Thick line

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Tadeusz Mazowiecki (1989)

The thick dash – a political slogan derived from Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s exposé delivered to the Contract Sejm on August 24, 1989. He said:

The government I form is not responsible for the mortgage it inherits. It does, however, have an impact on the circumstances in which we come to act. We will cross out the past with a thick line. We will only be responsible for what we have done to bring Poland out of its current state of collapse.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki, exposé in the Sejm, August 24, 1989

The sentence “We will cross out the past with a thick line” was later used as the title of a reprint of the entire exposé in the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza[1][2].

Interpretations[edit | edit code].

According to Tadeusz Mazowiecki, these words signified the government’s dissociation from Poland’s previous political system and the authorities that functioned within it[3].

On the other hand, his opponents, gathered initially around Lech Walesa and then around the government of Jan Olszewski, interpreted the “thick line” as a symbol of aversion to historical settlements, vetting and decommunization, and acceptance of the functioning of post-communist circles in Polish politics and the economy (enfranchisement of the nomenklatura). In their view, the camp derived from “Solidarity” was divided into supporters of the “thick line,” which included circles supporting Tadeusz Mazowiecki, associated with “Gazeta Wyborcza,” as well as those concentrated in the Democratic Union, and, after the dismissal of Jan Olszewski’s government, also circles supporting President Lech Walesa and the government of Hanna Suchocka, and opponents of the “thick line,” which included circles supporting Jan Olszewski’s government and, after its dismissal, centered in the Porozumienie Centrum and the Movement for the Republic. Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, rejected these accusations[4].

Supporters of the “thick line” so understood were accused, among other things, of leniency towards and silence about communist crimes, deforming the historical consciousness of Poles, torpedoing lustration, tolerating the participation of former agents of the SB and other secret services of the People’s Republic of Poland, as well as former PZPR activists (Aleksander Kwasniewski) in public, political and economic life.

The term “thick line” in the consciousness of a part of the Polish society functions as a term of leniency towards former political activists of the People’s Republic of Poland and the security services subordinate to them, contrary to Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s assurances that there was no intention in this formulation of any impunity for those active in the previous regime, prior to such a time caesura[5].

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