Marshal Piłsudski’s brother commemorated in Kraków

A photograph of Bronisław Piłsudski with Ainu children, presented at an exhibition in 1999. Photo: PAP arch./Jacek Bednarczyk

A plaque commemorating Bronisław Piłsudski, an older brother of Marshall Józef Piłsudski and an anthropologist famous for studying the Ainu people, was unveiled in Kraków, southern Poland.

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of Bronisław Piłsudski’s death. The plaque was placed on the wall of the house where Bronisław and his brother Józef lived.

“Bronisław Piłsudski earned the name a ‘friend of humanity’ thanks to his deeds in the field of cultural anthropology, ethnography and ethnolinguistics, because one who saves and protects only a part of a culture, rescues humanity,” professor Mieczysław Rokosz, the chairman of the Kościuszko Mound Committee said at the ceremony.

He added that his contribution to global science was one thing, but the second is his respectful approach towards all peoples and cultures.

The grandson of Mr Piłsudski, Kazuyasu Kimura, said that he is happy to stand at the house where his grandfather lived with his brother Józef, who had done much for Polish independence.

“Thanks to this plaque, the name of Bronisław Piłsudski and his deeds will be remembered in Poland and globally,” Mr Kimuru said.

The unveiling of the plaque was a part of the Fourth International Science Conference concerning Bronisław Piłsudski.

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Exile, marriage, research

Bronisław Piłsudski was born in 1866. When he was 21, he was involved in a plot to assassinate Tsar Alexander III and sentenced to fifteen years of hard labour on Sakhalin Island in the Far East, along with Alexander Ulyanov, a brother of Vladimir Lenin.

In 1891 he met another ethnographer, Lev Sternberg. Three years later, Mr Piłsudski received a grant from the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences to study indigenous Ainu people. He settled in an Ainu village, and fell in love with a local woman, who he married and had a son and daughter with.

He recorded their language, created a dictionary, wrote down Ainu myths, culture, music and customs. Mr Piłsudski built a school where he taught local children Russian and mathematics.

During the Russo-Japanese war he moved to Japan, and later to Kraków in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Before WWI, he went to Switzerland and in 1917 to Paris, where he worked at the office of Polish National Committee, which had been founded by Roman Dmowski, the political opponent of Bronisław's younger brother.

Bronisław Piłsudski died in May 1918. He drowned in the Seine River, it is thought that he committed suicide.

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