We will give Poland all that is ours…

Maria Zmigrodzka

The resolution of the Senate of Poland, passed on 7 February 2008, announcing 2008 – the 120th anniversary of the births of the main founders of the Polish scouting – the Year of Andrzej and Olga Malkowski is an extremely important act.

Their lives were beautiful – dedicated to God, Poland and neighbours. They were born under the partitions in 1888. She was born in Krzeszowice near Krakow (on 1 September) into the Drahonowski Family, the administrators of the Count Potocki’s estate. Her mother’s background was Czech and her father had Armenian roots. He was born in Trebki near Kutno (31 October) under the Russian partition. He was an heir of meritorious gentry having military traditions – they were brought up to love all that was Polish; they served the Homeland with all their lives. The founders of the organisation appreciated the significance of religion and faithfulness to God according to which they developed the Decalogue of the scout law. Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the new world movement, also spoke about the attitude towards faith, instructing, ‘If your scouting were without God it would be better not to exist at all.’ ‘As his friends recollected, Scout Andrzej, a deep believer, far from all fanaticism, regularly took his pack to church and ended bonfires with prayer. He said that he would be happy if all scouts were Catholics but ‘if someone admits to have dogmatic doubts – the only thing required is that religiousness of old Romans: honesty, diligence, and sense of responsibility.’ ‘Immersed in his studies, working with young people, promoting scouting through talks, tales, excursions, meetings and editing the paper ‘Skaut’ – as Olga wrote – he often slept at his desk for one or two hours, resting his head on his fist, then he woke up on time to go to the 6 o’clock morning Mass in the church of Mary Magdalene. He did not neglect that. After having heard Mass and received Holy Communion he returned to work with new strengths.’ The initiators of scouting understood the great significance of national culture, tradition, family home as well as friendship, brotherhood and service. They made efforts to acquire knowledge and skills in various fields. They learnt foreign languages. After having completed the final high school exams in Krakow she studied at the Conservatory of Music in Lvov. She also wrote poems and carved. She was good at sports: swimming, skating, horse riding and skiing. She was an instructor of physical education in ‘Sokol’ and the Polish Gymnastics Society, which actually was to prepare young people to fight for independence. In Lvov, together with Andrzej, she was active in the organisation ‘Eleusis’ aiming at national upbringing and in the independence association ‘Zarzewie’, which was formed from the secret Association of Polish Youth ‘Zet’ (active under the three partitions), referring to the tradition of the group called ‘Filomaci and Filareci.’ She became a lieutenant; got to know the military arcane knowledge – weapon, pyrotechnics, the organisation and potential of the invading forces, topography, drawing maps, tactics, military geometry, etc. Andrzej, co-founder of the secret abstinence youth association ‘Mlodziez’ (from 1905 in Lvov), stressed the same guideline in scouting, saying forcibly, ‘I regard observing abstinence from alcohol and tobacco as one of the indispensable conditions to develop scouting in Poland… Alcohol and tobacco have been written by terrible letters on the grave of our Homeland’… The ideas of the new movement were promoted by the paper ‘Skaut’, published in Lvov from 15 October 1911. Its first issue included the text of the memorable song, which became the Polish scout anthem ‘Wszystko co nasze’. Ignacy Kozielewski, a friend of the Malkowskis, was the author of the lyrics and Olga (with his consent) added a refrain to the text and adjusted the whole poem to the melody, which was popular during the revolution of 1905. The next issues of ‘Skaut’ presented scout oath and law as well as the badge – a lily – with the letters on its petals ONC (Motherland, Science, Virtue), which was the motto of the Filareci. The badge was selected in a contest. The shape of the scouts’ cross with the motto ’Czuwaj’, which was the greeting of all Polish scouts, was based on the Polish military decoration ‘Virtuti Militari’, a cross with entwined cipher, surrounded by an oak and green laurel wreath. In 1911 the first Polish scout packs: two boy scouts’ groups named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, and a girl scouts’ group named after Emilia Plater, the Scouter being Olga Drahonowska, who was at the same time a commander of girl scouts in the Main Scouts’ Headquarters, were created in Lvov.
On 19 June 1913 Olga and Andrzej got married in Zakopane. It was the first marriage in scout uniforms. The witnesses had similar uniforms and the marriage was blessed by Fr Kazimierz Lutoslawski, a scout himself. The bride wore red beads, which were the gift of Aleksandra Malkowska, Andrzej’s grandmother and senator’s wife. Several days later headed by the First Scout a big group of young people from all over Poland took part in the National Scouts Rally in Birmingham. The team was characterised by enthusiasm and discipline. The scouts zealously sang ‘Rota’ and the Polish anthem several times and, in spite of the muttering of the unfriendly, saying that Poland did not exist as a country, they placed a big banner ‘POLAND’ over the tent. General Baden-Powell cordially thanked the Polish scouts and awarded their leader with a ‘meritorious’ medal. ‘Ducha tez, Ojczyznie milej sluz! [Summon up your spirit, serve your beloved Homeland!] On 6 August 1914, together with the First Battalion, Malkowski set out from Krakow to Kielce and then took part in battles. As he did not want to take the oath to serve the Austrians he left the Legions and settled in Zakopane. Together with Olenka they led scouts’ packs, which had over 300 members. Stefan Zeromski, who son Adas was active in the local scouts’ group, described the tutor of the scouts as ‘fervent leader, dispatcher of souls and bodies.’ After postmen and highlanders were drafted Olga took care for the scout post, helped in harvest and ran a cheap canteen for the poor and she kept 24-hour guard. Under her command, thinking about fighting with the partitioner’s forces, the scouts founded secret weapon depot in the mountains: in Murzasichle, in the caves of Nosal, in the Pyszna pasture, in the Roztoka Valley and in the Koscieliska Valley. In February 1915, after the Malkowskis had attempted to proclaim the Podhalanska Republic in Zakopane as the beginnings of independent Poland, the Austrian police found out the depot and they were not arrested only thanks to the help of the highlanders. They went to Switzerland via Vienna and from there they reached the USA where their son called Lutyk (to commemorate the early Slavonic tribe known for their indomitability and fortitude, who were exterminated by the Germans) was born on 30 October 1915. The indefatigable First Scout, wanting to create a Polish Legion in the United States – he did not succeed – founded scouts’ packs in many Polish immigrants’ environments. He enrolled in the Canadian Forces and fought in France. He welcomed the day of 11 November 1918 in Paris as lieutenant of the army commanded by General Haller. He wrote in his last letters to his wife on 10-11 January 1919, ‘My dearest Olenka. Astonishing, joyful and amazing news from Poland! The whole world will soon bow before the Resurrected… How small I feel facing the vast tasks; how much light and strength I desire!’ He was sent to Odessa in a military mission to General Lucjan Zeligorski and was killed on the night of 15 January 1915 when the ship hit a mine in the Straits of Messina. His body was not found. Out of 700 travellers only some twenty people were saved. One of the shipwrecked people claimed to have seen Malkowski giving a safety belt to a little girl just before the ship sank… Both brothers of Andrzej fought for Poland: Mariusz Malkowski (25), artillery sergeant of the First Legion Regiment died in a military hospital in January 1917. The legendary and brave leader Major Kazimierz Malkowski (30) was killed in the battle against the Bolsheviks in May 1920.

"Niedziela" 44/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl