A Witness to Poland's History, Now Its Diplomatic Voice

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A BUBBLY and witty presence, the tall, older gentleman with the cane does not instantly come across as an Auschwitz survivor, or a fighter in the Warsaw Uprising, or a imprisoned dissident under Communism.

In fact, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski is all those and more. Yet he is also the type of man who, on a busy day, stops to chat with the hotel maids and is sure to make them laugh before he goes on his way.

The world is unlikely to produce many more Wladyslaw Bartoszewskis (pronounced vwad-IH-swav bart-o-SHEV-skee), and that is probably a good thing, given the events he lived through and witnessed from an early age. But while his life may have been forged through immense suffering, it never managed to define his outlook.

“The optimists and the pessimists live identically long, but the optimists are considerably happier,” he said with an amused shrug, when asked about his famous good humor.

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