Jadwiga Gnatowska was born on 17 January 1917 in Skajboty as the daughter of Jan Gnatowski. She had a younger sister named Julianna. We are fairly well informed about the course of her life because it is connected with an important section of the younger Polish history of the Warmia.

Ms. Gnatowska was a kindergarten teacher and librarian for the "Union of Poles in Germany". She received her education in Warsaw and at the University of Gniezno. Thereafter, she worked as a kindergarten teacher of a Polish kindergarten in Skaibotten and was particularly active in the Polish youth pioneer organization. She was very successful in this organization, as a source is showing[1]. Later, she was manager of the Polish library in Skaibotten. After the war began she was brought to Berlin in 1939, where she was assigned obligatory labor.

Over these Polish institutions of the Warmia, Jan Chlosta composed an article. In the German summary of the text, which has been delivered by the publishing house, following has been said:

"In the period between the two world wars, it was the Polish Catholic School Association in Warmia and later the Union of Polish School Associations, which deal with the creation of the preschools. These organizations provided also for the preparation of the personnel. Among others, girls from Warmia were sent to the German seminar for nursery school teachers in Königsberg (Kaliningrad) and into similar institutes in Poland (sic!).

In the year 1927, there were kindergartens in Unieszewo, Gietrzwald, Nowe Butryny, Nowa Kaletka, Pluski, Przykop, Purda, Skajboty, Woryty and Olsztyn. Kindergarten teachers in the Polish preschools were: ... Jadwiga Gnatowska and Maria Preylowska.

In spite of certain countermeasures on the part of German training authorities, the nursery school teachers played an important role in the formation of the Polish culture life in the villages surrounding Olsztyn. The work with the preschoolers was only part of the duties given them by the Union of Polish School Associations: they led the circles of the youth associations, they lent books from Polish libraries and dedicated themselves to the Scouts.[2]"

In this context is naturally not only the name Jadwiga Gnatowska interesting, but also that of Maria Preylowska. It is noteworthy that next to a Gnatowska, also a Preylowska received the same training, and exercised the same work. Ms. Preylowska was later active in Purden. Whether both related, or even aware of an earlier connection of their families, we can not find out in this context, but nevertheless a possibility can not be ruled out.

In 1939, the libraries were closed by the Gestapo and the books confiscated. From the documents checked by professor Borzyszkowski it is apparent that Hedwig Gnatowski - the name has been changed into a German form in the meantime - was in 1939 the administrator of a library in Great Purden. 90 books have been confiscated there. This figure is only slightly lower than the number of books that were seized in the other libraries. Only in Olsztyn there was a much larger library with no less than 1510 books. With bureaucratic thoroughness, the number of confiscated books has been accurately recorded.

About the later fate of Ms. Gnatowski, we know nothing. But it is to assume that the above-described obligatory labor the work in a concentration camp was as most of Polish people and even the Scouts of Warmia were deported to these camps, where most of them died.[3]


  1. [^]Tadeusz Oracki, Słownik Biograficzny Warmii, Mazur i Powiśla XIX i XX Wieku (do 1945 roku), Warsaw 1983, p. 115
  2. [^]Jan Chlosta, "Przyczynki Do Dziejow Przedszkoli Polskich Na Warmii W Latach 1927-1939", in: Komunikaty Mazursko-Warminskie, Olsztyn 1978, number 3 (141), page 386.
  3. [^]See the article by Andrzej Gasiorowski, "Harcerstwo Polskie Na Powislu W Latach 1920-1939", o.O., o.J., page 412.


  • von der Lehr, Alfred. Die Gnatowskis. Die Geschichte einer masowischen Familie. Fürth : Selbstverlag 2000. ISBN-Nr: 3-00-005311-5