Lech Kaczyński


18 June 1949
Lech Kaczyński is born

Lech Kaczyński is born

Lech Kaczyński was born on 18 June 1949, 45 minutes after his brother Jarosław. The twins first time saw the world in their family house in the…

Poland Anno Domini 1949

The Kaczyńskis' home was filled with unadulterated joy after the arrival of the twin brothers, but the country had just slipped into the bleak postwar period of increased Stalinist terror. At the conference in Teheran (1943) and Yalta (1945), President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill agreed to the countries…
Family home and its traditions

Family home and its traditions

Jadwiga i Rajmund Kaczyński first met in 1947 during a carnival party at Warsaw Technical University. She was a first-year student of Polish at the…


The brothers received a well-rounded education. Jadwiga Kaczyńska spared no effort or free time to ensure that. She told them stories, read books…
Movie adventure

Movie adventure

Lech and Jarosław Kaczyński became public figures long before they turned well-known politicians. And it was by a sheer accident. Their uncle,…


That Leszek and Jarek starred in a motion picture was neither the only nor the most noteworthy consequence of the fact that they were born as…

High school

After seven years at elementary school, the brothers started high school. They chose to attend Joachim Lelewel High School in Warsaw. Initially, the brothers were in the same class but were separated when the class was divided into smaller units. A major change occurred after the tenth grade (former equivalent of…
25 November 1967


At the end of 1967, Lech Kaczyński and his friend went to the National Theatre to see Dziady (Forefathers' Eve) directed by Kazimierz Dejmek. The staging of Adam Mickiewicz's drama by Dejmek was intended to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. The drama was premièred on 25 November. The…
8 March 1968

March 1968

On Friday, 8 March 1968, the first-year law students enjoyed their day off. However, Jarosław, Lech and their colleague Wojciech Jasiński went to the campus. At noon, they were already standing before the building of the then Warsaw University Library, listening to consecutive speakers delivering their resolutions.…

Professor Ehrlich

For Lech and Jarosław, the 1968 March rallies, demonstrations and "head-to-head" encounters were the source of intense and first-hand experience (the brothers were not even stopped by their mother hiding their shoelaces to prevent them from going out); but March 1968 in a broader sense, taking into account the…
November 1971

Moving to Sopot

After graduation, Lech and Jarosław Kaczyński faced the question of what to do next. To pursue the academic career under the supervision of Prof. Ehrlich, who had fallen out of favour with the PZPR, was no longer possible; so, the young, newly-graduated lawyers began to seek employment outside the university, which…

Memory of December 1970

Tri-City of the time was mainly associated with the 1970 bloodshed during the workers' protests. The immediate cause of the workers taking to the streets was a dramatic surge in the prices of many basic goods, especially foodstuffs. The decision on the upping prices was communicated on 12 December in the evening TV…

Scientific work

In early 1972, Lech Kaczyński became a full-time employee of the National Law Institute, Gdańsk University. He started his first tutoring. At the beginning, he taught only one class but the following year he was in charge of three. In the second half of the 1970s, one of Lech's most prominent students was Jolanta…
January 1976
Maria Mackiewicz

Maria Mackiewicz

The lack of own apartment was a curse of millions of Poles. An average young person had a slender chance to own even a one-room flat. It was a…
June 1976

June 1976 events and KOR

The opening of Gierek's Poland to the West corroborated the opinion that the country upon the Vistula river is "the merriest barrack in the socialist camp". In the first half of the 1970s, there was an increase in wages and consumption and the standard of living improved. Poles (at least the better-off) were able to…

Opposition beginnings

Looking back, it seems that in order to become an opposition activist, it was enough to want it and have enough courage to join the ranks of an anti-regime group. In fact, it was not so simple. At least it was not so until the establishment of the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR), which published its members'…

Among the Gdańsk workers' opposition

One day in 1977, a woman fainted at the station of the local railway. Maria and Lech Kaczyński came to her aid. This is how they accidentally met and started a relationship with Róża Jancy-Brzozowska and her husband Janusz. This was a very valuable encounter because of the Jancys' contacts with the anti-communist…
April 1978

Free trade unions or towards August 1980

When Lech Kaczyński returned to Tri-City, he was faced with a fait accompli. The Free Trade Unions of the Coast (Pol. WZZW )were formed on Lech's and Maria's wedding day. The founding declaration was signed by: Andrzej Gwiazda, Antoni Sokołowski and Krzysztof Wyszkowski, the latter being the greatest supporter of…
16 October 1978

Habemus papam!

