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Former secretary to Poland’s war-time PM dies in New York

03.04.2020 17:12
Walentyna Janta-Połczyńska, who served as a personal secretary to General Władysław Sikorski, Prime Minister of the Polish government-in-exile in London during World War II, died on Thursday in a New York hospital. She was 107.
Photo: Radio Poland
Photo: Radio Poland Julian Horodyski

The last living member of staff of the Polish government-in-exile, she was dubbed the Grand Old Lady of the Polish community in the United States.

During World War II, Walentyna Janta-Połczyńska also worked as an announcer for the clandestine “Świt” (The Dawn) radio station. Based near London, it broadcast news to German-occupied Poland.

She was also entrusted with the task of making typescripts of reports on Nazi atrocities perpetrated in Poland that were brought to London by Jan Karskia Pole who carried the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world. 

After the war, Janta-Połczyńska settled in the United States, where she married prominent writer and journalist Aleksander Janta-Połczyński.

They were indefatigable promoters of Polish culture and the arts, often hosting figures such as Jan Karski and famous writers Czesław Miłosz, Jerzy Giedroyć, Witold Gombrowicz and Marek Hłasko at their home in Elmhurst, New York City.

After her husband’s death in 1974, Walentyna Janta-Połczyńska donated their extensive collection of Polish maps, manuscripts, old prints and documents to the National Library in Warsaw.

Her distinctions included the Order of Merit for Polish Culture and the Jan Karski Memorial Award.