Interesting Women: Countess Lanckorońska

“Polish art historian” – this is really a bit too sparse as description for this woman.
Karolina Maria Adelajda Franciszka Ksawera Małgorzata Edina Gräfin LANCKORONSKA (1898-2002) (Ger., Eng., obit.) was the child of count Karl LANCKORONSKI (Ger., Eng.) (1848-1933) and his third wife Margarethe (1863-1954), a born LICHNOWSKY. The brother of Karolina’s mother was the count LICHNOWSKY mentioned here. Karolina had a sister Adelajda, and a half-brother from her father’s first marriage, Anton (1893-1965), none of the siblings married.
She grew up in Vienna, where the family lived in a pretty large palais (Ger., Eng.) that sadly & unnecessarily was destroyed after the war. The large art collection left little Karolina with no other choice but to seriously study art history.
The countess was a romantic patriot. She learned the Polish language from a gouvernante, her father wanted her to speak English and French, her Prussian mother preferred to converse in German. So when in 1919 the Polish state finally came into being she became a Polish subject. She stayed in Vienna, studied art history and did her doctorate about Michelangelo in 1926. Ten years later she habilitated at the university (Ger., Eng.) of Lemberg (Ger., Eng.), today Ukraine, where she received an assistant professorship – thus she became the first Polish habilitated art historian altogether. Her brother took care of the family estate in Galizia.
In 1939 Poland was not only attacked, but divided and Lemberg was occupied by the Red Army. The palais in Vienna (and everything in it (!) ) was seized by the then German gouvernement. The family estate in Galizia was lost to the communist state. To escape the imminent Stalinistic deportation (think Katyn (Ger., Eng. !) she went into the German occupied area in March 1940. She had already contact to the Polish resistance and in Krakow she met the head of the Armia Kraiowa (Ger., Eng.) KOMOROWSKI (Ger., Eng.), aka general BOR. She worked for the RGO, a Polish caritative organisation, and as courier for the AK.
At the beginning of 1942 the countess came to Stanisławów (Ger., Eng.), today in the Ukraine, where the local head of the Gestapo, Hans KRÜGER (Ger.) had her arrested. KRÜGER was a bloody murderer, and during an interrogation he bragged about his involvement in the massacre of the Lemberg professors (Ger., Eng.) of July 1941. This was a part of HIMMLER’s plan to eradicate the “Polish intelligence”. KRÜGER btw was jailed for other murders and crimes he committed, not for the Lemberg massacre, even the SS itself had him arrested for a year; the countess tried in vain to reach his conviction for this crime in 1968.
Countess LANCKORONSKA stayed in Gestapo jails until she was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, yes – full circle, where she arrived at the beginning of 1943. She was not executed in the Ukraine because the Italian Royal family had turned to HIMMLER in her favour. In March 1945 she was put on a transport to Switzerland, after the head of the Red Cross BURCKHARDT (Ger., Eng.) had intervened – I think these transports must be seen in the light of HIMMLER’s attempts to negotiate; he seemingly seriously thought that he could get away. So the countess and other people survived because the head of the SS used them as jetons, tokens.
The countess now was a Polish emigrant for the rest of her life. She first lived in Switzerland and later settled in Rome, where she helped survivors (Ger., Eng.) of the Anders (Eng.)-Armee (Ger., Eng.).
She did not accept a call to Fribourg university (Ger., Eng.), but stayed independent, kept on publishing, took care of the remains of the family’s art collection – she donated it after 1989 to the free & democratic Polish state – and founded the Polnische Historische Institut in Rome.
“Formidable, frugal and fit”, as the obituary describes her, she survived all of them. Interesting woman.

7 thoughts on “Interesting Women: Countess Lanckorońska

  1. Glad you find it too, Eryl.

    Ms Rivers is only eighty, Norma, let’s see how she keeps herself.

    Born in the “long” 19th she lived through the whole “short” 20th and died at the beginning of the 21st century. I think that is pretty rare, Foam.

    Definitely, LX – who should play her ?

  2. Parts of the “Night Porter” could be used as flim-in-film: Edgy, artsy and artistically valuable.
    Where to store the trophies ? All these golden lions, bears and whatnot … we’d need a storage facility !

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