Irena Anders also known as Renata Bogdańska (1920-2010)

19. 12. 2010 | Rubriky: Articles,Lives

[by Ken Hunt, London] The Polish revue artist, singer and actress Irena Anders, born Irena Renata Jarosiewicz on 12 May 1920 in Bruntál, in what is nowadays the Czech Republic, went under the stage name of Renata Bogdańska. Her father was a Rutherian pastor while her mother came from the Polish gentry. She studied music formally at the National Academy of Music in Lviv. The invasion of Poland in September 1939 put paid to her studies and over the next few years the tides of war and the various fortunes of Poland, its citizens and army determined her own life’s course.

Her first husband, Gwidon Borucki, led a morale-boosting troupe entertaining Polish forces fighting on the side of the Allies. Poles of the 2nd Polish Division under the command of General Władysław Anders played an especially important role in the hard-fought and bloody taking of the Nazi-occupied strongpoint at Monte Casino in Italy in 1944. Out of this campaign emerged the patriotic song Czerwone maki (na Monte Cassino) (‘Red Poppies On Monte Cassino’), which had a setting by Alfred Schütz of Feliks Konarski’s words. The song, composed in May 1944, was forged in the heat of that battle while the poppy image also evoked the symbol of trench warfare during the Great War. Czerwone maki was sung following the capture of the monastery and while there is a certain lack of clarity about Renata Bogdańska’s participation at this point, it became a song closely associated both with her, the anti-fascist movement and Polish patriotism.

She went on to marry Władysław Anders, settle in Britain, appear on radio and in films and in 2007 received Poland’s second highest civilian decoration for her contributions to Polish culture. She died on 29 November 2010 in London.

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