It was 6:18pm when white smoke poured from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. On the third day of the conclave came the decision, but it was not clear who the new bishop of Rome was. The faithful gathered in the square, in front of TVs and radios, awaited the appearance of the successor of John Paul I on the balcony…
22 June 1980
Marta is born

Marta is born

It was summer 1980. It was the turning point in Polish history and a revolution in the Kaczyńskis' private life. Marta Kaczyńska was born on June…
14 August 1980

Strike in Lenin Shipyard

On 7 August, the management of Lenin Gdańsk Shipyard dismissed on disciplinary grounds a modest yet popular crane operator, Anna Walentynowicz, just 5 months before her retirement. The Free Trade Uunions staged a protest. They circulated a leaflet urging the shipyard staff to defend their colleague; in the meantime,…
31 August 1980

The emergence of Solidarity

What Lech Kaczyński could not imagine even “in his wildest dreams” began to emerge on that same day. An hour after the signing of the Gdańsk Agreement, the small OHS room of the Gdańsk Shipyard became the venue of the first meeting of the Inter-Enterprise Founding Committee of the Independent Trade Union (MKZ),…

16 months of feedom

The time of “first Solidarity” is often referred to as the time of “carnival.” However, that term coined during martial law rather highlighted the gloomy atmosphere of the period than describing the nature of events taking place between August 1980 and December 1981. Indeed, the joy over those 16 months of freedom…
13 December 1981

Martial law

Lech Kaczyński’s Saturday, 12 December 1981, started like any other ordinary day off work. He had scheduled classes with extramural students like on any weekend. His instruction was mostly lecture-like, and he did not take the roll. So, this time he failed to notice that the Security Service officers, who were also…
13 December 1981–17 October 1982


As a result of the operation code-named “Fir”, involving the detention and internment of pre-selected Solidarity activists on the first night of martial law, 3,173 people were put in confinement. The operation, of course, lasted longer and by 22 December the number of internees rose to 5,179. Generally, in December…

Poland under martial law

The response of thousands of Solidarity activists and supporters to the “war on the people” and the crushing of protests was to go underground and form the conspiracy movement. Freedom-minded Poles spontaneously turned to the ready-made patterns of underground “warfare” provided by the tradition of struggle for…

Life in conspiracy

When Lech Kaczyński was back from internment, the opposition activity in the Tri-City was controlled by the Regional Coordinating Committee established at the beginning of May and composed of, among others, Bogdan Lis, Bogdan Borusewicz and Aleksander Hall. Lis was also a member of the Temporary Coordinating…

Towards the breakthrough

On 17 July 1986, the Sejm passed amnesty law, and on 11 September, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Gen. Czesław Kiszczak, requested the Attorney General to release "all persons convicted and imprisoned for crimes against the state and public order." Before 15 September, 225 opposition activists were…
6 February – 5 April 1989
Magdalenka and the Round Table Talks

Magdalenka and the Round Table Talks

The August strikes proved worth the effort. The authorities expressed their readiness to “enter into a dialogue” with Solidarity, which, as a…
4 June 1989
Poles say no to communists

Poles say no to communists

In the June parliamentary election, Lech Kaczyński ran for senator as a Citizens' Committee candidate representing the Gdańsk region. He was lucky…
12 September 1989

First non-communist government

That day the world saw the photo of Tadeusz Mazowiecki inside the Sejm, shortly after being elected prime minister, showing the symbol of victory: fingers raised forming the letter "V", which, as explained by Jerzy Urban, the communist government spokesman during the martial law, does not exist is the Polish…

The Autumn of Nations and collapse of communism

When on 4 June 1989, Poles said "No more!" to the communist rule, the other states of "the leading system" were in intense political ferment. Although that day saw the brutally suppressed student protest in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, but the Soviet bloc was about to dissolve and was not capable of any violent…
December 1989

