Wanda Wasilewska

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Wanda Wasilewska

Wanda Wasilewska (born January 21, 1905 in Krakow , † July 29, 1964 in Kiev ) was a Polish and Soviet politician and writer .


Wasilewska was the daughter of a well-known Polish left-wing politician ( PPS ), the former Foreign Minister Leon Wasilewski (1918-19). She studied Polish at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and received her doctorate in 1927. Before starting her job as a Polish teacher and editor of the newspapers Robotnik (The Worker), Naprzód (Forward) and Dziennik Popularny (Popular Daily Gazette ), she worked in socialist youth organizations.

In the PPS leadership she campaigned for cooperation with the communists and the Soviet Union. This line was controversial because the majority of the PPS members and sympathizers rejected any form of cooperation with the Soviet Union and the CPP . Since she was unable to implement her course of rapprochement with the CPP, she herself became a communist. Wasilewska also got involved with the leftists Wacław Barcikowski and Teodor Duracz in the League for Defense of Human and Civil Rights .

In 1936 she organized the Congress of Polish Intellectuals in Lemberg , which quickly turned into a demonstration against the policies of the " Sanacja ". Because of the great sympathy that her father enjoyed with the government, she was not arrested, although she herself was at war with her father. The following year she was expelled from the Polish Teachers Association for her communist views .

In September 1939 she fled to the Soviet Union from the German invasion of Poland . After September 17, she received Soviet citizenship and settled alone in Lviv, while her mother stayed in German- occupied Warsaw . She defended the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact . In Lemberg, she worked for the magazine Czerwony Sztandar (Red Flag) and quickly won the sympathy of Stalin . In 1940 Wasilewska became the director of the Dramatic Theater in Lviv and at the same time a member of parliament for Eastern Galicia in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR . At the time, she herself spoke of herself as a “former Polish woman”, which led to the particular hatred of the Poles living under Soviet occupation .

Together with Jerzy Putrament she founded the magazine Nowe Widnokręgi , in which she agitated against the Polish government in exile in London and for the building of communism in Poland. She became an unconditional Stalinist , she is credited with the saying: "Even if an innocent person dies by accident, it is better than if the USSR goes under."

After the outbreak of the German-Soviet War , she worked in the Red Army as a war correspondent and became Politruk in the rank of Colonel of the Red Army. Their propaganda brochures were distributed millions of times among the Red Army soldiers. She was also involved in the formation of the Moscow-dependent Polish armed forces (the Kościuszko Division). In 1943 she became chairman of the Union of Polish Patriots (ZPP) in the USSR, which included not only Polish communists, but also central politicians who had been liberated from the Siberia camps and who had submitted to Stalin.

In this capacity, she blamed the numerous articles and speeches Wehrmacht , the Katyn massacre to have committed. Via Radio Moscow she also attacked the Polish government-in-exile sharply, accusing her of making propaganda for the Nazi regime by calling for an independent investigation commission under the auspices of the Red Cross into the "anti-Soviet agitation" (" antyradziecka heca "). When the Soviet authorities sent their own commission of inquiry under the direction of the medical professor Nikolai Burdenko to the Katyn forest in January 1944 , Wanda Wasilewska was originally intended to be their member. But Stalin personally crossed her and other Poles from the list, he gave instructions not to appoint any foreigners to the Burdenko Commission .

In 1944 she was appointed Vice-President of the Polish Committee of National Liberation , from which the new Polish government, controlled by Moscow, emerged. But she did not return to Poland. She stayed in the USSR after the war, she continued her work as a delegate in Moscow and also wrote some books on socialism . She initially lived in a residential complex built especially for the elite of officials, the " House on the Embankment ", and in a villa-like dacha near Moscow. She had access to the special shops of the party elite and showed herself in fur coats. Even after moving to Kiev, she lived in luxurious circumstances. According to contemporary witnesses, she was a chain smoker and also inclined to alcoholic beverages.

In 1949 she represented the USSR at the World Peace Congress in Paris. In a sketch about Parisian cultural life, she took the view that the Comédie-Française was worse than any amateur theater in the Soviet Union and that Edith Piaf sang worse than a kolkhoz farmer. She sent reports of her conversations with Polish writers to the party leader of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic Nikita Khrushchev , who forwarded them to the Polish party leader, Bolesław Bierut . In Moscow she succeeded in ensuring that the young poet Andrei Voznesensky was temporarily banned from being printed due to allegedly lack of adherence to the line and was banned from traveling abroad.

