General Wacław Jędrzejewicz (Polish pronunciation: [ˈvat͡swaf jɛndʐɛˈjɛvʲit͡ʂ]; 29 January 1893 – 30 November 1993) was a Polish Army officer and diplomat and subsequently an American college professor. He was co-founder and long-time president of the Józef Piłsudski Institute of America.
Jędrzejewicz was born in Spiczyńce (then Russian Empire, now Ukraine). As a student at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (1913–14), Jędrzejewicz joined Józef Piłsudski's Riflemen's Association (Związek Strzelecki). In 1915 he was one of the founders and leaders of the Polish Military Organization (Polska Organizacja Wojskowa, or P.O.W.). In August 1915 he brought his "Warsaw Battalion" into the Polish Legions' First Brigade, then fighting in Volhynia. In July 1917, during the Legions' "Oath Crisis" (precipitated by a demand from Germany and Austro-Hungary that the Polish Legionnaires swear loyalty to them), Jędrzejewicz was imprisoned by the Germans.
On 24 April 1920, Jędrzejewicz, now a captain, signed a military convention with Ukraine's Ataman Semen Petlura which paved the way for the Polish Army's 1920 Kiev Expedition. Next he served as Section II chief successively to Generals Kazimierz Sosnkowski and Gustaw Zygadłowicz. In September–November 1920, as a major, he was the Polish Army's liaison officer to allied Belarusian forces.
In 1922–25 Jędrzejewicz directed the Polish General Staff's "East" Department. In 1925 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel.
Returning to Poland, he served as director of the Foreign Ministry's Consular Department (1928-1933) and as Treasury Vice Minister (1933-1934). On 22 January 1934, he was appointed Minister of Religious Denominations and Public Education in the government of his brother, Premier Janusz Jędrzejewicz (1885-1951), serving on as well in the premierships of Leon Kozłowski and Walery Sławek. He introduced educational reforms that sparked controversy in Poland but won international approval and emulation.
After Marshal Józef Piłsudski died (1935), Jędrzejewicz held no more ministerial offices.
When World War II broke out in September 1939, Jędrzejewicz helped evacuate the treasury of the Fund for National Defense, which in February 1940 he delivered to General Władysław Sikorski's Polish government-in-exile in Paris. Due to the anti-Piłsudskiite policies of General Sikorski (whose prewar career had been derailed by differences with Piłsudski), Jędrzejewicz was prevented from serving now with the Polish Armed Forces in exile. Consequently, in March 1941 he emigrated to New York.
On 4 July 1943, Jędrzejewicz co-founded the Józef Piłsudski Institute of America, dedicated to study of recent Polish history, and was its first director (5 July 1943 — 28 September 1948).
In 1948 Jędrzejewicz became professor of Russian language and literature at Wellesley College. In 1958-1963 he was director of Slavic studies at Ripon College in Wisconsin.
On retiring, he returned to New York, where in 1964 he again became director of the Józef Piłsudski Institute.
He died in 1993 at the age of 100.
Jędrzejewicz published some 300 scholarly papers in history and several major books, including Poland in the British Parliament, 1939-45 and a two-volume Kronika życia Józefa Piłsudskiego (Chronicle of the Life of Józef Piłsudski). His English-language publications also included Piłsudski: a Life for Poland, New York, Hippocrene Books, 1982.
Jędrzejewicz was awarded the Silver Cross of Virtuti Militari (personally by Marshal Jozef Piłsudski, 11 November 1921), the Cross of Independence with Swords, the Cross of Valour(Krzyż Walecznych) four times and the Order of Polonia Restituta, Classes I (Grand Cross, 1993) and IV, and received decorations of 13 countries, including the French Légion d'Honneur. In 1993, Jędrzejewicz was awarded Honorary Citizenship of the Royal City of Kraków.
In 1992 Jędrzejewicz was promoted by Polish President Lech Wałęsa to the rank of brigadier general.
Jędrzejewicz died at the age of 100 on 30 November 1993, in Cheshire, Connecticut, the last of Marshal Piłsudski's government ministers and the last co-founder of the Józef Piłsudski Institute of America. He was interred on 4 June 1994 at Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.
- "Jędrzejewicz, Wacław," Who's Who in Polish America, 1st ed., 1996–1997, New York, Bicentennial Publishing Corp., distributed in the book trade by Hippocrene Books, 1996, pp. 173–74.
- "Jędrzejewicz, Janusz," Encyklopedia Polski, p. 256.
|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|