In London, at St. Franciszek was said goodbye to Karolina Kaczorowska – the last First Lady in Exile, the widow of the last President of the Republic of Poland in Exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski. After cremation, her ashes will be brought to Poland and deposited in the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw, where her husband is buried.
“She was one of those brave Polish women who, despite the difficult conditions and limited means of working abroad, always faithful to patriotic values, tirelessly carried the ethos of the Independent. With her attitude and activity, she earned the highest recognition among the British Polish community,” wrote President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda in his message, which were read out during the funeral mass by the Consul General of the Republic of Poland Mateusz Stąsiek.
The president recalled that she and her husband played a very important role in rebuilding Poland’s sovereignty after the fall of communism. “I am convinced that she will remain forever in the memory of posterity as an unattainable model of the First Lady of the Republic of Poland” – emphasized Duda.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in the message read during the mass, recalled the vicissitudes of the deceased’s life and emphasized that she transferred her involvement in the affairs of the state from the pre-war period into the 21st century. “She showed us all that faithfulness to herself is possible always and in all circumstances. I believe that the testimony of her life will make her an example and a point of reference for all who dear to the future of our beloved homeland,” wrote Prime Minister Morawiecki.
Dziedziczak: the last person directly involved in the presidency in exile leaves
– It is a very symbolic ceremony, because the last person directly involved in the presidency in exile is leaving and an era is ending before our eyes. Let us remember that the generation of Karolina Kaczorowska created, here in the UK, after World War II, a wonderful system of Polish organizations, Polish education, Polish scouting and Polish pastoral care. Despite much more difficult times, this brave generation has accomplished great things that have borne fruit for decades later, said Jan Dziedziczak, Minister Plenipotentiary for Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad.
– This is what we receive for free from this generation and it is our duty that we make use of it and – also living abroad – pass on Polishness to our children, pass on responsibility for Polish affairs, pride in Poland. I think this is the will of that generation, this is the will of Karolina Kaczorowska – added Minister Dziedziczak.
Who was Karolina Kaczorowska?
Karolina Kaczorowska, née Mariampolska, was born in 1930 in Stanisławów (now Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine). During the Soviet occupation of the Eastern Borderlands, in 1940, she was sent to Siberia. She shared the fate of Polish “wandering children”, evacuated with the Anders Army to Iran, and then staying in Uganda for several years, where she stayed until the end of the 1940s, and then left for Great Britain. After graduating from the University of London, she started working as a teacher. Thanks to her involvement in scouting activities, she met Ryszard Kaczorowski, whom she married in 1952. The couple had two daughters – Jadwiga and Alicja – and five grandchildren.
Karolina Kaczorowska was an active participant in the social life of Polish emigrants, a person of merit for Polish scouting in exile, involved in the charity work of the Union of Polish Women in Great Britain. On July 19, 1989, after Ryszard Kaczorowski was sworn in as President of the Republic of Poland in Exile, she became the First Lady of the Republic of Poland in Exile. In December 1990, Ryszard Kaczorowski officially handed over the presidential insignia to Lech Wałęsa. Karolina Kaczorowska accompanied her husband at that time. It returned to the country for the first time in 50 years.
After the death of President Kaczorowski in the Smolensk catastrophe, she continued her public activity. She was the custodian of the memory of her deceased husband. In 2012, she was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. From 2016, she represented the émigré community in the Council for Veterans and Victims of Oppression. For many years, she patronized undertakings commemorating the Polish military act and cultivating the independence tradition. In 2010-2021, she was the Honorary Patron of the March Szlakiem Szlakiem I Kadrowa Company. She died on August 21.
St. Francis of Assisi in the Willesden Green district was her parish almost throughout the entire London part of Karolina Kaczorowska’s life and, as her pastor emphasized, she was very involved in the life of the community.
After the cremation, Karolina Kaczorowska’s ashes will be taken to Poland and placed in the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw, where her husband is buried.
Main photo source: Twitter / @ PolishEmbassyUK