Robert Biedron at the launch of his new party, Wiosna, in Warsaw, Poland, February 2019
Agencja Gazeta / REUTERS

Pawel Adamowicz, longtime mayor of Gdansk, was holding up a Roman candle at a charity event on January 13 when a man leaped onstage and stabbed him repeatedly. Thousands of Adamowicz’s constituents saw him fall. Many rushed to donate blood; others remained glued to screens overnight as doctors tried to save the mayor with emergency surgeries and a near seven-gallon blood transfusion. But two of the wounds had touched Adamowicz’s heart, and a third had pierced his bowels. He died the following day.

Dziki kraj: “a savage country.” Such was the immediate response of Adamowicz’s friend Jerzy Owsiak, a journalist and the founder of the charity at whose event Adamowicz had been speaking. A public assassination of this kind had not occurred in Poland for almost a century. To some, it called to mind the 1922 shooting of the first Polish president, Gabriel Narutowicz.

Adamowicz’s murder cast a

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