Between the shock–therapy and procrastination

At the end of December 1989, the Sejm passed a set of ten acts which underlay the so-called Balcerowicz Plan, an economy stabilization programme and a shift towards the free market, masterminded by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz. It was a dogmatic, monetarist shock therapy, generating…
4 May 1990

Leading the union

From 19 to 24 April, Gdańsk hosted the Second National Congress of Solidarity Delegates. Lech Wałęsa was again nominated head of the union. The delegates endorsed the proposal of accelerating the political and economic change, including popular and direct presidential election. On 4 May, the National Commission…
12 May 1990

Centre Agreement

Such a numerous movement as Solidarity must have been internally diversified. The gaps were generally bridged for the sake of unity when the union struggled for survival. But in the time of political offensive, when it emerged as the official opposition, the differences were no longer easy to hide. For example, more…
12 March 1991
National Security Bureau and parting with Wałęsa

National Security Bureau and parting with Wałęsa

Arriving in Warsaw, Lech Kaczyński expected to be appointed minister without portfolio as all top ministerial positions had already been taken.…
23 December 1991 – 4 June 1992

Jan Olszewski's Cabinet

The first free parliamentary election failed to name a true victor. The Democratic Union (UD) polled 62 seats, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) - 60, the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) - 50, the Confederation of Independent Poland (KPN) - 51, the Electoral Catholic Action (mainly Christian National Union - ZChN) -…
from 14 February 1992 to 8 June 1995
President od the Supreme Chamber of Control

President od the Supreme Chamber of Control

On 7 October 1991, Prof. Władysław Pańko, a newly appointed president of the Supreme Chamber of Control, was killed in a mysterious car crash. An…
November 1995

President – the first go

While Lech Kaczyński was transforming the Supreme Chamber of Control into a modern tool of state control, Polish politics was undergoing major changes. The divided centre-right suffered a defeat in the 1993 early parliamentary election. Only the independence-driven Confederation of Independent Poland (KPN) and the…

A break from politics

After being called off from the Supreme Chamber of Control and after a stint as the mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczyński felt that he had just closed another stage in his life and would never go into politics again. The defeat of the Centre Agreement, the party created from scratch together with Jarosław, caused a lot of…
since 14 June 2000

Minister of Justice

When Lech Kaczyński devoted himself to research work, Polish political scene was undergoing a major makeover. In 1997, after four years of post-communist government of the Democratic Left Alliance and the Polish Peasants' Party, the power was back in the hands of Solidarity people. The government was formed by the…
4 July 2001

Political success and dismissal

The popularity of Lech Kaczyński as the minister of justice created the opportunity for his declining ideological group to return to big politics. This opportunity was eagerly seized by Jarosław Kaczyński. He decided to keep going and dissolved the Centre Agreement to establish a new political force – the Law and…
23 September 2001

In the Sejm again

The dismissal did not harm Lech Kaczyński as a politician. He was finally free to devote himself completely to promoting the Law and Justice as the electoral campaign was getting near. The 23 September 2001 election was swept by the post-communist left, gathering as much as 41% of the vote. At the polls, Poles…
Autumn 2002

Struggle for Warsaw mayorship

Adopted on 20 June 2002, the law on direct election of commune leaders and town and city mayors dramatically changed the approach to local election in Warsaw. The mayor was now to be elected by the residents and not the city councillors. Consequently, this very prestigious position needed really good candidates.…
Mayor of Warsaw

Mayor of Warsaw

"What I managed to achieve in the capital back then, I regard as my great success," said Lech Kaczyński a few years after the end of his term as…
27 December 2002

Interested money or Rywin comes to Michnik

This was the title of an article in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily recounting a visit paid by a businessman and film producer, Lew Rywin, to the newspaper editor-in-chief, Adam Michnik. It took place on 22 July 2002. The producer suggested his interlocutor that he was able to arrange for the removal from the bill on…
since 31 July 2004
Warsaw Uprising Museum

Warsaw Uprising Museum

On 31 July 2004 at 10:00am, crowds of Warsawers wearing their best filled the lawn before the former Tram Power Station in Przyokopowa Street. For…
19 March 2005

