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Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, former Polish foreign minister, dies at 93

A former Auschwitz inmate, Polish foreign minister, academic, journalist, honorary Israeli citizen, and a key figure in German-Polish reconciliation after the Second World War: Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has died in Warsaw.

Poland's Foreign Ministry and President Bronislaw Komorowski announced late on Friday that Wladyslaw Bartoszewski had died. "It's a huge loss, a great Pole has left us," Komorowski wrote on Twitter.

Former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, now president of the European Council, issued similar condolences in Polish on Twitter, concluding: "It is a sad day for us."

Tusk, whom Bartoszewski served since 2007 as a foreign policy adviser, referred to the veteran statesman and academic simply as "professor" in his message. This title had been a source of controversy in the past, given that he did not hold a formal academic doctorate.

Polen Gedenkfeier Aufstand Warschauer Ghetto - Rede Wladyslaw Bartoszewski

This was Bartoszewski's last public appearance, honoring an uprising he had sought to help, despite already having spent time in Auschwitz

Auschwitz inmate, Zegota activist, diplomat

Bartoszewski, 93, felt unwell in the afternoon and was taken to hospital. He had appeared in public last weekend to participate in ceremonies marking the 72nd anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a notorious act of resistance against Nazi occupiers in 1943.

During the war, Bartoszewski had worked for the "Zegota" underground movement seeking to save Jews from death at Nazi hands, an organization that is believed to have saved in the region of 4,000 lives. Bartoszewski had organized assistance for the resistance fighters.

Prior to this, Bartoszewski spent several months as an inmate at the Ausschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in occupied Poland - he was released after efforts from the Polish Red Cross, having served as a stretcher bearer for the group during the civil defense of Warsaw.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski Angela Merkel Besuch Polen

Bartoszewski played a key role in restoring amicable ties between Berlin and Warsaw

He wrote for several Catholic underground magazines during the occupation of Poland, and embarked on a career as an academic, journalist and writer after the war.

Bartoszewski had two short stints as foreign minister of Poland, resigning in 1995 when President Lech Walesa's term came to an end. He returned to the role in June of 2000, as part of Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek's cabinet, leaving the post in October of 2001. He had also operated as Poland's ambassador to Austria, and played a crucial role in mending fences between Poland and Germany in the post-war era.

msh/bk (AFP, dpa)