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Slain Gdansk mayor honored during yearly fundraising finale

WARSAW – Late Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz was remembered on Sunday evening during the finale of a yearly Polish fundraiser — the same event during which he was fatally stabbed on stage last year.

Adamowicz was stabbed in the heart on Jan. 13, 2019, during an event dubbed “Light to Heaven” in Gdansk, by a psychologically unstable ex-convict and died the next day at age 53.

In Gdansk, a chorus performed a mournful rendition of “Sound of Silence,” a song that was played last year as Gdansk and the nation were plunged into mourning. Images of the beloved mayor appeared on a video screen and a beam of light pointed to the sky.

His widow Magdalena Adamowicz told those gathered that she feels her husband remains with her and the people of Gdansk.

“Pawel is with me, he is with me all the time, his wedding ring hangs from my neck,” his widow said. “He is with all of us.”

His brother Piotr also thanked them on behalf of himself and their parents.

After the attack last year, Adamowicz's killer grabbed a microphone and told the crowd that it was his revenge against an opposition political party that Adamowicz had once belonged to. The political undercurrent sparked soul-searching in Poland about rising hate speech. Adamowicz himself had been vilified by public media, which is controlled by the conservative government, for his acceptance of refugees and gays.

“Remember that good wins, that evil cannot win, that we will not be intimidated,” his widow said.

Elsewhere across the country, people gathered for events at the end of the 28th annual Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, which raises funds to buy life-saving equipment for children's hospitals.

By late Sunday the charity had gathered nearly 100 million zlotys ($26 million).

The charity's founder, Jerzy Owsiak, also expressed solidarity with Australia, which has been devastated by raging deadly wildfires.