Level above

The mayorship of Warsaw made Lech Kaczyński aware that he was, as he himself put it, an electable politician. It was then that he first started thinking seriously that he should prospectively fight for higher offices. His party had toyed with a similar idea earlier, but he believed that to be an illusion. Still, the…
June–October 2005
Presidential campaign

Presidential campaign

The autumn of 2005 was one of its kind because it was the first time that the presidential and parliamentary elections had overlapped. The Law and…
23 October 2005
Mission accomplished

Mission accomplished

Lech Kaczyński launched and closed his campaign in the Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science. The only change was the shift from the Congress Hall…
23 December 2005


On 23 December 2005, shortly after 10:00am, during the formal sitting of the National Assembly, Lech Kaczyński, with his wife Maria at his side and…
Man of Solidarity

Man of Solidarity

On the third day of his term as president of Poland, Lech Kaczyński received the representatives of the National Commission of Solidarity. It was…

Side-effect or unwanted changes

Everybody has their own private life, but those in the public eye have less of it than others. This rule is also, or perhaps above all, true of presidents. Being elected the head of state is no doubt seen as the climax of a political career and the fulfilment of greatest ambitions but, apart from fame and glamour,…
9–10 February 2006
In Washington and Chicago

In Washington and Chicago

Besides the Vatican, it was the first foreign trip of Lech Kaczyński as head of state. The two-day stay in America (9-10 February 2006) started…
3 May 2006

Orders and decorations

On the anniversary of the enactment of the first modern constitution of Poland, Lech Kaczyński awarded the Order of the White Eagle, the most prominent Polish decoration, to Anna Walentynowicz, Archbishop Ignacy Tokarczuk and Andrzej Gwiazda. Apart from these distinguished individuals, the President awarded eighty…
5 May 2006

LPR and Self–Defence in the government

On 5 May 2006, Lech Kaczyński nominated Roman Giertych and Andrzej Lepper deputy prime ministers. At the same time, the leader of the League of Polish Families became head of the Ministry of Education and the head of the Self-Defence assumed the position of the Minister of Agriculture. The nominations followed from…
13 June 2006

Against corruption

On 13 June 2006, with genuine satisfaction, Lech Kaczyński signed the Act establishing the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau. He regarded the establishment of the institution as one of the three "pillars of the moral change in Poland." The other two were: the Act dissolving the Military Information Services and the…
10 July 2006
Brother is PM

Brother is PM

10 July 2006 he was the long-awaited moment in Lech Kaczyński's life; on that they, he felt that he had finally made it and was able to officially…
30 September 2006
Dissolution of Military Intelligence

Dissolution of Military Intelligence

The Military Information Services (Pol. WSI) were the only special service with the communist origin whose officers did not go through a vetting.…

Poland's position in Europe

During the 13 November 2006 EU Council in Brussels, Poland put its foot down. Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga announced the Polish veto on extending to the European Commission a negotiation mandate for talks with Russia on a new Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation. In this way, Warsaw responded to Moscow's…

Relations with Germany

Taking over the presidency of the Council of the European Union, Germany began to strive for the goal of resuscitating the draft Constitutional Treaty rejected in 2005 in the referendums in France and the Netherlands. It forced through an abridged version of the treaty that provided for the double majority voting…
25 march 2007

Imperfect 50

During the German EU Council Presidency, united Europe celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, that is, the establishment of the European Economic Community, the forerunner of today's European Union. The 25th day of March 2007 in Berlin was a good time to recap on the achievements of European…
12 April 2007

Yes for agents, No for vetting

During the drafting of the new vetting law, many political groups contributed their modifications and specific wording. The senators opted for the broadening of the group of vetted public figures to include scholars and journalists. The President wanted to restore the procedure of vetting statement (a mandatory…
11 May 2007

Kraków Energy Summit

On 8 June 2007, at 4:20 CET, the Air Force One with President George Bush on board touched down at Gdańsk-Rębiechowo airport. Neither Gdańsk nor the seaside resort of Hel had seen a comparable event before. The visit of the U.S. president was preceded by two preparatory missions; since early morning 8 June, close to…
18 May 2007

