The Ledóchowski Family herb2 Ród Ledóchowskich

 

 

 

 

 

 


 



Mieczysław Ledóchowski 1920 - 2017

 

Mieczysław was for many years the "senior" of the branch of the Halka Ledóchowski family descended from Józef, the eldest son of Count Antoni Ledóchowski.  In 1960 he moved from Poland to Austria, where he was actively involved in business and charity work with Poland.  His book "... so that we may leave a trace" (2) was a major contribution to family history.

 

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Family connections

Mieczysław photoMieczysław Ledóchowski was born on 3rd November 1920, the son of Captain Antoni Ledóchowski (1895-1972), "the father of Polish navigation", and Matylda née Warnesius.  Captain Antoni Ledóchowski was the son of Franciszka Ledóchowska, sister of my grandfather General Ignacy II Ledóchowski, who were both children of Antoni (1823-1885) and Józefina née Salis-Zizers and therefore siblings of Blessed Maria Teresa, Saint Urszula and General of the Jesuits Wladimir.  As Captain Antoni was the son of Franciszka and my father Wladimir was the son of her brother General Ignacy, they were first cousins.  Antoni was born in 1895 and Mieczysław in 1920, so my father, born in 1910, was between the two generations.

Antoni's mother Franciszka Ledóchowska had been encouraged by Cardinal Mieczysław to marry his nephew Mieczysław Ledóchowski (1858-1935), grandson of Józef Ledóchowski, the eldest son of the first Count Antoni.  So Captain Antoni and then his son Mieczysław (1920-2017), the subject of this article, were in turn "seniors" of the male line descended from Count Antoni's eldest son.  General Ignacy II and my father Wladimir, on the other hand, were in turn "seniors" of the male line descended from Count Antoni's second son General Ignacy I Ledóchowski.

Mieczysław was therefore the family "senior", being the male line descended from Count Antoni's eldest son, while my father was the "senior" being simply 10 years older.  

While my father was alive he and Mieczysław as "two seniors" both attended important family events where possible.  Later of course my father died and Mieczysław was "senior" in all respects (I addressed him as "Uncle") and now his son Henryk, born in 1943, 10 years earlier than me, is "senior" in all respects.  We were very pleased Henryk came to the wedding of my son Konrad in August 2019.

My father Wladimir last saw his father General Ignacy II for Easter in 1940.  He then left Poland as a Resistance courier to the West and after many adventures did not come back to Poland for another 16 years.  So he never saw his father again and he died in 1987, when I was too young to appreciate family history in depth.  

Lipnica memorialMieczysław on the other hand, ended up living in Lipnica Murowana during the war, where he saw my grandfather Ignacy regularly until he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944.  So until Mieczysław died in 2017, he was the last person I knew who had also known my grandfather and could tell personal anecdotes about him, for which I was very grateful.

These anecdotes included the story of how my grandfather would walk exactly 2,000 metres = 2 kilometres every day, how if he woke up in the middle of the night he would make a note in his diary to ask his beloved wife Paulina to sew a button on his shirt the following morning, how he took a military parade of the Resistance, how he refused to go into hiding when warned by the Resistance the Gestapo were going to arrest him, and how he refused the offer of former Austrian colleagues to get him out after he had been arrested.

Mieczysław was always friendly and warm, which I also greatly appreciated.

Mieczysław kindly wrote his own autobiography for me, which can be read in full in Polish.

 

Before the War

Mieczysław was born and educated around Sopot and Gdynia, where his father Captain Antoni was lecturing and writing his navigational books at the Maritime School in Tczew.

 

Second World War

When the Germans occupied the area Captain Antoni was immediately arrested and interned, along with other teachers at the Maritime School.  He was released after his wife Matylda's strenuous efforts using Captain Antoni's contacts in the Austrian Army and Navy, in which he had served during the First World War, before Poland regained independence.  The Germans then expelled them from their home in Gdynia.  So they put all their possessions in a cart pulled by a horse, and headed South, with their father riding a bicycle in front.

Mieczyslaw weddingEventually they got to Lipnica Murowana, where their father's brother and mother were living, and to which my grandfather Ignacy and his wife Paulina had escaped from the Soviet occupied zone.  There they also saw my father Wladimir, who was acting as a courier, carrying documents for the Resistance from Kraków to Budapest and back until he was caught and could no longer return.

The wife of one of Captain Antoni's colleagues, H. T. Kossakowski, had died before the war and Kossakowski himself had now been killed by the Germans, so his three daughters were now orphans.  Captain Antoni's wife Matylda fetched the three daughters and took them into her care.  Mieczysław then married one of them, Halina, in 1943, when he was 22 years old.


After the War

The whole family were expelled from Lipnica when the Soviets came and installed the Polish Communist regime in 1945.  After a year in Kraków, Mieczysław and his young family followed their father back to Gdynia, where his father Captain Antoni was reinstalled as professor at the Maritime School.

With sonsHowever Antoni was soon transferred to a branch of the school opened in Szczecin, and then lost his job completely due to his social background and refusing to introduce Communist Party thinking into his navigation books and lectures.  Mieczysław could not pursue higher studies due to his social background, and worked variously as a gardener, in the shipyard, as a taxi driver and then as a draftsman at the the ship design section of Gdańsk Politechnic.  

In the end his career opportunities became so restricted he decided to leave Poland, taking his youngest son Lech.  His second, Włodzimierz (= Wladimir) followed in 1971.  His eldest Henryk stayed and lives in Sopot.

 

Austria

From 1960 Mieczysław, his wife Halina and their two younger sons, Wladimir (from 1971) and Lech, and then their descendants, lived in Vienna.  After a few years Mieczysław obtained a Polish Consular Passport and the Polish Communist Special Branch ("UB") asked Mieczysław to cooperate with them, which he refused as described in detail in his Polish article.

BookMieczysław initially worked as a salesman for various firms and then for 13 years, from 1966 to 1979, for a large Austrian company selling desalination plants, steam boilers, building equipment and other machinery to Poland.  

When the Communist Polish hit its crisis in 1979 it could not afford to buy anything any more, and Mieczysław soon got another job with a church foundation Europäischer Hilfsfonds („EHF”), distributing German church funds to Poland.  This ended when Poland overthrew the Communist regime in 1989, and Mieczysław retired aged 59.

From then on Mieczysław focussed on working for the Polish community in Austria and was President or Vice President of the Polonia Forum for many years.  

He wrote a short book W Służbie Kościołowi w Polsce 1980-1989 or "Serving the Church in Poland 1980-1989".  

His second book „...aby pozostał nasz ślad”, or "...so that we may leave a trace", was a very major contribution to the preservation of family memory.

Mieczysław died in Vienna on 5th March 2017 aged 96.  He left three sons, Henryk, Włodzimierz (= Wladimir), and Lech, and many grandchildren and even greatgrandchildren.

More details in Mieczysław's own story in Polish.

 

Jan Ledóchowski, 2020

 

Sources:

(1) Article and photographs supplied by Mieczysław.

(2) „… aby pozostał nasz ślad”  („...so we may leave a trace”).  Mieczysław Ledóchowski.  Published by Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Ossolineum,  Wrocław 2002.  ISBN 83-7095-051-5.

 

 

Detailed information on living family members will be included in this website only if submitted or approved by them. Sczegółowa informacja o żyjących członkach rodziny może zostać umieszczona na tych stronach jedynie w wypadku gdy dana osoba wyrazi zgodę. Jan Ledóchowski