She died in Kiev in 1964 and was buried in the Baikowe Cemetery. The obituary in the Soviet press was signed by party leader Leonid Brezhnev , KGB boss Yuri Andropov and the writers Ilya Ehrenburg and Mikhail Scholokhov .

In the People's Republic of Poland , numerous schools, streets and institutions were named after her, including the Historical Military Institute in Warsaw. After the political change of 1989/90, her name was largely deleted from public space.

Literary work

In Polish literature, Wasilewska is one of the forerunners of socialist realism , which in the first post-war years became an obligatory guideline for writers in Poland as well. She wrote novels and children's books. The latter were part of school reading in both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of Poland . She was awarded the Stalin Prize for Literature three times (1943, 1946, 1952). Her books appeared in Russian in the Soviet Union with a total circulation of more than ten million copies. After Stalin's death, however, they were rarely printed.


Her first husband Roman Szymański, a former fellow student, died of typhus shortly after the wedding . She had a daughter with him, Ewa. The second, the bricklayer and trade unionist Marian Bogatko , whom she married in 1936, was shot dead by an NKVD squad in May 1940. The press controlled by the Soviet occupiers accused Ukrainian nationalists of the attack. According to reports from contemporary witnesses, including the writers Władysław Broniewski and Aleksander Wat , a violent dispute had broken out among the married couple because Bogatko had pointed out the impoverishment of the population under Soviet rule. Khrushchev admitted in his posthumously published autobiographical sketches that the perpetrators came from the NKVD. But Wanda Wasilewska had been informed that it was a mistake, that the NKVD command was supposed to arrest a completely different person.

Just in case, Khrushchev assigned the communist writer Oleksandr Kornijchuk to look after them; this became her third husband. The American writer John Steinbeck was a guest of Wasilewska and Kornijtschuk in Kiev on his trip to the Soviet Union in 1947. He described the luxurious apartment and the abundant food with exquisite delicacies in a city whose population suffered from great supply difficulties. According to contemporary witnesses, Kornijchuk cheated on her permanently; at least two illegitimate children recognized by him have emerged from his other relationships. According to reports, she stipulated in her will that she does not want to be buried with her husband. He died eight years after her and was in fact buried in another grave.


  • Magda (1935)
  • Rainbow over the Dnieper (1942)
  • Song over the Waters (1952, trilogy)
  • Boden im Joch (1938) - Volk und Welt publishing house. Berlin, 1951.
  • Just love (1944)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Włodzimierz Borodziej: History of Poland in the 20th century. Munich 2010, p. 176.
  2. a b c d e f g Wanda Wasilewska: Bywszaja Polka gazeta .pl, March 23, 2001.
  3. Claudia Weber : War of the perpetrators. The Katyn mass shootings. Hamburg 2015, p. 241.
  4. Wanda Wasilewska: Bywszaja Polka gazeta .pl, March 23, 2001. (" Nawet jeśli przypadkiem zginie ktoś niewinny, lepiej, by zginął niewinny, niż miałby zginąć ZSRR. ")
  5. Witold Wasilewski: Ludobójstwo. Kłamstwo i walka o prawdę Sprawy Katynia 1940-2014. Łomianki 2014. p. 170.
  6. Speech in: Berlingoscy. Żołnierze tragiczne. Ed. Dominika Czapigo. Warsaw 2015, pp. 32–33.
  7. ^ Wojciech Materski: Murder Katyński. Siedemdziesiąt lat drogi do prawdy. Warsaw 2010. p. 35.
  8. Adam Marcinkowski, Uroczystość Nadania Wojskowemu Instytutowi Historycznemu imienia Wandy Wasilewskiej in: Wojskowy Przegląd Historyczny, 2/1978, pp 328-332.
  9. Ванда Львовна Василевская , biography in: hrono.ru
  10. Mężczyźni Wandy Wasilewskiej ( Memento of the original from January 29, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Uważam Rze Historia, January 28, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.historia.uwazamrze.pl
  11. ^ John Steinbeck: A Russian Journal New York 1948.
  12. 28 Mężczyźni Wandy Wasilewskiej ( Memento of the original from January 29, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Uważam Rze Historia, January 28, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.historia.uwazamrze.pl


  • Gertrud Pickhan, Wanda Wasilewska: Images and self-images after the Second World War, in: Gender relations in East Central Europe after the Second World War. Edited by Claudia Kraft. Munich 2008, pp. 87-102.
  • Jesse Russell, Ronald Cohn Wanda Wasilewska. Book on Demand Ltd., Moscow 2013. ISBN 9785512108079

Web links