Against the resurgence of the empire

It was a good day for Poland. During the EU-Russia summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the issue of the Russian embargo on Polish, that is, EU meat. Perhaps this would not have happened if not for the Polish opposition to Brussels initiating talks with Russia on a new Agreement on Partnership and…

Jurata – between the big world and an asylum

On 8 June 2007, at 4:20 CET, the Air Force One with President George Bush on board touched down at Gdańsk-Rębiechowo airport. Neither Gdańsk nor the seaside resort of Hel had seen a comparable event before. The visit of the U.S. president was preceded by two preparatory missions; since early morning 8 June, close to…

Struggle for the Reform Treaty

At 5:00am, Saturday, 23 June 2007, after two days and nights of exhausting negotiation, a compromise was reached: the EU leaders agreed on the basic content of the document intended as a replacement for the draft European Constitution rejected by the French and Dutch in the referendums. Its content provided the core…
15 August 2007 roku
It is worth being a Pole

It is worth being a Pole

On 15 August 2007, the Polish Army Day and the anniversary of the victorious 1920 Battle of Warsaw, that is, the repelling of Soviet troops from…
21 October 2007

Civic Platform wins election

On Sunday, 21 October 2007, about 3:00pm, the Kaczynskis' arrived in their local Polling Station No. 333 in Warsaw to cast a vote in parliamentary election. The President did not feel light-hearted at all. He feared that at the end of the campaign the scales turned in favour of the Civil Platform and that the Law…
April 2008

NATO summit in Bucharest

Lech Kaczyński strongly advocated the integration of Georgia and Ukraine with NATO. He also endorsed the prospective membership of the Balkans. He believed that the "open door" policy is a prerequisite for the effective functioning of both the alliance and the European Union. He was of the opinion that the joining…
First couple of the Republic

First couple of the Republic

On 28 April 2008, on the thirtieth wedding anniversary, Mr and Mrs Kaczyński went for dinner in a restaurant in Teatralny Square. It lasted two…
August 2008
For Georgia

For Georgia

"We are here to express our complete solidarity. We are the presidents of five states: Polish, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We are here…
November 2008

Human life is not a commodity

By vetoing on 26 November 2008 three acts of the package of new health laws passed by the Civic Platform and Polish Peasants' Party government, Lech Kaczyński demonstrated his fidelity to the idea of Polish solidarity. He fulfilled his election promises. "Frequently, during my election meetings and in discussions…
21 December 2008

Reconciliation policy

That evening, Lech Kaczyński became the first incumbent president after WW2 to pay a visit to a synagogue. It was the Nożyk Synagogue in Warsaw. Participating in the opening ceremony of the Feast of Dedication, the President lit the first candle of Hanukkah, the traditional nine-branch candelabrum. Hanukkah candles…
22 May 2009

Between the global crisis and the future

One of the components of Lech Kaczyński's image created by his opponents was the claim that not only did the President have the foggiest idea about economy, but more importantly, also ignored it totally. However, the reality proved completely otherwise. He was carefully studying economic phenomena. He devoted much…
18 June 2009
Lech Kaczyński privately

Lech Kaczyński privately

On 18 June 2009, the President turned 60. President, meaning who? What was real Lech Kaczyński like? The one who could not break through the…
28 August 2009

Third Repulic or how we take care of our freedom

"The idea of twenty lost years is certainly too grim to be true," said Lech Kaczyński during a conference of 28 August 2009 held by Solidarity on the 20th anniversary of Poland's independence from the Soviet bloc. His opponents liked to present the Presiednt as a man enslaved by extremes and bad instincts. Following…
September 2009

For effective penal policy

On 18 September 2009, Lech Kaczyński refused to sign the amendment to the Act on Prosecution which laid down the separation of the functions of minister of justice and prosecutor general. He strongly opposed this change, purportedly aimed to curb political pressure on prosecutors, although exerting political…
27 September 2009

The heir of state ideals

"It is a beautiful heritage that all Poles have the full right to," said Lech Kaczyński on 27 September 2007, during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the rise of the Polish Underground State; its beginning falls to the date of forming the underground Service for Poland's Victory, the predecessor of the…
10 October 2009
In defence of law in international relations

