Freedom Heroes: Symbols of courage in global journalism". International Press Institute. 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Adam Michnik|
- "Mr. Cogito's Duels – Zbigniew Herbert's views on Adam Michnik"
- From Solidarity to Democracy by Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal, 7 November 2009 (Vol. CCLIV, Iss. 110, pg. A15)
- Demenet, Philippe. "Adam Michnik: The Sisyphus of democracy", interview, Unesco Courier, September 2001. Retrieved 4 February 2006
- Cushman, Thomas. "Anti-totalitarianism as a Vocation: An Interview with Adam Michnik", Dissent Magazine, Spring 2004. Retrieved 4 February 2006
- Tennant, Agnieszka. "Why Adam Michnik is Afraid of Theocracy: Confessions of a Democrat-Skeptic", Books and Culture magazine, 20 November 2006. Retrieved 26 November 2006
- Dan David Prize laureate 2006