Slide background

After two years spent in the mountain home in Pass Thurm, Austria, in 1977 Jan Nowak-Jeziorański and his wife moved to the United States, settling in Annandale near Washington, DC.

In 1978, Zbigniew Brzeziński, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, appointed Jeziorański a consultant to America’s National Security Council. In 1979, Nowak-Jeziorański became one of the directors of the Polish American Congress. He was one of the few Polish political figures who discussed Poland with four successive US presidents: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton. As a result, he exerted considerable influence on the decision to admit Poland into the structures of NATO and the European Union.

Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, whose significant position in Washington gave him direct access to the President, actively worked to have Poland admitted to NATO. This is how Poland’s then ambassador to the United States, Jerzy Koźmiński recalls that period:

For six years, from spring 1994, I gratefully availed myself of his counsel and support. From the very outset it became clear to me that both in Washington and in Warsaw Jan Nowak-Jeziorański was an institution which owed its unique position to both his wartime achievements as well as his quarter-century of involvement with Radio Free Europe. For Poland he constituted an invaluable capital thanks to his unique combination of exceptional hard work, perceptivity and power to persuade. (…)

I shall always remember the moment on 30th April 1998 when shortly before 11PM the US Senate voted 80 to 19 to enlarge NATO and admit Poland. I jumped up from my seat in the Senate gallery, where for several hours I had been following the debate. Jan Nowak-Jeziorański emerged from another sector and with tears in his eyes said that was the happiest moment of his lifetime. It really was extremely moving, the crowning touch to his efforts and those of Poland and Polonia.

„His gaze was constantly fixed on Poland,” remarked Zbigniew Brzeziński after Nowak-Jeziorański’s death. Jan Nowak played an enormous role as a lobbyist in support of Poland’s democratic opposition up until 1989, and in 1989 he effectively appealed for one billion dollars towards the Polish stabilization fund and the reduction of Poland’s debts.

In 1998, the issue of Poland’s admission to NATO was resolved. That was to be Nowak-Jeziorański’s last great mission. He was at the Capitol on 30th April 1998, when the US Senate was scheduled to deal with that question. After the vote he said that was the happiest day of his life. „I never thought I would live long enough to see that with my own eyes.”

When Nowak-Jeziorański was leaving for Poland, he was bidden farewell by the fifth American president to cross his political path – George W. Bush. „You are a pillar of our common values and aspirations to live in peace, freedom and in a secure world,” the President remarked.

In August 1989, Jan Nowak-Jeziorański arrived in Poland for the first time since 1944. In 1995 he became a member of the Board of Curators of the Ossoliński National Institute.

In the years that followed, he donated to it his personal collection and priceless archives. In 2001, he established the College of Eastern Europe – a non-governmental organization which in time became one of the leading think-tanks. (At present it is known as the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe.)

In 2002, he returned to Poland for good. An unquestioned authority and symbol of free speech, he was honored with numerous decorations and prizes including Poland’s highest distinction – the Order of the White Eagle, America’s Presidential Freedom Medal and the Order of Gediminas – for service to Lithuania.

Jan Nowak-Jeziorański died in Warsaw on the night of January 20th- 21st, 2005.