Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Don’t Mess with Cupid: A Remembrance

The intrigues of international politics are dominated by ambitious and dedicated individuals who relish power and influence. How often, however, do we hear about someone who gave up fame and a promising career for love?

Stefan Olszowski was twice the foreign minister of communist Poland and a Politburo member with a strong pro-Soviet record. His career seemed to be on an upward trajectory until he was suddenly ousted from the Communist Party leadership in 1985, in part because of his affair with a Polish journalist whom he married after leaving his first wife. A man known for actively supporting the suppression of the fledgling Solidarity movement and once a rising star in the world politics, Olszowski left for New York in 1986, when his new wife accepted a staff position at the United Nations. Disregarding his colleagues’ admonitions that it was bad publicity for such a high-profile Communist to be living in enemy territory, Olszowski settled with his wife and their son in a Long Island community near the Hamptons. Could Olszowski have had a sense of the dramatic changes to come in Poland? Or had he recognized that a relatively anonymous life with his son and the woman he loved were far superior to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune behind the Iron Curtain.

Stefan Olszowski’s privacy was recently “invaded” by our Curator for Eastern Europe and the papers and photographs with which he left communist Poland are now in the Hoover Archives. Several examples of these photographs appear below.

Stefan Olszowski (right) with General Wojciech Jaruzelski, prime minister and last Communist leader of Poland, 1983. Stefan Olszowski papers, box 3, Hoover Institution Archives

Stefan Olszowski (left) with Andrei Gromyko, Soviet foreign minister, during his visit to Warsaw, 1983. Stefan Olszowski papers, box 3, Hoover Institution Archives

Stefan Olszowski and wife Zofia in America. Stefan Olszowski papers, box 3, Hoover Institution Archives

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