90th Birthday of Karolina Kaczorowska

September 27, 2020

Karolina Kaczorowska – the widow of Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last President of the Republic of Poland in exile, and thus the last emigre First Lady is celebrating her 90th Birthday!

The First Lady – Karolina Kaczorowska belongs to a generation known in Poland as “the lost generation of Columbuses”.   There were young Poles whose youth could not blossom as they entered it during the terrible times of the Second World War in Poland.  Many of them  tragically died, killed by German or Russian occupants of Poland.   But she, unlike so many others, can consider herself a fulfilled person, with an original life, marked by concern for the most important good – the Motherland.

Karolina from the Mariampolski family comes from Kresy, the most Eastern Part of Poland. In dramatic circumstances, like many other Poles, she was deported to Siberia. Together with others via Russia, Iran, India went to Africa and only there her fate changed for the better.

Today, on the 26th, September 2020, when I am writing this article, we are celebrating Karolina Kaczorowska’s 90th birthday.   One important thing to celebrate about Karolina is that she has been going through the most impossible and tough experiences in life with positive attitude and almost “smile on her face” due to her deep faith in God.   She loves her country, she loves people and most of all she loves God.  Let’s remind Fof Karolina’s amazing life story on this special day of her round numbered birthday, as we celebrate this special First Lady.

The First Lady’s extraordinary life started in Kresy, through the Soviet occupation and deportation into deepest and darkest Siberia, escape to Africa with Anders’s Army and finally reaching safety and stability in post war London as an Émigré.  Her story is amazing and representative of a the “Polish Trail” that many “Kresovians” followed.  Her interesting but not “easy” biography was described in the book “The President’s Wife. Karolina Kaczorowska” by Iwona Walentynowicz (pictured).

Photo: The Kaczorowski Family. Cover page from the book “The President’s Wife Karolina Kaczorowska” by Iwona Walentynowicz

Karolina Kaczorowska (de domo Mariampolska) was born September 26, 1930 in Stanisławów Poland (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine).  During the Soviet invasion of Poland (1939-1941) she was deported, along with her family, to Siberia.  She shared the same fate as our mother Lucja “Luna” Golinska who also was born in Kresy (not a million miles away from Karolina) and who also was deported to Gulag and survived “inhuman land” of Soviet Russia and then was taken with her family to Africa via Teheran as a child refugee.  In fact, the two ladies had a lot in common and became the best of friends ever since Africa.   They liked to call themselves “Afrykanki” – Africa ladies.  One more thing in common they shared was the love for scouting, as Luna Golinska was a deputy of Karolina’s husband Scoutmaster Ryszard Kaczorowski, who later became the President of Poland in Exile, helping him running the Polish Scouting Organization.   Therefore, they were friends not only on personal but also on family and professional grounds.

After being released from Soviet gulag, Karolina attended Polish school in refugee camp in Uganda and after the War she finally returned to Europe.  Since her homeland was under Soviet occupation she could not return to her beloved Poland and settled in London with her family.  She graduated from the University of London.  For a number of years, she worked as a schoolteacher and was active in the Polish exiled Scouting movement, where she met her future husband. They got married on July 19, 1952.   The story of her true happiness began.  They got married in London and lived together for 58 years until the tragic death of her husband in 2010 in Smolensk in the presidential plane crash.  Karolina and Ryszard had 2 daughters, as well as 5 grandchildren.

Karolina Kaczorowska was originally supposed to attend the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre along with her husband, but health reasons prevented her from going. The entire Polish delegation, including former President Kaczorowski, were killed in the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash.  It was an extraordinarily difficult time for Karolina.  I remember her grief and sadness and shared with her a lot of hugs at these sad times.  Her devotion to Holly Mary, the Moher of God helped Karolina then, like in the other most difficult times of her life.

I have the utmost honor to personally known such a remarkable lady like the First Lady of Poland, Karolina Kaczorowska.  She is a great Polish patriot and a great person full of warmth and love.  I, and my husband, are very grateful that we have the honor of including her among our closest friends. She is a spiritual godmother to our son, Joseph and she honored us with her presence at his Holy Baptism and celebrations at the Polish “Ognisko” (Picture).

Photo:  The author, Iwona Golinska, with Karolina Kaczorowska and guests at the Christening Reception at Ognisko Polskie in Kensington, London in June 2011

It is unfortunate we cannot see Karolina today in person, due to situation with Covid, like we would have wished and give her a huge hug, but we are sincerely wishing her a lot of good health and many smiles.  She is a big asset to our local Polish émigré community in the UK and to Poland.   God bless her!

Text and Pictures:  Iwona Golinska, the founder of the Polish Sue


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