The mayor of Gdansk, Poland, who the American Jewish Committee called “a longtime friend of the Jewish community,” died a day after he was stabbed at a charity concert.
Paweł Adamowicz, a lawyer and social activist who has served as mayor since 1998, died Monday. He was 53.
On Sunday, Adamowicz took part in a charity concert organised as part of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation run by Polish journalist and social activist Jerzy Owsiak, who for years has been collecting funds for medical equipment for Polish hospitals. The perpetrator ran on the stage and stabbed Adamowicz several times with a knife.
The assailant had been arrested for several bank robberies and spent five years in prison. The prosecutor’s office said it suspects that he may be mentally ill.
Adamowicz opposed the extreme-right marches organised by the National Radical Camp, or ONR, in Gdansk. After one such march, in April, he personally organised an anti-fascist march.
“He was a true friend & ally in countering xenophobia. We must confront hatred in the public sphere,” AJC Central Europe tweeted.
Adamowicz also criticized last year’s Polish law on Holocaust speech, calling it “idiotic and evil.” The law outlawed rhetoric in which Poland is blamed for Nazi crimes.
The World Jewish Congress tweeted: “We mourn the tragic death of Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz. He succumbed to a brutal stabbing inflicted at a public charity concert over the weekend. He was a true friend of the Jewish community. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and constituents.”
In the UK, London Mayor Sadiq Khan paid tribute saying: “Devastating loss for the people of Gdansk, for Mayor Adamowicz’s friends and family and for all of us who value public service, progressive politics and open, accessible democracy. London’s thoughts, prayers and solidarity are with Gdansk on this sad day.”
Stabbed last evening, Mayor of #Gdańsk Paweł #Adamowicz has passed away.
Shocked & devastated, we remain in solidarity with his family & co-workers.
He was a true friend & ally in countering xenophobia. We must confront hatred in the public sphere. pic.twitter.com/f9Ll7fdQvn
— AJC Central Europe (@AJC_CE) January 14, 2019
We are horrified to learn that Gdansk mayor Paweł Adamowicz, a longtime friend of AJC and of the Polish Jewish community, has died after being stabbed during a charity concert. May his memory be a blessing and may the killer be brought swiftly to justice. https://t.co/Y5GrOg8F6F
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) January 14, 2019
Following the stabbing, three people have been arrested in Poland after calling for more killings.