An international adventure for freedom.
These memoirs of Helena Paderewska, wife of the celebrated pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, tell the story of her husband's grassroots efforts to influence the course of history for their native Poland after World War I. She tells how, using his personal fame and charisma, Paderewski gained access to the top political leadership of France, Britain, and the United States and became an eloquent spokesman for the then-occupied country of his birth.
As well as being the story of an exceptionally talented self-made man who accomplished his boyhood dream of freedom and independence for his homeland, these memoirs are also one of the few examples of a woman's look at the world of international politics during the Great War and its immediate aftermath. As Paderewski's devoted wife and collaborator, Helena facilitated and accompanied virtually his every move and was one of only several women, among hundreds of men, in the Hall of Mirrors when the Versailles treaty was signed.
Helena Paderewska was born Helena Rosen in 1856 in Warsaw, the daughter of a Polish father and a Greek mother. In addition to collaborating on her husband's accomplishments, she founded and directed the Polish White Cross, which enlisted almost twenty thousand members' bringing assistance to victims of war, a humanitarian and patriotic effort on a scale previously unknown.
Maciej Siekierski is curator of European Collections at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives in Stanford, California. A specialist on Poland and Eastern Europe, he has been a member of the staff since 1984, with principal responsibility for acquiring European archival materials.