Northern Ireland news

Polish mayor stabbed to death was key figure in celebrating Irish diplomat who opposed the Nazis

Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gda?sk, signs a condolence book in memory of German writer Gunter Grass, in April 2015. File picture from Press Association

A POLISH mayor who died after he was stabbed in the chest at a charity concert on Sunday evening was instrumental in commemorating an Irish diplomat who warned of the rise of the Nazis.

Gda?sk mayor Pawe? Adamowicz was a key figure in the city's decision to honour Co Antrim-born diplomat Seán Lester nine years ago.

Rallies have been held in cities across Poland after Mr Adamowicz was killed. He served as mayor of the city for more than 20 years.

In 2010, Mr Adamowicz welcomed Mr Lester's daughter Ann back to Gda?sk, the city of her childhood, to accept an honour on her father's behalf.

“Welcome to Gda?sk, welcome to your home,” he said at an event in the city hall.

Mr Lester, high commissioner for the League of Nations in the Free City of Danzig (now Gda?sk), was so vocal in his opposition to the Nazis he was dubbed the "most hated man in the Third Reich".

Born in Carrickfergus, his unionist family later moved to Belfast where they lived above his father's grocery shop on the Ormeau Road.

Mr Lester developed an interest in Irish nationalism in his teens.

He joined the Department of External Affairs in 1922 and was sent as representative to the League of Nations in 1929.

Mr Lester worked in Gda?sk from 1934 and became a vocal critic of Adolf Hitler. By 1936 the Nazis refused to work with him and he later left the role.

In 2013, a blue plaque was unveiled at the Lester family's former home on the Ormeau Road.

His granddaughter Susan Denham is the former Irish chief justice and the first woman to be appointed to the Republic's Supreme Court.

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