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Jan Ledóchowski

 

 



Introduction to the film
Uncles and Others




Origins of this film

My father's family is already quite well known in Poland. This film is dedicated to my mother Maria Barbara ("Basia") Morawska, her family and people connected with her family. It took me some time to come up with the idea of making it.

In 2007 I recorded on video a long interview with Dominik Horodyński, who told me about the massacre of his family at Zbydniów in 1943, his participation in the Warsaw Rising in 1944 and his decision not to leave Poland after the War, as did so many other people, but instead to stay and cooperate with the new regime. He was a close friend of my mother's sister, Magda Morawska, who was killed at the barricades during the Rising, aged 22. Another connection with my family is that Dominik married my father's beautiful cousin, Teresa Ledóchowska. He was always a charming individual with a devilish sense of humour, and my father loved being with him as they thought of controversial things to say to provoke their friends and family, who were mostly suffering from communism, at home or in exile.

At about that time my mother returned to Poland from South Africa and stayed in a retirement home outside Warsaw, where she eventually died of Alzheimer's. I was very moved to witness how much her cousins in Warsaw put into taking her out, visiting her and caring for her. Among them were people of my own generation, Elżbieta, Magda and Gabriela, the daughters of Kazimierz ("Aggio") Morawski, who had hardly known my mother earlier. I admired them greatly and this brought me closer to them. Then I realised that Aggio's post war career could be a very interesting subject for a film when combined with that of his first cousin, Maciej ("Matt") Morawski, my mother's brother. I ended up with a film about various people, but with these two cousins, Aggio and Matt, forming the core, closely followed by Dominik.

Poles are brought up to call all elder members of their extended families "Uncle" or "Aunt". Close friends of their parents are treated as part of the family and are also given these titles.

The Morawskis

My grandfather Kajetan Morawski was active in Government up to the Second World War, and owned the Jurkowo Estate near Poznań. He married Maria Turno, daughter of Stanisław Turno, owner of the Objezierze Estate and Chairman of the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw. They had four children, Hieronim ("Romi"), my mother Basia, her sister Magda, and Matt, the youngest. Kajetan's brother Tadeusz married Julia Lubomirska, daughter of Prince Zdzisław Lubomirski. They also had four children including Aggio, who was therefore Matt's first cousin. Matt and Aggio were both born in 1929 and, with a break during the communist years, were close friends throughout their lives. Dominik Horodyński, born in 1919, was ten years older.

Back to Film

Historical background




by Jan Ledóchowski


Prince Zdzisław Lubomirski

Zdzisław Lubomirski, owner of Little Village, was born in Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, to which his father had been exiled for supporting the 1863 Rising. In 1917, as the German, Austrian and Russian Empires were destroying each other during the First World War, he was appointed Regent of Poland. He declared Independence on 7th October 1918 and in November he appointed Józef Piłsudski, just released from internment by Germany, as Commander-in-Chief and Head of State. Lubomirski's daughter Julia married Kajetan's brother Tadeusz and so the beautiful Little Village Estate came into the Morawski family.

After Piłsudski took power by military coup in May 1926, Lubomirski was offered the position of President of Poland, but he turned it down. During the Siege of Warsaw in 1939 he was active in the Citizens' Defence Committee and then became a hostage guaranteeing the safety of the German occupiers including in particular that of Hitler during his Victory Parade. He offered refuge in Little Village to Dorota Kłuszyńska, of Jewish origin and a Senator of the Socialist Party, and she survived to become a member of the Communist Party Central Committee after the War. Lubomirski was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo in 1942 and died in 1943.

After the War

Matt left to join his father, who by then was Ambassador to Paris of the Polish Government-in-Exile in London. Matt worked in Radio Free Europe, which fought against the communist regime by broadcasting back to Poland. Aggio and Dominik stayed and worked in a controversial organisation called PAX, founded by Piasecki, a Resistance leader who after being arrested by the NKVD (later known as the KGB) decided to support Soviet rule. Aggio became head of a Catholic grouping known as the Christian Social Association or ChSS. He was close to the First Secretary Edward Gierek and was an MP from 1976. Later he was close to General Jaruzelski and became a Member of the Council of State. He visited Moscow in 1981. Dominik was joint Editor of a leading PAX publication and later Editor-in-Chief of a Warsaw weekly, Kultura (the same name, possibly deliberately, as a leading exile publication in Paris).

Others

I was also very fortunate in being able to interview: Maria Sokolnicka, Aggio's sister; Countess Anna Potocka, a close friend of my family in our South African days; Jan Lityński, a prominent Solidarity fighter; and Piotr Dowżenko, President of the Society to preserve the memory of the 5th Wilno Resistance Brigade, which continued the fight against Soviet rule for several years after 1945.

Jan Ledóchowski,
January 2014


 

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