In defence of law in international relations

At high noon, 10 October 2009, during the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the presence of President of the European Commission Jose…
November 2009

Lucień the republic of scientists

27 November 2009 saw the last, as it turned out later, meeting of intellectuals in Lucień. This time the participants were discussing the subject: Was the Communist People's Republic of Poland a Polish State? The opening papers were delivered by Prof. Tadeusz Kowalik and Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski. The first debate…
Christmas Eve 2009
Four-legged friends

Four-legged friends

On that day, no animal dwelling in the Presidential Palace was reported to speak in a human voice. However, because of the approaching Christmas…

President who was a nuisance

Having won the presidential race, Lech Kaczyński found himself in the public eye as never before. That moment marked the beginning of devastating personal attacks of the mass-media; before, the mainstream media chiefly pestered Jarosław. The climax was reached after the October 2007 election swept by the Civil…

Old-fashion gentelman against modern public relations

On Saturday evening, 16 January 2010, at a charity ball of journalist, a singer and celebrity Dorota Rabczewska, nicknamed "Doda", kissed somewhat surprised Lech Kaczyński on the cheek. Most politicians envied the President. And this was something that any PR advisors would always dream about. Whether it was…

In honour of Accursed Soldiers

"Every nation must have its memory, its history, and every nation must commemorate its heroes. We remember and promise to remember," said Lech Kaczyński. One of the most important goals of his presidency was to restore and keep alive the national memory. The policy on awards and decorations was but a slice of this…
9 April 2010

Katyń – a lie and reconciliation

"It was seventy years ago. After being tied up, they were shot in the back of the head. So, there was very little blood. Afterwards, with their eagle-bearing buttons on their uniforms, they were piled up in deep pits," so began the last written version of Lech Kaczyński's speech to be delivered at the cemetery of…
10 April 2010
The last flight

The last flight

At 8:20am, Lech Kaczyński called his brother from the plane to say that he was all right and inquire about their mother's condition. 83-year-old…
10 April 2010
Lost their lives at Smoleńsk

Lost their lives at Smoleńsk

Lech Kaczyński, President of Poland Maria Kaczyńska, First Lady Ryszard Kaczorowski, Polish President in Exile Joanna Agacka-Indecka, President of…
10–18 April 2010
Poland in mourning

Poland in mourning

On Sunday, 11 April 2010, the coffin with the body of the President returned to the country. The flower-carpeted route of the procession with Lech…
18 June 1949
1970 | 1971
1981 | 1982
| 1989
2005 | 2006
10 April 2010

First Lady

Maria Kaczyńska

Daughter of Lidia, neé Piszczako (1916–2004) and Czesław Mackiewicz (1910–1976). After World War II her family was displaced from the Vilnius Region. Czesław Mackiewicz was a soldier of the Home Army in Vilnius. His first brother fought at Monte Cassino, in the ranks of the Polish Second Corps commanded by General Władysław Anders, the other one was murdered by NKVD in Katyń.

Maria Kaczyńska spent her early childhood in a forester's lodge in Bory Tucholskie. The reason her family moved to Rabka Zdrój was Mariaa congenital heart defect. There she completed her primary education, and in the years 1957–1961 attended the 1st Secondary School of General Education named after E. Romer (1957–1961). After passing her A-levels, in the years 1961–1966, she studied foreign trade (majoring in maritime transport) at the Higher School of Economics in Sopot. She was awarded a professional MA title in economic sciences.

After graduating from her studies, she started to work at the Maritime Institute in Gdańsk in the Economic Research Department, where she dealt with development perspectives of freight markets in the Far East. She met her husband, Lech Kaczyński in 1976 through their common acquintances. They got married two years later. After their daughter Marta was born, Maria Kaczyńska resigned from her job. She earned money teaching languages and translating. She was a great support to her husband at every stage of his political career. From 2005, as the First Lady, she became involved in charitable activities. She also represented the Polish Head of State as a special envoy of the President of the Republic of Poland. She spoke 4 foreign languages – English, French, Russian and Spanish. In spite of numerous duties she had, her family remained the most important to her: her husband, daughter and two granddaughters - Ewa and Martyna.

She perished on April 10th, 2010 in Smoleńsk.


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