Conflict, War and Revolution: My Life
Discovered by the author’s grandson, and written originally in Italian, Conflict, War and Revolution: My Life is the memoir of Baroness Alessandra Koslowska (1892-1975) and is a vivid depiction of her life from childhood to the end of the Second World War.
This extraordinary memoir begins with Alessandra’s comfortable life of some wealth and social status in Krasnodar in the Caucasus, and ends with the perils of internment as an alien in rural Italy, in Ospedaletto. In between is an account of Alessandra’s survival of two revolutions in Russia and the subsequent civil war, her travels in central Europe during World War One, her life in Italy during the inter-war years, and her internment there, which was almost terminated by German forces. In essence it is the story of her struggle to keep her family together through the huge and sometimes deadly social and political changes of early twentieth century Europe.
Alessandra Kozlowska emerges as a woman of formidable sang froid, quick witted, polylingual, with deep reserves of kindness and compassion on which she repeatedly drew. The story of her life reads like a novel. She was at ease in continental ‘society’ before and after the First World War, yet also at the forefront of events in Russia where her family gave refuge to the president of the Duma, before fleeing after a confrontation with the Red Army. By this time Alessandra had married a Polish count, had a narrow escape as a Russian in Austria during World War I, and had lost touch with her brother and sister in the White Army in Russia. The family was only partially united after the Russian civil war, and fractured again with World War II, at the end of which Alessandra and her husband were providing refuge for American embassy personnel and others in Rome.
The waves of history roll relentlessly through Alessandra’s story, yet her character and background give her the resilience to endure events which might have caused most people to despair. Conflict, War and Revolution: My Life is a remarkable account of an unknown yet fascinating woman in the twentieth century.