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Pilsudski's pilot daughter dies

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 17.11.2014 12:28
Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska, WWII pilot and daughter of 'father of Polish Independence' Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, has died in Warsaw aged 94.

Archival photograph of Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska, taken in 2008. Photo: PAP/Pawel Kula

Although compelled to spend much of her life in exile in the United Kingdom, Pilsudska-Jaraczewska and her late sister Wanda returned to live in Poland in 1990, after the collapse of communism.

The Pilsudska sisters had escaped Poland in September 1939 as Nazi Germany invaded the country.

The siblings ultimately reached the UK, where Jadwiga, a qualified pilot, served as a member of Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), a civilian organisation that cooperated with the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Although Pilsudska-Jaraczewska did not fly in combat, her flights as a second officer through British airspace during the war were not without risk.

In 1944 she married Lieutenant Andrzej Jaraczewski, a naval officer, by whom she later had two children.

After the war, she enrolled at the newly created Polish School of Architecture at Liverpool University, from which she graduated in 1946 with an engineering degree in architecture.

Pilsudska-Jaraczewska declined British citizenship, and in her spare time devoted herself to work for the Polish immigrant community.

She and her sister returned to Poland in 1990, following the free elections that marked the end of communism.

The siblings ultimately regained their father's manor house in Sulejowek, central Poland. The building, which had been confiscated by Poland's post-war communist regime, is due to open as a museum devoted to Pilsudski in 2017.

Jozef Pilsudski proclaimed Polish independence at the tail-end of the First World War on 11 November 1918, becoming 'Chief of State' for four years, until the office of president was created in 1922.

After a series of governments collapsed, he led a military coup in 1926, but refused the office of president thereafter. However, he maintained a tight grip on power until his death in May 1935, sometimes using authoritarian methods to keep his opponents in check. (nh)

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