Interview with Bronislaw Geremek, member of the European Parliament and Polish historian
Bronisław Geremek was born in 1932 in Warsaw. He spent several of his childhood years in the Warsaw ghetto, out of which his mother and him were smuggled in 1943. In 1954, he graduated from the Faculty of History in Warsaw University and then completed his postgraduate studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. A specialist in medieval history, his scholarly work was focused on the history of the poor and underworld groups in Europe.
Initially a militant of the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR), Bronisław Geremek withdrew from the communist party after the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. A prominent figure of the political opposition in the 1970s, he joined the Gdańsk workers' protest movement in August 1980 and became one of the advisers of the self-governing trade union Solidarność. An unremitting advocate of the enlargement of the EU to its Central European neighbours and a passionate actor in the European construction, Bronisław Geremek carried on with his political commitments after 1989. He served as a member of the Polish Parliament (Sejm), as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2000 (signing in 1999, the treaty under which his country joined NATO), as European MP from 2004 to 2008 and, since 2006, had been chairing the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe.
We met him in the spring of 2008, at his office in the European Parliament and were profoundly saddened to learn about his accidental death on 13th July 2008.