The year 2020 brought a great loss to the Forum for Dialogue community. On August 15, we said goodbye to Henryk Wujec, a legend of anti-Communist opposition in Poland, a lifelong activist, and a prominent politician. To us, he was Henio, a dear friend, who believed in Forum’s mission, and served as the Chair of the Foundation Council for over two decades.
Henryk was the embodiment of genuine dialogue based on empathy and respect for the other person, regardless of differences or disagreements. He demonstrated that an honest and attentive conversation can move mountains. For decades, he inspired new generations of Poles to make the world a better place. In his actions, he stopped for nothing, especially when the stakes were high. He had the courage to stand up for what he believed, even if it landed him in political prison or distanced him from popular opinion.
As the Chair of the Foundation Council, Henryk brought moral guidance to Forum for Dialogue, overseeing the execution of our mission. As an advocate of our programs and activities, he constantly reminded us about the meaning of dialogue. He was a regular guest and speaker at the School of Dialogue Gala. His 2020 address to the students, broadcasted virtually as part of the Online School of Dialogue Gala, sadly turned out to be his last. Yet his confidence in the work of the students continues as his legacy:
I am in such an awe of your work! You took a wonderful path. You are Polish patriots for taking care of the memory of Polish Jews. You befriended those who used to live in Poland. Together, you form a future, a new community. A truly humane community.
No one can ever take the place of Henryk, but his spirit will remain with the Forum for Dialogue, regardless of the circumstances. We are grateful for all the time we had with him, for his mentorship, and support.