Bronislaw Wildstein was born on June 11, 1952 in Olsztyn, Poland. His father was a military physician and his mother was a member of the anticommunist Home Army, a group created to oppose the Nazi occupation of Poland. Wildstein studied at Jagiellonian University from 1971 to 1980. In the early 1970s, Wildstein joined the Socialist Union of Polish Students, which began his career in the opposition movement. Joining with other students, he printed and distributed anticommunist leaflets, collected money for imprisoned workers, and drafted an appeal to release workers arrested in the antigovernment protests of 1976.
In 1977, Wildstein cofounded the Student Committee of Solidarity, an opposition group formed in response to the unsolved death of student activist Stanislaw Pyjas. Many students suspected Pyjas’ death was orchestrated by government agents. The Student Committee of Solidarity began printing and distributing anticommunist literature in secret. Wildstein’s clandestine printing even landed him in prison for a short time.
In 1980, Wildstein became involved in the Lenin Shipyard strike in Gdansk, a demonstration by workers that attracted national, popular support and forced the communists to the negotiate with the strikers. The Lenin Shipyard strike also resulted in the formation of Solidarity, the first independent labor union in the communist world that transformed into a nationwide freedom movement.
Prior to the Polish government’s declaration of martial law in 1981, which was a means to crackdown on political opposition, Wildstein had secured a passport and left Poland for Western Europe. During his time in the West, he served as an advocate for the freedom movement in Poland and established foreign contacts for Solidarity. While abroad, Wildstein also cofounded Kontakt, an anticommunist periodical, and worked for Radio Free Europe.
After the fall of communism in Poland, Wildstein returned to his country and worked as a journalist for several daily papers, including Zycie Warszawy and Rzeczpospolita. In 2005, Wildstein became entangled in the issue of transitional justice when he obtained and distributed a list (often referred to as “Wildstein’s List”) to fellow journalists containing both the names of collaborators and victims of the communist-era secret police.
Wildstein continues his work as a journalist in Poland.