Born in Warsaw in 1922. He studied at the Faculty of Humanities at the Warsaw University.
From September 1940 to April 1941 he was imprisoned in Auschwitz (camp number 4427). In 1942 he co-founded the "Żegota" Council for Aid to Jews. In the years 1942-1944 he participated in the clandestine catholic organization Front for the Rebirth of Poland (FOP). In the years 1942-1945 he worked in the Information Department of the Information and Propaganda Bureau of the Main Headquarters of the Polish Home Army (AK), and in the years 1943-1944 he worked at the Republic of Poland's Government-in-exile Home Office Department of Internal Affairs (Prison Unit and Jewish Section). He took part in the Warsaw Uprising as a Home Army soldier. After the war he belonged to the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) and he was co-editor of "Gazeta Ludowa". Twice, in 1946-48 and 1949-1954 he was incarcerated in communist prisons, and in 1955 he was recognized to have been unfairly victimised.
In the years 1963-1981 he worked clandestinely for Radio Free Europe. From 1973 until 1985 he taught History at the Catholic University of Lublin. In the years 1972-1983 he held the post of the Secretary General to the Polish PEN Club. Between 1978 and 1981 he was a member of the clandestine Polish Alliance for Independence. In 1980 he co-founded the Committee for the Defence of Prisoners for their beliefs, attached to the NSZZ Solidarity National Commission. From December 13, 1981 to April 28, 1982 he was interned in the Jaworze Internment Centre. In the years 1983-1990 he was a visitng professor in Munich, Eichstaett, and Augsburg. From September 1990 to February 1995 he performed the function of the Republic of Poland's Ambassador to Austria, and from March 6 to December 22 1995 he was Minister of Foreign Affairs. Since 1997 until 2001 he has been the Senator of the Republic of Poland (from Warsaw district). On July 1, 2000 he has been re-appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. He directed this Ministry to October 2001.
Since 2001 until 2015 he was is the Chairman of the Council for Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom. In the years 2000-2014 he was the Chairman of the International Auschwitz Council. He holds numerous academic titles (among others Professor, conferred in 1981 by the Bavarian Government, Doctor Honoris Causa in Philosophy and Humanities of four universities). In 1995 he was decorated with the Order of the White Eagle. He was one of the first Poles to receive the title "Righteous Among the Nations" in Jerusalem (in 1963). Since 1991 he was honorary citizen of the State of Israel.
Died on April 24, 2015 at age 93.
photo: Renata Zawadzka Ben-Dor